Lassana Bathily, Muslim employee of Paris kosher deli. Photo by Screengrab from Buzzfeed
One of the unsung heroes after Friday’s hostage crisis at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris was a Muslim employee, who hid shoppers in a basement walk-in freezer while terrorists seized hostages just upstairs.
The shop was busy on a Friday as Jewish customers bought specialties for the Sabbath, which began at sunset that night. But its clientele was as diverse as the neighborhood where it sat: Twenty-five-year-old French Muslim Malik Zaditold The Washington Post that “It’s a kosher store, but not only Jews go there. I go there… In this neighborhood, there are Muslims, Jews, Christians.”
Four people were killed Friday when the terrorist Amedy Coulibaly took several hostages inside a Kosher market in Paris, but that number may well have been higher were it not for a quick-thinking employee of the market named Lassana Bathily.
Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali, was working in the store in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood when the Islamist gunman burst in.
As panic ensued, up to 15 customers in the store hurried down to the store basement, when Bathily had an idea.
“When they ran down, I opened the door [to the freezer],” he told France’s BFMTV.
He quickly shut off the freezer and switched off its light. As he closed the door to shelter the customers inside, he told them,“Stay calm here. I’m going out.”
Eventually police raided the market, killing Coulibaly. As the hostages were freed from the freezer, they had a few words of thanks for Bathily. “They congratulated me,” he told BFMTV.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BATHILY WAS BEING PRAISED AS A HERO FOR HIS ACTIONS.
Lest we forget, there are also Muslims who wear “white hats.” The majority are good, productive and loyal citizens.
#JeSuisAhmed Reveals The Hero Of The Paris Shooting Everyone Needs To Know
In the hours following the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, much of the public support has been directed toward the victims that worked for the magazine, like editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier, 76-year-old cartoonist Jean Cabut and economist Bernard Maris.
… but it’s equally important to remember that the lives of the victims extended beyond the confines of the magazine.
Two of those killed, 42-year-old Ahmed Merabet and 49-year-old Franck Brinsolaro, were police officers — the very people tasked with protecting Charlie Hebdo‘s staff. Merabet’s death was captured on film during a French television broadcast and shared quickly across social media. Two masked gunmen can be seen approaching him, ignoring his pleas to spare his life.
Who Was He? As information about the victims began to filter out, the world learned that Merabet worked at a police station in Paris’ 11th Arrondissement, near the location of Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. Reports also emerged that Merabet was himself Muslim.
He gave his life to protect Charlie Hebdo‘s right to ridicule his religion, a powerful fact that has now become a trending hashtag on Twitter
Merabet’s Sacrifice Matters: Each of the 12 victims deserves equal remembrance and respect. But given the Islamophobic backlash that has already ripped through France — several mosques were vandalized overnight, and many fear that the Charlie Hebdo attack is to blame — the country is in a dangerous place when it comes to anti-Muslim sentiment.
Instead of assuming that everyone who practices Islam is tied to the extremists who carried out Wednesday’s violence, we would do well to remember that that vast majority are, in fact, much closer to Ahmed Merabet.
For the first time in history, Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran will be heard at the Vatican on Sunday, in a move by Pope Francis to usher in peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Francis issued the invitation to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit last week to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas, Peres, and Francis will be joined by Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious leaders, a statement released by Peres’s spokesperson said, according to the Times of Israel.
Holy See officials on Friday said the evening prayers would be a “pause in politics” and had no political aim other than to rekindle the desire for Israeli-Palestinian peace at the political and popular level, according to the Associated Press.
And from the Times of Israel…
President Shimon Peres will head to the Vatican on Sunday to participate in an interfaith peace prayer event at the invitation of Pope Francis.
Francis issued the invitation to Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit last week to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.
According to a statement released by Peres’s spokesperson, Abbas, Peres, and Francis will be joined by Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious leaders.
The event will feature readings about peace by the clergy from the Tanach, the New Testament and the Quran. Francis will then read religious verses with Peres and Abbas, which the three will have selected for the ceremony.
Israel’s delegation, which the Chief Rabbinate helped to select, will include members of the local Jewish, Druze and Muslim communities.
And most importantly, the official statement from the Vatican…
Vatican Radio) At a press conference in the Vatican on Friday, the head of the Holy See’s press office, Fr Federico Lombardi, and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, announced details of a prayer encounter to be held on Sunday with the presidents of Israel and Palestine. Also attending the event will be the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Pope Francis invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the encounter on May 25th during his brief but intense visit to the Holy Land.
“Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment.” Those were Pope Francis’ words to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents when he invited them to come to the Vatican to join him in “heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.” Both leaders immediately accepted that invitation and will be arriving in the Vatican around 6.30pm on Sunday evening, accompanied by delegations of about 20 people representing the different faith communities present in both states. Also taking part in the Vatican delegation will be the Orthodox Patriarch who played such a central role in the Pope’s recent pilgrimage to Jerusalem to recall a similar encounter between their predecessors exactly half a century ago.
Following a brief welcome in the Casa Santa Marta where he lives, Pope Francis will accompany the two presidents and the patriarch through the Vatican gardens to a specially prepared venue surrounded by two tall hedges between the Pontifical Academy of Sciences building and a wing of the Vatican museums.
Fr Lombardi explained that each faith community will present a piece of music, then thank God for the gift of creation, ask forgiveness for sins committed and pray for the gift of peace.
Pope Francis and the two presidents will add their own calls for peace in the region, before exchanging greetings, planting an olive tree as a visible symbol of their desire for an end to the conflict and sharing a moment of private conversation together.
Answering journalists’ questions about the aim of the encounter, Fr Pizzaballa said it is a purely religious event designed to provide space for people to stand back from the conflict and “recreate a desire for change”. While the meeting will not lead to any overnight solutions to the complex problems of the Middle East, Fr Pizzaballa said he hoped it might just reopen a path of dialogue and allow people to dream of a world where peace really is possible.
Ikhshidid dynasty (on behalf of the Abbasid Caliph, 935–969)
Fatimid dynasty (based in Ifriqiya 909–969, based in Egypt 969–1171)
Ayyubid dynasty (based in Egypt 1171–1250, based in Syria 1250–1341)
Mamluks of Egypt (Bahri Mamluks 1250–1382, Burji Mamluks 1382–1517)
Khedivian dynasty (1805–1952)
Independent kingdoms in Egyptian and Sudanese soils:
Banu Kanz (1004–1412)
Sultanate of Darfur (1603–1874)
Ifriqiya (Eastern Maghreb)
Aghlabids (on behalf of the Abbasid Caliph, 800–909)
Fatimid dynasty (based in Ifriqiya 909–969, based in Egypt 969–1171)
Zirid dynasty (on behalf of the Fatimid Caliph 973–1048, independent 1048–1148)
Hafsid dynasty (1229–1574)
Muradid dynasty (1613–1705)
Husainid Dynasty (on behalf of the Ottoman Caliph 1705–1889, independent 1956–1957)
Independent kingdoms on Ifriqiyan soil
Muhallabid principality (771–793 CE)
Libyan dynasties (after 1551)
Karamanli dynasty (on behalf of the Ottoman Caliph, 1711–1835)
Senussi dynasty (in Cyrenaica 1918–1951, Kings of Libya 1951–1969)
Emirate of Nekor (710–1019 CE)
Barghawata kingdom (744–1058 CE)
Emirate of Sijilmasa (771–821 CE)
Independent kingdoms on Algerian soil
Rustamid principality (776–909)
Ifranid dynasty (790–1066)
Hammadid dynasty (1008–1152)
Ziyyanid dynasty (1235–1556)
Horn Of Africa
Sultanate of Mogadishu (10th–16th centuries)
Ifat Sultanate (1285–1415)
Warsangali Sultanate (1298–present)
Adal Sultanate (c. 1415–1555)
Walashma Dynasty (14th–16th centuries)
Ajuran Empire (14th–17th centuries)
Aussa Sultanate (16th century–present)
Emirs of Harar (1647–1887)
Mudaito dynasty (1734–present)
Geledi sultanate (18th–19th centuries)
Majeerteen Sultanate (mid-18th century–early 20th century)
Kingdom of Gomma (early 19th century–1886)
Kingdom of Jimma (1830–1932)
Kingdom of Gumma (1840–1902)
Sultanate of Hobyo (19th century–1925)
Dervish State (1896–1920)
Kilwa Sultanate (957–1513 CE)
Pate Sultanate (1203–1870)
Sennar (sultanate) (1523–1821)
Sultans on the Comoros
Sultanate of Zanzibar (1856–1964)
Central & West Africa
Kingdom of Nekor (710–1019 CE)
Za Dynasty in Gao (11th century–1275)
Sayfawa dynasty (1075–1846)
Songhai Empire (c. 1340–1591)
Bornu Empire (1396–1893)
Kingdom of Baguirmi (1522–1897)
Dendi Kingdom (1591–1901)
Sultanate of Damagaram (1731–1851)
Imamate of Futa Toro (1776–1861)
Imamate of Futa Jallon (1727–1896)
Sokoto Caliphate (1804–1903)
Toucouleur Empire (1836–1890)
Aghlabid Sicily (827–909) CE
Caliphate of Córdoba (756–1017 CE, 1023–1031)
Taifa of Alpuente (1009–1106)
Taifa of Badajoz (1009–1151)
Taifa of Morón (1010–1066)
Taifa of Toledo (1010–1085)
Taifa of Tortosa (1010–1099)
Taifa of Arcos (1011–1145)
Taifa of Almería (1010–1147)
Taifa of Denia (1010–1227)
Taifa of Valencia (1010–1238)
Taifa of Murcia (1011–1266)
Taifa of Albarracín (1012–1104)
Taifa of Zaragoza (1013–1110)
Taifa of Granada (1013–1145)
Taifa of Carmona (1013–1150)
Hammudid dynasty (1016–1073)
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Taifa of Mallorca (1018–1203)
Taifa of Lisbon (1022–1093)
Taifa of Seville (1023–1091)
Taifa of Niebla (1023–1262)
Taifa of Córdoba (1031–1091)
Taifa of Mértola (1033–1151)
Taifa of Algeciras (1035–1058)
Taifa of Ronda (1039–1065)
Taifa of Silves (1040–1151)
Taifa of Málaga (1073–1239)
Taifa of Molina (c. 1080’s–1100)
Taifa of Lorca (1228–1250)
Taifa of Menorca (1228–1287)
Emirate of Granada (1228–1492)
Eastern Europe & Russia:
Volga Bulgaria (7th century–1240s CE)
Emirate of Crete (820s–961)
Avar Khanate (early 13th–19th century)
Khanate of Kazan (1438–1552)
Crimean Khanate (1441–1783)
Nogai Horde (1440s–1634)
Qasim Khanate (1452–1681)
Astrakhan Khanate (1466–1556)
Khanate of Sibir (1490–1598)
Pashalik of Scutari (1757–1831)
House of Zogu (1928–1939)
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VICE Mexico traveled to San Cristóbal—in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico—to meet Cheb Cheb Ibrahim, one of the first Mexican Indians to convert to Islam and a member of the only indigenous Muslim community in Mexico. There, Cheb Cheb showed off the mosque he has built with the help of Muslim architect Percy Moranchel.
Omar ibn Said (1770–1864) was a writer and Islamic scholar, born and educated in what is now Senegal, who was enslaved and transported to the United States. There, while enslaved for the remainder of his life, he wrote a series of works of history and theology, including a subsequently famous autobiography.
Omar ibn Said was born in present-day Senegal in Futa Tooro, a region along the Middle Senegal River in West Africa, to a wealthy family. He was an Islamic scholar and a Fula who spent 25 years of his life studying with prominent Muslim scholars, learning subjects ranging from arithmetic to theology in Africa. In 1807, he was captured during a military conflict, enslaved and taken across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. He escaped from a cruel master in Charleston, South Carolina, and journeyed to Fayetteville, North Carolina. There he was recaptured and later sold toJames Owen. Said lived into his mid-nineties and was still a slave at the time of his death in 1864. He was buried in Bladen County, North Carolina. Omar ibn Said was also known as Uncle Moreau and Prince Omeroh.
Although Omar converted to Christianity on December 3, 1820, many modern scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible, and a card dated 1857 on which he wrote Surat An-Nasr, a short sura which refers to the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam ‘in multitudes.’ The back of this card contains another person’s handwriting in English misidentifying the sura as the Lord’s Prayer and attesting to Omar’s status as a good Christian.
Additionally, while others writing on Omar’s behalf identified him as a Christian, his own autobiography and other writings offer more of an ambiguous position. In the autobiography, he still offers praise to Muhammad when describing his life in his own country; his references to “Jesus the Messiah” in fact parallel Quranic descriptions of Jesus (who is called المسيح ‘the Messiah’ a total of 11 times in the Quran), and descriptions of Jesus as ‘our lord/master’ (سيدنا) employ the typical Islamic honorific for prophets and is not to be confused with Lord (ربّ); and description of Jesus as ‘bringing grace and truth’ (a reference to John 1:14) is equally appropriate to the conception of Jesus in Islam. Given Omar’s circumstances of enslavement “among the Christians” and the possibilities of lobbying for his freedom that only came with confessing Christianity, his conversion can be argued to have been made under duress. In 1991, a masjid in Fayetteville, North Carolina renamed itself Masjid Omar Ibn Said in his honor.
Omar ibn Said is widely known for fourteen manuscripts that he wrote in Arabic. Out of all of his Arabic manuscripts, he is best known for hisautobiographical essay written in 1831. It describes some of the events of his life and includes reflections on his steadfast adherence to Islam and his openness towards other ‘God fearing’ people. On the surface the document may appear to be tolerant towards slavery, however Said begins it with Surat Al-Mulk, a chapter from the Qur’an, which states that only God has sovereignty over human beings.
Most of Said’s other work consisted of Islamic manuscripts in Arabic, including a handwritten copy of some short chapters (surat) from the Qur’an that are now part of the North Carolina Collection in the Wilson Library at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His Bible, a translation into Arabic published by a missionary society, which has notations in Arabic by Omar, is part of the rare books collection at Davidson College. Transcribing from memory, ibn Said made some mistakes in his work, notably at the start of Surat An-Nasr. Said was also the author of a letter dated 1819 and addressed to James Owen’s brother, Major John Owen, written in Arabic and containing numerous Quranic references (including from the above-mentioned Surat Al-Mulk), which also includes several geometric symbols and shapes which point to its possible esoteric intentions. This letter, currently housed in Andover Theological Seminary, is reprinted in Allen Austin’s African Muslims in Antebellum America: A Sourcebook.
Further coverage of Omar’s writings within the context of Slave Narratives and Muslim Slave Narratives can be found in Five Classic Muslim Slave Narratives by Muhammed Al-Ahari. The presentation of Africa, Islam and slavery in the American slave Narratives of Muslim slaves in the Americas is a topic that is often overlooked in discussing the genre of slave narratives and the birth of African American Literature. In fact the first biography was that of a former Maryland slave, Job Ben Solomon, published in 1730 in Britain. By reexamining these often overlooked narratives we can get insight into African Islam, the turmoil of integration into a foreign culture, life in Africa, and life as a slave in the Americas. The primary sources include: the narrative of Job ben Solomon, the two autobiographical pieces of Muhammad Said of Bornu, the Arabic autobiography of ‘Umar ibn Said, the Jamaican narrative of Abu Bakr Said, a discussion of coverage on Bilali Muhammad’s excerpts from the Risalah of Abi Zaid, Theodore Dwight’s articles on the teaching methods of the Serachule teacher slave Lamen Kebe, and a letter describing Salih Bilali.