News  #  1233
[ Click on NEWS for back issues ][ OUR BOOKS ]

Dr Kaukab Siddique | Editor-in-Chief Rajab 29,1429/ August 1, 2008, 2008, #42

International Islamic Conference Promoting Peace and Awareness

Days Hotel Timonium
9615 Deereco Rd
Lutherville Timonium,
MD 21093

Phone: (410) 560-1000 or 1-800-325-2525
Direction: Get directions [go to ]

Date and Time: Juma on August 15th, 2008 at 1:30-2:00 pm
All are welcome. Light rail from the city stops near the hotel.

khutba by Imam Warith Deen Umar [Albany, New York]
Topic: "The Failure of Imams in America and its Impact on International Peace"

After Juma at 2:30 pm Maulana Qari Ehsanullah from Pakistan speaks

Conference on August 16th, 2008 from 10.00 am to 7:00 pm

Latest Endorsements of the International Conference for Peace and Awareness: August 16, 2008.

From Nigeria: Islamic Youth Movement Leader Endorses Peace Conference

The international Islamic Conference is an opportunity for the Ummah to reassess its potentials in bringing peace for the whole of humanity. Islam as a way of life has mandated the Muslims to unite and build bridges across divides for the benefit of the human race. The oppression and exploitation of innocent members of the society in whatever guise should be resisted by all if we lasting peace is to be achieved.

Alhaji Dr. Asheikh Ahmed: National Vice President (International) of the Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria (National Headquarters).

For Peace in the City: From Baltimore's Leading and Unique Organization for Homeless Women

As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.
As director of Women Affairs of Al-Mumtahinah home, we strive to create peace in the Muslim Ummah by providing education, shelter, food, clothing and resources for the under privileged women and children that are homeless.
We follow the Prophet Sallahu Alaihi wa Salaam's sunnah by wanting for our brothers and sisters what we want for ourselves. This is the way of our organization. Insha'Allah we will bring peace in our community which will grow nationally and internationally by promoting and educating our community to attend conferences such as the Peace and Awareness conference.
Looking forward to attending and to be informed.
Nadia Auxila [Director]

Description of program and activities:
Women Affairs of Al-Mumtahinah Home Inc. is a nonprofit corporation organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. Specifically, this organization has been formed to provide relief to homeless distressed, poor and under privileged women and their children in our community at large. Our organization has designed and developed one program in furtherance of our purposes. We further our purposes under this program by operating a bi-weekly Halal emergency food pantry. Please visit our website at

Our mailing address is:
Women Affairs of Al-Mumtahinah Home Inc.
P.O.Box 1462
Baltimore, Md 21203
Phone numbers: 443-798-1323 / 443-869-3403
At this time we are in dire need of financial support for rent and utilities expenses
Please give us a call should you like to make a monetary donation or clothing, household items, and toiletries etc. to benefit the home insha'Allah.

The Mysterious "Islam" of ICNA, Siraj Wahhaj and Gamal Badawi: Re: ICNA's "Why Islam" Campaign
by Kaukab Siddique, Ph.D

July 28: ICNA has a clean slate as far as the anti-Islam groups are concerned. For nearly 7 years after 9:11, ICNA has remained silent about the suffering of Muslims around the world. Look at the latest issue of The Message, ICNA's glossy publication: There is not the slightest indication that ICNA has any idea of the role of Israel or of the genocide of Muslims in Somalia, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a lily white group which loves the American power structure's view of the world.

During the recent past, ICNA started putting up sign boards in major cities titled WHY ISLAM. It's an expensive operation but a sheer waste of effort because its version of Islam is so pathetic: that of a slave who wants his master to love him.

Basically what WHY ISLAM says is that:
1. We are not terrorists.
2. We pray and fast.
3. We don't beat our women.
4. We do charitable work and other goody-goody stuff along the same line.
5. Muslim women wear hijab and are not terrorists
The WHY ISLAM sign board ICNA has put up in the Baltimore area has Gamal Badawi, the old Muslim Brotherhood turncoat, on it. He talks a lot of lies, claiming that Jihad or armed struggle is not central to Islam. He even claims that he will give a million dollars [even 2 million] to anyone who can prove that Islam teaches any fighting other than in self-defense!

Where did he get so much money from? And now he owes it to us! Why? Here is the answer:

Anyone who has studied the Qur'an would know that Allah Almighty has ordained Jihad with weapons against those who try to molest Muslim women. It also commands Jihad against those who create a system based on interest [riba]. And many others. [I wrote a whole article on Badawi's distortions of the Qur'an earlier.]

ICNA is so much on the defensive, it forgot that America and Americans are not trying to stop Muslims from praying and fasting and building mosques. No one has said that Muslim women in America should not wear hijab. This is not France or Turkey. One can worship anyway in America.

So all that "WHY ISLAM" publicity is sheer waste of money and effort. [ICNA seems to be very rich and wasteful.]

Now we come to the bizarre SIRAJ WAHHAJ story in New York.
ICNA decided to put WHY ISLAM publicity in the New York subway system. That would have been a smart move except that owing to al-Hajj Malik Shabazz [Malcolm X], Americans already know that Muslims pray and fast and especially that they GO FOR HAJJ. [Remember Malcolm in Makka?]

The 9.11 attacks brought discussion and study of Islam into millions of American homes. So why ICNA's WHY ISLAM?

To top it all, ICNA brought in SIRAJ WAHHAJ, its biggest groupie from the governmental organization known as ISNA:
A crazy fringe New York paper claimed that Wahhaj has terrorist links because he was called as a witness by the DEFENSE in the case of the Blind Shaikh [Dr. Omar 'Abdel Rahman]. The story was picked up by Fox TV which loves this kind of scare tactic against Muslims. Fox refused to mention what Siraj said in court after he was called by the defense. That would have trashed FOX's implication that Siraj is some kind of a radical. The man actually went to the Zionist congress and prayed for the killers there and was proud of the invitation.

ICNA was really stuck and did not have the courage or the honesty to speak the truth.

For those who don't know the role of Siraj Wahhaj in the case of the Blind Shaikh, let me summarize it here so they can understand ICNA's role.

The court records show that Siraj Wahhaj was called as a CHARACTER WITNESS by the defense for Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman. [On this point, FOX TV is correct.] And Siraj Wahhaj did say something like that Dr. Omar is a great shaikh, but then he contradicted himself by saying that he really knows little about the shaikh. Then he claimed that the Shaikh says that it's OKAY TO ROB BANKS. In other words, Wahhaj cleverly helped the government prosecute the Shaikh.

The defense attorney was so shocked that his witness [Siraj] had turned against him that he quickly changed the line of questioning and then let Siraj go.

Of course ICNA did not have the honesty to say: Don't blame Siraj: He actually helped put the Blind Shaikh in prison for life.
And of course, FOX TV was so dishonest that it did not give the whole story. Who expects Fox to tell the truth? But ICNA is supposed to be a bunch of Muslims.

Readers might not know that when the Zionist judge. Michael Mukasey, sentenced Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman to life in prison, he quoted Siraj Wahhaj, pointing out that the Muslims' own Imam is saying that the Shaikh taught Muslims to rob banks! [Michael Mukasey is now the attorney general of the U.S. appointed by Bush at a time when no one else wants the post.]

Later, much later, when Siraj Wahhaj was interviewed, very favorably, by the Wall Street Journal, the flagship of right wing Zionism, Siraj boasted about the story he had told about the Blind Shaikh: that robbing banks is okay!

Readers should know tha Siraj does not know Arabic, and the Shaikh does not know English. So Siraj could not have known what the Shaikh said. If there was a translator, Siraj should have said that the translator said this.

Readers should know that Dr. Omar Abdel Rahman is so strict about Halal and Haram that during his trip through America [before his arrest at the behest of the Egyptian regime], he told American Muslims to eat Zabiha Halal meat only, and did not endorse the eating of ahlul kitab's meat as many Arab Muslims in America do.

There can be no doubt that Siraj Wahhaj played an important role in the imprisonment of one of the greatest scholars of Islam in modern times. Siraj refuses to repent. for his great crime against Islam.
ICNA has not tried, ever, in the slightest, to defend the Blind Shaikh or even to protest his mistreatment in U.S. prisons. Now ICNA wants to teach Islam!
These people have no fear of Allah and no sense that Akhira is coming and they will be held accountable.

Not a word about 7 YEARS of Muslim suffering and they want to teach Islam! This is Munafiqat in the highest degree. The Qur'an has an entire chapter on munafiqs.

Our America: by New Trend's Media Monitor
"President" [already !] Barack Obama Plans new Crusade against the World of Islam

From his deep prostration at the AIPAC Convention to the Jewish elites, Obama has moved predictably to show support for the agents America has installed in the countries under occupation.. He held secret talks with Karzai in Kabul, then moved to Iraq and met American generals under an opaque security bubble which cut him off from any contact with even those Iraqis who are working under the U.S. ambit.

Then we had the sickening scenes of Obama wearing a yarmulke genuflecting at the Jewish Holocaust temple [whose contents cannot be discussed critically] in occupied Palestine.
CIA agent King Abdullah of Jordan was in COLORADO when Obama visited Jordan. The King rushed overnight all the way back to Amman to pay homage to the new American idol.

Obama refused to acknowledge Hamas although it is the only existing democratically elected organization in Gaza. Here democracy did not matter to Obama. He made a fuss about a young Palestinian who used a tractor to attack Israeli vehicles and lost his life in the process. Obama condemned the young man for his act of resistance. What future is there for peace in the Middle East when the putative next president of the U.S. is so uncaring for oppressed people.

In Germany, on July 24, Obama was enthralled by the big welcome given him by the enslaved German people. Here Obama lost all sense of perspective and urged the German people, and Europeans in general, to fight in Afghanistan against the forces of Islam.

Obama seemed to have taken on the idea that he is a Zionist and a European. He lost all sense of his African and [though very diffuse] Muslim background. Note his words. Remember that words like "terror" and "extremism" are labels for Islamic resistance. "The well of extremism" is the Muslim ummah which supports resistance. Here is what he said::

"This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now."

Does Obama know that the Afghan people detest NATO and have never asked for intervention by the new crusaders?

It appears that a renegade group in Karachi, Pakistan is feeding the U.S. stories about the imminent takeover of Pakistan's biggest city by the Taliban. Hence "Karachi" has started turning up regularly in Obama's speeches as a threat. This is the connection he made in his speech in Germany between 9.11 and Karachi:

"The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil."

What about Africa? His only interest is in ONE province of Sudan which is being targeted by the Israelis for worldwide propaganda against Sudan:

"Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?" [In other words, Darfur is another "holocaust."]

Arrest of Serb Thug Karadjic, Ignores Role of Dutch Troops who Facilitated Slaughter of Muslim Prisoners in Srebrenica
Here is a look back into the tragedy of Bosnia: Hypocrisy of one Man's Arrest is obvious

Bosnia calls in ambassador to protest at medals award
Troops were part of UN force meant to protect city

Ian Traynor in Zagreb
Wednesday December 6, 2006
The Guardian

The leadership of Bosnia protested bitterly to the Netherlands yesterday over the awards of medals to Dutch peacekeepers who stood by and did nothing at the infamous 1995 massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica.
Haris Silajdzic, a former prime minister and a member of the three-man Bosnian presidency, said he had called in the Dutch ambassador in Sarajevo to demand an explanation for the military ceremony that was conducted at a barracks in eastern Holland on Monday.
Henk Kamp, the Dutch defence minister, unveiled a plaque at the barracks praising the troops who failed to act to prevent the atrocity at Srebrenica when the Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, seized the enclave in eastern Bosnia, separated the males from the women and children, and then organised the mass murder of almost 8,000 men over 10 days in July 1995.
The shocking episode constituted the worst single atrocity of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and the only event in the 42-month war that the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague has categorised as genocide.
Gen Mladic has been charged with genocide but has been a fugitive for 11 years.
The Dutch were shamed and traumatised by their role in the massacre. An official inquiry in 2002 cleared the troops of complicity but criticised the Dutch authorities, triggering a symbolic resignation of the Dutch government.
Families of the victims have been trying to sue the Dutch state in the courts in the Netherlands because of alleged co-responsibility for the massacre. Mass graves containing the remains of victims are still being discovered and bodies exhumed.
But on Monday in Assen Mr Kamp handed out medals to 500 members of the Dutch battalion stationed at Srebrenica, which was a so-called UN safe haven, ostensibly under UN protection when it was overrun by the Serbs.
"We are doing this to support our people," said Mr Kamp. "These people are in the military ... It is difficult for them and we want to support them," he added.
The medals were to acknowledge that the Dutch troops had "for years wrongly been held responsible for what happened in the enclave," said Mr Kamp.
Tom Karremans, the Dutch commander at Srebrenica present at Monday's ceremony, was photographed socialising and drinking with Gen Mladic. The Dutch were said to have obtained the release of 14 kidnapped peacekeepers in return for not obstructing the Serbian operation.
Protests were staged in Sarajevo and other Bosnian towns denouncing the military decorations as "scandalous". There were also protests in the Netherlands, but Bosnians who sought to travel there to demonstrate were denied visas.

LETTER: Why is Asma Hanif [Muslimat Al-Nisa] cooperating with munafiqeen and blatant friends of Zionism?
Here is Muslimat Al-Nisaa's response published complete and uncut, though it went way above our 300 word right of reply.
See below Dr. Siddique's comment.

A Response to Br. Kaukab Siddique of New Trend Magazine:

Note- Muslimat Al-Nisaa is a social services organization and we try our best to not engage in disparaging conversations or communications about fellow Muslims. The intention of our reply is to respond to the statements made in reference to Muslimat Al-Nisaa by Br. Kaukab Siddique in his article 'Good Lesson in how Dunya can Make Muslims forget the Akhira. Hobnobbing with Zaid Shakir, Native Deen, "Imam" Magid.'

Firstly, the title of Brother Siddique's article is offensive in nature and it implies that he adequately establishes in the article that Sr. Asma Hanif has "forgot the Akhira because of the Dunya". In his article, Br. Siddique uses a collection of unrelated events to conclude that Muslimat Al-Nisaa has slipped into Dunya because we have utilized the help of people whom he categorizes as "government agents". Furthermore, he has misrepresented the nature of our organization and continues to make insinuations that are largely speculative in nature. He states"

"Why would a woman who appears to be pious and sedate be working with these government-agent types? Is it the lure of the dunya which is attracting her? That is possible because ADAMS center has one of the richest Muslim constituencies on the east coast. Or is it that she is naive and does not know Islam?"

Br. Siddique's comments are ambiguous. What does he mean by Dunya? Is he trying to equate seeking financial support to establish a homeless shelter with seeking the Dunya? What personal gain is he suggesting that Sr. Asma Hanif has received? Sister Asma Hanif, Executive Director & Founder, is trained in OB-GYN, as a Certified Nurse-Midwife and is fully capable and licensed to provide prenatal care and labor & delivery services. She has been providing services to the Muslim community and others since 1978, having delivered over 500 babies all for the pleasure of ALLAH(SWT).

In fact, she has repeatedly turned away offers to make significantly more money in order to maintain Muslimat Al-Nisaa. According to Muslimat Al-Nisaa's 2007 IRS Form-990, which details the finances of non-profit organizations and is also a matter of public record, Sr. Asma Hanif's salary totaled $0.00. Additionally, the total salaries for ALL Executive Members of Muslimat Al-Nisaa totaled $0.00. We wonder how much Dunya a person could buy with a salary of $0.00?

Br. Siddique, in response to his own question about the motives of Sr. Asma Hanif, presents his personal opinions, which don't establish a factual basis for anything. Furthermore, he only states two options, both of which are largely negative and pejorative. Either, Sr. Asma Hanif is "lured by the Dunya" or "she is nave and doesn't know Islam". Additionally, he proceeds to erroneously "inform" the community about the nature of our organization and the circumstances surrounding its existence. He states:

"Asma Hanif says she is collecting funds for a homeless women's center. The problem with that assumption is that she is from Baltimore and a hard working Muslim woman, Sis. Nadia has already set up a shelter for homeless Muslim women in Baltimore . The shelter is called al-Mumtahinah and it's the one place in Baltimore where one can see homeless Muslim women being helped. Why is Asma Hanif not supporting the center which already exists?"

These comments from Br. Siddique are misleading and show his lack of knowledge about our organization. Sr. Asma Hanif has been an advocate for the establishment of a Muslim women's shelter in Baltimore for years. For accuracy, Muslimat Al-Nisaa was the first organization to propose (July 2006) and pursue a shelter in Baltimore, Maryland . (referencing a Muslim Link article dated February 2007). While we sought grant monies for a comprehensive shelter and educational program, which would not just provide housing, but also provide a return to self-sufficiency program, in March of 2007, Sister Nadia sought a more immediate response to the issue of homelessness in the local community and opened a shelter house.

Br. Siddique, however, would lead others to believe from his statement "Sis. Nadia has already set up a shelter for homeless Muslim women in Baltimore" that we were being unsupportive of Sr. Nadia and decided to open a shelter in spite of Al- Mumtahinah being in existence. At the time, there was no shelter "already set up", and this can be confirmed from Sr. Nadia herself.

Our organization was originally organized in 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia . In 2005, co-founders Asma Hanif and the late Dr. Maryam Funches, recognized the need to add a shelter program to the original organizational objectives. Moreover, Muslimat Al-Nisaa has cooperative relationships with other health & social services across DC, Maryland and Virginia area. However, Br. Siddique continues to give the wrong impression about our organization stating:

"Some people get the misinformation that Asma Hanif has a shelter for women on Liberty road and is collecting funds to keep it going. Not correct! That place is Asma Hanif's clinic and not a shelter for women."

Virtually the only correct statement he has made about our organization is that our program does include a health care facility, which has been operating at our Liberty Heights address. At this location, Muslimat Al-Nisaa has provided health services to the uninsured, the homeless and sheltered Muslim women and children - including residents of the Al-Mumtahinah Home, for over three years.

These services were recently written about in a May 08 article in the Muslim Link titled, Uninsured Muslim Woman Gives Birth at Home. The article details how Muslimat Al-Nisaa provided healthcare and childbirth services for a Muslim couple that lacked insurance. Khalid, the Husband, is quoted as saying "Hanif went out of her way to help his family. She provided counseling, natural herbs and supplements, regular weekly pre-natal visits, and the delivery services without asking for any compensation." Muslimat Al-Nisaa encourages anyone to research what the cost for childbirth services is.

Furthermore, our Liberty Heights address is used as the drop-off location for individuals wanting to donate goods. It is also where we receive phone calls from those in need, and perform the administrative functions of our organization. Muslimat Al-Nisaa has not been organized or established as a "fly-by-night" operation. We have put much thought and energy into establishing a program that will be able to provide help to those in need for the long term. In addition to the IRS granting our organization 501(c)(3) status, we are a registered charity in Maryland and are in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assesments and Taxation. In reality, we only collected approximately $17,000 in cash during our 2007 Fundraiser and are still in need of resources to establish a permanent shelter facility. But yet again, Br. Siddique continues with his largely speculative opinions suggesting:

"Perhaps as a reward for her cooperation with ISNA, Zaid Shakir, "Imam" Magid etc, she has been made the director of a "Coordinating Council" [known as CCMO]..."

If Br. Siddique is stating that he has documents detailing a cooperation- reward system involving Sr. Asma Hanif, then we implore him to bring forth his evidence. If he cannot, then perhaps it is best that he refrain from making accusations that he cannot provide evidence for.

In conclusion, Muslimat Al-Nisaa is committed to its mission to provide health, education, shelter and other social services to the underserved population in general, and to Muslim women and children in particular. We neither have the time nor the resources to engage and defend every accusation made by others. Even now, as this response is written, the numbers of homeless Muslim women and children, and Muslim women victims of domestic violence continues to increase. May Allah Have Mercy on Us.

Muslimat Al Nisaa, INC

Dr. Siddique's response: Cooperation with Agents of Oppressors is the issue. Muslimat al Nisaa [sis. Asma Hanif] simply ignored the issue.

It's a shame that Sis. Asma Hanif has not even put her name on her organization's official response. Is this Islamic, to beat around the bush and ignore the real issues? Did the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, teach us to behave in this clever way?

Readers should look at my article.

I specifically pointed out the people Sis. Asma Hanif is working with: "Imam" Majid is a door sniffer at synagogues, and ADAMS Center is the most prominent supporter of Bush's "War on Terror." If Muslimat Al Nisa [or Sis. Hanif] is so popular with this corrupt munafiq, how and why did that happen? It is up to Sis. Hanif to explain [or will she now claim that she is not Muslimat Al Nisa inc?]

I noted that Native Dean's Joshua Salaam was sent overseas and hosted by the State Department of Bush. How come this State Department character is going to provide entertainment for her fundaraiser? She sees nothing unIslamic there?

I wrote about the opportunism and lies of Zaid Shakir. Here is a man [source of income unknown] who rejoiced when the occupiers of Iraq executed the leader of the resistance. She brings Shakir as the central clown in her show.

Sis. Asma Hanif claims she wants proof why she was appointed CCMO head. As I pointed out, she was brought into the ISNA conference as CCMO head. I gave the page number from ISNA's publicity magazine. Are we supposed to think that the sister does not know that ISNA works with the FBI and that the State Department sponsored a major ISNA conference.

Does she not know that ADAMS Center sent Muslim girls in hijab to admire the power of the Pentagon.
If all this is allowed in Islam and in a supposedly Islamic center, then what is kufr, nifaq and tughyan? Does the sister believe that Islam has no standards and that means should not match ends?

Of course Sis. Hanif is a social worker and has done many good things. That's why I took the trouble to try and stop her falling victim to the guiles of agent groups and featherheads like Zaid Shakir. Does she not know that Zaytuna, his institute, claims that the Jewish holocaust story and the Qur'an have equal credibility?
Surely the sister must be living in a world of her own!

As for Sis. Nadia in Baltimore, here is a sister who has ACTUALLY set up a shelter for homeless women. She was herself homeless once. Sis. Hanif [Muslimat al-Nisa] started thinking of all this long ago but has NOT been able to do it. Dates of plans pre-dating Sis. Nadia's work do not prove that Muslimat an Nisa has a shelter. It does not. Instead of working with and under the supervision of Sis. Nadia, M. al-Nisa goes to collect funds from agent groups. Sister, this won't do. Islam has standards and this kind of wishy washy thinking is not Islamic.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition


The following moving article will appear in the upcoming issue of Al-Awda's newsletter Until Return. It was written by Khairya Zubaidi of Al-Hawiya, Yarmouk camp, Syria, and translated by Sama Abdulhalim in San Diego California.

The article is about Um Amer (mother of Amer) who passed away on July 2 from complications from cancer. Um Amer, may she rest in peace, was one of 750 Palestinians stranded in al-Tanaf refugee detention camp located in no man's land in the desert between Iraq and Syria. Um Amer appeared in the documentary "25 Thousand Tents . . . Maybe More" demanding her right and hoping to return to her village near Haifa. The documentary was screened recently at the Sixth Annual International Al-Awda Convention. Copies of this documentary will soon be available via Al-Awda's Media Center.

Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp including Khairya Zubaidi of Al-Hawiya have been assisting our people at Al-Tanaf over the last two years with whatever they can. Through these efforts they have developed personal relationships and knowledge of the people stranded at Al-Tanaf.

Um Amer
by Khairya Zubaidi

Her passing was as difficult as her eventful and harsh childhood. As a child, she began to awaken and discover the beauty of the world and to make connections with the land and trees, home and hearth, and bread kiln in her home. She had an invisible connection with everything she saw and all things surrounding her; who said that the land and trees are not sentient beings and that the air travels and is not connected to a specific land? She was connected to all these things and the occupation of 1948 severed this connection and cruelly uprooted her. She rushed off with her family without even taking the necessities. She took refuge in the mountains by using the land as her bedroll and the sky as her blanket. She drank the rainwater and foraged the land. She found herself traveling through many different lands ... traveling still after 60 years. Even 60 years didn't diminish her love and desire to reclaim her roots. Longing for her childhood home still burns in her heart. I asked her about her desire to return home and her face lit up with a hope that she refused to lose, and she answered "I will go back." She said "I wish this will come true. I want to go back even if I have to go back to foraging the land and drinking rainwater. Just return me to my land. I wish this would come true. Will it come true before I leave this earth?"

Um Amer's dream did not come true. Illness got the best of her. Illness was the only reason she was allowed to leave Al-Tanaf refugee camp - to receive medical treatment. Test results showed that her illness was in an advanced stage and hope for a cure was slim. Um Amer did not know how severe her situation was. She had hoped she would get better and be able to stand on her own two feet. Being in a public hospital that treats refugees made it easier for her to deal with her situation for her fellow refugees would visit with her. As a result of the illness, Um Amer was moved to another hospital that specializes in cancer treatment.

Um Amer moved from the confinement of Al-Tanaf refugee camp to a harsher and cruel confinement - death. She is confined by death. The dire situation of the other patients surrounding her forced her to acknowledge and wait for death. When she first found out she had cancer, she tried to go back to the refugee camp. She felt it would be easier to be surrounded by family and friends. All parties responsible, from the hospital to the team responsible for Al-Tanaf, used her illness as an excuse to refuse her request to return to the refugee camp. That is when Um Amer gave up and not only did she refuse the cancer treatment but also treatment of any kind. Her refusal to fight the cancer and seeing her forcefully subdued with painkillers caused me great sorrow and sadness. I hoped she would keep resisting and fighting the people in control because I felt that as long as she was trying to get back to Al-Tanaf she would be fighting death as well.

I spoke with her about life and told her that she would get well and go back to Al-Tanaf. I told her that she had to fulfill her promise to me to cook biryani. I told her that she was stronger than Zahra, another Al-Tanaf refugee who was currently fighting and winning the battle against a cancer of the blood. After our conversation, Um Amer decided to resume the cancer treatment. But it was already too late.

At one point, I spoke with Um Amer's doctor about her situation. He told me that Um Amer was negligent in her treatment of herself. He said that she should have gone to the hospital before the situation had gotten this bad. I felt that his words were part of a dark comedy. All I could think to myself was "doesn't this man know how often sick people try to go to the hospital or see a doctor and are refused exit from the refugee camp until they are at the point of death?" To all parties responsible for the refugee camp, the people living there are just numbers not human beings. They don't have names or feelings or needs, they are just a serial number. A year ago things were even more difficult for people who were sick. Back then, someone who was ill could not even be accompanied by a family member. They had to leave the refugee camp and go to the hospital alone. Now they are allowed one person to accompany them.

Um Amer's son, Amer, had a very difficult time getting permission to leave Al-Tanaf refugee camp to visit his mother. After he finally received permission to leave the camp and visit her at the hospital, he was only allowed to stay with her a week. Um Amer was not expected to live long, she was given hours at worst and a couple of days at most. The people responsible for Al-Tanaf tried to make Amer go back to Al-Tanaf before Um Amer passed away. Amer was in a difficult situation because his father was also ill back at the Al-Tanaf camp. He wanted to stay with his mother but he wanted to go back and take care of his father. In the end, logistics forced his hand. There was no transportation available for him to go back to Al-Tanaf. So he ended up staying with his mother until she passed away.

Um Amer's life was a chain of hardships. At age seven she was a suffering immigrant, then sanctions and war for 10 years, then another unbalanced war, then civil war which is, maybe, even more cruel created by countries who claim they are democratic. She was forced to leave Baghdad to save her children. The family was separated. One of her daughters left with her husband. Her son, Omar, immigrated to Chile. The family was separated but they are not the only ones. A similar story exists in every tent in the camp and some stories are even worse. The hardships brought the refugee community together. Their only crime is being Palestinians even though they weren't involved in the Palestinian cause. All of this didn't convince the executioner - if you're a Palestinian you're a fugitive not deserving of mercy. This is the logic of current civilization. She left this life alone. Her daughter, Nida, was her companion in suffering through the night. It was very difficult for Nida to see the suffering her mother went through and her certain death.

I will never forget you Um Amer . . . . how can I visit the camp without seeing you? Without your exuberant welcome. I will miss hearing the strength and pride you display when you speak. Your hardships didn't make you weak and didn't cause you to beg for mercy or feel self-pity. I will never forget your tears the last time I saw you. After I saw the movie, I felt you were the hero of the film. You watched the movie in silence and your tears ran down your wrinkled cheeks. You didn't speak but the expression on your face said it all. While saying goodbye to you I wondered if I would ever see you again. And it turned out to be the last time I saw you.

Please Note: If you wish to direct a donation to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians currently stranded on the border with Iraq, please go to and follow the instructions. Please indicate "Iraq Relief" with your submission. Until Return,

Al-Awda Media Center
The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K
Carlsbad, CA 92010, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442

July 29, 2008: Senator Obama had no comment on this.

Israeli forces shot and killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy yesterday evening in the West Bank village of Nilin. Ahmed Mousa was shot in the head by live ammunition, according to eyewitnesses, as he was leaving an area that was being targeted with rubber-coated steel bullets by the Israeli military during a demonstration against the annexation wall built on the village land.

2008-08-02 Sat 19:45:16 cdt