A Blackamerican Muslim’s Visit to Jerusalem

And they say: “When we are (dead and have become) lost in the earth, shall we indeed be recreated anew?” Nay, but they deny the Meeting with their Lord! Say: The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back. And if you only could see when the criminals shall hang their heads before their Lord (saying): “Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back (to the world), we will do righteous good deeds. Verily! We…


A Muslim Organizer’s Reflections on the Principles of Faith-based Activism

In my office at St. Anthony’s Church on Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco, September 2012

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

— Thomas Jefferson

Matters of Principle

The first time I began to explicitly think about the relationship between faith and power was when I became a community organizer. The organization I worked for — an affiliate of what used to be the PICO National Network — had a relatively straightforward definition of power. It was, simply, “the ability to act” — like the literal translation of the Spanish word, poder. Everyone had power — the reasoning went — because everyone had the ability to take action.

However…


Why Muslims Should Stand in Solidarity with the LGBTQ+ Community

Muslim woman holds sign that says”#NotInMyName” during a Seattle vigil for Pulse Nightclub victims (Lindsey Wasson / Seattle Times via AP)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Four years ago this month, Americans were witness to the second largest mass shooting in the nation’s history. Forty-nine people were shot and killed and another fifty were wounded at a gay night club in Orlando, Flordia by twenty-nine-year-old Omar Mateen. An outpouring of love and support came from around the Muslim world, including local Muslim community-based organizations in Orlando. The Florida chapter…


Black Deaths & the War of Position

D.C. National Guard stand on steps of Lincoln Memorial during peaceful protest against police violence on 6/2/20 Win McNamee/Getty Images

Origins

There is a galactic civil war happening between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The former is fighting to maintain hegemony while the latter fights to restore the Republic, said to have existed for over 25,000 years prior to the rise of the Empire. To explain its raison d’être, the Rebel Alliance details the Empire’s record of crimes in its founding document, the Declaration of Rebellion:

“The history of the present Galactic Empire is of repeated injuries upon its members, with the direct objective of establishing you, Emperor Palpatine, as absolute tyrant over the Galaxy:

1. You have disbanded the…


Black Migration and the Destruction of Empire

Nineteenth-century American painter Thomas Cole’s painting of Rome called“Destruction.” It is the fourth in a series of five paintings called “The Course of Empire.”

I saw the news about George Floyd’s lynching when I woke up this morning for the dawn prayer. My initial reaction to lynchings has generally followed the same pattern. Shock. Numbness. Anger. Despair. Prayer. Resolve. More anger. More despair. An impossible hope. Hearing about lynchings from abroad, however, has changed how I process and respond to news of Black death. I imagine it to be somewhat similar to how immigrants respond when they hear about violence and corruption in their home countries. They grieve for and with their people. They do whatever they can to help ease their suffering like…


What I Saw on My Visit to Palestine

A Ramadan Interfaith Meditation

“In the church in which I was raised, you were supposed to bear witness to the truth…I am witness to whence I came, where I am. Witness to what I’ve seen and the possibilities that I think I see.”

— James Baldwin

Original photo taken at the Dheisha refugee camp outside of Bethlehem, June 2019.

This is part 4 of a weekly Ramadan reflection series. Make sure to check out part 1, part 2, and part 3.

“O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice and testify to what you may have witnessed, for the sake of God, even against yourselves, parents, and relatives; whether it be against the rich or the…


Lessons from the Qur’an about fighting and retreating in the face of oppression

(John Bazemore/AP)

This is part 3 of a weekly Ramadan reflection series. Make sure to check out both part 1 and part 2.

After over a decade of violent persecution, the early Muslims fled to Medina as refugees — according to the decree of God. This is a major event in Islamic history, which marks the beginning of our calendar. In Arabic, it is called, الحجر (the hijra). A common translation is “migration”. However, the word literally means “to debar or deny access” or “to confine (as a protective measure).” The word quarantine in Arabic is الحجر الصحي (al hijra al sihiyu)…


Ramadan Interfaith Reflection #2

Original photo of the inside of the Mezquita-Catedral, December 2019

We arrived in Cordoba after sunset. It was December, so we had layered in anticipation of the cool Spanish evenings. Our Airbnb host prearranged transportation for us to our flat. The driver was a handsome local, who spoke very little English. Aidah and I had enough high school Spanish to make out what he was saying. When we couldn’t make out something, he would sprinkle in English words to aid our comprehension.

After about a fifteen-minute drive, we parked in a garage not far from the flat and unloaded our bags. As we approached the elevator, our driver directed our…


Ramadan Interfaith Meditation #1

I grew up going to church. Though I didn’t like waking up early, I do have fond memories of getting dressed up for Easter Sunday service. It was a festive occasion with all the children — and adults — on their best behavior. Then there was the attire. Beautiful white dresses, two-piece suits, and hats too large to wear while driving. Everyone was dressed to impress, their Lord, of course. One Easter when I was around ten…” I sang in the children’s choir. …


Healing the hardened hearts and fragmented Souls of Menfolk

Ain’t shed a tear since the old school years of elementary
— Tupac Shakur

Los Angeles Laker fans Alex Fultz, from left, Eddy Rivas and Rene Alfaro mourn retired NBA star Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center prior to the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. He was 41. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Verily, tears are a mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants.

— Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Putting in Work

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my stepfather cry. The first time I can recall was at his father’s funeral. I was an undergraduate student at UNCG at the time. Seeing him weep stirred something in me because I had been so used to him being either angry…

stephen jamal leeper

muslim. writer. educator.

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