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A Prayer to Close Guantanamo

IMG 0008Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege to open the 16th Anniversary Prayer Vigil that demanded the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When a colleague asked me if I wanted to give the prayer remarks, I was excited and immediately said yes. I remembered participating in a mock-trial in my high school government class and hearing the various Islamophobic sentiment during our debate on Guantanamo. I credit that class for nudging me to discover my passion for political advocacy and engagement. Some of my classmates made comments like, “they don’t need to be given their human rights” and “it is okay to torture them because they are Muslims who are trying to kill us.” The experience of debating about Guantanamo provided me with the determination to help educate others about Islam and Muslims, and to ensure that we have a seat at the decision-making table. I desired to take action to help those imprisoned in Guantanamo, and was grateful that in the following years, I am able to participate in such efforts.  

The existence and management of Guantanamo prison is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s due process laws and robs the people imprisoned of their human dignity. Many of the detainees are people who have not been charged with a crime and been cleared for release for years. The U.S. Supreme Court has made three major rulings regarding Guantanamo that emphasize the level of dehumanization and constitutional violations occurring in this U.S. military prison. In 2004, in Rasul v. Bush, the court granted the illegally-held prisoners habeas corpus rights, which is the opportunity to have their cases heard in a fair and just trial. In 2006, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the court again ruled in favor of the prisoners due to the military commission trial system at Guantanamo not having the “power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949.” In 2008, in Boumediene v. Bush, the justices decided that those entrapped in Guantanamo had constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights that entitled them to be heard by an impartial judge. For all these reasons and more, I am an advocate for closing down the Guantanamo prison.

Below is the transcript of the prayer I gave at the Guantanamo Prayer Vigil on January 11, 2018:

BismilLahi Al Rahman Al Raheem

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

May His peace and blessings be upon his prophets and messengers, and all those who follow in their footsteps, ameen.

We gather here today heartbroken that our government is guilty of having a prison where it tortures and brutalizes 41 people who have not been charged or convicted of any crime; grieving that our government leaders neglect to uphold and implement the human rights and decency granted in our nation’s Constitution.

May we remember the core tenants of respect, dignity, and justice for all that this country was founded upon.

As Thomas Jefferson declared in 1779

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

These core tenants of fairness and human dignity are reflected in what has been labeled as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history, verse 135 of Surah Al Nisa or the chapter honoring women in the Quran.

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the desires of your hearts, lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, indeed Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do”

We ask God to help us speak the truth and implement justice regardless of who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.

We ask Allah never to let our personal grudges, bad experiences or personal agendas prevent us from giving every human being the honor, dignity and respect entitled to them by their Creator.

The Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him said: {O people! Your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one.  An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a white person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a white person, except in what they may have of piety.}

We ask you, O’Allah, to give us the strength and wisdom to not let prejudice and racism define and dictate how we treat one another.

We ask You to give us the ability to realize that while we today are not the targets of torture and dehumanization, that we tomorrow can become the objects of that same treatment.

We ask You to guide us to recognize truth as truth and bless us to implement it and falsehood as falsehood and bless us to avoid it.

That when we do not rise and call for the exercise of human rights we know to be true from the moral conscience you’ve instilled in us and the U.S. constitution, we set a precedent of allowing the whims and agenda of whoever is in power to dictate who deserves their human rights and who doesn’t.

We ask you to give each one of us the strength to fight for the rights of all people who are detained illegally and protect their right to fulfill their dreams, aspirations and promises made with their children and loved ones.

We know that we are not the ones to judge who should have freedom, dignity and respect and who should not.

With that we pray to you, the One God of Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad and us all for the true implementation of our American values“of freedom and justice for all.”

CAIR ISLAM-OPED: Government’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Approach Continues to Single Out Muslims

CAIR National logoISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Government’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Approach Continues to Single Out Muslims

By CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Amineh Safi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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CAIR: The Trump White House Ramadan Celebration That Wasn’t

ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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nihad awadThe Trump White House Ramadan Celebration That Wasn’t

By Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..]

President Donald Trump just ended the almost 20-year White House tradition of marking the Islamic month-long fast of Ramadan by not hosting a celebratory “iftar” (fast-breaking) dinner. This year also marks the first time since 1999 that the State Department failed to officially host a Ramadan dinner. Such a break in American tradition and values reflects the Trump administration’s outright hostility toward the American Muslim community and its discomfort in acknowledging that Muslims are a part of our nation.

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CAIR: Columnist’s Anti-Islam Diatribe Ignores Words of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad

[NOTE: An edited version of this commentary was published today by the Washington Times. SEE: True Islam Teaches Equality]

By Ibrahim Hooper

[Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

In her recent anti-Islam diatribe masquerading as a legitimate condemnation of female genital mutilation (FGM) [“The Islam clash in America,” The Washington Times, April 18, 2017], Cheryl K. Chumley made a number of ill-informed, inaccurate and offensive statements about Islam and Muslims.

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CAIR MLK Day Commentary: The African-American Women Behind the Heroes

Author: Jimmy Jones

[Jimmy E. Jones is Secretary of the national board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Professor of World Religions and African Studies at Manhattanville College. He may be contacted at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

For African-Americans, the annual time period between Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday on January 15th and the end of February is bittersweet. This is because we hear quite a bit about Dr. King’s legacy and the importance of Black History for about six weeks, only to be shunted aside again on March 1st of every year.

Nevertheless, we rightly remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a genuine American hero. So was recently departed astronaut and senator John Glenn, the first American in space.

Yet neither of these men could have soared to the heights that they did without the passionate, persistent, consistent, and competent help of women who just happened to be African-American.

In John Glenn’s case, the full story of these women was finally told in the book “Hidden Figures,” written by Margot Lee Shetterly and released as a Hollywood film with the same title.

Mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson made calculations that were invaluable to the success and safety of America’s first manned space flight by our hero John Glenn.

I am a bit familiar with the racial mores of the part of the country in which these women worked. The Langley Research Center is located in Hampton, Va., near where I spent four years (1964-68) as an undergraduate at the overwhelmingly Black Hampton University.

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May America Be True to Her Dream

Nihad Awad 7 2 15By Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..]

This Fourth of July weekend, friends and families around the country will gather together to celebrate the freedoms we cherish as Americans, those for which countless generations have struggled and sacrificed so much. 

We celebrate our freedom from oppression, freedom to practice our religion, representation in our government, and self-determination. 

Yet as recent events targeting African-Americans have made abundantly clear, we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality under the flag we will fly high this weekend. 

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The Reality of Islamophobia in America

Corey-SaylorBy Corey Saylor

Word count: 745

Thirty-seven groups dedicated to spreading anti-Islam prejudice in America enjoyed access to at least $119,662,719 in total revenue between 2008 and 2011, according to a new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

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Muslims Mark 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

NihadBy Nihad Awad
Word Count: 618

In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

On the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is time to reflect on Dr. King's words and examine where we stand as a nation on the issues of justice and mutual understanding.

Dr. King's struggle for justice must be carried on by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, because that is what he taught and demonstrated through his life's work.

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A Word of Truth on Jihad and Islam

NihadBy Nihad Awad
Word Count: 810

There is a growing attempt by some commentators to label the recent bombings in Boston as "jihad" and to blame the deadly blasts on a non-existent concept they call "radical Islam."

I call "radical Islam" non-existent because radicalism or extremism is not permissible in Islam. Islam prohibits extremism and an essential part of the faith is moderation. A more accurate term might be "Al-Qaeda ideology."

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Muslims Hope for Positive Relations with New Pope

NihadBy Nihad Awad

Muslims have interacted with the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders -- sometimes negatively and sometimes positively -- for hundreds of years. These interactions have included negative periods of needless and counterproductive conflict, as well as positive cooperation on issues of importance to families of all faiths.

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Muslim man sentenced to life without air travel

By Gadeir Abbas and Adam Soltani

Published in The Oklahoman on February 13, 2013.     

Years ago, Saadiq Long — an American citizen born in Oklahoma — served in our Air Force with distinction. For a time, he even provided technical support to military aircraft destined for combat. Who could have guessed that such a man would be deemed too dangerous to board commercial aircraft?

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Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Indebted to Dr. King

Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Indebted to Dr. King

By Nihad Awad

In my position as the leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I am eternally grateful for the vision, struggle and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He did not struggle only to free his own generation, and his work will continue to bless many generations to come in America and around the world.

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