• My Latest on Qz: ISIL took its terror campaign to the heart of Islam

    12 Jul 2016

    ISIL bombs Medina

    On Monday, July 4, a 26-year-old Saudi man killed himself and four others outside the sacred tomb of the Prophet Muhammed, the second holiest site for Muslims. The suspect, Naer Muslim Hamad, was intercepted while cutting through a vacant parking lot in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Cornered, he detonated an explosives belt, killing the four Saudi security officers and injuring five others. It is unknown if the assailant targeted the security installation guarding the mosque or the mosque and its attendees.

    The attack came on the heels of a series of attacks across the Muslim world during the month of Ramadan, including a truck bomb in Baghdad that killed nearly 300 people and multiple attacks in Bangladesh. Whatever the intended effects of these attacks, be it recruitment, political delegitimization, or sheer terror, ISIL—widely believed to have orchestrated the attacks—may have miscalculated in Medina.

    Muslims consider Medina sacred due to is historic significance and religious symbolism. During his lifetime, Muhammad outlined Medina’s sacred location, calling it a “sanctuary.” All those who commit crimes will be cursed, he noted, especially singling out those who would dare plot against the citizens of Medina with ruin “like salt in water.

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  • Do You Owe Zakat on Your 401k?

    10 Jun 2016
    patrick bensen


    You have a good job that provides a 401k, with a good amount of money in the account.

    Do you owe zakat on your 401k?

    You need a solid answer. There are thousands of dollars per year at stake, not to mention your duties as a Muslim.

    The challenge of Islamic personal finance in the US

    I’ve heard questions like this since I first accepted Islam, more than 20 years ago.

    To understand Islamic personal finance, one must be a scholar of both Islamic law and modern finance. Very few people have this training. As a result, ordinary American Muslims struggle to find answers to basic financial questions.

    I have now studied both Islamic law and modern finance for almost two decades. I have earned both ijaza and a graduate degree in fiqh, and I have worked professionally in banking and finance for 10 years. (more…)

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  • Alternet.org Op-Ed: Ted Cruz Asked Me to Educate Him About Muslims

    24 Mar 2016


    Here’s an op-ed I wrote recently on Senator Ted Cruz’ comments about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods and his waging war on religious liberty.

    “There is a war on faith in America today, in our lifetime,” MSNBC quotes Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz as saying. “Did we ever imagine that in the land of the free and home of the brave, we would be witnessing our government persecute its citizens for their faith?”

    On Tuesday I awoke to the horrible news of an attack in Brussels. My heart goes out to the victims of the attack, just as it did last week for the victims of attacks in Ankara and Istanbul. The coverage overshadowed everything else in the news, except one: politicizing tragedy. As news poured in, so did statements by politicians. Among this cacophony of condemnation was a particularly odd call to action from Texas state senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

    Senator Cruz is a well-known figure here in Texas. He served as solicitor general in the state longer than any other. His stance as a U.S. senator against NSA wiretapping is admirable and I commend him for it.

    A few months ago, friends of the Cruz family contacted me to meet with the campaign… Read More on Alternet.org’s GrayZone Project. 

    Update: This piece was just picked up by Salon.com

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  • Islamic ruling on use of cochineal/Carmine/beetle dye in food products

    13 Mar 2016


    This question was originally posed to me on Reddit, but since many of you have written in asking about it I am reproducing it here.

    tl;dr: Cochineal is ok eat according to the broadest reading of religious texts and the majority of religious scholars, while some would disagree about its permissibility.

    This is a Cochineal beetle

    This is a Cochineal beetle

    Here are the details:

    In dealing with this issue, there are two preliminary questions we have to deal with:

    1- What is the ruling on eating insects?
    2- Does the extraction and change of a substance from a doubtful source make it allowed?

    The majority of scholars from the 4 schools did not allow eating insects, while the Malikis did. The Maliki position states that “Say: I find nothing in what was revealed to me as forbidden for one to eat except carrion…” to the end of the verse. (Quran 6:145) Since bugs aren’t named here, they are allowed. (more…)

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  • My interview with MuslimWealthClub

    27 Jan 2016


    Click here to sign up for the free e-book mentioned in the video.

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