WBEZ | Abdul Malik Mujahid http://www.wbez.org/tags/abdul-malik-mujahid Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Imam sex abuse charges prompt calls for greater transparency http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated March 16, 2015 regarding the role of Abdul Malik Mujahid.</em></p><p dir="ltr">As the criminal trial gets underway for a prominent Islamic scholar charged with sexual assault, some Chicago-area Muslims are calling for an investigation into what community leaders may have known about prior allegations of misconduct.</p><p dir="ltr">Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, 75, has been criminally charged with assaulting a female employee at the Institute for Islamic Education, a religious school he founded in west suburban Elgin, Ill.</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, Saleem has also been accused in a civil lawsuit of assaulting three other females who were students at the school.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/the-culture-around-silence?in=wbez-worldview/sets/worldview-march-10-2015"><em>Worldview&#39;s</em>&nbsp;conversation on the culture of silence around abuse</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;A lot of people depended upon his advice,&rdquo; Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin said of Saleem. Kaiseruddin is chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the largest coalition of Muslim institutions in Illinois. &ldquo;So right now we are dealing with a dilemma that this person who is teaching the Quran to everybody was violating (the) Quran himself.&rdquo;</p><p>When the allegations first surfaced in early December, a number of people both inside and outside the leadership ranks, called on the Council to act. After much back and forth between members of its House of Representatives, a body made up of leaders of its member organizations and former Council chairmen, it issued a <a href="http://freepdfhosting.com/1394ef2106.pdf">statement</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;My thinking on this thing is that any sexual abuse, criminal abuse like this, cannot be kept secret, cannot be kept covered up,&rdquo; Kaiseruddin said. &ldquo;Justice has to be served.&rdquo;</p><p>But the statement prompted a furor of debate on social media. Critics said it wasn&rsquo;t strong enough in voicing unequivocal support for any victims of sexual violence. Others said it perhaps struck an overly-deferential tone toward Saleem. In the wake of that early statement, many have been heartened to see the Council adopt a firmer tone of support for <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/653-2-17-15-ciogc-chairman-applauds-the-courage-of-sexual-abuse-victims">victims</a> and <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/676-3-3-15-effective-steps-in-dealing-with-sexual-abuse">victims&rsquo; advocates</a>.</p><p>Yet some have accused the Council of sidestepping a potentially embarrassing and painful investigation of what its own leadership, and religious figures in the community, might have known about misconduct in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;The other component is to understand who within the community knew about this, and how we can address their understanding of what to do in these circumstances so we can prevent other victims from having to carry the burden into adulthood,&rdquo; said Humaira Basith, co-founder of the Mohammed Webb Foundation and a member of the CIOGC House of Representatives.</p><p>Basith pointed to the revelation that a member of the Council&#39;s House of Representatives, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, claimed to have heard about allegations against Saleem nearly ten years ago. In statements posted to Facebook and on the Council leadership listserv, Mujahid asserted that two religious leaders had quietly mediated a previous case involving a girl, that led to banning Saleem from offering Friday prayers at the mosque for two years. While Mujahid claimed to have heard this from one of those imams, he declined to identify them publicly.</p><p>&ldquo;And ultimately, that is really how the community came to know that this is a known issue with Abdullah Saleem,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. (AP)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IIE%20%28insert%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 444px; width: 300px;" title="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. " /></div><p>Mujahid, a former Council chairman, was unavailable for an interview. But in a written e-mail he stated:</p><p>&quot;I have championed the cause of opposing violence against women all my life. Many non-Muslim women have informed me of their ordeal. However, no Muslim victim has ever told me about a sexual crime nor have I been a part of any mediation.&nbsp;I have informed Elgin police about hearsay knowledge of a mediation dealing with Abdullah Salim. I believe, however, that only the victim or her chosen mediator can disclose it to (the) public. Filing a report with police is the best option in my view for any criminal activity rather than mediation.&quot;</p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s Note:&nbsp;We&#39;ve clarified Mujahid&#39;s role, the fact that he was unavailable for an interview and updated the paragraph above to include his full written statement.)</em></p><p>Basith said she has called on Council leadership to push harder to find out which imams may have known of cases of misconduct by Saleem. &ldquo;Those people need to be better trained in order to handle this so that the community has more transparency when these issues arise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s really the core of it, is that we have no transparency in order to rectify it for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>So far, other Council leaders have not taken up her call. &ldquo;Briefly, at this time the council does not feel the need to investigate and identify the imams,&rdquo; wrote Kaiseruddin in response to a query from WBEZ.</p><p>&ldquo;My guess is that these are answers they may not want to have,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><p>Still, Kaiseruddin, and many others, said the Council deserves credit for other steps it has taken. The Council is developing guidelines on sound bylaws for its member organizations, in order to avoid another situation where an administrator has unquestioned authority like Saleem did at IIE.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also reviewing sexual abuse policies at Islamic schools throughout the area.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody came to the conclusion they need to upgrade their policies, and they wanted CIOGC to play a role,&rdquo; said Kaiseruddin.</p><p>Eman Aly said the Council&rsquo;s involvement has done a lot of good in cracking open the taboo topic of sexual violence in the Muslim community.</p><p>&ldquo;People are talking about it, and that&rsquo;s what we wanted,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Friends of mine who are parents have been asking, &lsquo;how do we talk to our kids about this?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Aly, a social worker, helped persuade the only victim to file criminal charges against Saleem. She said she believes the Council should investigate whether leaders in Chicago&rsquo;s religious community know about other cases of misconduct &mdash; so that if there are more victims, they get help.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 05:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 For some, Boston news coverage highlights need for Muslims in the media http://www.wbez.org/news/some-boston-news-coverage-highlights-need-muslims-media-106753 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP65997749651.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As details continue to emerge about the two brothers suspected of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon on Monday, many American Muslims are processing the treatment that this story has gotten in the mainstream news media. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia, but little is still known about their motives or other affiliations.</p><p>Even before the suspects were identified, news shows and commentary programs on outlets such as Fox News, CNN and Glenn Beck speculated that the perpetrator of the attack was Saudi, Arab, &ldquo;dark-skinned,&rdquo; or Muslim. Fox News pundit Erik Rush provoked particular outcry when he tweeted &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s kill them all,&rdquo; in response to a message about Muslims &mdash;a tweet that he later said was sarcastic.</p><p>&ldquo;[The] Islamophobia machine is out there, it&rsquo;s well-funded, well-oiled,&rdquo; said Abdul Malik Mujahid, a Chicago-area imam and founder of SoundVision, an Islamic educational media organization. &ldquo;Muslims have a responsibility to move forward and use the media which they have the freedom to use to say their opinion.&rdquo;</p><p>Mujahid said the coverage has bolstered his belief that Muslims need to play a bigger role in crafting media coverage, whether by creating their own media outlets or by joining the newsrooms of existing ones. It&rsquo;s a battle that Mujahid began nearly ten years ago, with the launching of Radio Islam, a daily, current affairs program that streams online and at 6 p.m. nightly on WCEV 1450AM.</p><p>A recent show focused on Muslims who were at the Boston Marathon as runners or as first responders. Mujahid said the idea is to counter <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/Muslim/Public-Remains-Conflicted-Over-Islam.aspx" target="_blank">a trend toward unfavorable attitudes toward Muslims.</a></p><p>&ldquo;Despite the fact that Muslims have done a lot of effort to reach out to their neighbors, [perceptions of] Muslims and Islam in America continue to go on the negative side,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In the wake of the Boston coverage, Mujahid has stepped up a call for donations to expand Radio Islam&rsquo;s programming. He wants to build a new studio downtown to increase the amount of programming, as well as foster the training of Muslim journalists.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve made this switch from more of a victim mentality, more of this idea of please don&rsquo;t beat me up, and kind of scared and not knowing what to expect, as opposed to now taking a more confident and proactive position,&rdquo; said Asma Uddin, an attorney at the Becket Foundation for Religious Liberty and the founder of Altmuslimah, a blog about gender and Islam.</p><p>Uddin said since 9/11, more Muslims have started to think like Mujahid, focusing on how to disseminate their stories through the media. She said she saw the effect of that in the media coverage of the Boston bombings. Although some news outlets rushed to connect the attack to Islam, she said many more were careful not to jump to conclusions.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s become increasingly sophisticated, and part of that, is because Muslims are speaking up and nuancing people&rsquo;s perceptions,&rdquo; Mujahid said.</p><p>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef </a>and @<a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">WBEZoutloud</a>.</p></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 20:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-boston-news-coverage-highlights-need-muslims-media-106753 Chicago imam examines current relations between law enforcement and Muslims http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-09/chicago-imam-examines-current-relations-between-law-enforcement-and-musl <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-09/Abdul Malik Mujahid.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we’re talking about 9/11’s impact on American Muslims. Previously, we heard about the local FBI office’s efforts to improve its reputation. We’ll get reaction from local imam <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-08/local-imam-reflects-life-america-decade-after-911-91663">Abdul Malik Mujahid</a>. He’s the executive producer of the local program Radio Islam and a frequent guest on <em>Worldview</em>.</p><p>In a 2003 article, he likened the situation for Muslim Americans to a "virtual internment camp." Although he says law enforcement outreach has been strong locally, Mujahid wants to see more engagement on the national level.</p></p> Fri, 09 Sep 2011 18:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-09/chicago-imam-examines-current-relations-between-law-enforcement-and-musl Local imam reflects on life in America in the decade after 9/11 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-08/local-imam-reflects-life-america-decade-after-911-91663 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/Abdul Malik Mujahid.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The September 11th terrorist attacks profoundly reshaped the Muslim-American experience. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/recalling-acts-humanity-0" target="_blank">Five years ago</a>, <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>heard from local imam <a href="http://www.soundvision.com/abdulmalikmujahid.asp" target="_blank">Abdul Malik Mujahid</a>. Mujahid remembered the swell of kindness and solidarity from his neighbors in the face of anti-Islamic sentiments but said that the years since then tested his faith in America. On the day of the attack, Mujahid watched the towers fall on the television from his office--then came the aftermath.</p><p>Abdul Malik Mujahid is an imam at Chicago's <a href="http://www.dic-chicago.org/" target="_blank">Downtown Islamic Center</a>. He also chairs<a href="http://www.soundvision.com/" target="_blank"><strong> </strong>Sound Vision</a>, a publisher of multimedia Islamic educational materials.</p><p><em>Music Button: Loga Ramin Torkian, "Gavan", from the album Mehraab, (Terrestrial Lane)</em></p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 14:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-08/local-imam-reflects-life-america-decade-after-911-91663