Message to American-Muslims on the Eve of the Election

The night before last a police officer who had been on the job for decades was shot and killed in his squad car. His car was parked in a spot I frequently parked at and from all reports a deranged man just approached the car and began firing.

Last night a man rode in my cab who several months ago had been a strong young man and UPS truck driver. As he sat in my backseat he had no legs, was unemployed and could not walk. One day he had been coming home from work with a friend and co-worker when his truck was hit in the back. When he got out of the car to exchange insurance information with the other driver he was ambushed by the passengers in the other car and shot 7 times. His passenger was killed. The gunshot wounds led to lead poisoning and my passenger’s legs had to be amputated and last night I was taking him to visit a dying friend he had met at the hospital. He said that the accident has helped to put his life into perspective and that he would be at the polls on Tuesday at 6:00 AM sharp to cast his ballot for Senator Barack Obama.

Last Tuesday I gave my wife a ride to the Board of Election Commissioners to cast an absentee ballot. She is 5 months pregnant and did not want to stand in the long lines on Election Day. I sat out in the car and did not plan to vote early because I wanted to be at the polls on November 4th and be a part of the experience. However, while sitting in my cab, I thought about all of the things that can happen in a week and how everything is decreed by Allah. We are not the masters of what will happen and we cannot control events. So I said to myself that while Allah has blessed me with my health and freedom that I should go in and cast my ballot for Obama because I may never have another chance to do this.

This is a vote I felt good about. I do not consider Obama to be the lesser of two evils. I consider him flawed like every politician (and indeed every human) but also as a man that can change America as we know it for the better and can change the image of what it means to be an American. I see him as a man who has got people interested in politics who previously have never voted or even watched the news. Passengers in my cab, shift workers at fast food joints, cabbies, Muslim brothers who have never voted before, are all enthusiastic about Obama. Hip-Hop clubs throughout America, once one the most apolitical of places in America (with the exception of the relatively few more conscious joints) will host hundreds of election watching parties throughout America come Tuesday night.
There are those who are not excited about Obama; such as the guy in my cab the other night who said Obama would push reparations and Black Power and put Farrakhan in the cabinet and the guy who told me that he was dressing as Obama as the Taliban for Halloween (the night where you can see most clearly the cultural and moral decay in America from the frolicking to the bigoted costuming).  Others, on the idealistic left fringe of American life and reality, will not support Obama because he does not match up with their ideological purity (and let’s face it the vast majority of these voters are wealthy white liberals, and those seduced by them, who will be fine no matter who is in office).

The Muslim vote has the possibility of being crucial in a number of states; Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio. All indications are that the vast majority of Muslim voters will be voting for Obama (although Muslim Republicans are not dead especially in the South Asian community).  An Obama Administration will not be perfect for Muslims, and it will not be perfect for some Muslim causes such as Palestine, but on the core issues of civil-liberties, health-care, education, diversity in America and creating a more equitable and just society Obama will be right there with us.

MANA sent out a group email on the election. It included a piece by Imam Zaid Shakir that I did not quite relate to and a well-written intelligent piece by Yasmin Mayaan binti Bobo considering the 200th or something presidential run of Ralph Nader, the man who brought you W and thus the Iraq War and GTMO, and Cynthia McKinney who lost her congressional seat in Georgia and based on that defeat is running for the highest office in the land. McKinney has been a friend of Muslims but so has my grandmother that does not mean I would throw away my vote and vote for her (although she would get about he same amount of votes as McKinney if on the ballot). McKinney and Nader represent the politics of idealism and Obama represents the politics of consensus which is a more mature and responsible outlook.

It is the piece by an elder statesman of Islam in America, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in New York, which I will most encourage readers to read. He encourages Muslims to a make a mature, responsible, non-idealistic vote for Obama based on a number of factors. Imam Talib came of age before there were Muslims Republicans and Muslims who confuse the Prophet ( PBUH) and the Sahabah as a band of politically-correct Marxist hippies. He has a purely American-Muslim take on the race and he comes down decidedly for Obama.

Tuesday I will begin work around 5AM insha’Allah taking election judges to the polls and I will stop working around 6PM to come home and watch the results with a few Muslim brothers. The results from the East Coast will come in first and if Obama wins Pennsylvania , maybe with the help of the large Muslim population in Philly, then we will know he will have  a good night. If he can win in Virginia or North Carolina then we will know this election is over and again the Muslim vote may be the factor in these states.

Obama Has Won and I’m Excited

For the last several weeks I have been real tired of this election process and have been paying less and less attention to it. After last night however and the all but certainty that Sen. Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for the Presidency I am once again enthused.  As I have stated before I am an Obama supporter. Contrary to what some on Islamophobic websites have stated my support for Obama has nothing to do with the fact that his father was a Muslim. I support Obama because I believe that he represents a real change in American politics and to the ideals of where a president can come from and what he should look like.

Race has been the central issue in American public life since this nation was founded and to have a black man in the Presidency of the United States will make a strong statement about where the nation is and what it can aspire to. It will send an image of America to the world, which is mostly non-white, as an open and diverse nation in contrast to the phony John Wayne image that Bush likes to portray.

This is not just about Obama and his blackness. This is also about who he has been as a man. This is a man from humble middle-class roots, who lived in Indonesia as a child, is an Ivy League grad yet worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, and is married to a black woman from the South Side. Yesterday on TV Mitt Romney made fun of his background as an organizer; but to me it is one of the best things about Obama. When guys like Romney laid people off men like Obama stood up to help them when they could have been getting rich.

On the core issues that Americans care about the most; the economy, health-care, education, and the war Obama has the best stance on the issues. Is he perfect? No, he is not and no politician is and anyone looking for perfection in politics and is more than two years removed from college needs to grow-up.  I also vote first and foremost for issues right here in America and who will be best for me, my family, and the people closest to me. I do not expect a Palestinian in Gaza to think of what is best for Americans when they head to the polls and I do not think of them before my family. Issues in the Muslim World and ending the war in Iraq are important and need to be dealt with in a better way by America but those issues take a backseat to me to what is going on right here. I want to know who is going to help get ex-offenders jobs, who is going to bring us universal health-care, who is going to make education more equitable and relevant, and who can bring people of all races and religions together.

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