Dustin Craun
Dustin Craun

Dustin Craun is a writer, entrepreneur, scholar, publisher, and digital media strategist. His work in digital media has been featured in over 200 global publications, and his writings on race, philosophy, and Islamic studies have been published in academic journals and popular publications. He is the founder of Beyond Borders Studios, a digital creative agency, and Co-Founder of MPower Change.

Prayer wins! Victory at Standing Rock

Our Native American family just set a powerful example for our communities going into 2017—how to stand strong against forces that can seem all-powerful and unbeatable, and how to WIN.

The Army’s announcement on Sunday, denying an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, marked a powerful victory. And we should be clear: this wasn’t a gift from President Obama or his administration—it was the result of a hard-fought struggle by the Standing Rock Sioux, supported by the more than 200 tribes who came together as water protectors and the thousands of allies like you from around the world who stood in solidarity with this movement.

This was also a victory for prayerful protest and a historic moment for faith-rooted organizing. The water protectors reminded us all that we must lead this organizing and social justice work with faith and prayer, even in the face of tear gas, attack dogs, rubber bullets, and water cannons.

We were honored to stand with Standing Rock and to call on Muslim communities to send their support. In October, our letter from 100 community leaders—most of them imams and religious scholars—and our video of young folks from our community reading the letter helped thousands of Muslims engage. By working with Native Muslims in the camp at Sacred Stone, we gave our community first-hand insights into the struggle to protect the water. And we helped raise over $15,000 for the movement and delivered ZamZam water to the tribal president of the Standing Rock Sioux.

We know that we must stay vigilant moving forward—driven by insatiable greed, the corporations behind the pipeline have vowed to press on with their assault on sacred water and land. But we should also take the time to celebrate what this win means for indigenous communities and the example it sets for all of us.

Author and activist Naomi Klein was at the Standing Rock camp when the decision was announced. Watch this powerful video of Klein interviewing 13-year-old Tokata Iron Eyes, someone many people credit with starting this remarkable movement.

Naomi Klein video from Standing Rock

In this moment, Muslim communities around the United States are struggling with concerns about our future as we head into 2017. What greater gift could we have than the incredible example of organizing and activism we just witnessed at Standing Rock? Our indigenous family have shown us how victories are achieved: not by wishing our oppressors success, but by standing firm and having faith in ourselves and our communities, even in the face of overwhelming force and violence.

We pray for the continued victories of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and all those who supported this movement: whether by their presence at the camps, or through their prayers and financial support. May this movement be the spark for us all to have the courage we need moving forward, God willing.

 

Muslims Defend the Sacred – Solidarity with Standing Rock

Nearly 100 faith leaders from Muslim communities throughout the United States signed this letter of solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock.

To make a donation towards some much needed supplies, please check out our Launchgood campaign.

 

In the Name of God the Merciful, the Mercy Giving,

We must defend the sacred.

We send greetings of peace to all our American Indian sisters and brothers in these times of great violence and destruction.

The struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux and the incredible unity on display right now by American Indian tribes from across the land is inspiring the world. We stand with you for the sacred, for the water, for the Earth, and for human dignity.

Muslims from within and outside of American Indian communities stand with you for the sacred, for the water, for the Earth, and for human dignity. And we acknowledge that many of us are guests here on these great continents, your original homelands, named by some as Turtle Island.

As Muslims, these are blessed days in our calendar, a time of year when millions of people are gathered together in Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage. Part of the Islamic tradition of making pilgrimage to Mecca involves a reenactment of a Mother (Hajar / Hagar, the wife of Abraham) looking for water in the desert for her child who would otherwise die of thirst. She searched back and forth across two mountains until she prayed to All Mighty God and a spring miraculously opened for her. That spring, the well of Zam Zam, still flows in Mecca abundantly to this day.

Our sacred scripture, the Qur’an, states clearly, “We made every living thing from water.”

We know that water is life. Water is so central to our lives as Muslims that we use it to purify ourselves five times daily for prayer. However, there is a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad related to the conservation of water that says we should not waste it even if we are washing for prayer on the banks of a river.

Similar to many of your beliefs, Islam teaches that humanity is put here on this planet not to sow corruption and to destroy the land for capital as we are witnessing all around us, but that God put us here as protectors of the Earth. You have been the protectors of these lands today called the United States for millennia and that the injustices you’ve faced by this country are immeasurable. We honor all that our sisters and brothers have done in protecting this land and calling us all to stand for issues of indigenous land rights, environmental rights and responsibility, and more.

What you are doing at Standing Rock is the highest duty as a human in speaking truth in the face of injustice. We stand together with you as Muslims here on this land from all across the Earth–those born here, ones who immigrated, the descendants of those brought here as slaves, and the growing communities of American Indian Muslims.

At a time when our communities only hear lies about one another in the press, this is the moment to come together as people and to know one another so we can build a better world for all.

Our prayers are with you in these days. Please let us know how we can support you in your struggle. We are sending funds to support your movement and water from the well of Zam Zam as a symbolic sign of sacredness and solidarity.

We pray that The Creator gives you strength, may your struggle be victorious and may your journey be blessed.

Sincerely,

Abdul Hakim Hamid, Imam
Abdullah Ali, Zaytuna College
Abu Qadir Alamin, SF Muslim Community Center
Aisha al-Adawiya, Founder, Women In Islam Inc
Altaf Husain, Associate Professor, Howard University -School of Social Work
Ameena Jandali
Bilal Ansari, Chaplain
Colleen Keyes
Dalia Mogahed, Director of Research, ISPU
Dawud Walid, Executive Director, CAIR-MI
Dawud Walid, Imam, ED at CAIR MI
Dr. Ahmad Jaber, President, Islamic Mission of America
Dr. Hatem Bazian, Co-Founder and Professor, Zaytuna College, National Chair, American Muslims for Palestine.
Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, Chairperson, Michigan Muslim Community Council
Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Sapelo Square
Dustin Craun, Founder, Ummah Wide
Faatimah Knight
Fatima Salman
Heba Macksoud, Director, Zaytuna College
Hind Makki, Islamic Society of North America, Program Committee
Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, CAIR-LA
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sound Vision
Imam Omar Suleiman, President, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research
Imam Sayyid Hassan Al-Qazwini, Islamic Institute of America
Imraan Siddiqi, Executive Director, CAIR-AZ
J. Lamptey, Director, ISJIE
Jamaal Diwan, Imam and Chaplain
Joe Bradford, Director, Wellspring Endowment
Kalia Abiade, Advocacy Director, Center for New Community
Kameelah Rashad, Founder & President, Muslim Wellness Foundation
Khalid Latif, Executive Director, ICNYU
Layla Fayiz
Linda Sarsour, Co-founder, MPower Change
Mansoor Sabree, Regional Director
Marc Manley, Middle Ground
Margari Hill, Programming Director, Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Mark Crain, MoveOn.org – Director of Digital Innovation
Mark Gonzales, Founder, Narrative Growth
Mika’il Stewart Saadiq, Outreach Director, Michigan Muslim Community Council
Mohamad Joban, Imam
Mohamed T Khairullah, Mayor of the Borough of Prospect Park
Mohammad Ali Naquvi, Advocacy Director, Husayn Center for Social Justice
Mohammed Faqih, Imam, Islamic Institute of Orange County
Mohammed Khaku
Moustafa Kamel, Religious Director at WCIS
Mufti Mohmmed Wasim Khan, Director of ISRA Foundation
Mus’ab Abdalla
Muslema Purmul, Chaplain at UCLA, USC, and UCI
Nomaan Baig, Director, Institute of Knowledge
Noor Raheemullah Hasan, Executive Director, Muslim Women’s Alliance
Rasheeda Plenty
Rubina Tareen, Islamic Society of Schuylkill County
Ryan B. Hilliard, Youth Director, Islamic Association of Collin County
S. Hadi Qazwini
Saad Eldegwy, Imam of San Diego
Sabiha Ahmed
Salahadeen Osman, Imam of Salahadeen Center of Nashville
Salahuddin M. Muhammad, Associate Imam, As Salaam Islamic Center
Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Salim Patel, Commissioner, Passaic Board of Education
Shahed Amanullah, Co-Founder, Affinis Labs
Shaikh Suhail Mulla, Islamic Society of West Valley
Shamsi Ali, Imam, Jamaica Muslim Center, NY
Souleiman Konate, Imam Masjid Aqsa
Sulaiman Ahmad, Imam & Religious Director
Suroor Raheemullah, Board Director, Muslim Womens Alliance
Taha Hassane, Imam of Islamic Center of San Diego
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Law Office of Tahirah Amatul-Wadus
Tamara Gray, Executive Director, Rabata
Tarif Shraim, Muslim Chaplain, University of Maryland
Umar Hakim, Executive Director, SHE
Usama Canon, Founding Director Ta’leef Collective
Yusuf Yasin, Resident Scholar, Maktab Fath al-Bab
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
Zaid Khan
Zein Rimawi, Vice President, Arab Muslim American Federation

Building Faith Rooted Community Organizing in the Muslim American Community

When I was twenty years old I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time and the power of Brother Malcolm’s story lead me to the 4 great passions of my life: Islam and working in Muslim communities globally, faith rooted community organizing, fighting for racial and economic justice in the world, and the development of media institutions. My first experience with faith-rooted organizing came in 2004 when I stood in the streets of Denver with the American Indian Movement of Colorado who led us in prayer and in action as we stopped the Columbus Day parade. From that moment on I knew that people of faith had to bring their voices to bear on the important issues of our times and it was with that in mind that I started my work with the PICO National Network in 2011. PICO is building powerful faith rooted networks throughout the United States working on issues primarily in Christian communities ranging from mass incarceration, to poverty and rights and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the United States. It was with this network that I started building faith-rooted organizing in Muslim communities by focusing on building a powerful network of clergy and focusing on my home Mosque, a mosque I helped to found, the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland.

On March 4th, 2014 the Bay Area Muslim community turned out in huge numbers to an Oakland City Council meeting to stop the building of the Domain Awareness Center (DAC), a proposed city-wide surveillance system. Driven by Imam Zaid Shakir the co-founder of Zaytuna College and the Imam of the Lighthouse Mosque in North Oakland, the mosque decided to explore the deep connections between mass incarceration, racial profiling, surveillance and mass deportation by throwing itself into the campaign to stop the building of the DAC which would have created a $12 million dollar Department of Homeland Security-funded surveillance center that would have aggregated information from nearly 1,000 video cameras, sensors, social media feeds and real-time data that could spy on anyone within Oakland city limits.  Working with key privacy, and civil liberty advocates the Bay Area Muslim community played an instrumental role in stopping the building of the DAC and confining it solely to cover the port of Oakland. Imam Zaid, one of 30 Muslims sharing public testimony at the council meeting, stated, “This is not a Muslim issue, but an American issue. We don’t want other communities to go through what the Muslim community has gone through.” This was a powerful Muslim faith-based organizing victory that is resonating throughout the Bay Area.

With strong opposition from local privacy activists, the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, the city initially passed the building of this city wide surveillance center in July of 2013. Once the Muslim community became involved it added extra strength to the organizing by bringing in powerful faith voices and personal testimonies about what surveillance has meant for the Muslim community and how it has stifled civic engagement amongst Muslims by creating a deep culture of fear and distrust.

From Oakland to New York City the Muslim community has faced the largest counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) in the history of the United States, with at least 15,000 paid informants and an estimated 45,000 unpaid infiltrators and informants in our mosques, we have been singled out at political protests, our families have been divided, and we have even had people in our community entrapped by the FBI. Despite all of this, this action by the Lighthouse Mosque and other area Oakland mosques was the first major mosque led congregation based organizing victory within the Muslim community over the last decade.

In the interfaith funders recent report Building Bridges, Building Power: Developments in Institution-Based Community Organizing it was reported that Mosques represent only 1% of the 4500 total member institutions make up the ecology of the Congregation Based Organizing (CBO) field. This does not mean that Muslim communities have not been organizing for decades with the likes of Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, and Warrith Dean Muhammad communities leading the way in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Starting in the early 1990s up to today a number of organizations led by the Inner-city Muslim Action Network in Chicago, Desi’s Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), the Arab American Association of New York, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco and many others have built powerful, though often underfunded work around a number of important issues within the Muslim and larger AMEMSA community. However, most of this work was not led through a congregation based organizing model.

Over the last nine years, I have worked within the Bay Area Muslim community, and over the last three years I have worked with the PICO National network to explore the state of Muslim organizing within the network and key opportunities for us to deepen our relationships to key Muslim clergy, faith leaders and congregations. With the example, we set working with the Lighthouse Mosque, and as the number of Muslim organizers and mosque involvement in organizing grows throughout the country the time is now for foundations to make investments in organizing on a local level within the Muslim community. The Muslim community lives at the center of a number of social injustices that affect people throughout the United States broadly, ranging from Mass incarceration in the United States, to immigration struggles similar to many communities, to the laser focus of racial and religious profiling of the surveillance state on the Muslim community (by the NSA, FBI, as well as local police departments such as the NYPD), as well as global war and drone warfare within the countries where many American-Muslims are from.

We hope to continue this type of work with MPower Change rooted in the values of our faith. For us this work is rooted in a chapter of the Qur’an called The Quarters where God speaks of the divine purpose of the diversity we live within in our world, “People, We created you from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware.” (49:13). These words in the Arabic language Li Taarifu mean to recognize or to know one another is about truly seeing each others humanity within the divine light we are all born into. It is interesting that just a few lines before these words in the same chapter of the Qur’an are the lines that the Muslim community had printed on signs and held at the Oakland city council meeting,  “Do not spy on one another.” As God is warning us here if we spy on another, if we back bite and speak badly about one another, we ultimately create mistrust, stereotypes, and misunderstandings of one another. Misunderstandings, prejudices, and racism which can create hatred between people and keep us from living into and understanding the divine purpose of our diversity and differences across race, gender, nationality, and religion. Multi-faith organizing forces us to be in relationship with one another so that all of our families, can live dignified lives together as we take on the great triple evils that Martin Luther King warned us of at the end of his life of poverty, racism, and war. As the great Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman reminds us in his piece “Come to the Hills (We Must Win)” it is not a question or a choice for us to work on these issues, this is a matter of life and death for many communities, and “We must win.”

This post was originally published at The San Francisco Foundation by Dustin Craun.

Building Faith Rooted Community Organizing in the Muslim American Community

When I was twenty years old I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time and the power of Brother Malcolm’s story lead me to the 4 great passions of my life: Islam and working in Muslim communities globally, faith rooted community organizing, fighting for racial and economic justice in the world, and the development of media institutions. My first experience with faith-rooted organizing came in 2004 when I stood in the streets of Denver with the American Indian Movement of Colorado who led us in prayer and in action as we stopped the Columbus Day parade. From that moment on I knew that people of faith had to bring their voices to bear on the important issues of our times and it was with that in mind that I started my work with the PICO National Network in 2011. PICO is building powerful faith rooted networks throughout the United States working on issues primarily in Christian communities ranging from mass incarceration, to poverty and rights and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the United States. It was with this network that I started building faith-rooted organizing in Muslim communities by focusing on building a powerful network of clergy and focusing on my home Mosque, a mosque I helped to found, the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland.

On March 4th, 2014 the Bay Area Muslim community turned out in huge numbers to an Oakland City Council meeting to stop the building of the Domain Awareness Center (DAC), a proposed city-wide surveillance system. Driven by Imam Zaid Shakir the co-founder of Zaytuna College and the Imam of the Lighthouse Mosque in North Oakland, the mosque decided to explore the deep connections between mass incarceration, racial profiling, surveillance and mass deportation by throwing itself into the campaign to stop the building of the DAC which would have created a $12 million dollar Department of Homeland Security-funded surveillance center that would have aggregated information from nearly 1,000 video cameras, sensors, social media feeds and real-time data that could spy on anyone within Oakland city limits.  Working with key privacy, and civil liberty advocates the Bay Area Muslim community played an instrumental role in stopping the building of the DAC and confining it solely to cover the port of Oakland. Imam Zaid, one of 30 Muslims sharing public testimony at the council meeting, stated, “This is not a Muslim issue, but an American issue. We don’t want other communities to go through what the Muslim community has gone through.” This was a powerful Muslim faith-based organizing victory that is resonating throughout the Bay Area.

With strong opposition from local privacy activists, the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, the city initially passed the building of this city wide surveillance center in July of 2013. Once the Muslim community became involved it added extra strength to the organizing by bringing in powerful faith voices and personal testimonies about what surveillance has meant for the Muslim community and how it has stifled civic engagement amongst Muslims by creating a deep culture of fear and distrust.

From Oakland to New York City the Muslim community has faced the largest counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) in the history of the United States, with at least 15,000 paid informants and an estimated 45,000 unpaid infiltrators and informants in our mosques, we have been singled out at political protests, our families have been divided, and we have even had people in our community entrapped by the FBI. Despite all of this, this action by the Lighthouse Mosque and other area Oakland mosques was the first major mosque led congregation based organizing victory within the Muslim community over the last decade.

In the interfaith funders recent report Building Bridges, Building Power: Developments in Institution-Based Community Organizing it was reported that Mosques represent only 1% of the 4500 total member institutions make up the ecology of the Congregation Based Organizing (CBO) field. This does not mean that Muslim communities have not been organizing for decades with the likes of Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, and Warrith Dean Muhammad communities leading the way in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Starting in the early 1990s up to today a number of organizations led by the Inner-city Muslim Action Network in Chicago, Desi’s Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), the Arab American Association of New York, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco and many others have built powerful, though often underfunded work around a number of important issues within the Muslim and larger AMEMSA community. However, most of this work was not led through a congregation based organizing model.

Over the last nine years, I have worked within the Bay Area Muslim community, and over the last three years I have worked with the PICO National network to explore the state of Muslim organizing within the network and key opportunities for us to deepen our relationships to key Muslim clergy, faith leaders and congregations. With the example, we set working with the Lighthouse Mosque, and as the number of Muslim organizers and mosque involvement in organizing grows throughout the country the time is now for foundations to make investments in organizing on a local level within the Muslim community. The Muslim community lives at the center of a number of social injustices that affect people throughout the United States broadly, ranging from Mass incarceration in the United States, to immigration struggles similar to many communities, to the laser focus of racial and religious profiling of the surveillance state on the Muslim community (by the NSA, FBI, as well as local police departments such as the NYPD), as well as global war and drone warfare within the countries where many American-Muslims are from.

We hope to continue this type of work with MPower Change rooted in the values of our faith. For us this work is rooted in a chapter of the Qur’an called The Quarters where God speaks of the divine purpose of the diversity we live within in our world, “People, We created you from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware.” (49:13). These words in the Arabic language Li Taarifu mean to recognize or to know one another is about truly seeing each others humanity within the divine light we are all born into. It is interesting that just a few lines before these words in the same chapter of the Qur’an are the lines that the Muslim community had printed on signs and held at the Oakland city council meeting,  “Do not spy on one another.” As God is warning us here if we spy on another, if we back bite and speak badly about one another, we ultimately create mistrust, stereotypes, and misunderstandings of one another. Misunderstandings, prejudices, and racism which can create hatred between people and keep us from living into and understanding the divine purpose of our diversity and differences across race, gender, nationality, and religion. Multi-faith organizing forces us to be in relationship with one another so that all of our families, can live dignified lives together as we take on the great triple evils that Martin Luther King warned us of at the end of his life of poverty, racism, and war. As the great Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman reminds us in his piece “Come to the Hills (We Must Win)” it is not a question or a choice for us to work on these issues, this is a matter of life and death for many communities, and “We must win.”

This post was originally published at The San Francisco Foundation by Dustin Craun.