Tag Archives: Humans

Acid-Violence: Who’s stopping it?

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Before Acid AttackAfter Acid Attack

Laxmi an Indian Woman: disfigured after an Acid-Attack

Author’s-Note:
We’ve had the great privilege to interview Islamic Help, a United-Kingdom based non-profit organisation, which has a very special project: to advocate against Acid-Violence. I’ve gotten to learn a lot from this very sinister phenomenon that Islamic Help is spreading awareness about, and I am glad that they’ve allowed me to interview the, so as to equip us all with the necessary knowledge to keep abreast of such an important issue such as this.

 

G..B: What is “Acid-Violence”?

I.H.: Acid violence is when an attacker uses acid or a corrosive or/and chemical substance to harm, injure, disable and scar, both physically and mentally, their target. It is usually a pre-meditated attack, and a majority of the victims are women and children.

G.B.: What damage does Acid-Violence ensue?

I.H.: An acid attack can leave a victim with mutilated skin, a disability and psychological damage. To give a small example from an actual case, an acid attack survivor who had acid thrown all over her face was left visually impaired as the acid made contact with her eyes. It left her with breathing difficulties as it melted the tissues in her nasal passages, providing very little to no space for oxygen to go through. She was unable to eat or breathe properly through her mouth as the skin which forms her lips was also melted together. This is just the physical damage. The psychological damage that a lot of survivors face is just as, if not more, damaging. Imagine looking into a mirror and not recognising your own reflection. Imagine having to hide your face in public because you’re disgusted with the way you look. Imagine being told that your face, your scars, your appearance makes people feel sick and children cry. And imagine all this being made worse by your own family, who can no longer stand the sight of you and therefore disown you and kick you out of the family home, leaving you to fend for yourself.

G.B.: Can you explain, possibly, how this tradition of Acid-Violence began?

I.H.: Revenge, anger, love, lust, greed, superstition. These are just a few of the motivations which lead to acid violence. It is one of the most reprehensible and horrendous of crimes that one human can inflict on another. How and why is it so easy to throw acid on someone? In many of the countries where acid attacks occur, acid is easily available due to a variety of industries that exist such as the leather trade where acid is used in the production of leather. To give you an idea of why people would turn to acid as a weapon, let’s look at another case. (Just to clarify these are all real cases). A man in Pakistan proposed to a girl who he liked, she refused the proposal, he felt that she had dishonoured him and if he couldn’t have her then no one else could. So he decided to ruin her beauty. He threw acid onto her face, so that in his opinion, she would be seen as ugly forever.

G.B.: How/why have Muslims, of all People, adopt such a barbaric practice?

I.H.: We cannot stress this enough – this is not a crime carried out by Muslims. Religion has nothing to do with it, Islam abhors violence. These are premeditated attacks which are carried out by evil people who are cowards. Acid attacks are not a “Muslim problem”. They happen where acid is accessible and where people want to use it as a weapon. For example, there was a well-publicised acid attack in London in December 2012 when a 21 year old woman was left scarred by a friend after they fell out. The attacker was found guilty last year. Also last year, the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin was left disfigured and visually impaired after an acid attack in Moscow. Acid attacks are rare in Western countries – hence they gain greater publicity when they do occur, as the above examples show where stricter legislation means access to acid is limited. However, there was a tradition of acid being used as a weapon in Europe and the United States from the 18th to the mid-20th century. We’d also like to highlight that our work to help acid attack survivors has included Muslim and non-Muslims in places like Cambodia and Uganda.

G.B.: How long has Acid-Violence existed within the Muslim-World, or within the World, generally?

I.H.: We don’t know when the first acid attack was committed against someone – it probably wasn’t reported. However (to stress that it’s not a Muslim issue), acid attacks were common in Europe and the USA from the 18th century to the mid-20th century when acid (then known as vitriol) was produced on an industrial scale. Not only was it used in ‘domestic’ rows but labour disputes as well. Increased regulation and legislation limited access, so the number of cases in these countries dropped. But it became prevalent in South Asia, Africa and Latin America in the second half of the 21st century.

While many cases go unreported, we know that since 1999 there have been 3,512 reported cases of acid attacks around the world.

G.B.: What have the Leaders of the nations which Acid-Violence takes place done to help prevent the proliferation of Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Slowly but surely acid violence is becoming seen as more of a crime and laws are being passed to make it more difficult for attackers to avoid punishment. Laws are being passed to try to control the sale of acid so it’s not so easily accessible, but this needs to be backed with enforcement. However if you were to ask an acid attack survivor how they felt the government has dealt with their case, they would tell you something along the lines of, “The police didn’t believe me, I was provided with little to no legal aid, I can’t afford my medical bills and the government is giving me no assistance with them”. There’s a lot more that the governments of these countries need to do, to prevent attacks from occurring in the first place and to provide support to the survivors of acid attacks.

G.B.: What has the International-Community, generally, done to help prevent the proliferation of Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Well, since 2012, the International-Community has heard more about Acid-Violence, a lot of which is due to the documentary “Saving Face” which won an Oscar and two Emmy Awards. Directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, it features the work that we do with acid attack survivors. It documented the lives of acid attack survivors and the assistance they receive from Dr. Muhammad Ali Jawad, an internationally renowned plastic surgeon from the UK who works with Islamic Help to support acid attack survivors, by providing surgery and training future surgeons. However we feel that more needs to be done, that’s why we’ve launched our #EndAcidViolence campaign as part of Smiles Better week, (Smiles Better is the name given to our acid violence treatment and prevention programme) which has received a lot of attention worldwide but we need a lot more.

G.B: Do you honestly think/believe that enough is being done to help fight against Acid-Violence?

I.H.: No. A lot more needs to be done, more people need to speak up about it, and more people need to be made aware about it! That’s one thing our awareness programme does, it works with local community leaders such as imams and village leaders, we train them on how to advise their local community and congregation about the ill effects of acid violence, why it shouldn’t be carried out, why it’s such a harmful crime and what the punishment is, both from a legal perspective and religious perspective.

G.B.: Are Women/Girls the only victims of Acid-Violence, and if so, then why?

I.H.: Women and girls are not the only victims of acid violence, however based on the cases that are recorded they are a majority of the victims. A lot of the attacks are so-called domestic disputes involving a husband-and-wife or relationships between male and females.

One motivation of using acid is not only to cause immense pain but to leave the victim permanently scarred, so they are seen as unattractive.

G.B.: What could/would be your ideal-message to those who: know of this issue & yet do nothing help combat Acid-Violence, know of the issue & yet only do minimal efforts against Acid-Violence, know of this issue & yet are too afraid of consequences for standing up against Acid-Violence, know of this issue & yet really don’t have access to the tools to help prevent Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Work with us, contact us, support us and we will support you. If the subject was about rape, millions of men and women would speak out about it, because we know how horrific a crime rape is. It leaves a victim mentally scarred, it takes away from them something which is personal, something which is their own, it makes them feel defiled and abused, it leaves them living in a life of fear and in many cases feeling judged. In many cases, survivors of acid attacks feel exactly the same way, and they have to walk around with the physical scars as well. If you believe in Human-Rights, Women’s-Rights, justice, peace, equality, humanity, and all things good in this world, then you need to speak out against a crime which doesn’t receive as much attention as it should, you need to help us #EndAcidViolence.

To find out more about the work Islamic Help does and how you can support our #EndAcidViolence campaign please visit:

http://www.islamichelp.org.uk/SmilesBetter

“My Poetic-Proposal to my Lord”

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Oh, Allah:

Let me remember you when I am both happy and sad…
…regardless to whether I am calm or stark raving mad.

Allow me to be ever thankful for any test which you’ve set forth in my path…
…for me never to take Your mercy for granted, that I never earn Your wrath.

Have me in Your noble-service, by constantly being in the service of the Other…
…to view every Human, regardless of their creed, as my sister and my brother.

Give me a clean heart, full of Faith, which will never doubt, reject Your existence…
…shower me with Your ultimate graces, so that I always thank you via repentance.

Make me a Warrior, for Your pleasure: struggling on & off the battlefield…
…let me be skillful & worthy enough to spread mercy & the power to heal.

Let me be of those whom the People feel safe around…
…that I have the ability to turn all frowns upside down.

Let it be I who bring smiles to the faces of the miserable…
…let it be I who give strength to the weak, meek & feeble.

Let not my days be done, lest I can guide People to Islam…
…that Your name be praised, by every man & in every land.

Gareth Bryant/2014

Let’s sincerely reflect, care, and change how the Other-Half lives:

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Author’s-Note:
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), said: “None of you believe, unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”.(an-Nawawi) This particular Prophetic-Statement is often unfairly translated as to only apply to people whom are Muslims. However, when taken into greater context, this actually applies to anyone/everyone whom is a Human being, because by virtue of the fact that we are all the Children of Adam (Peace be upon him), that makes us all Humans, and it makes us all equal, valuable, valid, important, within the sight of Allah.

Have any of us really taken a step back, from our very own comfortable bubbles of our lives, to reflect upon how others actually exist, around the World? Of course we haven’t, because, if we had, the realities of what they go through would shake us to our very cores to such an extent, that as People of Conscious, we would compel ourselves to actually make real changes in these peoples’ lives, to help enhance their Humanity & by default of helping them, enhance our own Humanity as well. Because, when we help enhance others, we’re really help enhance ourselves; likewise, when we degrade others, we’re really degrading ourselves.

I’m going to give some examples of exactly what I mean:

1. Most of us, who just stop by & drink from any Water-Fountain that we choose, or just stop at any store/supermarket & buy some bottled-water with ease, really have no idea what it’s like to live in a place where the water is so contaminated that it can literally kill you on the spot, within days, if not hours, if you were to drink it.

2. Most of us go into our refrigerators, at will, to get whatever we want to eat, while in places around our cities, our nations, our planet, their are Human beings, just like us, who literally die from starvation, and this occurs by the day, by the hour, by the minute, by the second.

3. Most of us just go where ever we want, without even thinking that we could potentially be sold into Human-Trafficking style Slavery, or that our female loved-ones could quite possibly/probably be systematically gang-raped, just for stepping outside of their homes.

4. Most of us shop wherever we want, however we want, buying whatever our money can afford, while either not knowing or not caring that most of the clothes, computers, phones, etc., which we purchase, are produced in places where those who assemble, make, these products which we spend untold hundreds, thousands, millions, upon will probably never be able to afford one single thing that they’ve ever produced with their own hardworking hands.

5. Most of us just turn on the heat in the Winter & the A/C in the Summer, in such a very carefree manner, without knowing/caring that there are millions of people around the World, who suffer from heat-exhaustion when it’s hot, because they can’t afford A/C’s & freeze to death, because they can’t afford Heat, and/or whom don’t even have homes to even live in, to protect them from the Elements.

6. Most of us have no idea how easy it is to look into the sky & watch an Airplane go by, and just think nothing of it, while there are people whom are so afraid of anything flying over their heads, because they don’t know whether it’s just another  (Military) Airstrike/Drone-Strike, terrorizing their neighborhood, their city, their country.

7. Most of us complain about everything, from not having the “right-job”, to not having the “ideal-house”, while we, as an industrialized-society, especially those of us who live within the United States and/or other G-20 or G-8 nations are wealthier than about 80% of the rest of our Human family, in regards to just owning stuff.

8. Most of us watch the News & tolerate the Media to influence what we think & how we feel about, “Extremism”, “Totalitarianism” “Terrorism”, etc. & have no problem rallying behind Islamophobic/Xenophobic concepts, yet we tolerate the Western-World supporting governments that would, according to unbiased standards, be in fact classified as “Rogue-States” or “Totalitarian-Regimes”, “Extremists”, or “Terrorists”, who condemn their Citizenry to the exact same atrocities which were imposed upon millions of Human beings, in both Europe & North-Africa, during the reign of the 3rd-Reich, during the 1930’s & 1940’s.

Now, one may very well ask, “What’s really the exact point in all this?”…Good-Question…here’s the answer: we, as Humans, have often forgotten what it truly means to be a true Human being. Being a Human being is not only what’s in our DNA, it’s within our demeanor, our decorum, our character, all of the positive things which we can/should exert towards all the Creation of Allah, the Creator/Lord of the Universe are what make us truly Humans; however, when not in line, in sync with positivity, we’re really just as savage, and brutal as any wild beast in any natural environment.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.7, V.179)

We must all, as Humans, actually care for one another, because, we’re all cut from the same exact Human-Cloth, patterned by Allah, sewn together by Adam & Eve, the Parents of Humanity (Peace be upon them both).(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.49, V.13) Then, we’re really no better, superior than anyone else: it’s only because of our possessions of power, wealth, privilege, etc., that clouds our better-judgement, and with the deception of ash-Shaytan/the Devil, inspires our egos, converting pure humility & confidence into malicious arrogance & narcissism.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.114, V.4-6) But, if/when stripped of all of that, then, we’re really exactly the same with the same wants/needs, desires, good-nature, pride, hopes & dreams, as any other Human being out there in our World. So, in closing, let’s truly change, improve the way we view members of our Human family, because we are them & they are us.

Gareth Bryant/2013

Breast-Cancer Awareness: It’s not just a Women’s-Issue…It’s our Issue!!!

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With the permission of Allah, Muslims Giving Back will be participating, as volunteers, advocates, walkers, at this year’s annual Breast-Cancer Walk in Central Park in New York City.

These are the reasons why Gareth Bryant, National-Spokesperson, Muslims Giving Back, is participating:

1. For every Mother, who had Breast-Cancer, who never had a Son by her side.

2. For every Daughter, who had Breast-Cancer, who never had a Father by her side.

3. For every Sister, who had Breast-Cancer, who never had a Brother by her side.

4. For every Wife, who had Breast-Cancer, who never had a Husband by her side.

There’s one particular fact that people, whom don’t know, have to recognize/accept:

1. Breast-Cancer is like the Female version of Prostate-Cancer for Men: every Woman, within her respective lifetime, if she lives long enough, is going to have to come to terms with the fact that this will in fact impact her life, in some way…it’s one of the leading-causes of deaths among Women, particularly within the United States.

2. Statistically, although not nearly as common, Men have also been documented to have acquired Breast-Cancer; so, none of us, as Men, should ever dare think that this disease is Gyno-Centric, that it only affects Women.
Allah says, “Men are Responsible for (supporting) Women.”. (Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.34)

These (4-types of) Women, that I’ve mentioned previously, are the most-important Women in any Man’s life, and these Women do so much, for us, yet we do very little/if nothing for them…we need to change that & it needs to start by supporting them via supporting Breast-Cancer awareness…Any/all Men, whom are able to make it to this walk, in New York City, must go…and, if you are going, think of your own, personal reasons why you’re participating in the Breast-Cancer Walk, in support of awareness concerning one of the most relevant health-crises effecting the most-important Women in our lives…no exceptions!!!

(Trust me when I tell you) Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the greatest, created-thing that Allah, the Creator/Lord of the Universe ever created, the greatest person whom was ever given Revelation, the greatest Prophet, he greatest Messenger, the greatest, Son, Father, Brother, Husband, that any Woman could ever want or ask for: if he were alive, today, among us, he would most-definitely attend a walk such as a Breast-Cancer Walk, because that was both his (Prophetic & personal) nature, that’s why Allah sent hm, with the Qur’an & Sunnah/Prophetic-Tradition, to show us how to work, strive, fight, help make the existence/lives of others better, via Community-Service, through service of one’s Fellow-Man.

For more info. about how to support the noble-efforts of Muslims Giving Back, in our efforts to spread Breast-Cancer Awareness, please, visit us online:

http://www.muslimsgivingback.org/

This talk about who the “Original-Man” was needs to be put to rest!!!

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The 1st-Man, the Original-Man, was not a “Black-Man”, nor a “White-Man”, nor a “Yellow-Man”, nor a “Brown-Man”, nor a “Red-Man”, nor any Man, with a color attached to him…the 1st-Man was the Human, free from any (socio-ethnic/socio-racial, socio-cultural, ethno-centric, racial-centric, cultural-centric) constructs, differentiations, distinctions, etc. The 1st-Man, the 1st-Muslim & the 1st-Prophet, was Adam, the Father of us all…#PeaceBeUponHim