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Entries in Islam (17)

Monday
Dec012008

Let us forgo words for a time ...

Remember when I said that at the end of yesterday's post?  I know, it seems like so long ago.

Anyway, here's what I'm working on with my hands, right now.

I have access to a heavily discounted Fedex account courtesy of a dashingly handsome metrosexual Indian man that I know, so I'll be shipping collected books to Iraq on January 2.

I plan on doing this every three months.

If you have textbooks or other library worthy books that you would like to donate, you can e-mail me at faiqa[at]native-born[dot]com and we can work out a way for you to get them to me.

I don't think they'll mind even if you donate your copy of Twilight.

A book is a book.

I suppose.
Monday
Dec012008

Open Letter to American Muslims... who are not Terrorists.

The events in Mumbai this past weekend have left me in such a state of anger and frustration that I can hardly articulate anything.

At this time, all evidence gathered by various official agencies seem to point to radical Islamists possibly trained in Pakistan.  Because I have no more information than anyone else grasping at news by way of CNN, Google/BBC News and Twitterfeeds, I can only assume that culpability lies where the fingers are now pointing.

I suppose this is the part of the post where I begin to explain that radical Islamists are not representative of Islam in general.  The part where I define myself as a Muslim in contrast to the purveyors of horrific and inhumane acts.

The truth is, I am done doing that.  If a person wants to align me with the perpetrators of evil because we happen to pray in the same direction, I have resigned myself to that.

Hate will always hate because it knows nothing else.

As Muslims, we talk a lot about how we are different from the small group of people on this planet that are using Allah’s name to provoke fear, violence and murder.

We want people to understand that far more than violence, our faith has historically advocated humankind’s noble pursuits, as well: charity, love, literacy, justice and, yes, even tolerance.

So, when an act of terrorism takes place, we decry it.    We insist that these acts occur outside the defined limits for how Muslims are commanded by their Lord to behave concerning their world.

We condemn.

We explain.

Some people believe us, some do not.

Condemnation and explanation are critical.  I don’t diminish the need to do so.

But, I wonder about the intentions behind these condemnations.  Do they emanate from a desire to protect ourselves, or from a passionate commitment to actually end this violence?

As far as I’m concerned, self preservation should be secondary.

As terrorists use our religion to promote their agenda, we must formulate an agenda that counters theirs.

Instead of telling the world who we are not, we must show them who we are.

While they focus upon a misunderstood version of His vengeance and destruction, we must focus and promote the overall context of His justice, His patience, and His peace.

We should promote these qualities every single day, not just when some misguided person blows up a building.

We should be doing more than just condemning and explaining.

In my circle and family, the discussion among American Muslims regarding these acts inevitably turns to culpability.  “Let us examine the cause...”

Really?  Is that what the general population of Muslims in the United States should be doing?

Other than those among us that are academics, foreign/public policy advisers, politicians or international lawyers, I find discussions centered upon assigning blame in the greater context not only useless, but completely distracting.

We (and I use the term “we” loosely) want to point the finger at America, Israel, or India as we search for reasons for these perversions of our faith that have morphed it into a political ideology.

What would happen if a big world meeting took place tomorrow and it were decided that every single terrorist act that has ever occurred could be completely attributed to American foreign policy?  (I don’t believe this, and I’m only using this for the sake of argument).

Now what?

NOW. WHAT?

I apologize in advance for my sharpness, but I propose, my dear American brothers and sisters in Islam, that most of you will do what you have always done for the people of the world who suffer injustice, depredation and despair: mostly nothing.

My apologies to those who have acted, I don't mean you.

But the rest of you, yes, I'm talking to you.

We don't live in a world where your obligatory offerings of charity will suffice.  What you give as your obligation is between you and God.  But the state of the world requires more from you.

Sometimes I wonder if all this finger pointing is not an attempt to absolve a subconscious guilt that we may have ignored our own obligations in this situation.

Because deep, down inside, you know that you live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Deep, down inside, you know that while you enjoy this prosperity, children live in despair, men and women endure unimaginable tortures, and countless others cannot rely on their governments for appropriate management of even the most basic of their needs.

And deep, down inside, you know that for you to enjoy the pleasures of prosperity while people on the other side of the world endure tribulations that you could not even conceive of were it not for your TV is completely contrary to the teachings of Islam.

You know these things.

And we deflect from these realities, dare I say responsibilities, by asking questions like, "Well, who burned down the hospitals?  Who created radical Islam? Who dropped the bombs in the first place?"

We distract ourselves with hyperbolic claims that it is all America's fault.  Then, the Americans blame Al Qaeda.  And Al Qaeda blames Israel.  Israel blames Palestine.  Then, someone blames colonial Britain.  And it goes on and on.

In the end, Afghani children grow up in fear, the young adults of Iraq have little access to a proper education and countless others suffer in silence.

Because we are too damned busy arguing about how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

In classic Faiqa style, I'll let you off the hook if you choose not to concern yourself with these matters.  I don't hold you as a terrible person for not prioritizing human harmony.

I think it's a little flawed, but I don't judge.

I do ask, as a favor to me, that when you are in my presence, if you are not doing anything personally to reduce the utter ignorance and despair which has contributed to the insanity of radical political Islam, then, please, just shut up.

Do something, or shut up.  Your discussions without any actions are simply whining sessions.  Whining does nobody any good, at all.

Let the politicians argue, pontificate and discuss.

Let them live in their ivory towers where discussions of post-colonialism and radical Islam permeate the air.  Those discussions are important, but not every single one of us has to participate in them.

Our actions are far more valuable than our words, right now.

Let us look with our eyes at what is happening.

Let us forgo words for a time and work with our hands to change this world.
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