Rudy Giuliani’s Islamophobic Remarks

As I was driving home from school the other night, I tuned into NPR and listened to the various speeches at the Republican National Convention (RNC).  I found most of the speeches to be pretty typical and generic; nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular.  Sometimes, I really don’t understand how some American citizens (or citizens of any country) can be so trustworthy of politicians who constantly glorify the candidates they favor.  I understand support, but when you glorify someone, you paint such a perfect image of them, as if they are saints, super-human, or without faults.  And in the realm of politics, who would want to elect a leader who admits his/her flaws?  We want to vote for perfect people, right?  After all, that’s what leaders are “supposed to be,” right?

When we glorify people, we are subsequently erasing their flaws and humanity.  We are making them equivalent to Prophets (depending on your interpretation of Prophets) and even, to God Himself.  We don’t see them as human beings like ourselves; instead, we perceive ourselves as inferior, incapable, and imperfect compared to the leader.  This is why we turn to them, because we believe they possess traits, characteristics, and skills that we lack within ourselves.  This is the brainwashing of politics that I absolutely despise.  Even some of the greatest leaders that I admire like Salah Al-Din and Haroun Al-Rashid had flaws.  In fact, I admire a leader more so when he/she admits his/her mistakes.  Malcolm X for example was never afraid to announce his mistakes, and his actions reflected the kind of leader who was open and receptive to learning and improving.

As my thoughts wandered on these issues, I heard loud applause and cheers when the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, walked on stage.  At first, he made the expected remarks and criticisms of the Obama campaign, and he even encouraged the audience’s disrespectful mockery of Obama’s experience.  A few moments later, Giuliani made remarks that reminded me why I sometimes feel so insecure living in the United States.  For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the term “Islamic terrorism,” he said loudly, while the audience booed at the Democratic party.  “I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe they will insult someone. Please tell me, who they are insulting if they say, “Islamic terrorism.” They are insulting terrorists!”  Thunderous cheers and applause followed.

As I was driving past the street lights, the gas stations, the department stores, and the neighborhoods, I felt so disconnected from everything; like I didn’t belong.  I felt like I couldn’t recognize anything for a moment.  I couldn’t help but feel discouraged, powerless, and subordinate.  The fact that thousands of people agree with Giuliani’s statements is probably the most disturbing thing to me.  It represents how prejudice, intolerance, and ignorance exists in a significant portion of the United States.  It’s too obvious for people see how the word “Islamic” automatically associates terrorism with the religion of “Islam,” and yet, Giuliani is able to follow up with some ridiculous statement that doesn’t make any sense at all!  “They are insulting terrorists”?  First he mentions “Islamic terrorism” and then he says it insults “terrorists.”  All he did was omit the “Islamic” part in the last sentence!  How hard is it to see the hypocrisy, the manipulation of words, and the brainwashing?  How hard is it to see the Islamophobia?

No, Mr. Giuliani, saying “Islamic terrorism” insults the 5-7 million Muslims living in the United States, as well as the estimated 1.4 billion Muslims around the world.  It not only reinforces misconceptions and ignorance about Islam, but it also implicates that terrorism is only conducted by Muslims.  When the Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Omaha mall shootings occurred, the shooters were not described as “terrorists.”  When some Israeli soldiers bulldoze Palestinian homes, harass and murder civilians, or launch rockets into Lebanon, they are not called “terrorists.”  When some American soldiers rape young Iraqi girls, torture prisoners, and deliberately kill innocent civilians, they are not called “terrorists.”  But you can surely count on the fact that if the shooter of Virginia Tech was Muslim, the headlines would have been labeling him a “terrorist.”

As the RNC crowd cheer and applauded Giuliani for these remarks, I felt so outnumbered and hated just because of what I believe.  I felt so hated just because of who I am on the outside and on the inside.  These kind of fear tactics and word associations are what generate divisions, hatred, and violence.  It doesn’t help our society at all, especially with the way our foreign policy is now.  If you support the Republican party and Giuliani’s statements, how do you answer for this?  How can you prove to me that his remarks don’t promote Islamophobia?  How can you assure me that this will not trigger more hate crimes, stereotypes, and discriminatory acts that Muslims, including myself, experience?

Politicians say they are right with us, the people.  They say they understand the hardships and struggles that we endure.  They say they know what it’s like to pay for high gas prices or search exhaustively for a job.  They say that they’re by our sides, but the truth is, they’re not.  They don’t present themselves as fellow commoners or citizens.  They present themselves as perfect and flawless people.  They present themselves as all-knowing entities who can make declarations, laws, and judgments in a disturbingly Divine manner.  They present themselves as gods.

~ Broken Mystic ~

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23 Comments

  1. Hamad said,

    September 6, 2008 at 1:34 am

    I completely understand what you mean, actually at many different levels. ‘Othering’ is a time-tested technique used by the hate-mongers to garner more popularity by exploiting some constructed notion of similarity in the majority. I have felt it not only in American society, but also in the Umma, both of which I am a part of. It is tragic that the cycle of ‘othering’ continues even among those who are ‘othered’.

    I know so many Muslims who will pull that lever in the (R) column, just because the Republicans share some illusory concept of ‘social values’ (like homophobia and limiting women’s choices) with these Muslims.

    I think that the current state of the Republican party represents a close-minded, backward looking choice, whereas Obama and the Democrats have evolved toward an inclusive, responsive and forward-thinking party. Just my 2 cents :)

  2. Shawna said,

    September 6, 2008 at 11:57 am

    May I post this on Islam on My Side?

  3. beakerkin said,

    September 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Rudy’s remarks are accurate. Al Queda is but one of several groups that conduct terrorism in the name of Islam. If you feel groups like Al Queda are giving your religion a bad name speak up without equivocation like Stephen Schwartz of the CIP.

    As far as America goes our traditions include respecting the law and others right to think differently. If you wish to live in the United States respect others rights to live differently and practice different faiths. Obey the laws, such as the prohibition against polygamy. If you wish to practice polygamy you may do so in plenty of other places. Do not ask for unreasonable accommodations for your religious practices. Asking for a Halal meal is acceptable and a common courtesy. Demanding drivers licenses in a burhka is not acceptable.

  4. brokenmystic said,

    September 6, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Hamad — Thanks for your comments! I agree with you — there are certain values that Republicans have which attract more conservative Muslims, but when it comes to foreign policy and the economy, they lean towards Obama. I personally don’t consider myself a “conservative Muslim,” so I agree with much of what Obama is standing for. I actually just saw Obama recently in person! I really believe he is sincere and that he can bring about change to this country. McCain’s speech at the RNC was really weak. He spent more time on his personal biography than discussing issues like foreign policy and the economy. Obama is an intellectual and a well-educated man who has worked with the common people within the community and he is a believer in diplomacy and establishing alliances with other world leaders rather than bombing them or invading their countries.

    Shawna — Yes, you always have my permission to post this on “Islam on My Side!” Thanks for considering it! I hope more people get a chance to read it.

    Beakerkin — How are Giuliani’s remarks accurate? The fact that you think Al-Qaida is one connected network in the entire Muslim world just shows how the right-wing media and politicians have simplified your mind into thinking that “terrorism” is only associated with ONE group of people. There is nothing “Islamic” about terrorism, and I would encourage you to understand the meaning of the word “Islam” before you simply say his remarks are accurate. Have you ever visited a Mosque? Have you read the Qur’an in its entirety? Do you have any Muslim friends? Do you know the Arabic meaning for the word “Islam”? These are all questions that you must ask yourself. Suppose that you are Catholic: when a Catholic priest molests a little boy, wouldn’t you be offended if someone described that as a “Catholic” practice?

    Muslims speak up ALL THE TIME, and this one of the most frustrating things that the right-wing media REFUSES to report. I always speak out whenever I get the opportunity too, and I’ve attended events and Islamic conventions where terrorism and violence is completely condemned. Go to an anti-war protest and you’ll see plenty of Muslims speaking out, but of course, you won’t hear them if you are SUPPORTIVE of the war. You won’t hear about Muslims speaking out if you don’t care about the discrimination and prejudice that they experience. I wrote a 21 page research paper on the experiences that Muslim Americans endure in post 9/11 America, and many of the stories are really disturbing. The right-wing media wants you to believe this is a “myth” or that it doesn’t happen. Do some research on how many Muslims are speaking up for their rights and fighting discrimination.

    You’re also speaking as if you own the United States, and you speak as if Muslims don’t respect the rights of others and different religions. How do you know? Where did I say ANYTHING about polygamy in my post or on my blog? What about the Mormon Church– don’t they practice polygamy? Most Muslims don’t even practice polygamy.

    As far as the Burqa driver’s license — this is a misunderstanding of various Islamic practices and values. Not everyone believes that the Burqa is compulsory, but there are some women who believe they should wear it. Isn’t that their right? If you are told to do something against what you believe in your faith, wouldn’t you feel offended? Every time she gets pulled over by a cop, she would have to reveal her face to him — that’s invasive of her rights. It’s a complex issue, but that’s why we need more inter-cultural communication in the United States. We are becoming a more diverse and multi-cultural society, and if we keep expressing negative attitudes to each other, then we’re not going to accomplish anything. We’ll worsen the relationships.

    The best way to shatter stereotypes is through friendships. We not only become more understanding, but we also become more empathetic towards individuals who are misunderstood.

  5. beakerkin said,

    September 6, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Mystic

    Lets do this slowly.

    I am well aware that many of the items labeled as Islamic are regional variants such as the Burkha. Driving is not a right it is a privilege. If you want to drive there are rules, procedures and responsibilities. One of the responsibilities is to have a photo ID and present yourself for inspection of law enforcement. Your friend’s can keep her privacy by not driving. The first amendment ends when public safety and criminal acts are advocated. This goes for everyone, not just Muslims.

    As far as Rudy’s remarks go they were on target. If you look at terrorism on a world wide level it is apparent that 90% of terrorism is caused by two groups
    Communists and Islamacists. Dismissing the tie to Islam as practiced by several groups is not reality
    based.

    Funny but other than Stephen Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism I do
    not hear Muslims speaking out against terror. What we do see are the folks at CAIR and incoherent University professors rationalizing terror. Perhaps you
    should stop blaming the “right wing media” (Fox News and the NY Post) and raise your voice.

    I am well aware not all Muslims practice polygamy. Moreover, few Mormons practice this but those who do get treated much more severely than Muslims who get a free pass. Would you care to visit sections of the Bronx where Polygamy is common? Are you denying that this law is being openly violated?
    If you want to live this way kindly do so in another country.

    As far as my tone goes being an American is predicated on respecting others
    and obeying the law. All those who are not capable of doing so do not belong. I respect the peaceful practice of religion including Islam. Nobody’s religious practice comes before the law or public safety. If you can obey the laws and respect others fine if not the door is open. This is aimed at everyone, not just Muslims.

    I am aware of what the term Islam means. It means submission to the will of God, not peace. Semitic languages contain a root word with the addition of a letter or two mean a variety of other things. Historically for religious minorities Peace meant paying extortion like taxes and living under Jim Crow conditions.

    A persons friendships is a poor measure of a person’s bigotry. The stereotypical redneck will point to a local black and say X is okay, but all the others are ^****I. I have been to a mosque and have several friends who are Muslim. I also have many who are Christian, Jews, Bhai and Hindus who have lived in Muslim countries.

    My professional work brings me into contact with virtually the whole planet. My courtesy and dedication to the public is widely respected by the attorneys
    who visit with variety of clients daily.

    I am not a person who puts much faith in scripture. The words of the Koran are not as relevant to me as the actions of those who act in its name. Your words about reading the Koran echo the comments made to me by Coptic and Assyrian Christians whose first language is Arabic. Their reasoning is quite different from yours.

    I respect the right of all to live in peace provided they understand the responsibilities that living in this country requires. Do you respect others? Do you obey the laws of the United States? If so you are a fellow American and welcome.

    I do plan on reading Stephen Schwartz’s new book on Sufism coming to a bookstore soon. I probably will be serializing it at my site and you are encouraged to contribute to the discussion. Even when I do not agree with Schwartz I respect his nobility, patriotism and intellect.

  6. brokenmystic said,

    September 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Beakerkin,

    You don’t see Muslims speaking out because you’ve walled yourself off from their community. Even if you have an irrationally negative perception of CAIR, you could still see Muslims publishing books in the United States, protesting at anti-war rallies, campaigning for Obama, speaking out in Mosques, visiting Churches and Synagogues, or even right here, on the blogosphere, where they break stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.

    Yes, “Islam” means submission, and it stems from the root word “Salama” which means peace. Your perception and interpretation of “Islam” is largely influenced by the media and right-wing politicians, which is why you perceive “submission” as something like slavery. In actuality, Islam means submission to God, and that, for the majority of Muslims, is peace. Muslims believe they are not in control of worldly matters and that it’s best to leave things up to God. That is PEACE and that is what Submission really means. Christians and Jews and others preach similar teachings about God: let God be in control of things, put HIM behind the wheel, rather than trying to take matters in your own hands. Your views about Islam are from a very worldly point of view, which causes you to misunderstand its TRUE and SPIRITUAL nature.

    Minority groups like Jews and Christians paid taxes under Islamic rule because they were known as “dhimmi” which means “protected people.” The idea was that Muslims would have to fight battles, while Jews and Christians didn’t have to. This is the only reason why there was a special tax on Jews and Christians. There were appointed Christian and Jewish tax collectors who regulated the religious authority of the respective groups which reflects how open and tolerant the Muslim dynasties were.

    Again, I reiterate: associating the word “terrorism” with “Islam” is inaccurate and completely ignorant. Take any sociology class or inter-cultural communications class, and you will be taught that this is very ignorant. This is what is taught in AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES, and I truly believe that their teachings reflect the true values of America. Where are you getting that particular statistic from? What are your sources? I mentioned my sources on your blog.

    To answer your questions, of course I respect others and obey the laws. Now let me inform you that the MAJORITY of Muslims in America respect others and obey laws. You mentioned that you have some Muslim friends, so I’m sure this is something that you are aware of.

    I have not read Stephen Schwartz’s new book Sufism, but I hope that it enlightens you more about our beautiful religion. As I mentioned on your blog, I am making a short film about three young women: A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew. It’s about their friendship and how unity through Faith is not only possible, but also transcends the political conflicts and hatred that exists in the world. We need to discuss issues OPENLY and RESPECTFULLY. Insulting and vilifying another person’s religion, ethnicity, or culture doesn’t solve or help anything. It just separates us more.

  7. Sobia said,

    September 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    I say when a priest molests a child we call Catholic Pedophilia, Catholic Molestation. Not all Catholic priests are molesters, but it seems most molesters seem to be Catholic priests. At least according to the media.

    Does this logic make sense?

  8. beakerkin said,

    September 6, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Hold on a second

    Obviously you must not be familiar with Stephen Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism. He is of a similar opinion about the folks at CAIR.

    I have probably attended more so called “peace protests” than you have. The protests are communist organized hatefests that seldom are about peace. You may peruse just who the folks at ANSWER, UPJ and Code Pink are at your leisure. In fact many of the actual protesters were horrified when they learned
    exactly who these groups were from me.

    Which folks are you talking about specifically. The folks carrying the placards
    blaming Israel or a Jewish cabal for 9-11, the Mummia clown, the Neocon cabal claiming a band of Jews tricked GWB to invade Iraq for Israel’s sake?

    Sorry but as someone who survived the first attack on the WTC and was across the street on 9-11 my patience limited. I do not blame all Muslims for those attacks. I do blame a wide swath of political clowns for making a mockery of the dead. Most of those conspiracy clowns are on the far left. Moreover, for you to pretend the motivation for this attack had nothing to do
    with Islam is also wrong. You can argue as Stephen Schwartz does that this is a mockery of Islam, but unrelated is dead wrong.

    You can judge by my response that I am very familiar with what the term Islam means. However, your portrayal of happy Jews, Christians and others living under magnanimous Islamic benign tolerance is way off. This is akin to claiming Blacks were happy under Jim Crow . As an American patriot I would liken such an idiotic claim to flat earth theories and Holocaust Denial.

    I am glad that you obey the laws of the United States. I am also well aware that the majority of Muslims are law abiding. Yes people do need to respect other cultures and make REASONABLE accommodations like offering Halal meals and a prayer room.

    Stephen Schwartz’s book will be available on September 16.

    Now lets move on to the Catholic Church. There was a severe problem. The problem was inexcusable and dealt with. The Catholic Church does a variety
    of wonderful charity work such as bringing Sudanese orphans to the USA. I get to meet those orphans at work. Perhaps Sobia should spend some time with them.

  9. Hamad said,

    September 6, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    beakerkin,

    I do not know Stephen Schwartz or his relationship with CAIR, and I don’t really care about either.

    I also do not agree with some of the conspiracy theorists, who by the way are from both the left and right, Muslim and non-Muslim. It does not take much understanding of Middle Eastern history to connect certain dots, which may or may not be connectable. These theorists will always exist, and like you mentioned in your first post, they have a right to their opinion in this nation of which you are a patriot.

    The attacks could have been as easily related to Islam (and what it stands for) as child molestation can be related to the Catholic clergy. If you actually listen to Osama bin Laden’s speeches, you will realize that the crux of his argument for attacking the US has to do more with policy and vengeance rather than religion. Religion is simply how he gets people to kill themselves. That is a distinction that the right-wing media, Rudy J. and yourself fail to comprehend.

    Likening Jim Crow living conditions to the ‘dhimmi’ status of Christians and Jews in the abode of Islam is not only ahistorical (you are comparing apples to oranges) but absolutely inaccurate. Neither you nor I can go back in time to visit the people living under Islamic rule, but you just have to go to your local library to read an Islamic history text to realize that Christians and Jews were not only important advisers and bureaucrats, but also free scholars who found the Islamic empire a good place and time to further the evolution of their own religious jurisprudence. Their (Jewish) lives in comparative Christian kingdoms were dismal at best.

    No lets move on to the Catholic Church. Sobia’s point was one of logic, not a blanket statement on the CC. If you had followed the logic you would be able to see how faulty your’s was in the first post. I know of countless Muslim organizations that do a lot of charity-work as well. Maybe you should meet some.

  10. beakerkin said,

    September 7, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Hamid

    I understood Sobia’s point . I also understand irrational hatred and some of what
    you are feeling. When my city was attacked the communist left held a hatefest
    in Union Square Park on the Saturday after 9-11 while the buildings were still
    burning and at the times estimates ranged as high a 30000 incinerated. If you think the communist opportunists blamed Bin Laden you were wrong.

    Of course I don’t hold Brokenmystic or you to blame. As an American your responsibilities are to respect others and obey the laws, same as anyone else.

    Lets go onto who and what Bin Ladden is. Contrary to your opinion he acts out of his belief in Islam. Nor is he the only lunatic to do so. One can read the book Siege of Mecca for another look at a widely misinterpreted event that in the West was blamed on Iran and in many parts of the world blamed preposterously on Israel. One can say with some legitimacy he does not represent your form of Islam. However, to dismiss his motives as political in nature is not honest. Even you yourself admit that the man abuses Islam to further his own goals. A religion that is based on submission vs one that questions authority would avail itself easier to this type of manipulation.

    As far as the conspiracy crew is concerned it is almost entirely far left. You might get a few David Duke types but they are way outnumbered.

    Onto the meat of your comment. Comparing Jim Crow to the treatment of minorities under Islam is an insult to those who lived under Islam. Jim Crow was evil but it lasted one hundred years as opposed to the Islamic version that lasted over 1000.

    The presence of a few advisers is no more reflective of the experiences of those minorities than those of Black plantation owners. It is the height of arrogance to deny the reality of this mistreatment. Why is it that I have zero problem as an American patriot recognizing the misdeeds committed against
    Indians and slavery and you can not take a similar look at your own history.

    Furthermore, your statement about Jews living under Christian kingdoms is not accurate and even if true does not pass the logic test. One does not rationalize the treatment under Islam by claiming they were treated worse elsewhere. One can readily point out massacres of Jews in Muslim lands with ease starting from Mohammed’s massacre.

    Do not blame Rudy, Fox News or talk radio for the climate of hatred. Blame Al Queda and every other lunatic that gratuitously kills in the name of your religion. America was ready and waiting to hear Muslim Americans say there is no excuse for the attacks. Instead we got a bunch of clowns at CAIR rationalizing this under some political grievance. There is no excuse for attacking civilians by smacking planes into office buildings.There is no excuse
    for massacring kids in Beslan or blowing up houses of worship in Argentina.
    There is no excuse for riots in Europe.

    Why is it only Stephen Schwartz understands the great damage continued acts of terrorism do to the religion he deeply cares about?

  11. Khadjiah said,

    September 7, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Leave beakerkin as is.

  12. brokenmystic said,

    September 7, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Hamad, thanks for the support, bro. You brought up a lot of great points, especially about the September 11th attacks.

    There is no doubt that the attacks on the World Trade Center were cruel and tragic. We are not justifying what happened, beakerkin, and it’s important for you to understand that. Hamad was just pointing out how there are REASONS why people behave the way they do. People don’t just wake up one morning and think, “hmm, I’m going to kill some innocent people today.”

    If you read the 9/11 commission report, you will find that the mastermind behind 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, stated clearly that the attacks were motivated by his strong dislike and frustration towards U.S. foreign policy in Israel. Regardless on what your position is with Israel, you cannot ignore the fact that thousands of indigenous Palestinians lost their homes. Otherwise, why are they living in refugee camps? Take any Middle-Eastern history course or read any book written by an honest historian and you will learn that the creation of Israel created a huge wound in the Muslim world. My neighbor served in the American military and was stationed in Israel at one point, and he told me that he saw, with his own eyes, two Israeli soldiers take two Palestinian teenagers on top of a hill and beat their faces in with rocks. He was trying to stop it, but they held him back. The next day, nothing was reported on the news about it. Why?

    Palestinians and Israelis BOTH suffer. Please read my post called “Jerusalem Cries for Peace.” I’m not trying to be one-sided here; all I’m trying to do is enlighten you about the Palestinian side because we don’t hear much about it on the news. Palestinians will fight back when their families are murdered, humiliated, or oppressed. And Israelis will fight back when their families are killed in a suicide bomb attack. There have been many great documentaries made on this issue, and I recall one very touching scene where Israeli soldiers and Palestinians civilians come to an agreement: that they want to live side-by-side, as friends, and like brothers and sisters. This is what we don’t see on the news. Instead, we are told that the Israelis are the only ones who want peace. This is false, and this is propaganda. It elevates one group over another.

    Anyway, the World Trade Center attacks were horrible, but to say that Muslims attacked it BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION is really inaccurate. It was because of the U.S. foreign policy. Ron Paul acknowledges this, and whenever the more intelligent politicians ask about our foreign policy in Israel, the panelists and other politicians don’t want to talk about it. Why is that? Doesn’t that strike you as a little strange?

    Your history is incredible biased. I suggested the readings on your blog. Those are books written by credible sources, especially Zachary Karabell who doesn’t hesitate to criticize Muslim leaders. He has a very objective narration of Islamic history. And I have no idea what you mean when you say that America was ready to hear Muslim Americans say there is no excuse for the attacks. Were you in my school? Do you know what it was like for me to have people curse me out and call me “Osama bin Laden” or tell me to “go back to my country?” I never fought a person in my life before, but someone tried to provoke me in gym class after 9/11. Read the Psychological studies conducted on young Muslim Americans and how they FEEL that 9/11 is THEIR FAULT. These are stories that you have to care enough about to SEARCH for them.

    And CAIR condemns terrorism. It’s on their website — they’ve had that petition up SINCE 9/11. It says “NOT IN OUR NAME.” It’s still up there. Go read the books that are being published by Muslim Americans. Read “The Muslim Next Door” and read the chapter on what Muslim Americans really felt when 9/11 happened. You can read the book called “Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.”

    Yes, we know terrorism gives Islam a bad name, which is why condemn it. But then we are also confronted by the media that promotes ignorance and even hatred towards Islam. It promotes fear to our religion. Have you ever been discriminated against because of your religious beliefs or your skin color? It’s not like you can just keep your mouth shut if someone curses you off or calls you a “terrorist.” Prejudice promotes violence, which explains the annually rising hate crimes that are committed against Muslim Americans. So it’s not like we can ignore this issue too.

  13. brokenmystic said,

    September 7, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Khadjiah,

    I know.. I just get frustrated sometimes whenever it comes to these kind of issues. I really hate arguing about these things.

  14. Hamad said,

    September 7, 2008 at 4:53 am

    beakerkin,

    I think Mystic already answered many of your points.

    I want to reiterate that we understand that OBL and Al-Qaida and other exteremists (whether Muslim or not) do spread hatred in Muslim lands, and we are just as condemnatory of them as we are of the Republican Party, Rudy J., and other politicians who use this hatred and create their own version of it just to garner more political points.

    One aspect of the Muslim world (as it is today) that you fail to recognize and incorporate into your analysis is that it is filled with poverty, illiteracy, disease and other ailments – and many policies of the West from colonialism to neoliberalism do not help. If you don’t keep that in mind, and you start to compare Muslim populations to those of Europe and America, you will always fall into the ‘why do they do that?’ trap. The two populations are not on the same playing field, so there can be very little comparison.

    As far as the Jim Crow vs. ‘dhimmi’ comparison is concerned, I really don’t need to argue with you about it, because not only is it a historically ridiculous comparison, but also, every modern historian will laugh if you even mention the two in the same sentence. Even Jewish historians agree that the status of the Jewish population was so much better in the abode of Islam that the only other time it was as good or better was in modern day America.

    With that said, I really implore you to think about history and the reaction of people today from a holistic approach – consider global economics, the impact of colonialism as well as the distribution of wealth and resources in your analysis – not just religion. Although Muslims may put religion very high on their identity list, it is not the only identity that defines us.

    Peace!

  15. beakerkin said,

    September 7, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Hamad

    I want you to look at the comparison and any comparison between Jim Crow and
    the treatment of non Muslims reveals Jim Crow to be more benign. How many children were kidnapped by the government by the state in the old south and turned into mercenaries? Blacks in the deep south were not prohibited from owning a horse or car. Blacks were allowed to dress as they chose.

    Your comments about Jewish historians reveal your own biases. Does the fact that author X is a jew make him more credible. Sorry but Norman Finkelstein’s Maoism speaks tells me far more about his mindset.

    The comments about Jews in Muslim lands are misguided and incorrect. From
    a logical stand point rationalizing human rights abuses by stating they were worse elsewhere is not logical. Nor is your narrow definition of this in a Jewish
    context correct in that Christians, Animists, Zoroastrians, Hindus and plenty of others tell identical stories of Islamo tryanny.

    You seem to be deluded as to the nature of Colonialism. Western colonialism is evil but Islamo colonialism doesn’t exist. Sorry, but the hypocrisy is a tad much and I suggest you keep reading history.

    As far as Khalid Sheik Mohamad, the Baloch, anything he says is pure crap.
    He was lawyered up at the time.

    There is no excuse for 9-11. There is no excuse for Beslan. There is no excuse for Sudan. There is no excuse for bombing houses of worship in Argentina and Tunisia.

    You act as if Muslims are the only people in the world with a grievance. Sorry
    but there are other people on the planet who are oppressed far worse and do not behave like this.

    Indigenous???? Where is the mention of Palestinians as an existent people in Josephus or the Greek accounts. Arabs are colonial invaders and the Jews are
    the indigenous people. Sorry, but history does not begin in 1948. Furthermore one state was already partitioned and ethnically cleansed in 1920. How many more Judenfrie states do you need? Israel is on less than 1%
    of the land mass and Arabs need to settle their own refugees like every other group on the planet. Palestinians live in refugee camps because their fellow Muslims aided by leftists would rather treat them as hockey pucks than humans. Arabs already posses an abundance of colonized ethnically cleansed lands.

    You need to come to grips with the realities of Islamic history. Claiming that minorities were treated well under Islamic rule is as absurd as happy slaves
    and Blacks loving Jim Crow.

    Brokenmystic

    I encourage you to read the articles at the Center of Islamic Pluralism for the truth about CAIR.

    I am sorry that your feeling were hurt after 9-11 but you are making alot of wrong assumptions.

    1 Poverty, oppression and terrorism are unrelated. Utopianism and terrorism are related. Add some Marxists to the Basque community and voila you have a terrorist.

    2 Al Queda is an expressly Muslim group that seeks restoration of the caliphate. You can not change this fact. You may claim they do not represent you but you do not get to rewrite their mission statement.

    On a personal level I am sorry that you or others like you feel hated in America. Perhaps you need to spend more energy letting Americans know that you have the same fondness for America they do.

  16. brokenmystic said,

    September 7, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Beakerkin,

    You said: “Perhaps you need to spend more energy letting Americans know that you have the same fondness for America they do.”

    The reason why I laughed at this was because I grew up with non-Muslims. I grew up in a predominately white area, so all of my best friends were non-Muslims; either Christians or Jewish. I don’t need to spend “more energy” because I’ve known my friends since I was in elementary school. My Christian friends and I have NEVER argued about which religion is “right” or “wrong.” Instead, our differences in religion actually brought us closer and made our friendship stronger. My friends would be so surprised when I told them that Muslims also believe in Jesus, Moses, Noah, David, Joseph, Adam, Eve, etc. (peace be upon them all). Right now, it’s Ramadan, and because I’ve known my friends for so long, they are already familiar with all the customs and practices. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this movie, but it’s called “The Message,” and it’s the only live-action film about Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Anthony Quinn plays the Prophet’s uncle. Muhammad is not portrayed by any actor; instead he is off screen, and the actors speak and respond to him. When I showed this film to my non-Muslim friends, they thought it was brilliantly shot, but they also Loved the scene between the Christian King of Abyssinia and the Muslims seeking his refuge. After the Christian King delivered his epic line about how there is VERY LITTLE difference between Christians and Muslims, my Christian friend gave me an enthusiastic high-five, lol!

    It is only the minority of Americans who don’t have any contact with Muslims that mistreat and discriminate against me. I was in the bookstore a few months back and there was a nice lady who was in the religious section with me. She looked at the book in my hand and asked, “oh you’re getting an Islamic book?” And I smiled and said, “yeah.” She nodded and continued to browse on the Christian bookshelf. Then she turned around and said, politely, “Now, you guys don’t believe in Jesus, right?” We engaged in a long and mature discussion about Islam and Christianity. We must have spoken for at least an hour, but at the end of it, she told me that she felt so enlightened and that she had NO idea how similar our Faiths were. She thanked me and told me that I really broke a lot of stereotypes for her. She admitted that she had negative attitudes towards Islam because she never knew or met any Muslims before. She was especially surprised when I told her about the Abraham connection between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

    When I was the vice president of the MSA on my campus, we had Inter-Faith programs which reached out to everyone on campus. We had a guest speaker who was an American-born woman who had converted to Islam. I remember a non-Muslim girl approaching me during class one day and telling me how much she Loved the event. She even wrote an article about it for the school newspaper.

    And as I mentioned to you before, Beaker, I am making a short film that is about unity between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. My last short film was about a Palestinian Muslim-American couple that get racially profiled. I had many non-Muslims working on the set with me. One of the non-Muslim actors was Jewish and he would express his anti-Islamic sentiments one night. We had a mature discussion about it, but you could see that he was really RECEPTIVE to learning. He admitted that his views were largely influenced by what he sees on TV. Then, we were filming one day, and he came up to me and joke, “I had no idea Islam was so acrobatic.” He said that because we were filming a prayer scene. I laughed, and then he went serious and said that he really appreciated this experience.

    I devote much of my energy and time to reaching out to non-Muslims. I do it in my classes, on my campus, in my workplace, among my friends, and with my family. My parents always invite my non-Muslim friends over, even during Christmas and Thanksgiving. So what I want to make clear to you is that I don’t need to prove anything to show how fond I am of being American. My friends and colleagues already know this about me. The way my mother reacted to 9/11 was the same as my non-Muslim friend — they both cried. My mother couldn’t even stand on her own feet.

    But when ignorant people curse me and my family off just because we look different, I will certainly stand up for my civil rights. True Patriotism is about acknowledging the pros and cons of your country. I know the faults and the beauties that exist within America, in the same way I can see the faults and beauties that exist within the Islamic community. I believe True Patriotism is about caring so much about your country that you want to improve it and make it a better place. Not even the Republicans say that we live in a perfect society — there is always more to improve. So what I’m encouraging you is to acknowledge the problems and struggles that Muslim-Americans face, and it has nothing to do with their fondness of America or with their opposition towards the war. Being anti-war doesn’t mean you’re anti-American. You cannot deny people’s experiences and feelings.

    You wrote: “Poverty, oppression and terrorism are unrelated.”

    I strongly disagree with that statement. Last semester, in my applied social psychology class, one of the students shared a scientific and psychological study that found a STRONG CORRELATION between poverty and crime. When people are oppressed, you can’t expect them to just lie down and take the beating. They are going to react. It’s human nature. It’s an emotional response. When people don’t have enough money for food, they become desperate. And desperation may lead to stealing, mugging, and robbing stores.

    So just because you don’t see the word “Palestinians” in your sources, does that deny what happened to the people who were living there? Study your history on Islamic rule in the Palestinian region. Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their own religions, and they were allowed to worship freely. Now, there were certain Muslim leaders, like Hakim, who attacked the Christian Church, but many Muslims refer to him as “Hakim the Crazy.” Hakim even left Islam and started his own religion. It is agreed that he was a madman. Onward, study what happened during the First Crusade. Read my post called “Biased History,” where the Crusaders stormed into Jerusalem and MASSACRED thousands of Muslims and Jews, and even Arab Christians. The accounts give a very brutal and graphic description of what happened. It took the Muslims almost 100 years to re-mobilize and recapture the city. Salah Al-Din took Jerusalem WITHOUT killing a single Christian civilian. You cannot argue against this. Jews, Muslims, and Christians live prosperously. I mentioned Maimonides to you before — if Muslims hated Jews so much than why did the great Jewish philosopher and physician, Maimonides, serve in Salah Al-Din’s court? Learn more about Salah Al-Din.

    It’s true that most of the Arab world treats Palestinians as inferior, but that doesn’t change what the Israeli military did to them. It doesn’t change the fact that the Palestinians were forcefully driven out of their homes. I believe that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side. I believe in a two-state solution, but constantly saying that Palestinians are the ones to blame for all of the mayhem doesn’t get us anywhere. Yitzhak Rabin had a positive friendship with Arafat, but then he was assassinated by an Israeli extremist because he was “giving God’s land away.” There are extremists on ALL sides. That’s why it’s difficult to come to an agreement.

    The religious extremism in Al-Qaeda is simply a product of our chaotic world. It’s what I call a “cultural response.” When people are oppressed by foreign invaders, they turn inward and develop a more passionate connection with their culture and religion. We saw this in India when the British occupied their country. The Indians realized that their culture, language, and religions were being stripped from them. War creates a duality — it splits humanity. This is why the Indians turned to their culture and religions for energy, and then they rebelled against the British. Israelis are occupied Palestinian lands. American soldiers are occupying Iraqi lands. The inhabitants turn to their culture and religion, and they use that energy and fanaticism to fight off the invaders. In America, after 9/11, there was a lot of patriotism that resulted from the attacks. People put out their flags, chanted “U.S.A.!,” put out patriotic decorations on their lawns, and even had cut-outs of Osama bin Laden for target practice. This is an example of America’s cultural response.

    This is what happens during war. It reinforces “us versus them.” What we need to do is COMMUNICATE and UNDERSTAND why people do what they do. Bin Laden had threatened to attack the U.S. a long time ago. I remember being in Junior high school and hearing about him threating the U.S. And then when 9/11 happened so many years later, I wondered: if he had threatened America so many years ago, then why didn’t the U.S. take him out? If you read “The Terrorism Trap” by Michael Parenti, you would learn that the CIA trained Osama bin Laden and the Taliban because of the Soviet Invasion. The CIA funded the Taliban with weapons and military support. If the CIA was so close to Osama bin Laden when he made these threats, then why didn’t they do anything about it?

    I don’t support McCain, but he even says that Americans should fight corruption. Both within and outside of their government. Don’t you agree?

  17. beakerkin said,

    September 8, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Brokenmystic

    Israel is a separate topic from 9-11 and does not belong in the discussion of those events.

    You are looking at the wrong variable in the terrorism matrix. Crime is not terrorism and should not be viewed as such. If poverty caused terrorism than Haiti would be rife with it but it is not. Moreover, Haitians are too civilized to
    massacre school kids or to toss seniors of of ocean liners.

    Terrorism is a utopian malady almost entirely associated with a variant of Marx or Islamacism. If you believe you can create Utopia than the ends justify
    the means and butchering school kids is a step towards utopia. Sorry, that your professors will not report what conflicts with their ideology.

    VS Naipul “Those who align with great causes like Islam or Communism must
    prostitute themselves from the truth”. He said pretty much those words in Amongst the Believers or Beyond Belief. Remember those words as you venture out into the larger world.

    I had a doctorate from an Ivy league school visit me before she went on assignment. About a month later she emailed me that my comments were dead on target. Then again I have the luxury of interviewing people in a US government office where they may talk freely. Also as an outsider those minorities will say things to me that they would never say to you.

    We agree to disagree. You will find as you venture away from the University
    that there is no experience better than life itself. I am fortunate to serve that
    which I love each and every day.

    Just remember these words “the ends do not justify the means”.

    Your source on Afghanistan is in error. Moreover, this is quite amusing to a person that followed the events as they happened . The CIA aid went almost entirely to Shah Massoud who was executed on 9-10.

    If you read the papers at the time Gulbadin Hekmatyar was first a Communist. Bin Laden was a minor figure who spent almost his entire time in Pakistan raising money. Hekmatyar betrayed the rebels and frequently attacked them. Hekmatyar frequently worked with the Soviets as did Dr Zawaheri.

    After the USA and the ISI left the Soviets aided Hekmatyar and Dostum to
    sabotage the Rabani government.

    These anti American imbeciles who promote the “blow back” theory also
    leave out the genuine butchery perpetrated by the Soviets on the Afghan people. There were credible stories of chemical weapons being used on civilians “yellow rain” and mines including many shaped like toys. America did not and should not have let the genocide continue.

    Bin Laden was supposed to have been given to us by Sudan in the Clinton years. If you look on the internet you can see Bill Clinton discussing the deal.

    There were two keys to victory the older rifles had much longer range
    than the AK 47, Secondly, the stinger missile eliminated the use of helicopters.

  18. brokenmystic said,

    September 8, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Beakerkin,

    I didn’t say there was a correlation between poverty and terrorism. I said there was a correlation between poverty and crime. “Terrorism,” as the media defines it (i.e. suicide bombing, or whenever a Muslim does something violent) is a product of oppression. Like I said before, if you invade someone’s home, shoot up their family, and drop bombs on their villages, it’s very foolish to expect that they won’t fight back. The issue of 9/11 and Israel is EXTREMELY relevant in this discussion — don’t try to ignore the fact that U.S. foreign policy in Israel is what provoked people like Osama bin Laden. It’s written right there in the 9/11 Commission Report. Whenever people try to question U.S. support for Israel, they are told to shut up and sit down, and they IMMEDIATELY change the subject. That’s exactly what happens when someone tells you a lie. They change the subject because they want to distract you with something else.

    But we can keep going back and forth with this. I’ll say that your scholars are not credible and that your history is flawed, and you’ll say that my scholars are not credible and my history is flawed. So instead of wasting time at our computers, let’s try to focus on some common ground. You seem to respect the rights of Muslim Americans, just like all Americans have rights. But to me, it’s more than about being American. It’s about being a person, a HUMAN BEING. We need to go deeper and understand that because extreme nationalism and patriotism can lead to narrowing the mind and cutting you off from other people.

    I believe a candidate like Barack Obama understands diversity much better than John McCain. And people are always accusing him of having a Muslim background, but if you think about it logically, the fact that he has experience in the Muslim world is actually a GOOD thing. He’s RIGHT when he says he has more credibility in the Muslim world. To think that Obama is going to destroy this country because he’s a “Secret Muslim” is absolutely absurd. Everyone knows he’s not a Muslim, and even if he was, who cares?? Keith Ellison is a Muslim — did he attack anyone? I’m a Muslim — did I attack anyone? There are hundreds of Muslim families registered in my local Mosque — are they plotting something? My Imam is a very open-minded and diverse man. Like I said, he had a Bible Study group visit us several times, and during the Friday sermons, he mentions that we must be respectful to the Christians and Jews and other non-Muslims in the U.S. I have many Muslim friends who are very involved and active in the current U.S. elections. They don’t have any plot to destroy America — they CALL themselves American. They believe, as I believe, that Obama can establish BETTER relations with Muslim leaders than McCain can. McCain doesn’t want to talk to them, he just wants to continue the Bush policy.

    You said: “Just remember these words “the ends do not justify the means.”

    I think this is something YOU should keep in mind. When you say that, I immediately think of Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. may transform the countries into a so-called “democratic” state, but then look at how many innocent people have died. Not just the American soldiers, but the Iraqi and Afghani civilians. Don’t forget about Post-Traumatic Stress and other psychological disorders. I saw a clip of an Iraqi girl crying her eyes out and screaming because her parents were killed. WHAT HAPPENS TO HER? If she is driven by vengeance and shoots an American soldier, are you going to call her terrorist? If an Iraqi kills an American soldier, and another American soldier kills him out of vengeance, you won’t call the soldier a terrorist right? These are EMOTIONAL RESPONSES. I will not label an American soldier a terrorist if he is fighting back, but THIS is why I DO NOT support war. You can’t solve problems when the problem is the SITUATION itself.

    There are plenty of videos of war veterans and U.S. soldiers coming home and protesting against the war. You can watch plenty of those clips. They are stigmatized and called “sissy,” “cowards,” and much worse things. But when people use name-calling, they are doing so because they don’t want to confront the actual issues.

    As for Osama bin Laden and Bill Clinton — well I think we both can agree that the U.S. was supposed to do something about him. But you also say “anti American imbeciles who promote the “blow back” theory”. Why are you calling them anti-American? Are you calling Ron Paul anti-American? What gives you the right to deny someone else’s patriotism? I’m sure Ron Paul (a very vocal supporter of “blow back”) wouldn’t deny your patriotism.

  19. Shawna said,

    September 9, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Salaams. This article is now up on Islam on My Side.

    And sorry I’m late in saying it: Ramadan Kareem! May your fasts and good deeds be accepted, your dua answered and may Allah grant you health, happiness and success in this life and the next. :)

  20. Shawna said,

    September 9, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Sorry to put this here (I hope it’s not horribly rude), and maybe Broken Mystic will forward it to the correct recipient, but Hamad–would you be interested in adapting your response to Beakerkin as a post for Islam on My Side? submissions@islamonmyside.com is the place to send it. :)

  21. brokenmystic said,

    September 10, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Wa salaam Shawna,

    Thanks for sharing my article :) And thanks for those nice duas! I wish the same for you and your family, insha’Allah.

    No, it was not rude at all! I will definitely forward the message over to Hamad just in case if he hasn’t read your message.

  22. beakerkin said,

    September 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Brokymystic

    Exactly who has been told to shut up for questioning US foreign policy? In fact
    supporting Israel can eliminate you from jobs in higher ed and the State Department.

    It seems you have a rather warped view of Colonialism and minority rights. The West invades and occupies and this is evil but when done by Muslims it is somehow benign. Show me the Jim Crow links that prohibited Blacks from owning horses, weapons, building and fixing houses of worship, kidnapping children to form Janisarries, prohibition of specific names. Any comparison between Jim Crow and Muslim history is an insult to those minorities that lived
    under it.

    Ron Paul is anti-American and has welcomed money from the folks at Stormfront.

  23. Hamad said,

    September 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Mystic,

    I don’t know if you read the Apology by Azahr Usman, but it reminded me of this post by you, so I will repost it here if that’s ok:

    © 2008 Azhar Usman

    An Apology
    Heartfelt reflections on the passing of a legendary Blackamerican Muslim leader

    On September 11th, 2008, while countless American flags whipped in the wind and the television and radio waves were dominated by remembrances, recordings, and stories about the terror attacks of seven years ago, I attended the funeral of Imam W.D. Mohammed (may God be pleased with him). For me, it was a somber day, but I found myself mostly lost in thought: about African-American Muslim communities, about the challenges ahead in American Muslim institution-building, and about the future of Islam in America. If you don’t know who Imam WDM was, you should look him up. The Sufis say: “The true sage belongs to his era.” And of the many gifts given to Imam WDM by God,20perhaps the most obvious and beneficial one was the Imam’s profound understanding of the principles of religion, and his adeptness at intelligently applying those Islamic principles in a socially and culturally appropriate manner befitting the everyday lives of his North American followers. While carefully respecting sound, traditional jurisprudential methodologies of the Islamic religion, and the collective religious history and time-honored scholarship of classical Islam, he promulgated creative ideas and dynamic teachings across many domains of human endeavor, including theology, law, spirituality and even ethics and aesthetics, that together articulated a vision for a quintessentially “American Muslim” cultural identity. And he did all of this before anyone else, with quiet strength and unending humility—a true sage indeed.

    So I stood before his final resting place, brokenhearted. And I suddenly began to feel the weight of the moment, realizing that when God takes back one of his dearly beloved friends, those who are left behind should cry not for the deceased, but rather for themselves. For the fact that they are now without one of God’s friends in their midst, and, in a sense, they are orphaned. And the tears began to well up, for I became acutely aware that I was standing in front of the grave of my spiritual grandfather, who was himself a spiritual descendant of Bilal al-Habashi (may God be pleased with him), the mighty and beloved companion of the Prophet himself. Bilal was the first Black African to convert to al-Islam at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and keep him) in the sands of Arabia nearly a thousand and a half years ago. Undoubtedly, some measure of that love, mercy, compassion, and spiritual stature that inhabited the heart of Bilal has found its way down through the ages, and I found myself begging God to transfer to my own heart some glimpse of these realities now laying before me.

    Almost five years ago, my business partner, Preacher Moss (who is a member of the WDM community) founded the standup comedy tour “Allah Made Me Funny,” and he invited me to be his co-founder. Needless to say, it has been nothing less than an honor to work with him on the project. But to many, it was an unusual pairing: a Black comic and an Indian comic? Both Muslims? Working together? And before we ever even announced our partnership publicly, we met privately and swore an allegiance to one another—a blood oath of sorts—which was this: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers no one expects us to be. And bui lt on this promise (and premise), we brought on our first collaborator, Brother Azeem (who is a member of Minister Farrakhan’s NOI), with whom we toured for over two years (2004-2006) before parting ways amicably. Then we brought Mohammed Amer onto the team in the fall of 2006 (a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian refugee who grew up in a Sunni Muslim family in Houston, Texas). Mo, Preach, and I are still going strong together, and we are grateful for the unqualified support, love, and blessings that Imam WDM and the entire community have always given us.

    But today, as I observed the funeral proceedings, I felt sad and heavy-hearted. Something wasn’t sitting right. Something was physically paining my heart, and it felt like remorse, shame perhaps, maybe even guilt. I began to realize that the tears flowing from my eyes were as much a function of these feelings as they were any lofty spiritual aspirations of mine.

    You see, I attended an interfaith event a couple of years ago on 9/11. A group had assembled to commemorate the tragic event, to honor those who perished that day, and to pledge ongoing in ter-community support and bridge-building to fight ignorance, hate, and intolerance. At that event, there was this short, middle-aged, sweet, extremely kindhearted, White Christian woman. When she took the microphone to speak, she was already teary-eyed, and I assumed that she was going to make some comments about the victims of 9/11, as so many others already had that night.

    But she didn’t do that. Instead, she explained that she had become utterly grief-stricken by the constant barrage of news stories she witnessed about Muslims and Arabs being harassed, profiled, and mistreated after 9/11. She explained that she felt powerless to do anything about it, and that it made her sick to her stomach to hear of hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs, and especially to hear of Christian preachers denigrating Islam and its Prophet. She started to cry, and so did many others in the room, humbled by the magnanimity of this simple woman.

    And then she did what I thought was a strange thing: she apologized. She prefaced her apology with all the logical disclaimers, such as “I know this may mean nothing to20you,” and “I know that I am not the one who did these horrible things,” and “I know that you may dismiss this as empty rhetoric until you see some follow-up action on my part, but anyway,” she continued, “I want to apologize on behalf of all the Christians and all non-Muslims and non-Arabs who have been attacking your communities, harassing your people, and accusing your religion of all these horrible things. I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.” I was stunned. Speechless, in fact. Though all of her disclaimers were true, and my skeptical mind knew it, her apology melted our hearts. Here was this powerless servant of God sharing some of her most deeply felt emotional vulnerabilities, and she was apologizing to Muslims for something she didn’t even do? Jesus (may God bless him and keep him) once famously remarked: “Make the world your teacher,” and so I immediately took this woman as a lesson in humility. Admitting her powerlessness made her incredibly powerful.

    And this brings me to the point (and title) of this essay. I would like to unburden myself of something that has been sitting like a ton of bricks on my heart for my entire life. I want to apologize to my Blackamerican brothers and sisters in Islam. I know that this apology may not mean very much; and I know that our American Musli m communities have a LONG way to go before we can have truly healthy political conciliation and de-racialized religious cooperation; and I know that I am not the one who is responsible for so much of the historical wrongdoing of so-called “immigrant Muslims”—wrongdoings that have been so hurtful, and insulting, and degrading, and disrespectful, and dismissive, and marginalizing, and often downright dehumanizing.

    But anyway, for every “Tablighi” brother who may have had “good intentions” in his own subjective mind, but behaved in an utterly insensitive and outrageous manner toward you when he suggested that you need to learn how to urinate correctly, I’m sorry.

    And for every Pakistani doctor who can find money in his budget to drive a Lexus and live in a million-dollar house in suburbia, and who has the audacity to give Friday sermons about the virtues of “Brotherhood in Islam,” while the “Black mosque” can’t pay the heating bills or provide enough money to feed starving Muslim families just twenty miles away, I’m sorry.

    And for every Arab speaker in America who makes it his business to raise millions and millions of dollars to provide “relief” for Muslim refugees around the world, but turns a blind eye to the plight of our very own Muslim sisters and brothers right here in our American inner cities just because, in his mind, the color black might as well be considered invisible, I’m sorry.

    And for every liquor store in the “hood” with a plaque that says Maashaa’ Allah hanging on the wall behind the counter, I’m sorry.

    And for every news media item or Hollywood portrayal that constantly reinforces the notion that “Muslim=foreigner” so that the consciousness of Blackamerican Muslims begins even to doubt itself (asking “Can I ever be Muslim enough?”), I’m sorry.

    And for every Salafi Muslim brother (even the ones who used to be Black themselves before converting to Arab) who has rattled off a hadith or a verse from Koran in Arabic as his “daleel” to Kafirize you and make you feel defensive about even claiming this deen as your own, I’m sorry.

    And for every time you’ve been asked “So when did you convert to Islam?” even though that question should more properly have been put to your grandparents, since they became Muslims by the grace of God Almighty back in the 1950s, and raised your parents as believers, and Islam is now as much your own inheritance as it is the one’s posing that presumptuous, condescending question, I’m sorry.

    And for every time some Muslim has self-righteously told you that your hijab is not quite “Shariah” enough, or your beard is not quite “Sunnah” enough, or your outfit is not quite “Islamic” enough, or your Koranic recitation is not quite “Arabic” enough, or your family customs are not quite “traditional” enough, or your worldview is not quite “classical” enough, or your ideas are not “authentic” enough, or your manner of making wudu is not quite “Hanafi,” “Shafi,” “Maliki,” or “Hanbali” enough, or your religious services are not quite “Masjid” enough, or your chicken is not quite “Halal” enough, I’m sorry.

    And for every Labor Day weekend when you’ve felt divided in your heart, wondering “When will we ever do this thing right and figure out how we can pool our collective resources to have ONE, big convention?,” I’m sorry.

    And for every time a Muslim has tried to bait you with a question about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, trying to force you to condemn him—turning it into some sort of binary litmus test of true iman—with reckless and irresponsible disregard for the historical fact that he was among the first Black men in America to ever do anything meaningful for the upliftment and betterment of Black people, I’m sorry.

    And for every20time you’ve heard of an African-American brother who tried to bring home a South Asian or Arab sister to meet his parents, only to learn that her parents would rather commit suicide than let their daughter marry a “Black Muslim” (a/k/a “Bilalian brother”), even as they cheer hypocritically at stadium style speeches by Imams Siraj Wahhaj, Zaid Shakir, Johari Abdul Malik, or others—or get in line to bring one of them to speak at their multi-million dollar fundraiser for yet another superfluous suburban mosque, I’m sorry.

    I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I want every African-American Muslim brother and sister to know that I am ashamed of this treatment that you have received and, in many cases, continue to receive, over the decades. I want you to know that I am aware of it. I am conscious of the problem. (Indeed, I am even conscious that I myself am part of the problem since curing hypocrisy begins by looking in the mirror.) I am not alone in this apology. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of young American Muslims just like me, born to immigrant parents who originate from all over the Muslim world. We get it, and we too are sick of the putrid stench of racism within our own Muslim communities. Let us pledge to w ork on this problem together, honestly validating our own and one another’s insecurities, emotions, and feelings regarding these realities. Forgiveness is needed to right past wrongs, yet forgiveness is predicated on acknowledging wrongdoing and sincerely apologizing. Let us make a blood oath of sorts.

    When the bulldozer came to place the final mounds of dirt over the tomb of Imam WDM, I was standing under a nearby tree, under the light drizzle that had just begun (perhaps as a sign of mercy dropping from the heavens as the final moments of the burial were drawing to a close), and I was talking to a dear friend and sister in faith, whose family has been closely aligned with Imam WDM for decades. She shared with me a story that her father had just related to her about the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 (the same year I was born, incidentally). She told me that her father described the scene in the immediate aftermath of Elijah’s demise: utter confusion and chaos within the NOI and the communities surrounding it. There was much debate and discord about what direction the NOI would take, and many were still in shock and denial that the founder had actually died. Out of the midst of that confusion arose Imam WDM, and along with his strong leadership came an even more, perhaps20surprisingly courageous direction: the path away from the Black nationalism, pan-Africanism, and proto-religious beliefs of his father, and instead the unequivocal charge toward mainstream Islam, the same universal and cosmopolitan faith held and practiced by over a billion adherents worldwide. In this manner, her father explained, the death of Elijah Muhammad became a definitive end to a chapter in our collective history, and the resulting re-direction by Imam WDM marked the beginning of the next, far better, chapter in that unfolding history.

    Maybe I am just an idealistic fool, or maybe Pharaoh Sanders was right about the Creator’s Master Plan, but I sincerely believe that all we have to do—all of us together: Black folks, South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis), Arabs from every part of the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asians (Indonesians and Malaysians), Persians, Turks, Latinos, assorted Muslims of all stripes, colors, and backgrounds, and yes, even our White Muslim brothers and sisters—is live up to a simple promise to one another: No matter what happens, in good times and in bad, we have to be the brothers and sisters no one expects us to be.

    It is hoped that the passing of Imam WDM will also mark the end of a chapter in our collective American Muslim history, and perhaps now, in earnest, we can all look together toward The Third Resurrection.

    May God mend our broken hearts, lift our spirits, purify our souls, heal the rifts between our communities, unify our aims, remove our obstacles, defeat our enemies, and bless and accept our humble offerings and service.

    ——————————————-

    © 2008 Azhar Usman | 10 Ramadan 1429 | 11 September 2008

    About the Author
    Azhar Usman is a Chicago-based, full-time standup comedian. He is co-founder of “Allah Made Me Funny—The Official Muslim Comedy Tour,” which has toured extensively all over the world. He is frequently interviewed, profiled, and quoted in the press, and he is an advisor to the Inner-city Muslim Action Network’s Arts and Culture programs. Mr. Usman is also a co-founding board member of The Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit American Muslim research institution. He considers himself a citizen of the world and holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Minnesota Law School. Born and raised in Chicago, his parents originally hail from Bihar, India.


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