By Reem Sharaf

Every year on the fourth of July, Americans all over the United States commemorate and celebrate the passing of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. The doctrine symbolizes the rebirth of America as an independent nation built on the principles of freedom, justice, and liberty for all.   As Americans, we are the people who stand by the weak and persecuted. As Arab Americans we stand up against any and all oppression; “stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God, even though it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin” (Surat Al-Nissa, 4:135).

FGM, female genital mutilation, is the practice of removing part of or full removal of a woman’s genital organs. The practice is illegal in the United States and not founded in any of the religious scriptures. It is typically practiced by small populations of people in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced a joint statement condemning FGM.

The topic of FGM among the Muslim American population has been in the news following the April 2017 arrest of Jumana Nagarwala, a Michigan based emergency room doctor who was allegedly performing FGM procedures on young girls in Michigan. Most recently, Imam Shaker ElSayed of the Dar al-HiIjrah Islamic Center in Virginia, has come under attack following the publicity of his sermon on FGM from Spring 2017. In his sermon, he discusses his interpretation of FGM as it relates to Islamic law and how it can be implemented.

He allegedly says, “(Circumcision) is a sunna for the boys, and the honorable thing to do – if needed- for the girls”. He continues on to explain how when done correctly, its purpose is to guarantee a girl is not “hypersexually active”.

Following the airing and publicity of his sermon, people began taking sides; those who condemned him and those who vowed their support. Among all the social media posts, campaigns, and media negativity, I find myself wondering if justice has been served. Have we eliminated FGM by massacring an Imam who dedicated more than 30 years of his life to his Virginia community and congregation? Have we truly committed ourselves to justice by signing a petition against a man for allegations that till now most of us have not validated?

Before addressing these concerns, I would like to begin by saying I condemn FGM in all its forms. I believe these statements should not be part of our ideology or shared in a public setting where people of varying opinions have no way of voicing their oppositions.

Just as I condemn FGM in all its forms, I too condemn tribalism ideology in all its forms. The coming together of a group of people to destroy another individual or group is inhumane and unjust.

As Arab Americans, we are commanded by our beliefs to commit to justice without limitations based on race, religion, color, or difference of opinion. But still, we disappoint. We make a commitment to ourselves but accept constant put-downs from ourselves. We make a commitment to stand by the weak and yet, we know people in our inner circles that are going through tough times and we avoid them like the plague. And lastly, we commit to standing by our leaders and our role models but abandon them the minute they make a mistake.

So I ask, out of all the people who have responded with attacks against Imam Shaker ElSayed, who is free of faults? Who can comfortably say they have never violated another’s’ rights? Among those who have attacked the comments as a human rights violation, are those who go home and take away the rights of those closest to them through domestic abuse. Is this a generalization? Yes.

But so is summing up one man’s entire existence into one inappropriate action or statement he allegedly made.

Before we play judge, jury, and executioner we need to be intellects. As a community we need to establish validity to the circumstances we create fires about. We need to truly commit to the causes we believe in.

The gravity of a community leader supporting FGM does not fall on deaf ears. But before judgment is made, there needs to be validity and objectivity. We should hear one another, establish civil discourse, and use these situations as a learning experience. A commitment to a community is a commitment to the good, the bad, and the in between. We smile in the good times, have character during the bad times, and persevere during the in between.

As we clock in Fourth of July, I encourage my fellow Arab Americans to search deep within themselves for what makes them who they are. How have you used your rights and blessings to make a positive change in the world?   

‬بقلم‭ ‬ريم‭ ‬شرف

كل‭ ‬عام‭ ‬يحتفل‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬في‭ ‬كل‭ ‬انحاء‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬بعيد‭ ‬الإستقلال‭ ‬بالرابع‭ ‬من‭ ‬يوليو‭ ‬والذي‭ ‬بدأ‭ ‬عام‭ ‬‮١٧٧٦‬‭. ‬وهو‭ ‬يمثل‭ ‬إعادة‭ ‬بناء‭ ‬امريكا‭ ‬كدولة‭ ‬مستقلة‭ ‬مبنية‭ ‬على‭ ‬مبادئ‭ ‬الحرية‭ ‬والعدالة‭ ‬للجميع‭. ‬وكأمريكيين‭ ‬فنحن‭ ‬نقف‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الضعيف‭ ‬والمضطهد‭. ‬وكعرب‭ ‬امريكيين‭ ‬فنحن‭ ‬نقف‭ ‬ضد‭ ‬كل‭ ‬أنواع‭ ‬التعسف‭ ‬كم‭ ‬ذكر‭ ‬بالآية‭ ‬الكريمة‭ ‬‮«‬يَا‭ ‬أَيُّهَا‭ ‬الَّذِينَ‭ ‬آمَنُوا‭ ‬كُونُوا‭ ‬قَوَّامِينَ‭ ‬بِالْقِسْطِ‭ ‬شُهَدَاءَ‭ ‬لِلَّهِ‭ ‬وَلَوْ‭ ‬عَلَىٰ‭ ‬أَنْفُسِكُمْ‭ ‬أَوِ‭ ‬الْوَالِدَيْنِ‭ ‬وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ‮»‬‭..‬

ختان‭ ‬البنات‭ ‬هو‭ ‬عبارة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬ازالة‭ ‬حزء‭ ‬او‭ ‬كل‭ ‬العضو‭ ‬التناسلي‭ ‬للبنت‭. ‬وهذه‭ ‬الممارسة‭ ‬غير‭ ‬قانونية‭ ‬بالولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬ولا‭ ‬توجد‭ ‬لها‭ ‬أية‭ ‬ذكر‭ ‬في‭ ‬الكتب‭ ‬السماوية‭. ‬وتمارس‭ ‬من‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬فئة‭ ‬صغيرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬افريقيا‭ ‬والشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬وآسيا‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬عام‭ ‬‮١٩٩٧‬‭ ‬قامت‭ ‬المظمة‭ ‬العالمية‭ ‬للصحة‭ ‬والأمم‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬بإدانة‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الممارسة‭. ‬

وقد‭ ‬اخذت‭ ‬قضية‭ ‬الختان‭ ‬حيز‭ ‬كبير‭ ‬في‭ ‬الإعلام‭ ‬الأمريكي‭ ‬عندما‭ ‬قامت‭ ‬الطبيبة‭ ‬جمانا‭ ‬نجروالا‭ ‬بعمليات‭ ‬ختان‭ ‬على‭ ‬بنانت‭ ‬بولاية‭ ‬ميتشجين‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬كما‭ ‬جاء‭ ‬بالإدعاء‭ ‬عليها‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬الفترة‭ ‬الأخيرة‭ ‬تعرض‭ ‬الإمام‭ ‬شاكر‭ ‬السيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬دار‭ ‬الهجرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬فرجينيا‭ ‬الى‭ ‬الهجوم‭ ‬بسبب‭ ‬ندوة‭ ‬القاها‭ ‬في‭ ‬ربيع‭ ‬‮٢٠١٧‬‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الندوة‭ ‬اعطى‭ ‬تفسيره‭ ‬عن‭ ‬ختان‭ ‬البنات‭ ‬من‭ ‬منطلق‭ ‬اسلامي‭ ‬وكيفية‭ ‬تطبيقه‭.‬

وكما‭ ‬زُعم‭ ‬عنه‭ ‬فقد‭ ‬ذكر‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬الختان‭ ‬هو‭ ‬سنة‭ ‬للأولاد‭ ‬وعمل‭ ‬مشرف‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬به‭ ‬إن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬حاجة‭ ‬له‭ ‬للبنات‭. ‬وتابع‭ ‬شارحاً‭ ‬متى‭ ‬وكيف‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬به‭ ‬والهدف‭ ‬منه‭ ‬للتأكد‭ ‬من‭ ‬أن‭ ‬البنت‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬نشطة‭ ‬جنسيا‭. ‬

وبعد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬انتشرت‭ ‬الندوة‭ ‬بدأ‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬يتحدثون‭ ‬وبأخذون‭ ‬موقف‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطرف‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يختلف‭ ‬معهم‭. ‬فالبعض‭ ‬نندد‭ ‬بالإمام‭ ‬شاكر‭ ‬والبعض‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬اعلن‭ ‬تضامنه‭ ‬معه‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬خضم‭ ‬كل‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تبعه‭ ‬على‭ ‬مواقع‭ ‬التواصل‭ ‬الإجتماعي‭ ‬والإعلام‭ ‬السلبي‭ ‬والحملات‭ ‬اجد‭ ‬نفسي‭ ‬اتسائل‭ ‬اذا‭ ‬تم‭ ‬انصاف‭ ‬القضية‭. ‬هل‭ ‬استطاع‭ ‬المعترضون‭ ‬والمنددون‭ ‬من‭ ‬منع‭ ‬او‭ ‬ازالة‭ ‬ختان‭ ‬البنات‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬اغتيال‭ ‬شخصية‭ ‬الإمام‭ ‬والذي‭ ‬قضى‭ ‬اكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬‮٣٠‬‭ ‬عاما‭ ‬في‭ ‬خدمة‭ ‬الجالية‭ ‬المسلمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬فرجينيا؟‭ ‬هل‭ ‬استطاع‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬وقعوا‭ ‬العرائض‭ ‬من‭ ‬تحقيق‭ ‬العدالة‭ ‬في‭ ‬قضية‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يتأكد‭ ‬معضمنا‭ ‬من‭ ‬صحتها‭ ‬بعد؟

قبل‭ ‬ان‭ ‬اتحدث‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الشكوى‭ ‬من‭ ‬القضية‭ ‬اود‭ ‬ان‭ ‬اؤكد‭ ‬بأني‭ ‬ضد‭ ‬الختان‭ ‬بكل‭ ‬اشكاله‭ ‬وانواعه‭. ‬وان‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المواقف‭ ‬التي‭ ‬اتخذت‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يعبر‭ ‬عنها‭ ‬في‭ ‬العلن‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬لم‭ ‬يستطع‭ ‬المختلفون‭ ‬معهم‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬يعبروا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬آرائهم‭. ‬وكما‭ ‬نندت‭ ‬بالختان‭ ‬فأنا‭ ‬اندد‭ ‬بالفئوية‭ ‬والقبلية‭ ‬الفكرية‭ ‬بكل‭ ‬انواعها‭. ‬واجتماع‭ ‬مجموعة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬من‭ ‬اجل‭ ‬القضاء‭ ‬على‭ ‬شخص‭ ‬او‭ ‬مجموعة‭ ‬اخرى‭ ‬هو‭ ‬عمل‭ ‬غير‭ ‬انساني‭ ‬وغير‭ ‬عادل‭. ‬

وكعرب‭ ‬امريكيين‭ ‬تحتم‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬معتقداتنا‭ ‬بالإلتزام‭ ‬بالعدل‭ ‬دون‭ ‬تمييز‭ ‬بناء‭ ‬على‭ ‬العرق‭ ‬او‭ ‬الدين‭ ‬او‭ ‬اللون‭ ‬او‭ ‬اختلاف‭ ‬بالرأي‭. ‬ولكننا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬زلنا‭ ‬مخيبين‭ ‬للأمل‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬ندّعي‭  ‬بإلزام‭ ‬انفسنا‭ ‬لنصرة‭ ‬الضعيف‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬من‭ ‬هم‭ ‬مستضعفين‭ ‬ويعانون‭ ‬حولنا‭ ‬ونتجنبهم‭ ‬وكأنهم‭ ‬الطاعون‭. ‬وندعى‭ ‬الإلتزام‭ ‬بالوقوف‭ ‬مع‭ ‬قادتنا‭ ‬ونتخلى‭ ‬عنهم‭ ‬عند‭ ‬ارتكابهم‭ ‬خطاء‭. ‬

واسأل‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬هاجموا‭ ‬الشيخ‭ ‬شاكر‭ ‬السيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬منهم‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يخطئ؟‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬يستطيع‭ ‬ان‭ ‬يدّعي‭ ‬بأنه‭ ‬لم‭ ‬ينتهك‭ ‬حق‭ ‬انسان‭ ‬آخر؟‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يدعون‭ ‬الى‭ ‬حقوق‭ ‬الإنسان‭ ‬ويذهبون‭ ‬الى‭ ‬بيوتهم‭ ‬ليتعدوا‭ ‬على‭ ‬حقوق‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬في‭ ‬بيوتهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬العنف‭ ‬الأسري‭. ‬هل‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬تعميم؟‭ ‬نعم‭ ‬

ولكن‭ ‬خزل‭ ‬خبرة‭ ‬وحياة‭ ‬رجل‭ ‬في‭ ‬خطأ‭ ‬ارتكبه‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬جملة‭ ‬لفظها‭ ‬كما‭ ‬أدعي‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬هو‭ ‬ايضا‭ ‬تعميم‭.‬

وقبل‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬الحكم‭ ‬والمدعي‭ ‬والمحلفين‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬اذكياء‭. ‬فيجب‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬كجالية‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نتأكد‭ ‬من‭ ‬صحة‭ ‬اي‭ ‬خبر‭ ‬والظروف‭ ‬التي‭ ‬حدث‭ ‬خلالها‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نفتح‭ ‬النار‭. ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬ملتزمين‭ ‬بالقضية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬نؤمن‭ ‬بها‭. ‬

فظاعة‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يدافع‭ ‬احد‭ ‬قادة‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬عن‭ ‬ختان‭ ‬البنات‭ ‬لن‭ ‬يمر‭ ‬مرور‭ ‬الكرام‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نحكم‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬صلاحية‭ ‬وموصوعية‭ ‬في‭ ‬الطرح‭. ‬يجب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يسمع‭ ‬احدنا‭ ‬للآخر‭ ‬وتأسيس‭ ‬اسس‭ ‬للتعامل‭ ‬واستغلال‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المواقف‭ ‬لإكساب‭ ‬الخبرة‭. ‬فالإلتزام‭ ‬بقضايا‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬هو‭ ‬التزام‭ ‬بالجيد‭ ‬والسيئ‭ ‬وكل‭ ‬شيئ‭ ‬بينهما‭. ‬فنبتسم‭ ‬في‭ ‬المواقف‭ ‬الجيدة‭ ‬ويكون‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬شخصية‭ ‬بالمواقف‭ ‬الصعبة‭ ‬ونثابر‭ ‬فيما‭ ‬بينهما‭. ‬

وكما‭ ‬نقترب‭ ‬من‭ ‬الرابع‭ ‬من‭ ‬يوليو‭ ‬ادعوا‭ ‬افراد‭ ‬جاليتي‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬بالبحث‭ ‬داخلهم‭ ‬ليجدوا‭ ‬من‭ ‬هم‭. ‬وكيف‭ ‬تستخدمون‭ ‬حقوقكم‭ ‬ومكتسباتكم‭ ‬لتحققوا‭ ‬تغيراً‭ ‬ايجابيا‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬العالم؟