Tag Archives: Muslim

On (falsely) appearing to be too “Westernized” for Muslim Communities

I recently came across an article in the Huffington Post discussing the idea of thinking of the West and Islam as having unrelated, separate histories. We seem to think of the West and Islam as being inherently in opposition. The West valuing progress while Islam valuing a seeminglystagnant tradition. Media often propagates these binaries and, unfortunately, so do our American and Muslim American communities.

As someone with a degree in the humanities, I often get into debates with friends and family over issues that often result in me being labeled “socially liberal.” Apparently, this also means that I am a “bad Muslim.” Often times, my friends and family look at me in dismay because in their eyes I have “sold out” and chosen the West over Islam, again thinking in the binary way discussed earlier. In their eyes, because I may be critical of gender segregation in Muslim spaces, that means I also value glamorizing alcohol consumption and American “hook-up” culture and my points are often delegitimized as coming from the mouth of a “western-pundit.” However, I am not stripped of all legitimacy because ultimately, I am not as big of a traitor as a sister who doesn’t wear hijab (she obviously doesn’t care about the Deen, right?) and am somewhat knowledgeable of the religion and its history.

I find it especially troubling to associate any critique I may have of my own community as solely influenced by Western thought. This is particularly troubling for me because I spent the past four years of my life writing papers criticizing White and Western hegemony, Euro-centrism in academia, and Western cultural imperialism. So no, my critiques (which are often far outnumbered by my praise) of my Muslim communities is not a result of me being “brain-washed” by “liberal” professors in Ann Arbor. I do not believe in cultural or civilizational hierarchies, so my critiques of my own community come from a genuine love and care for my American Muslim community, and not from a belief that “Western” thought or culture are somehow inherently superior  (there is a difference between leftist and Western). I love the Deen and this Ummah, but that does not mean it is perfect. I want to see it progress. I want to see it be dynamic. I want us all to be more and more proud to be Muslim every day. I want us to realize that Islam is demonized and I want us to do something about it. I would like to see us combat the false dichotomy between Islam and the West and further ideas of coexistence over isolation. I want to see Muslims leading domestic social justice endeavors. We are on the right path. I love this Ummah and would like to see it become as inclusive and understanding as possible. How dare you question my commitment and allegiance to the Ummah because I discuss taboo issues and attempt to combat forces of oppression found in (but definitely not limited to) our own Muslim communities?

The fact the people are willing to listen makes me optimistic. They don’t have to agree with what I have to say, but dialogue is important. However, the fact that people are willing to listen have made me slightly more aware of my male and Sunni privilege within Muslim communities. It is a shame that those two criteria allow people to take me more seriously, but I am glad that they do allow my voice to be heard. So I would like to end by saying that we should be aware of any voices being silenced within our own Muslim communities and why they are being hushed. How can we preach inclusivity when we aren’t thinking about who is being silenced and who is producing current Islamic knowledge? I hope we can continue to think critically and keep our minds open. Let us hear the voices of all Muslims and never forget the Islamic principles of love, mercy, equality, and social justice. 

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Muslim Brotherhood is “penetrating” the US government?

After Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi,officially became the first democratically-elected president of Egypt, it wasn’t long before idiots politicians, went on to renounce the elections (and renounce democracy), while also spewing Islamophobic rhetoric. Former presidential-hopeful Michelle Bachmann (lunatic-MN) channeled her inner Joseph McCarthy and publicly stated that the Muslim Brotherhood had “infiltrated” U.S. government and influenced policies. This, to her, is a trend welcomed by president Osama Obama.

What is most concerning about these ridiculous, conspiratory remarks, is the fact that they often go unquestioned. The “threat” of “Islamism” is even a more preposterous idea than Bachmann’s belief that the Earth is 6,000 years old. Have we learned nothing from the “Red Scare?”

Islamophobia is so prevalent in congress, that representatives like Alan West (R-FL) denounced the democratic process in Egypt because the Muslim Brotherhood had won the elections. West’s head almost exploded when it was proven to him that democracy and Islam could harmoniously coexist, going against all the propaganda that brainwashed him into being an Islamophobe. Rather than questioning his views, he resorted to hate-speech rather than have his beliefs challenged.

I simply do not understand how representatives like West claim the U.S. is an advocate and protector of global democracy then call to repudiate (“refudiate?”) democratic results. 

One thing I must say about these Islamophobes. They give us Muslims a lot of credit. For painting Muslims as backwards morons who know nothing about democracy and long to reinstate antiquarian ways of life, Muslims can effectively launch a “stealth internal Jihad” against the United States by engaging in government and influencing the democratic process. Does that make any sense?

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You look kinda dark, are you Hanafi?

Recently, I went to a farewell dinner thrown for one of the mentors I had growing up. There were many individuals present that I had never met, but I valued being in their presence because they were all somehow involved with youth-led American Muslim endeavors in their respective Michigan Muslim communities. Because I was acquainted with so few of the people, I drifted from clique to clique, on the look-out for potentially engaging conversations. I finally came to a group of men who had just been counselors at a Muslim youth camp in southeastern Michigan, and I was curious to hear their reflections, so I approached them.

As I found it slightly rude for joining mid-conversation, I politely asked if I could join, but the answer I received caught me off-guard.

“You look kind of dark, are you Hanafi?” one of the man asked me.

Somewhat baffled, I responded, “The majority of people in my masjid are Hanafi, and so is the Imam there, so I have some attachment to the madhab, however, I do not strictly follow a madhab. When I do, I usually follow the Malaki opinion, but in some cases, the Hanafi one.”

“Oh,” he said, “So you’re not Paki, right?”

I brushed off the seemingly racist remark (racism in our own communities is perhaps a post for another time), because I was curious to see why this man had asked me such an unexpected question.

He went on to recount stories during the camp where counselors following the Hanafi madhab scolded youth at the camp for actions acceptable in Islam, but at odds with the Hanafi madhab such as praying Asr at a certain time or wiping socks during wuduu’. I began to think that I, personally, would not have a problem if a counselor gave me this advice if he or she went on to explain that there were other acceptable opinions from other madhahib. However, I have seldom seen this be the case. I went to countless Muslim camps and Islamic schools while growing up, and I was not aware that different schools of fiqh existed until I was 18. It seems that the mentality is that youth are too stupid to understand that differences of opinion can exist and therefore must be taught that there is only one way to place your hands during prayer, one way to make wuduu’, and one way to place your toes and fingers while reciting the tahiyaat. This type of teaching overlooks one of the most beautiful characteristics of Islam, it’s plurality. The fact that Muslim youth are not made aware of this is a disservice to Islamic history and leads to petty arguments stemming solely for intolerance caused by ignorance. 

Yes, all these thoughts did occur in my head when the man told me these stories. However, his ‘holier than thou’ attitude of expressing his discontent, which expressed a distaste for all Hanafis, was ridiculous to me. Wasn’t his vilification of a group of Muslims even worse than omitting some information from some youth? Both acts were acts of intolerance to me; and stupid ones at that. 

This exchange reminded me of an event that transpired at a mosque near my house a few years ago. Like many American mosques, the masjid offered two jummah salahs to avoid over-crowding. It was winter, and I went to the second salah at 2:15. After the prayer was done, the Imam went on to lead Asr prayer as well. After the prayer, he was immediately scolded by a group of men who said that Asr should not have been prayed in congregation at that time because many of the mosque’s members followed the Hanafi madhab. There was a brief exchange that was handled well by the Imam with no clear resolution. 

The next week, the Imam addressed the incident in his khutbah. He retold a story of a time where Imam Shafi’i visited a mosque where a large percentage of the population followed the Hanafi madhab. Imam Shafi’i led the fajr prayer and respecting the fact mentioned in the previous sentence, did not recite the dua qunoot after the second raka’a. The take home message from the kuthbah was that we, first, have to be aware of the differences in our community, and, second, we must respect these differences. Respect can only come from understanding and these two qualities will bring the ummah closer together, not because differences are eliminated, but because they are understood and embraced.

With the current political climate in the United States that often carries anti-Muslim rhetoric that aims to infringe on the civil liberties of American Muslims, shouldn’t we as American Muslims join together to combat these sentiments rather than argue amongst one another and demonize one another over fiqhi issues that have already been debated by far more learned scholars centuries ago?

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It’s Time to Annihilate Mecca and Medina!

A class taught at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia explained to aspiring military officers that the U.S. was at war with Islam. One teacher even proposed that the United States would eventually have to drop nuclear bombs on the Islamic holy cites of Mecca and Medina. The message from these courses is clear: “killing Muslims is okay, so don’t feel about it. If you don’t kill them first, they’ll kill you simply for being American. They’re all terrorists, even the women and children, so don’t mourn their dead if we ‘nuke em.”

To read the full story, click here 

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Full Cooperation = “Admitting” that I am a terrorist and a threat

Today marked the beginning of Congressman Peter King’s (R-NY) fifth hearing on “Muslim radicalism” in the United States. This hearing focused  on “Prislam” a term coined by King to refer to Islam practiced in the prison system. Rather than having a serious conversation of the many ills of the U.S. prison system (The U.S. is the country with the largest percentage of its population incarcerated), the hearing focused on how Islam has somehow “infiltrated” prison systems, causing prisoners to become even more dangerous. Or perhaps the discussion revolved around an absurd idea that Muslims are more likely to go to jail? Whatever the connection between Islam and the prison system was supposed to be, it was lost behind bigoted testimonies by non-experts and seemingly self-loathing Muslims. 

The few who actually had something of substance to say exposed the hearings for what they really were: bigoted attempts to allude the public from worrying about real issues such as the economy, U.S. foreign policy, racism, the prison system etc, and instead instill fear of Islam into the hearts of many so that the important issues could be avoided, or better yet, blamed on Muslims. 

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of these hearings is that Peter King was known to be an avid supporter of Irish terrorist-group, the IRA. How does a supporter of terrorism lead a hearing on counter-terrorism efforts? Your guess is as good as mine. The hypocrisy is almost comical. 

It is important to say, however, that Peter King, doesn’t hate all Muslims; only most of them. Muslims that care about their civil liberties are despised by King, but right-wing, Zionist Muslims who say that Muslims are inherently hostile towards American values (unless they choose to praise all American government’s foreign policies, intrusion of privacy, as well as all the glories of free-market capitalism), like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, are praised by Peter King. King and Jasser are personal friends and have contributed money to organizations founded by one another, so how is there no conflict of interest in Jasser’s testimony? Jasser seems to clearly be in it for the money: As long as he is the Muslim that bashes Muslims, he is the Muslim that gets a big paycheck from former AIPAC board member and avid Daniel Pipes supporter, Nina Rosenwald. 

Congressmen King continually says there is a lack of cooperation from Muslim communities, without giving numbers or specifying what cooperation entails. Although 79% of American mosques engage in inter-faith work, and 44% are reported to be involved in social justice endeavors, mosques and Muslims aren’t doing enough. Even when Muslims turn in an FBI informant who tried to stir-up support for a terrorist plot, they still aren’t cooperating!?!? It seems clear to me that “cooperation” for Mr. King means for Muslims to denounce their faith and say, “the Quran demands that we all watch baseball, eat apple pie, and praise America as a savior of global democracy.” 

 

Here is an extra for your reading enjoyment: The 6 dumbest things said at the Peter King Hearings:

http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/the-6-dumbest-things-said-at-kings-muslim-witch-hunt-so-far/question-1574009/?link=ibaf&q=&imgurl=http://s-ak.buzzfed.com/static/imagebuzz/web05/2011/3/10/13/tearful-attempts-at-changing-the-subject-cannot-11638-1299780412-15.jpg

 

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