TIM 24 Hour Debates – US Elections Debate #1

Who is the more qualified candidate?

Print This Article Print This Article

The Following is a LIVE online debate

Updates to the debate will be made daily.

UPDATES: (all times in USA EST)

8/18/16 8:15am Atif Qarni offers closing statement (150 words)

8/18/16 8:00am Saba Ahmed offers closing statement (150 words)

8/12/16 10:00pm Saba Ahmed rebuts

8/12/16 5:40pm Atif Qarni rebuts

8/11/16 3:00pm Saba Ahmed responds to Atif Qarni

8/11/16 12:40pm Atif Qarni responds to Saba Ahmed

8/11/16 11:10am Atif Qarni asks Saba Ahmed questions

8/11/16 11:00am Saba Ahmed asks Atif Qarni questions

8/11/16 9:00am Saba Ahmed rebuts

8/10/16 5:20pm Atif Qarni rebuts 

8/10/16 2:30pm Both parties allowed a rebuttal to opponent.

8/10/16 2:oopm Saba Ahmed responds to Atif’s questions

8/10/16 12:00pm Atif Qarni responds to Saba’s questions

8/10/16 11:10am Atif Qarni asks Saba Ahmed questions

8/10/16 11:00 am Saba Ahmed asks Atif Qarni questions

8/10/16 10:05am Saba Ahmed answers posted.

8/10/16 10:00am Atif Qarni answers posted.

8/9/16 12:15pm Both parties received questions.  Answers are due by August 10th at 11am.

8/9/16 9:14am Atif Qarni Opening statement made

8/9/16 9:15am Saba Ahmed Opening statement made

INTRODUCTION:

The 2016 presidential elections may be written in the history books as perhaps the most unusual election since the founding of our republic.
For the first time in our nation’s history, a woman, Hillary Clinton, has been nominated by a major party as a candidate for president. Her success has highlighted the gradual progress the country has made towards making women more equal partners under the law. Never has such a brazen political outsider, like Donald Trump, secured the nomination and challenged the core values of our democracy and what it means to be an American. Meanwhile, as in previous elections, and perhaps as a result of enflamed international conflicts, Muslims and Islam have become political footballs thrown around to debate seminal issues such as national security, foreign policy, civil liberties, discrimination, and immigration.

Because of this, we at TIM seek to bring Muslim voices to the fore this election season. To this end, we have featured Democratic and Republican views during the primaries as well as various Muslim opinions through our Perspectives Series. Now, we bring a live online debate between a prominent Muslim Republican, Saba Ahmed and Democrat, Atif Qarni.

PARTICIPANTS in the debate:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32                                                       130823-0481-final

Saba Ahmed                                                                       Atif Qarni
Founder                                                                              Former Democratic Candidate
Republican Muslim Coalition                                        Virginia General Assembly
Pro Trump                                                                          Pro Clinton

Moderated by TIM Editors

RULES and GUIDELINES:

The following are the rules and guidelines that both parties agree to prior to joining the live online debate.

You are participating in a moderated online debate about the US Election. The following serves as the rules and guidelines for the debate that will take place on August, 9 – 12th online.

On August 8th at 6pm, TIM Editors will ask you both to submit an opening statement on who is the better candidate in this election cycle.  Your response should be no more than 350 words.    Please note we will cut off words after 350 words.

This will be due by 10am August 9th.  Deadline will be strictly enforced and we will state anything not completed by the timeframe  as “no comment.”

On August 9th at 10:30am TIM editors will send questions for you to answer and respond.

Each question will have it’s own word limit ranging from 50 to 250 words.  You will be asked to submit all answers by 11am August 10th along with 2 specific questions for your opponent.

Your opponent will be given the opportunity to respond the questions and they will be published as soon as they are emailed in, each question cannot exceed more than 350 words.  Once both responses are emailed in, TIM editors may pose new questions or ask debaters to pose new questions for their opponent to respond to.  Both debaters will be prompted at the same time.  Time limit and word count will always be instructed via email.  Both will also be given the opportunity to offer rebuttals in response to their opponent at no more than 450 words.

TIM editors will then ask both debaters to submit closing statements of 150 words.  We will prompt with deadlines and word counts and reminders.  These rules may be modified at the discretion of TIM Editors and with agreement of both debating parties.

OPENING STATEMENTS MADE

QUESTION:  Who is the better candidate for President of the United States?

Update: Opening Statements submitted to moderator August 9th, 2016 9:15am

Atif Qarni Opening Statement

130823-0481-finalHillary Clinton is the best option for President.

Hillary Clinton has shown grace and maturity over the years. She ran in two hotly contested primaries for President. In 2008, she lost a close primary to Barack Obama. Hillary did not complain, instead she worked hard to campaign for Barack Obama. This year, Hillary won in a close primary against Bernie Sanders. Instead of ignoring the angry Sanders supporters, Hillary embraced them. She allowed them to vent and go through a healing process. This willingness to listen and to compromise is a sign of a great leader. That is why I’m with her.

Hillary has focused her life on important things like improving health care and the quality of life for working class families. She has adopted a platform that will focus on fixing our rigged economy and helping those in need.

Over the next three months, I will be working on making sure people vote and vote only for Hillary. Democrats are hoping that we get most Muslims to vote for Hillary. Well, “most” is not acceptable. We cannot settle for majority or for 90% or for 95%; we need 100% of Muslims to vote for Secretary Clinton this November.

Some of my Muslim friends have said they might not vote, or if they do vote they will write in someone or vote for a third-party candidate. That must not happen. A no vote, or a vote for a third-party candidate, is de facto a vote for Donald Trump. We have to have faith in our leaders. Hillary may not be great at giving speeches like Barack Obama or charming people like her husband Bill. Nevertheless, her life’s work has clearly demonstrated that she is a great leader just like them or any other past President.

In many instances, people have given testimony after testimony of how Hillary has positively impacted lives. That is why I cannot wait until November 8, when I will proudly and enthusiastically cast my vote for the first female President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Saba Ahmed Opening Statement

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Donald Trump is the best choice for America this election year. He has the experience and background to turn things around in Washington DC. We don’t need an establishment politician imposed on us. Clinton policies will be a continuation of Obama’s failed foreign and domestic policies. She offers no new hope or change for a Greater America.

Republican Party Platform at the 2016 RNC pledged to restore the American dream. It advocated the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans to safeguard religious institutions. Muslims have much more in common with Republicans than they do with Democrats. Islam advocates protection of life, traditional family values, business, trade, etc. We have the best doctors, lawyers, business folks in our community that want to see financial prosperity in America.

Trump’s economic policies will balance the federal budget and spur economic growth and job creation. Less taxes means more spending power for Americans. We need to recover from 19 trillion debt and rebuild America’s foundation. We cannot afford unnecessary government spending and bad trade deals. Putting America First requires us to think about God, Country and Family.

God requires us to love America and protect our future generations. National Security and Defense is a top priority for any President, Muslim Americans need to educate Republicans about Islam and provide solutions to our current challenges. God wants us to establish peace and justice on earth. And you cannot achieve peace by talking only to your friends, we must reach out to our adversaries. You never know who Allah can guide and who He uses to raise his religion. Trump needs Islam and Muslims.

The Quran clearly condemns killing and reprimands those who would use force to spread Islam. God, we are told, is full of loving kindness (85:14), and his angels pray for forgiveness for all on earth (42:5). Muslims are called to respect the free will of those of other faiths and are told never to compel anyone to accept Islam against their will (10:99). We are commanded not to be severe and harsh-hearted against non-Muslims (3:159). Can we help Trump?

Update:  8/10/16 Atif Qarni 10:00am answers posted.

Atif Qarni Answers Moderator’s Questions

130823-0481-final1.  What about your candidate makes them better suited to run the government from an executive stand point.  (limit 100 words)

One thing everyone can agree on, is that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced person to have ever run for President. She has been a public servant in many forms, for all of her adult life. She started her work with the Children Defense fund. Later in life she was the first lady when her husband was a Governor, and then U.S. President. Hillary served as a U.S. Senator and as Secretary of State. Her extensive experience makes her best suited to manage the Executive Branch of our Federal Government.

2.  How does your candidate expect to address the immigration issue and in what way will this be a better approach then the other candidate?

Hillary wants a pathway to citizenship. Unlike, Trump, Hillary will treat people with dignity and bring millions of hardworking people out of the shadows. The current system forces families to remain in the shadows, or pursue a green card by leaving the country and loved ones behind. With the current system, some families can be separated up to a decade. There are about 4 million people eligible for DAPA. With executive action, this plan can allow undocumented immigrants to get work permits.

There are estimated to be about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Trump has painted them as rapists and murderers. This negative branding has created another hurdle for people to come out of the shadows and join everyone in following the rule of law. Hillary believes, immigration enforcement must be humane in order for it to be effective. She wants to put an end to detention centers for people who arrive in desperate situations. Hillary wants to encourage fee waivers that are required for naturalization. She wants to provide access to language programs to encourage English proficiency. She also wants to increase outreach and to educate more people about how to navigate through the immigration process.
Trump has called for a Ban on Muslims. Many Muslims living in the United States have families who live overseas. A ban of this nature would prevent Muslim families to spend time with each other.

3.  Rising income inequality in America is seen across the board as a problem, how does your candidate plan to address this situation, and why would the other candidate be harmful to this issue?

Elections normally come down to jobs, wages and taxes. This is an issue where Hillary and Trump have the biggest difference.

Under Obama administration, unemployment rate has declined significantly. However, most jobs are in retail and not in specialties, trade or manufacturing. Therefore, these jobs do not provide adequate wages needed to support one’s family.

Hillary wants to increase spending on job training and community college education focusing primarily on training that focuses on broadband networks, infrastructure and clean energy. These fields provide higher wages than those in retail.

There is a misconception that most Muslims are doctors and business owners. The fact is majority of Muslims in America are actually part of the working class. Many drive cabs, work at gas stations and earn minimum wage.

Hillary wants to increase federal minimum wage, improve paid leave and access to child care. She also wants to provide tax breaks for companies who want to improve their employee profit sharing.

Trump’s proposed tax plan would cut the tax rate of really wealthy earners from 39% to 25%. He also wants to repeal estate tax and cut corporate tax from 35% to 15%. This plan would result in missing out on almost $10 Trillion dollars in revenue, and can further put our nation in debt. Trump’s plan does not help many Muslims who are part of the working class. His plan does not address wages and does not address social programs in inner cities, where immigrant and Muslim populations are the highest.

4.  Both Trump and Clinton claim to bring jobs back to America, how is their approach similar and how are they different and how will your candidates work better than others.

Creating jobs which pay decent wages is the toughest thing for any elected officials. The President and any elected official has to work closely with business owners at all level to address this issue. Businesses are the ones that create jobs, NOT politicians. Politicians just need to devise a plan to work efficiently with businesses. Hillary has a better plan for this.

Hillary wants to create jobs is by investing in improving the infrastructure. She wants our nation to lead in creation of clean energy jobs by installing half a billion solar panels in the next four years. She wants to invest $10 billion in creating more manufacturing jobs. Hillary wants to increase wages for caregiving and service jobs. Hillary changed her views on Trans-Pacific Partnership because she wants to pursue fairer trade policies.

Trump’s plan is reckless. Many economists have said his plan would result in about loss of 3 million jobs. Trump wants to raise tariff rates on imports from Mexico and China. All this would do is raise prices for goods resulting in rise in inflation. Other than that his plans lack specificity.

5.  Do you think that your candidate will do more to protect the civil liberties of law abiding American Muslims?  Do you believe that if the other candidate were to win, that there could be a potential for greater infiltration, entrapment and profiling of Muslims that may infringe on their civil liberties? 

As a Muslim, I feel more comfortable with having Hillary Clinton as my President. She has been vocal about civil liberties of Muslims in a positive way.

Trump has called for a Ban on Muslims. After recent acts of terror, he doubled down and said that he would stop immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism. Does this apply to U.S. citizens who have committed heinous acts of terror?

If Trump wins, this would give groups like ISIS more ammunition to brainwash people.

Regardless, of who wins, Muslims will be profiled and face some form of discrimination. But if Trump wins, we will see people who are bigots and racist become much bolder.

During the American revolution, there were some people who did not want to revolt against the King. During colonial times, most of the Muslim world was colonized. Most revolted, but a few Muslims were okay with colonial rule. A few Muslims who support Trump remind me of people who lack courage to stand up for what was right.

We also can’t be self-centered around Muslims. Trump has also called immigrants of Latino background rapists and murderers. A white blue collar worker who is frustrated with low wages if often manipulated by politicians in blaming people of color—this exactly what Trump is doing, and will continue to do if he is elected. He will continue to pit one group of people versus another.

6. Explain your candidate’s foreign policy approach and how it would make America safer.

I did not understand why we were fighting in Iraq, because September 11th attacks were done by Al-Qaeda who was based out of Afghanistan.

January of 2003, my wife was seven months pregnant with our first baby when I got my orders to go to Iraq. As a Muslim I was conflicted to fight against another Muslim nation, and as a father to be I had an even bigger dilemma. My commanding officer urged me to delay my deployment. I decided not to take him up on this offer, because my duty to my country came first. When my son would be older her would ask me about my war experience and I would be able to look him in the eye and say that nothing would stop me from serving my country.

This is exactly why I am supporting Hillary Clinton. I want to be able to look at my children and my grand- children in the eye and tell them I did whatever I could to serve my country by stopping a Neo-Fascist like Trump from becoming President.

President Bush made a case for weapons of mass destruction by manipulating evidence. That is why most lawmakers, including Hillary voted for the Iraq War. She has publicly stated her regret for this decision.

Iraq War left a vacuum and definitely created an atmosphere where a group like ISIS could emerge. Hillary acknowledges that. However, what we also must realize that if elected, Trump will exponentially make matters worse.

7. For Pro Clinton:  How does her judgement about the Iraq War, and the complexity associated now with Isis, make her a credible candidate from a foreign policy perspective?

Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the Iraq war was a bad decision. Nevertheless, her extensive experience puts her in a position to best deal with foreign leaders and global issues. We need help from Gulf States, Iran, Iraq and other Muslim nations in order to defeat ISIS. Hillary has relationships that will help in forging alliances against ISIS. Donald Trump can’t even get along with many people from his own party. How do we expect him to get along with foreign leaders?

Update:  8/10/16 10:05am Saba Ahmed answers posted.

Saba Ahmed Answers Moderator’s Questions

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.321. What about your candidate makes them better suited to run the government from an executive stand point.  

Donald J. Trump has been a business executive for past several decades in various real estate, sports and entertainment industries. He has tremendous leadership experience to best represent the American people. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance and has authored over fifteen bestsellers. His signature skyscrapers can be seen in major cities around the world. Trump brand has been synonymous with luxury and success. He is much better suited to run the government from an executive stand point. He is a Washington Outsider who can bring new ideas and help solve our current challenges.

2. How does your candidate expect to address the immigration issue and in what way will this be a better approach then the other candidate?

Donald Trump has brought the immigration reform debate to the forefront within GOP establishment circles. He has advocated for secure borders, enforcement of Immigration laws and to put the American workers first. His plans will help make America safer. Most developed nations have clearly marked borders.

3. Rising income inequality in America is seen across the board as a problem, how does your candidate plan to address this situation, and why would the other candidate be harmful to this issue?

Trump’s economic vision for America will reduce the number of people in poverty. Job creation is a top priority for his administration. Rising income inequality in America is causing massive instability within the middle class. Many people are unable to meet basic expenses and are on the brink of falling into poverty. Trump has called for less taxes so more income can be kept within American households and businesses.

4. Both Trump and Clinton claim to bring jobs back to America, how is their approach similar and how are they different and how will your candidates work better than others?

Trump’s plan for job creation comes from reduced taxes which will spur economic growth and innovation in America. Clinton on the other hand will raise taxes by $1.3 trillion, leading to 300,000 lost jobs and lower wages. Her plans will increase spending by a minimum of $3.5 trillion and add to our national debt. She wants to increase regulations making it harder for American businesses to invest in research and development.

5. Do you think that your candidate will do more to protect the civil liberties of law abiding American Muslims?  Do you believe that if the other candidate were to win, that there could be a potential for greater infiltration, entrapment and profiling of Muslims that may infringe on their civil liberties?

Trump has backed down from his unconstitutional and illegal plans for blatant Muslim religious discrimination. He is hardly being advised by Islamic legal scholars on how to best protect the civil liberties of American Muslims. Republican Muslim Coalition wants to help change his views towards Islam and Muslims. When she was Senator in New York, Clinton advocated for increased surveillance and targeting of Muslim Americans. Her militaristic approach to every foreign conflict has led to destabilization of the Middle East. She helped start wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. As Obama’s Secretary of State, she watched silently as millions of Syrian Muslims were displaced. She never enforced any red lines and humiliated American leadership around the world. In fact, her state department collaborated in hurting many Muslims around the world. Donald Trump may not love Muslims but he is open and honest about his concerns of Radical Islam. He has called for less military interventions around the world. Clinton just wants to bomb Muslims instead of banning them. Choosing Donald Trump is the best choice for Muslim Americans.

6. Explain your candidate’s foreign policy approach and how it would make America safer.

Donald Trump wants less wars and does not want to be the world police. He wants better trade agreements with China. He wants to vet every single person entering the United States to make America safer. His foreign policies are based on common sense principals putting America First.

7. For Pro Trump:  Entertaining the idea of preventing Muslims from entering the country is questionable from a constitutional and practical perspective.  How would individuals be able to take a candidate running for President seriously when there has been discussions over the unconstitutionality of his remarks?

Muslims need to look beyond his unconstitutional remarks and engage in strategic lobbying of Republicans. We cannot afford to remain partisan when Republicans control the U.S. Senate and U.S. House and are well on their way to winning the White House this November. The only way GOP fears of Islam will go away is for Muslim Americans to get involved within the Republican Party in a meaningful way within their local counties, state and national political parties.

Both Parties Post Questions to Opponents

Update: 8/10/16 11:00am Saba Ahmed poses questions to Atif Qarni

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.321. Atif, Why would you support abortion, gay marriage and other liberal values when they are in direct conflict with Conservative Islamic values?

2. Atif, Why would you lead Muslim community astray when Democrats are known for corruption and sugarcoating their real intentions? Republicans may not be our best friends yet, but at least they don’t play two-faced political games. Most DNC leadership resigned over Sanders rigging, what makes you think Clinton has the best intentions at heart for Muslims? What is your plan if she fails us just like Sanders?

Update: 8/10/16 11:05am Atif Qarni poses questions to Saba Ahmed
130823-0481-final1. Saba, you mention that Hillary would continue in Obama’s footsteps of his failed foreign policies. Trump has been overtly critical of the Iran Deal. Do you think the Iran Deal was a bad policy? The reason I ask this is because later in your opening statement you say that a person “cannot achieve peace by talking only to your friends, we must reach out to our adversaries.” Isn’t this what Obama did with the Iran Deal?

 
2. Saba, you state that Trump’s economic policies will balance the federal budget. Trumps proposed plan calls for a tax rate reduction for folks who make over $5 million a year. This plan would get rid of estate tax and cut the income tax rate from 39%to 25%. This is projected to result in a loss of $10 trillion in revenue over the next decade. If he is cutting taxes that is fine, but Trump failed to tell us where would he cut spending. Only three areas where you can make up costs by cutting taxes of this magnitude would be significantly reducing Social Security, Medicare and/or National Defense. You state “National Security and Defense is a top priority for any President”. How do you propose we strengthen National Defense when Trump’s tax plan is calling for dramatic tax rate decrease for the really wealthy?

Atif Qarni Responds to Saba Ahmed’s Questions

Update: 8/10/16 12:00pm Atif Qarni responds to Saba’s questions

Saba Ahmed asks:  1. Atif, Why would you support abortion, gay marriage and other liberal values when they are in direct conflict with Conservative Islamic values?

130823-0481-finalAtif responds:  No political ideology is directly aligned with Islamic Values. Democrats advocate for social justice, civil liberties, working class families, women’s and minority rights etc. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advocated for progressive ideals. Many early converts to Islam were women and folks who were less fortunate. One of the major pillars of Islam mandates that we provide for the less fortunate through Zakat. These principles are a big part of the Democratic Party platform.

Neither I, or Democratic party is pro-abortion. I have never met a single individual that has advocated for killing babies or encouraging women to abort. That is a bizarre right-wing allegation. What Democrats advocate for is a women’s right to choose. Just like in Islam, due to rape or incest if a woman becomes pregnant, then she has a choice to abort. That is the pre-dominant belief among Democrats. My children’s pediatrics is located near a women’s health facility. I’ve seen how terribly Republicans harass women and threatened them with violence and call them terrible names. That is NOT Islam.

I realize the Quran has several verses where it forbids homosexuality. Like I stated earlier, no political ideology is directly aligned with Islamic Values. Republicans for decades have been big proponents of the banking system. This system is full of interest. This is something that goes against Islamic values. This is just one example of many where the Republican Party is not aligned with Islamic Values.

We live in a land where the Rule of Law is based on the U.S. Constitution—Not Sharia Law. The constitution and the Supreme Court has mandated that gay marriage be permitted. We as Muslims must respect that decision. Additionally, who are we to question how others live their lives? What if, in someone’s religion its was wrong to cover your head or grow a beard? And they tried to impose their values on us? This is a nation where everyone and anyone can choose to live as they please. I think our Prophet (pbuh) would advocate for us to be more tolerant and accepting of others.

Saba Ahmed asks: 2. Atif, Why would you lead Muslim community astray when Democrats are known for corruption and sugarcoating their real intentions? Republicans may not be our best friends yet, but at least they don’t play two-faced political games. Most DNC leadership resigned over Sanders rigging, what makes you think Clinton has the best intentions at heart for Muslims? What is your plan if she fails us just like Sanders?

130823-0481-finalAtif responds:   There are thousands of politicians. Some are good, some are bad. You state that “Democrats are known for corruption”. I did not realize that was the general consensus among Americans. This is a blanket statement without facts.

I was a vocal and early Bernie supporter. I was angry when the leaked emails story broke. Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning was the right thing to do. However, I promised myself that I will observe both of the conventions objectively.

In the RNC convention, Trump portrayed a pessimistic, dark, divisive, doom-and-gloom world. This is not the America I know, nor is it the America I want my kids to grow up in. In stark contrast, at the DNC convention, Hillary was optimistic, upbeat, positive, unifying, looking to the future.

What struck me was how Hillary embraced Bernie Sanders and his supporters. She allowed them to vent and go through a healing process. Trump did not display this character trait. He continues to fall apart and fight other Republicans.

I am confident that Hillary will listen to the concerns of Muslims. Her top Aide for many years is a Muslim woman. Additionally, dozens of Muslims are actively working in influential roles in her campaign and they will be working in her administration.

Obama had many Muslims working on his campaign and later in his administration. A lot of his close friends are Muslim. This is why we saw things like: The Iran deal, Obama visiting a mosque, multiple events for Muslims at the White House, the lengths Democrats went to make sure rest of America realized that vast majority of Muslims are patriotic, etc. Just like this, Muslims will have an influence on Hillary.

I have no issue with Muslims supporting Republicans. I just have an issue with Trump. God Forbids he becomes President. If it does happen, I will fight against any bad policies he wants to implement.

Lastly, majority of life-long Republicans who are Muslim, who are leaders of major Islamic Centers are NOT voting for Trump. These individuals for decades have served our community and we need to follow their lead.

Saba Ahmed Responds to Atif Qarni’s Questions

Update: 8/10/16 2:00pm Saba Ahmed responds to Atif’s questions

Atif Qarni asks: 1. Saba, you mention that Hillary would continue in Obama’s footsteps of his failed foreign policies. Trump has been overtly critical of the Iran Deal. Do you think the Iran Deal was a bad policy? The reason I ask this is because later in your opening statement you say that a person “cannot achieve peace by talking only to your friends, we must reach out to our adversaries.” Isn’t this what Obama did with the Iran Deal?

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Saba responds: Well, achieving peace is really important but arming the adversary with nuclear weapons and billions of dollars to promote state sponsored terrorism isn’t smart defense or foreign policy. Iran deal was a disastrous failure at many levels criticized by most Arab Muslim nations. Obama took the threat of war off the table and lifted most financial sanctions allowing Iran to make billions in crude oil sales while getting nothing in return. Iran has been known to use its Shite minority factions in Sunni majority countries to destabilize the Middle East. The effects of lifting sanctions will be seen in years to come but Obama weakened American leadership around the world. Sending in $400 million cash payments as ransom sets bad precedent for Iran to walk all over America.

Atif Qarni asks: 2. Saba, you state that Trump’s economic policies will balance the federal budget. Trumps proposed plan calls for a tax rate reduction for folks who make over $5 million a year. This plan would get rid of estate tax and cut the income tax rate from 39%to 25%. This is projected to result in a loss of $10 trillion in revenue over the next decade. If he is cutting taxes that is fine, but Trump failed to tell us where would he cut spending. Only three areas where you can make up costs by cutting taxes of this magnitude would be significantly reducing Social Security, Medicare and/or National Defense. You state “National Security and Defense is a top priority for any President”. How do you propose we strengthen National Defense when Trump’s tax plan is calling for dramatic tax rate decrease for the really wealthy?

 Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Saba responds: Trump’s economic policies will create incentives for businesses to further invest in innovative research and development. Expense deductions will help create jobs and make it easier for small businesses to spur economic growth. His tax cuts will be revolutionary in making American companies competitive globally. He does not plan to cut current spending levels, his plan is to create additional revenue streams. He has promised to strengthen the military and fix the broken Veterans Administration. Trump is a businessman who wants to balance the federal budget which has not been done under the Obama administration.

Islamic Sharia Law actually advocates for 2.5% flat tax on all individuals and businesses known as Zakat funds. Paying 39%+ whether you are wealthy or not in federal taxes for social services has no basis in Islam. American Muslims have a great opportunity to support business friendly trade policies and advocate less taxes. People should be paid their lawful earnings in full with minimal government payouts.

Atif Qarni’s Rebuttal

Update: 8/10/16 5:20pm Atif Qarni rebuts

130823-0481-finalMost Muslims in the United States are part of the working class. Trump provides no specifics on raising wages to acceptable measures. His plan calls for tax rate reduction for the wealthy and getting rid of the estate tax. Only wealthy people own estates i.e. mansions, large acres of lands, etc.

The 2.5% Zakat fund is a religion tax to compensate clergy, pay for upkeep of masjids and feed the poor. This is not a tax on income. Most Muslim countries have a similar taxation system like the United States. The taxes we pay contribute to helping elderly, the poor, the sick, and our children through programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The tax loop holes that exist in our system allow for greedy individuals to not meet their societal obligations. As good Muslims we must strive to meet these obligations.

Trump has not backed down from his hateful comments about Muslims. Recently, he questioned a Muslim Gold Star mother on why she didn’t speak—as he stated that “maybe she wasn’t allowed to speak.” Trump implied that somehow Muslim women are not treated as equals.

Saba blames the Muslim community for not advising Trump. The lack of engagement of Muslims in politics is not the problem. Many Muslims are actively engaged with both Republicans and Democrats on a regular basis. Because of these relationships, we see many Republicans backing away from Trump.

The problem is not with the Muslim community. The problem lies with the hate that exists with a faction in our society that sees browning of America as a disease. When Trump says we will “Make American Great Again”—for many that means he will make America “white” again. We as Muslims have to come to grips with this.

Trump criticized the Iran deal. Only Israel and the Gulf states were critical of the Iran Deal. Gulf States, i.e. Saudi Arabia have failed to diversify their economy. They are too reliant on oil exports. Under the Obama administration, the United States has become more self-reliant as far as the oil industry is concerned—and with the Iran Deal, we broke up the oil monopoly of the Gulf States. If you haven’t noticed, gas prices have been pretty good compared to before.

Saba called Hillary hawkish. I agree, I’m not happy with the hawkish mindset of our elected officials. I think drone strikes are horrendous. Less intervention is a good thing. However, Trump is not the answer, because he is too instable himself. A terror act can easily set of a trigger in Trump’s mind to carry out an attack on innocent civilians of epic proportions which could be far more inhumane than a drone strike.

Saba Ahmed’s Rebuttal

Update: 8/11/16 9:00am Saba Ahmed rebuts

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Jobs, Wages and Taxes are interconnected. Republicans want to help working class families by business friendly tax and trade policies. Under Rick Perry, Texas created more jobs in last five years than the entire US combined. Businesses are investing there because there is no state income tax and there are many business friendly tax incentives. America needs Republican leadership to spur economic growth. Obama focused on mandating privatized healthcare insurance versus actually reforming healthcare to stabilize the rising costs.

I disagree with eliminating immigration detention centers and providing humane welcoming conditions for anyone who wants to illegally enter the United States. Without law and order our country will fall apart. Muslims should figure out ways to expand their earning power. Those who have the gold usually make the rules. We need to get on the GOP establishment tables and get off their menus. It is courageous to stand up for our beliefs and reach out to Trump et al.

If Iraq war was a mistake, why would Clinton promote additional drone strikes against Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc.? I’m curious to know which progressive ideals do you think would Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advocate? It was news to me that you think the Democratic Party is not Pro-Abortion? Do you really think most pro-choice women have suffered from rape or incest? Republican Banking System has nothing to do with Democrats promoting homosexuality. When Obama took office, only two states had legalized same sex marriages. Today all 50 states do. Democrats tout this as an accomplishment, however such liberal policies are destroying our society. Yes, there are good and bad politicians everywhere, but DNC leadership using corrupt tactics to rig primaries shows their two-faced hypocrisy. I was at the RNC and thought Trump provided a better vision for America. Obama visited a Mosque during last year of his Presidency versus Bush visiting during his first year. 70% of American Muslims voted Republican in 2000 because of our Conservative Islamic values, we shouldn’t have disengaged with the GOP after 911 backlash. They needed our guidance more than ever and we refused to lobby and advocate for our community’s interests. We could’ve stopped wars and saved millions of Muslim lives had we been an organized effective lobby in Washington DC. Where are the Republican Muslim lobbyists at Capitol Hill today? Do we even have any?

Gas prices have become lower because of the increase in US energy production. Becoming self-sufficient has thrown off Gulf States oil monopoly. It has nothing to do with Iranian oil deal. Making America Great for everyone includes making it Great for Muslim Americans. I hope the Muslim American leadership will strategically look beyond the hatred and pro-actively lobby Republicans, Inshallah!

Both Parties Post Questions to Opponents

Update: 8/11/16 11:00am Saba Ahmed poses questions to Atif Qarni

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.321. You agreed Zakat is for social welfare of people, how is that different from the purpose of federal taxes we pay to help the elderly, poor, sick, children through programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If everyone was paying 2.5% flat tax our whole debt 19 trillion debt would be paid off. But current tax policies hurt average working class people by taxing employees at the highest levels while providing loopholes for businesses and the wealthy. Which Developed Islamic nation taxes at 39%+?

2. Which Democratic Progressive policies do you think are justified by Islam? Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would strongly condemn killing of innocent human beings especially Muslims through drone strikes and illegal wars. There is nothing progressive about killing babies and promoting homosexuality. It is the ultimate moral decline of America and will destroy the society from within by breaking traditional family values.

Update: 8/11/16 11:10am Atif Qarni poses questions to Saba Ahmed

130823-0481-final1. Saba, Trump’s recent meltdown has caused his polls numbers to significantly decline. Many experts are saying that this is looking like a landslide victory in the electoral college for Hillary. What do you think Trump needs to do differently to turn things around?

2. Saba, Trump recently labeled Obama as a founder of ISIS. In his speech he emphasized the name Barack “Hussain” Obama. Don’t you think this is another jab at Muslims? Your group and another group led by Sajid Tarrar have obviously been communicating with Trump’s campaign–despite these efforts we have not seen Trump change his negative rhetoric against Muslims. How can you continue to justify supporting him, given that many Republicans aren’t supporting him?

 

Atif Qarni Responds to Saba Ahmed’s Questions

Update: 8/11/16 12:40pm Atif Qarni responds to Saba’s questions

Saba Ahmed asks: 1. Atif, you agreed Zakat is for social welfare of people, how is that different from the purpose of federal taxes we pay to help the elderly, poor, sick, children through programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If everyone was paying 2.5% flat tax our whole debt 19 trillion debt would be paid off. But current tax policies hurt average working class people by taxing employees at the highest levels while providing loopholes for businesses and the wealthy. Which Developed Islamic nation taxes at 39%+?

130823-0481-finalAtif responds: Please read my statement about Zakat again. Most interpretations of Zakat see it as a religion tax to support masjids, pay for clergy and to help those who are less fortunate. Zakat is based on a person’s savings. This is not a tax on income. Most Islamic scholars have clearly said that a person must meet its familial and societal obligations through working and contributing financially.

The largest Muslims nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran etc. all have a taxation system that addresses need of its citizens like education, health care, infrastructure and social welfare. They are no different than what we have in the United States. Programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are our obligations. We are not in debt because of these programs, we are in 19 trillion dollars in debt because of a fraudulent banking system which caused two recessions related to Wall Street and Housing.

The bottom line is that politicians like Trump want to use a divisive strategy of class warfare to dupe people into thinking that working class people are somehow parasites to society. We as Muslims and Americans should know better. Republicans for decades have passed legislation making the system more corrupt in which corporations can manipulate the system to take advantage of an average person. We as a nation have allowed greed to overtake good principles of compassion.

Saba Ahmed asks 2. Atif, which Democratic Progressive policies do you think are justified by Islam? Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would strongly condemn killing of innocent human beings especially Muslims through drone strikes and illegal wars. There is nothing progressive about killing babies and promoting homosexuality. It is the ultimate moral decline of America and will destroy the society from within by breaking traditional family values.

130823-0481-finalAtif responds:  Neither political party is aligned completely with Islamic principles. Democratic Progressive values of advocating for working class families, helping the less fortunate, having a good health care system, fair and free education for every child are policies that align with Islamic principles. These are the things that impact people much more than the debate between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life groups.

As I stated before, no one advocates for abortion. People advocate for a women’s right to choose. In Islam it is clear that in case of rape and incest, a woman has a choice to abort. Some Republicans are even against this.

You talk about traditional families are under attack because of homosexuality. I did not realize people were being forced to become gay. You have a choice to live your life the way you want as others have a choice to live the way they want. At one point in our history a traditional family was where the husband worked and the wife stayed home to take care of this kids. Same negative rhetoric like the “society is being destroyed” was used in the past from discouraging women to work. This gloom and doom talk has existed for centuries.

From our discussions back and forth one thing where I see the two of disagree on is how we see America. This is the same difference I find between Trump and Hillary. Trump and you see America as falling apart because immigrants, people of color, working people, gays etc. want their fair share. Hillary and I see this is a time of progress where decades of struggles are showing positive growth in our country.

When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was advocating for change, his opponents used similar rhetoric of doom and gloom and drove him out of Mecca. The message of Islam is so strong that in the end it triumphed. I think, if our prophet was here and could shine a light on these matters, he would advise us to be understanding and tolerant of people of all backgrounds based on race, religion, income, political party and yes even sexual orientation.

Saba Ahmed Responds to Atif Qarni’s Questions

Update: 8/11/16 3:00pm Saba Ahmed responds to Atif’s questions

Atif Qarni asks: 1. Saba, Trump’s recent meltdown has caused his polls numbers to significantly decline. Many experts are saying that this is looking like a landslide victory in the electoral college for Hillary. What do you think Trump needs to do differently to turn things around?

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Saba responds: Trump will crush Clinton in the general election. Polling numbers suggested last year that Trump had no chance of winning the Republican Nomination against 17 opponents, yet he defeated them all. Trump will decisively win the White House this November, Clinton problems are just getting started. Trump needs to be more Presidential to attract minority voters, he needs to match the Democratic grass roots machine with Republicans turning out the vote. He was able to get record number of Republican primary voters, he will definitively be bringing out huge numbers in the general election. I recently joined his National Diversity Coalition and hope more Muslims would join us. Inshallah!

Atif Qarni asks: 2. Saba, Trump recently labeled Obama as a founder of ISIS. In his speech he emphasized the name Barack “Hussain” Obama. Don’t you think this is another jab at Muslims? Your group and another group led by Sajid Tarrar have obviously been communicating with Trump’s campaign–despite these efforts we have not seen Trump change his negative rhetoric against Muslims. How can you continue to justify supporting him, given that many Republicans aren’t supporting him?

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Saba responds: Why are we the only two Muslim groups reaching out to Trump? Why aren’t Muslim organizations using their tremendous resources to lobby Trump and the Republican leadership instead of bashing him? Sajid Tarrar and I have been personally funding our Republican outreach efforts all the while facing tremendous backlash from our own community and conservatives who hate Islam. Why don’t Muslim organizations go back to the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in how he dealt with people of Taif who mocked and humiliated him? He prayed for these people saying that their future generations will practice Islam. How do we know Islam would not spread like wildfire in America with millions converting? We have the best religion in the world but we are the weakest practicing Muslims. If we had 10-50 Muslim Lobbyists / Attorneys at Capitol Hill every day advocating for our community interests and Islamic policies, the whole political establishment would listen to us. We are too busy bickering amongst ourselves undermining our faith. Instead of living in fear of a Donald Trump Presidency, Muslims ought to only fear Allah and defend Islam to the best of our abilities in the best manners possible. Inshallah!

Atif Qarni’s Rebuttal

Update: 8/11/16 5:40pm Atif Qarni rebuts

130823-0481-finalFew who support Trump have been called “traitors”. That is not fair. Top Trump supporter, Sajid Tarar is a friend of mine, and he has good intentions. Saba has good intentions for our community as well. Having said that, there are reasons why smart and dedicated Muslims who are involved with the Republican party are not supporting Trump.

Eight years ago the Tea Party really started to pick-up steam. It’s hateful rhetoric against Obama transformed into hateful rhetoric against people of color, including Muslims. At the local level Muslim communities all over United States have come under attack. Masjids have been vandalized, islamophobia is at its worst, hate crimes against Muslims are at a record high.

The Republican party punts on these issues and denies that they are responsible. However, there are some things they cannot deny. Many state legislatures which are controlled by Republicans have introduced legislations targeting Muslims. In some states this legislation was called the “Anti-Sharia” Bill. Some of the language in this bill was horrendous and discriminatory. At the county or city levels where there is Republican control we have seen an increase in blocking of special use permits to build mosques

The Republican party has become rotten to its core. Reagan and Lincoln would be ashamed. This toxic climate has caused the rise of Trump. I agree that Clintons have problems. However, this is not even a close comparison. Trump is a monster. We cannot allow a Neo-Fascist like him to get elected.

Saba says we need to treat Trump like the people of Taif who mocked and humiliated the Prophet (pbuh). You can pray from Trump to see the light, but that does not mean you have to vote for him, campaign for him or give him money.

Saba blames the Muslim community for not having many lobbyists at Capitol Hill. That is not accurate. We have a lot of Muslim advocacy not only at the hill but also at state legislatures. This is the reason we see both Republicans and Democrats denouncing Trumps comments against Muslims. Due to a lot of people’s effort we are battling Islamophobia and putting an end to legislations like the Anti-Sharia Bill. Muslim groups are consistently organizing interfaith events which not include other faith leaders but also elected officials.

Saba has stated that we need to have Islam spread like wildfire in America. That is great, I am in favor of that. What I wonder is that how her Republican counterparts would think of her statement.

Instead of pointing fingers at the rest of us, Saba and other Muslims who are supporting Trump need to self-reflect in their support for Trump.

Saba Ahmed’s Rebuttal

Update: 8/12/16 10:00pm Saba Ahmed rebuts

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.3216 states have passed the Anti Sharia bills to date and many more are considering it for their upcoming legislative sessions. The reason we are failing to effectively lobby against blatant religious discrimination laws is because of the ineffectiveness of our leading Muslim organizations. Having successfully defeated the headscarf ban in Oregon, I’m deeply familiar with effective lobbyist strategies. When I tried advising Muslim organizations, let’s just say I felt like I was teaching Calculus to Kindergarteners. Earning a JD-MBA, Electrical Engineering was easy compared to earning my Islamic credentials. I continue to face tremendous challenges in earning my place at the table. Most Muslim leaders are not legal scholars or lobbyists, but they are men who for whatever reason cannot listen to a Republican Muslim woman. The importance of lobbying state capitols and the Congress cannot be understated. I have tried and will continue to do my best, Inshallah!

Alhamdulilah I do my best to attend Congressional hearings and lobby for our community. Being the only Muslim woman at Capitol Hill, I get to see first hand the lack of Muslim advocacy. We tend to show up once or twice a year usually when Congress isn’t in session and wonder why they all hate us. I see Lobbyists that are Jewish, Christian and others from all walks of life lobbying for their special interests every single day of the year. I could go on complaining about my frustration with the Muslim community leadership, but I think my energies will be better spent lobbying Republicans effectively. To you your way and to me mine. May Allah accept all our humble efforts and guide us, Ameen!

Closing Statement: Saba Ahmed

Update: 8/18/16 8:00am Saba Ahmed closes

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.58.32Thank you for the opportunity to defend Donald Trump and Republicans this election year. While we have significant policy differences with Democrats, I hope Muslims will start reaching out to Conservatives in their local counties, states and national Republican political parties. It is imperative that we take back the narrative and teach Americans about Islam and Muslims. Not only is it a great Dawah opportunity, this election year is the chance for Muslim voters to make their voices heard at the highest levels. With the upcoming debates between Clinton and Trump, Muslim Americans should be at the forefront questioning both and how they’ll be serving our community. Public Service is a noble calling, whether Donald Trump can be the champion for us will be based on our level of outreach to his campaign and administration. I would love to see Muslims serving on Trump Cabinet in the White House. Inshallah!

Closing Statement: Atif Qarni

Update: 8/18/16 8:15am Atif Qarni closes

130823-0481-finalPeople say our nation is more polarized than ever. That is not the case. Since its inception, our country has had groups with serious philosophical differences—From Federalists v. Anti-Federalists in our infancy—to Union v. Confederates—to Populists v. Progressives—to Democrats v. Republicans. Despite these differences we always find a way to work together and come up on top. Philosophical differences do exist in our nation, but most Americans agree on most issues. What has caused the current polarization is the toxicity of the tea party movement. This movement created a scenario for someone like Donald Trump to rise in the political ranks. Hillary Clinton is not perfect, however her message is optimistic and calls for Americans to work together. It is a stark contrast to Trump, who chooses to divide us. We must work together to come out on top. That is why I’m with her.

  • Latest comments on TIM



  • About the autor
    The Islamic Monthly Staff


    SEE MORE BY THIS AUTHOR

    Latest at tim



    See our Current issue

    Join our Newsletter
  • JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

    Enter your e-mail address below to receive periodic updates from The Islamic Monthly.


  • Follow us on


    Comments