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Posts tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

Behind Closed Doors

Dear Gabriel,

Behind closed doors in homes throughout California, more than 200,000 domestic workers — mostly women — work without the basic protections afforded almost every other worker.

Sixteen percent of domestic workers have worked for no pay at all, cheated by their employers or receiving a bad check. Others work for more than 12 hours a day without receiving overtime pay, and aren’t even able to eat a healthy meal of their own choosing or get a full night’s sleep.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance led the fight for domestic workers rights in New York last year and won a comprehensive Bill of Rights — the first of its kind. Now, it has started a petition on Change.org to help do the same thing in California — legislation will be voted on by the State Senate next month. Click here to sign the petition to win California’s domestic workers the same basic rights and protections available to the rest of us.

There are more than 2.5 million domestic workers in the United States, and domestic workers represent the most vulnerable workers among us and are often the primary wage earners for their families. But a domestic workers’ rights are gaining support throughout the state — even from celebrities like Oscar-nominated Octavia Spencer, who starred in last year’s film, The Help, about the struggles of black domestic workers in the 1950s — and a Bill of Rights in California could catalyze a nationwide movement for domestic workers’ rights.

If Californians from all walks of life press the State Senate, lawmakers will have to follow New York’s lead to afford basic labor rights to hundreds of thousands of workers. Click here to sign the petition calling on the California State Senate to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Cristina and the Change.org team

Muslim & American

Resolution of the Fiqh Council of North America. Adopted in its General Body Meeting held in Virginia on September 24-25, 2011

On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans

Like other faith communities in the US and elsewhere, we see no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Contrary to erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda of political extremists from various backgrounds, the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated.

The Qur’an speaks explicitly about the imperative of just and peaceful co-existence, and the rights of legitimate self-defense against aggression and oppression that pose threats to freedom and security, provided that, a strict code of behavior is adhered to, including the protection of innocent non-combatants.

The foregoing values and teachings can be amply documented from the two primary sources of Islamic jurisprudence – the Qur’an and authentic Hadith. These values are rooted, not in political correctness or pretense, but on the universally accepted supreme objectives of Islamic Shari’ah, which is to protect religious liberty, life, reason, family and property of all. The Shari’ah, contrary to misrepresentations, is a comprehensive and broad guidance for all aspects of a Muslim’s life – spiritual, moral, social and legal. Secular legal systems in Western democracies generally share the same supreme objectives, and are generally compatible with Islamic Shari’ah.

Likewise, the core modern democratic systems are compatible with the Islamic principles of Shura – mutual consultation and co-determination of all social affairs at all levels and in all spheres, family, community, society, state and globally.

As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.

We believe further that as citizens of a free and democratic society, we have the same obligations and rights of all US citizens. We believe that right of dissent can only be exercised in a peaceful and lawful manner to advance the short and long term interests of our country.

The Fiqh Council of North America calls on all Muslim Americans and American citizens at large to engage in objective, peaceful and respectful dialogue at all levels and spheres of common social concerns. We call upon all Muslim Americans to be involved in solving pressing social problems, such as the challenge of poverty, discrimination, violence, health care and environmental protection. It is fully compatible with Islam for Muslims to integrate positively in the society of which they are equal citizens, without losing their identity as Muslims (just as Jews and Christians do not lose their religious identity in doing the same).

We believe that emphasis on dialogue and positive collaborative action is a far better approach than following the paths of those who thrive on hate mongering and fear propaganda. Anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and other similar forms of religious and/or political-based discrimination are all forms of racism unfit for civilized people and are betrayal of the true American as well as Islamic values.

May the pursuit of peace, justice, love, compassion, human equality and fellowship prevail in the pluralistic mosaic that is the hallmark of our nation.

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 304
Washington DC 20002
www.ISNA.net

America’s Backbone

Raphael and Enedina are true Americans. They have lived in California for most of their lives and raised five wonderful children, who are all excellent students or have graduated and are now working themselves. Raphael has labored long hours in the strawberry fields, picking the delicious fruit we take for granted in this part of the world. Enedina, in spite of numerous health problems, has worked at home raising the children.

This family is like countless others who have immigrated to this country, dug deep roots and made a better life for their children. They are also unlike most of us who were born here. In the midst of everything else they have done to survive, they have also been studying English and practicing to take their exams to become US citizens, which is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

I can attest to the painful experience of trying to learn another language as an adult, let alone another country’s history and government. I took Spanish in High School. I took Spanish in College. I attended a class at the Santa Cruz Adult School. I listened to tapes and tried speaking with Spanish-speaking friends. All these attempts ended in dismal failure. Other than rudimentary Spanish, I still can not retain or speak the language.

Raphael and Enedina, on the other hand, not only continued working while studying English, but they also had to memorize and learn more about our country than any native-born American has ever had to do. Not knowing which questions would be asked on their citizenship exams, they had to learn the answers in English and Spanish to more than one-hundred and fifty questions (many with multiple answers, such as the Bill of Rights, The Pledge of Allegiance and the thirteen original colonies)!

How many of us (those who were born and raised in the US) know the answers to these questions? What does the red, white and blue stand for in the American flag? How old must one be to run for the US Senate? What can the Senate do that the House of Representatives cannot do? How many amendments do we now have in the Constitution? What is the Fourth Amendment? What is the Eighth Amendment? Name ten cabinet positions that advise the president. What is the purpose of the United Nations? What are the three ways that bills become laws?

Raphael and Enedina studied year after year for this exam and recently passed on their first attempt! They can now apply for federal jobs, petition for relatives to join them in the U.S. and most importantly, vote. They will now have a say in the country they have made their home, in the country in which they have lived, worked and paid taxes for decades.

Their presence has made this country a better nation. Their presence and accomplishments should inspire us all. They are true Americans. Americans who deeply understand our democratic republic and the constant vigilance and hard work required to keep it a land of freedom and opportunity. They know what it truly takes to be an American citizen.

If you would like to help other hard working individuals and families learn English and/or study for citizenship, contact your local literacy program. Along with Native Americans, immigrants are the backbone that keeps America standing.

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