Why I Am Still An American

Many Americans who are in my situation and particularly Muslims often feel embarrassed to call themselves American or outright do not think of themselves as Americans.

To dissociate myself from America is very tempting indeed. Culturally, politically, socially and religiously I am isolated from the vast majority of Americans. I cannot understand how anyone with half a brain voted for Bush but more than half of American voters did and I cannot understand why the American people do not wake up from their infatuation with a self-destructive consumer culture and out of control consumption that is harming not only themselves but the world. On the issues of race I ask myself how long Americans will continue to be divided along the lines of race and how long religious pimps in this country will exploit the poor in pursuit of power.

When I look at TV I don’t see people like my friends and it takes a good indie movie to see someone even remotely close to my social circle and the corporate media will never get affirmation from me.

So, I guess I am out of the loop with the great-masses of Wal-Mart shoppers and Bud drinkers. They have their way and I have mine. For them the soldiers in Iraq are heroes and to me they are the either suckers who have been duped into thinking they are doing something good or the victims of US policy themselves. While I have a tremendous respect for much of what American law-enforcement does I can never look at them as an ally or a friend as most Americans do because I know they practice a corrupt profession that targets people of color and people outside of the mainstream ( but I still honor their sacrifice and many of the good individual officers who are trying to do the right thing).

After having said all of that; I am still an American. And I would not have told you that years ago; there was a time when I didn’t think of myself as an American but if one really wants to feel like an American then all you need to do is go overseas for a while and then you will suddenly recognize that no matter how far outside the American mainstream that you are and no matter how much you seek to distance yourself from US policy you are still an American.

Since that time I have learned to become more comfortable with my Americaness. I am a product of the American experience and everything about me from my walk to my talk is profoundly American. My diet comes from traditional American food and it reflects the immigration patterns to America (as people move in our diet changes).

In October I watch the World Series, In January the Super Bowl, In May the NBA playoffs, in March the NCAA Final Four and I am a boxing fanatic all year round. Sports is a global passion, along with music, and my sports tastes come from my upbringing and I cheer for those who are from my homeland more often than not.

Albert Pujols, Ozzie Smith, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Bernard Hopkins, Diego Corrales, Felix Trinidad, and Zab Judah are more favorite athletes and not those from the Muslim countries. Although I do cheer for Hasim Rahman when he is boxing and Mushin Muhammad when he is playing football and Mahmoud Abdur-Rauf suddenly became my favorite basketball player when he refused to stand for the national anthem.

I am not a NASCAR fan and I am not a hockey fan because I don’t hang around rednecks and I’m not a golf, lacrosse or tennis fan because I grew-up blue-collar. But other than that my athletic tastes are very American (I must admit though I did root against some Americans during the Olympics).

Musically I am a true hip-hop head. Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, The Roots, Slum Village, Kanye West, Lauryn Hill and old school Eric B. and Rakim can be heard coming from my car. When I’m feeling mellow I put in Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, The Isley Brothers, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan or The Delfonics and let that old time soul seethe in. They are definitely not bumpin that in Baghdad. Then when I’m feeling rock and roll I may put in some Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Lynnard Skynnard, Pink Floyd, or Jimi Hendrix; now a few of them are British but you cant get more American than Stairway to Heaven.

When I’m feelin classy I may put in Sinatra or Dean Martin and when I want to hear live music I enjoy classical music. My tastes are a hodge-podge, just like America, and while my roots are hip-hop I’m all over the map. I may wanna beat the hell out of Toby Keith but I can still get down to some Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash.

Of late I’ve been getting into international hip-hop (ironically Israeli and West African) but my musical tastes are decidedly American. They not only say that I’m an American but they say what kind of an American that I am. Underground hip-hop over commercial and gangsta rap, old school soul over R and B pop, classic rock over alternative, and old country over the new country crap ( the worst music in the history of the world) that is now being played.

I’m still a film lover and a big indie film buff and in fairness I also must admit that I’m a big fan of international films as well; I generally dislike French films but I am a big fan of the Brazilian, Latin American, Israeli, German and Asian film scenes.

What I love about American independent film, and some that even crosses into the mainstream, is that it is almost fearless in its critique of everyone. Recent films such as Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Ray, The Believer, and documentaries like The Fog of War have seriously contributed to American national discussion. And oh yea I still have a thing for gangster movies from The Bronx Tale to The Godfather to even stuff like The Sopranos and The Wire on HBO.

Again I am not a consumer of what most of Hollywood has to offer; dumb romance films, decadent fetish flicks, and big-budget action monstrosities. I enjoy film that provokes thought.

So I am definitely an American with American tastes; but I have carved out my niche of American that is separate from what is dominant.

Like most American men, and as is the nature of men of the fitra I love women; but I look at a bony bimbo like Paris Hilton and models that look like they have HIV and smoke crack and wonder how could anyone see them as attractive? Then I look at Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Halle Berry and wonder how anyone could not find them attractive. So I am still polluted with the sexual images that Americans are bombarded with on a daily basis, and it does affect me, but I realize that this is less than ideal and that the ideal is Islam. Unlike some of the so-called Muslim “reformers” of today I don’t seek to craft a make-believe faith centered around the omitting of my weaknesses, but I accept the fact that I’m human and that I should strive for self-improvement.

In my clothing style I dress like an American and can typically be seen in what can be called a mature hip-hop style of clothing. Again my clothing says something about me and my choosing not to dress in the quasi-homosexual style of the cultural elite, or the bland fashion of the white middle-class sends a message that while we have some things in common we are different in many ways.

Historically I also have American heroes. No my heroes are not the slave-masters, racists, corporate crooks, war-mongers and the like but I do have American heroes none the less. To me John Brown is a hero of American Christianity, someone who gave a damn and was willing to put his life on the line.

Those leaders who fought in the great labor struggles of the early twentieth century as so eloquently described in A Peoples History of the United States by Howard Zinn are heroes of mine. Those martyrs of labor who fell in Detroit to the goon-squads of the auto companies died noble deaths. The generations that battled through the depression and came near starvation (while stockpiles of food existed) are heroes and they are bigger heroes for battling fascism in Europe and Asia in World War II.

The great leaders of civil-rights in America such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, Jesse Jackson, Walter Fauntrouy, John Conyers and others are heroes of mine for their tireless battle for the justice of black people in this country. All of those white people who marched with the movement also deserve credit and in particular those American Jews who contributed enormously to the advancement of black people and public health and education in America are heroic.

The American Indian Movement and those who have continued the struggle for Native American-rights in this country, the working-poor, the Latino activists, single mothers and those behind bars trying to turn their lives around are all heroes to me.

Then there are those who dare to say la ilaha ilAllah Muhammadur Rasululah and all of those who say this in this land, where it is almost a crime to be a Muslim, are heroes of mine.

Yes I am an American, as much of an American as anyone else, but I define what kind of an American I want to be. The right-wing doesn’t have a monopoly on who is an American and just because I don’t cut people off on the highway with a W sticker on the back of a pickup and I’m not a war mongering racist doesn’t mean I’m not an American.

Fiqh of Jihad

The Muslims of today we live in grave and serious times. We are besieged on all sided with people, inside and outside the Muslim community, who seek to attack our way of life and our ummah. Because of this many young Muslims have rallied to the call of jihad and are seeking to protect the ummah and they should be rewarded for this Insh’Allah.

However the situation that Muslims now find ourselves in does not mean that we are entitled to a new shariah. Jihad, like anything in Islam, is regulated by rules that are based on Quran and Sunnah. Therefore we must operate within the parameters that Allah has given us.

Recently in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq those who claim to be fighting in the path of jihad have began bombing Masjids. The Masjids have been targets because of their imams, pro-American slant or their Shia. None of these reasons justify bombing a Masjid. If the Imam in Afghanistan is guilty of a crime should the brother who live din the neighborhood and went to pray been blown up for that crime? Under any rationale the killing of those coming to pray is murder and is punishable under shariah by death. This was not an act of jihad but was the act of lunacy by a Muslims (or Muslims) with either an ignorance of Islamic Fiqh or a mental illness.

Refutation of So-Called Aryan Muslim

Suhaib Jobst: Aryan Nation Figure and So-Called “Aryan” Muslim

The Aryan Nations is a white-supremacist and neo-Nazi organization that has its roots in the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian founded by the late Richard Butler. The group has distinguished itself from other neo-Nazi groups by the level of violence it has been associated with.

According to the website of the Anti-Defamation League(1) “Several Aryan Nations associates have acted on this call to arms. During the early 1980s, for example, Butler followers joined with members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and Ku Klux Klan splinter groups to form The Silent Brotherhood, known more widely as The Order, which planned to overthrow the United States government in hopes of establishing an Aryan homeland in the Pacific Northwest. In order to raise funds for this revolution, members of the group went on a crime spree in 1983-1984 that included bank robberies, counterfeiting, bombings, armored car holdups and murder. The counterfeiting operation was based at the Aryan Nations compound.
Ostensibly, The Order’s activities came to an end in December 1984, when its founder and leader, Robert J. “Bob” Mathews, died in a fire during a shootout with federal agents on Whidbey Island, Washington, and many of its members were caught and incarcerated. Yet The Order, and to a lesser degree Aryan Nations, has retained a mythic status in the far-right underground. Its legend is now perpetuated across the Internet, inspiring a new generation of would-be white revolutionaries and further reinforcing the Aryan Nations “brand.”
In the past, Butler has managed to raise funds for Aryan Nations activities by encouraging congregants to make offerings and pay membership fees, in addition to selling flags and tapes of his sermons. Supporters are also required to tithe 10 percent of their incomes. The group’s financial prospects changed dramatically in 1998, however, when Carl E. Story and R. Vincent Bertollini, acquaintances of Butler who had become wealthy in the field of computer technology, donated a significant sum to the group. Both recent transplants from California’s Silicon Valley to Sandpoint, Idaho, they founded and lead the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, an Identity ministry that shares the apocalyptic racism of Aryan Nations. The two men have underwritten several expensive propaganda efforts, including the distribution of a videotaped interview with Butler that was reportedly sent to 9,000 residents of northern Idaho.
Story and Bertollini’s largesse aside, the past three years have been difficult for the organization. On August 10, 1998, the group received significantly negative publicity when a 37-year-old former Aryan Nations guard named Buford Furrow

Aryan Nations members at Hayden Lake, Idaho in 1995. Buford Furrow (second from right), at the time an Aryan Nations guard, killed one person and wounded five others in a 1998 shooting spree in Los Angeles.
shot and wounded three young boys, a teenage girl and a receptionist at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. Furrow, who had a history of mental illness and trouble with the law, fired more than 70 rounds from a submachine gun, fled from the crime scene and later shot and killed a Filipino-American postal worker, Joseph Ileto. After evading authorities for nearly 24 hours, Furrow surrendered to the FBI in Las Vegas. He declared that his murder spree was intended as “a wake-up call to America to kill Jews” and that he had killed Ileto because the man was nonwhite and worked for the federal government.
Two years later, in September 2000, Aryan Nations’ security force made national headlines again when a jury awarded $6.3 million to Victoria and Jason Keenan, a mother and son (represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center) who had been assaulted, chased and shot at by Aryan Nations guards after briefly stopping their car on a road in front of the compound two years before. The jury found Aryan Nations and Butler guilty of negligence in the selection, training and supervision of the security guards. The judgment bankrupted Butler and his group, and the 20-acre Aryan Nations compound and the Aryan Nations name were legally handed over to the Keenans: Butler renamed his organization the Aryan National Alliance. Patrons Bertollini and Story purchased a new home for the Identity pastor in nearby Hayden, Idaho, where he vowed to continue his activities, including propaganda distribution and posting to the Web site.
As the bankruptcy sale of the compound and the Aryan Nations name approached, some of Butler’s followers began defecting to a newly-established Christian Identity church, the Church of True Israel, based in Noxon, Montana. Headed by a “council of prelates” instead of a single leader, the Church was founded in 1996 by five men, all of whom were once tied to Aryan Nations. During the summer 1995 Aryan World Congress, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported, a faction of state Aryan leaders attempted unsuccessfully to wrest power away from Butler; soon afterward, two of the failed mutineers, John Burke and Charles Mangels, left Aryan Nations and founded the new church. Like its predecessor it preaches white supremacy, but it has distanced itself from Butler’s glorification of Nazism. Although precise connections cannot be drawn, several of Butler’s close supporters are rumored to have ties to True Israel”

All Americans and especially non-white Christian Americans should be concerned about the actions and rhetoric of this organization. The beliefs and actions of this organization are completely out of step with the truth and spirit of Islam. The organization believes that Jews are “the spawn of Satan” and that blacks are “beasts of the field”. The Quran teaches us that “Allah did not create you into different nations and tribes so that you should despise one another but that you should learn from one another”. In the last Khutbah of the Prophet Muhammad (s) the Messenger said “be there no difference in you white over black, Jew over Gentile or Arab over Non-Arab the only difference is in your deeds”.
One of the true beauties of Islam is the brotherhood of the Muslims of all colors. If one goes to a mosque in America you will find a racists worst nightmare because one is likely to find people from twenty or thirty different countries and of all different colors getting along.
Despite this the Aryan Nations has adopted a call for an Aryan Jihad and alliance with Muslims in order to create a “global Kristallnacht”. In order to further this alliance AN leader August B. Kreis III has enlisted a Muslim named Suhaib Jobst who appears to have some knowledge of the deen to be its spokesperson and representative to Muslims. In his introductory writing Jobst invokes the inspiration of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and the Salafi Dawah. Of course all Muslims with any understanding of the deen will condemn his statements of an alliance between Aryans and Muslims and all of the organizations and groups he mentioned are steadfastly opposed to this.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir (a group I disagree with on many issues) includes prominent members of African descent and has been an outspoken critic of nationalism and has called it “(2) declined thought and narrow thought”.
Khilafah.com states (3)“It is historical fact that Islam succeeded time and again to unite people of different tribes, races and languages under one banner. After its advent, previously warring Arab tribes, Persians, Africans, Turkomen, Europeans, South and South East Asians enjoyed periods of unprecedented unity. From its inception, it sought to destroy the prejudices between people of different colors and tribes and unite them to a new brotherhood.”
Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood also had some choice words on nationalism and racism (4) “If, however, what is meant by ‘nationalism’ is the revival of Pre Islamic customs which have been swept away, and distant memories that have been forgotten, while a successful civilization which has long been established is effaced, and it’s Islamic ties dissolved by nationalistic propaganda and racial glorification, as some states have done, annihilating the characteristic traits of Islam and Arabism even down to personal names, the letters of the alphabet and the vocabulary, then this version of nationalism is reprehensible, destructive in its consequences and evil in its results, causing the East great loss, to forfeit its heritage, prestige and most intrinsic qualities of honor and nobility. But this will do no harm to the religion of Allah:
‘And if you turn your backs, He will replace you with another people, and they will not be like you.’
(Surat-Muhammad (47), ayah 38)
If what is meant by ‘nationalism’ is racial self-aggrandizement to a degree which leads to the disparagement of Other races, aggression against them, and their victimization for the sake of one nation’s glory and its continued existence, as preached for example by Germany and Italy (before and during the Second World War), as claimed by every nation which preaches its superiority over all others then this too is a reprehensible idea. It has no share in humanitarianism and means that the human race will liquidate itself for the sake of a delusion with no basis in fact and embodying not the slightest good.
Concerning the Salafi Dawah, and specifically the eminent scholars of the Dawah that were mentioned by Suhaib Jobst, the late Sheikh Abdul-Azziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baz and Sheikh Muhammad Nasser-ud-Deen al-Albani.

Al-Albani said (5) “Allah has erased all distinctions of racism, cast and color and made all human beings equal. He has established a unique criterion for greatness and that is Taqwa. Taqwa is the essence of the teachings of Allah’s Messenger (sallalahu alaihe wa-sallam).”

For a Muslim to ally himself with a racist organization such as the AN is an extreme dis-service to Islam and Muslims and is only ammunition for an increasingly militantly anti-Muslim West.
Mr. Jobst says that he would like to see both an Aryan and an Islamic revival and after the success of both each group would live under their own laws. Jobst seems to gloss over the treatment of African-American and black Muslims by the AN. Does he think of his Black Muslim brothers as “field beasts”. Does he not know that some of the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah (s) came from Jewish descent? If Jews are the spawn of Satan why would they be amongst the companions of the Prophet?
Mr. Jobst says that he speaks as both an Aryan and a Muslim. He should know that all nationalistic identities become null and void upon shahadah and that the bond of the believer is with the fellow believers no matter what their color is.
The following are hadith of the Prophet Muhammad and ayah regarding nationalism;
“He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who
fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah.”

And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) referring to
nationalism, racism, and patriotism said:

“Leave it, it is rotten.” [Muslim and Bukhari] and in the Hadith recorded in
Mishkat al-Masabith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said,

“He who calls for `Asabiyyah is as if he bit his father’s genitals”

Also, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said, narrated by At-Tirmidhi and Abu

“There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors; but in the sight
of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece
of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of
the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man
is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are
the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.”

Also, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said,

“Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age of
Jahilliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of
two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You
are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay. People should give
up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of
Hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah (swt) will consider them lower
than the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung).” [Abu Dawud
and Tirmidhi]

There are many examples in the Seerah where the Messenger of Allah (saaw)
had rebuked those who upheld nationalism. One one occasion a party of Jews
conspired to bring about disunity in the ranks of the Muslims after seeing
the Aus and Khazraj within Islam. A youth from amongst them was sent to
incite remembrance of the battle of Bu’ath where the Aus had been victorious
over the Khazraj, and he recited poetry to bring about division between
them. As a result there was a call to arms.

When the news reached the Messenger of Allah (saaw), he (saaw) said,

“O Muslims, remember Allah, remember Allah. Will you act as pagans while I
am present with you after Allah has guided you to Islam, and honored you
thereby and made a clean break with paganism; delivered you thereby from
disbelief; and made you friends thereby?”

When they heard this they wept, and embraced each other. This incident
clearly highlights how the Messenger of Allah (saaw) rebuked any forms of
tribalism. Allah (swt) then revealed,

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in
a state of Islam with complete submission to Allah. And hold fast, all of
you together, to the rope of Allah (i.e. Qur’an), and be not divided among
yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favors on you; for you were
enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace you became
brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He saved you
from it. Thus Allah make His signs clear to you that you may be guided.”
[Surah Al’Imran (3); ayah 102-103]

Mr. Jobst is an unwelcomed addition to the public debate on Muslims and Islamic issues and over the next several days I will be working to get a comprehensive group of fatwas condemning him and his work.

The Real Problem in Britain

It is very tough for Americans, Muslims or Non-Muslims, to understand the situation of Muslims in Britain unless they have spent an extended amount of time in Britain. In America there are only about seven million Muslims out of a population of almost three-hundred million and outside of the Northeast corridor, Atlanta, and the great Midwestern cities Muslims are few, scattered and relatively insignificant outside of the African-American community.

The British scenario is much different; not only are Muslims everywhere, existing in large numbers in every British city of any size, but there are many very recognizable Muslim neighborhoods all over Britain that are akin to the Latino immigrant neighborhoods that one sees in the US ( and the Muslim areas of places like Brooklyn).

Since the suicide bombings on July 7th in London the British political leadership, law-enforcement, media and intellectual-class have struggled to come up for answers to what happened since it was discovered that the attacks were orchestrated by British-born and raised Muslims of Pakistani origin.

Most of the discussions thus far have been pure rubbish. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he wants to pass a new deportation law that will retroactively deport Muslims who have advocated terrorism in the past, ban certain organizations that the government deems as extremist, and work at certifying Imams of Masjids. Some organizations need to be scrutinized there is no doubt, and it is bizarre why organizations that openly advocated terrorism for years were allowed to operate in the first place, but going after organizations that have nothing to do with terrorism, such as the Muslim Brotherhood (which has been proposed by some but not by Blair or his government), and other loud and vocal organizations which while they may be annoyance are non-violent such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir is just bizarre. Tahriris may be an annoyance within the Muslim community but they are not a threat to anyone and they are not criminal and the only reason to ban them is because you don’t like their opinion and if the British are going to go down that road then who will be safe tomorrow? The precedent will be set that groups who operate in a completely lawful manner can be banned just because the government doesn’t like their opinion. In America, the definition of terrorism is simple; if you are a Muslim and you do not agree with George W. Bush you are a terrorist and that is how law-enforcement operates in America. As the British people on a whole are more educated, sophisticated and have a greater understanding of the world than Americans do then let’s hope they will approach this problem with a greater maturity than the cowboys in American law-enforcement.

When fears sets in though people stop thinking. That is why in Islam one of the definitions of worship lies in the question of whom one fears and for a Muslim to fear another human being is detrimental to the soul of the believer. Today the British people are living in fear because people do not know what is going to happen next and outlets like Sky News are trying to use fear as a marketing tool just as their counterpart Fox News has done in the US.

How real is the threat of terrorism from British Muslims? No one knows the answer to that question but a few things have been ignored in the discussions within the British media thus far.

Tony Blair has said that Muslims must accept British values to be in Britain and to a certain extent that is true. In following the Sunnah Muslims should follow the British law. However this does not mean that Muslims in Britain have to accept all of modern British culture as healthy or desirable. Westerners are not the least bit introspective and cannot comprehend why anyone would not think that their culture is not perfect and complete and that arrogance exists on both sides of the political divide. That people could legitimately feel that there are serious flaws in the Western mind and way of life baffles self-worshipping Westerners and they feel that if one does not recognize their supremacy than they are either insane or extreme.

The vast-majority of Muslims living in Britain love Britain, and if they didn’t they could leave, so they may say they hate Britain but they would cut off their arms before they would have to go back to Lahore or Cairo. Some don’t understand all of British culture and even if they do understand it may not like it; but they still love their little slice of Britain.

Muslims have come to Britain because of the poor-economies in their countries of origin and the opportunity to advance economically in Britain and Britain needs these Muslims as much as they need Britain. On one level these immigrants provide labor for entry-level positions that Brits don’t want or will not take, on another these Muslim immigrants are entrepreneurs investing in businesses that the British have neglected, and on another they are providing Britain with highly-educated people in the workface particularly in the information technology field. Without these immigrants the British economy would suffer and Blair knows this and that is why he is trying to find a way, along with the rest of the British elite, to on one hand deal with the terrorist threat while seeking some way to not anger the Muslim community.

I believe that there is a terrorist threat from a tiny number of Muslims in Britain. I also believe that while the actual number of terrorist is very small that amongst young Muslims in Britain that there are a lot of people that are armchair supporters of such activity and that an even larger number enthusiastically supports causes in places like Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya. A distinction must be made between these two areas. For those who support liberation causes in Kashmir and Chechnya more than likely do not support terrorist actions in the West and may not specifically support terrorist acts as a part of those liberation struggles in Muslim countries.

Two things exist that are problematic for Brits. First of all you have the problem of the clerics in Britain. Many of these clerics do not speak English and even if they do have an extremely limited understanding of Britain and of the problems that their young congregants are experiencing. In a non-Muslim Western society the role of the mosque is crucial and the imam of the Masjid becomes very influential and important within the community and a de-facto leader of the local Muslims. In Muslim countries the imam of a Masjid is a nominal position and the real Islamic leadership exists in the offices of the Mufti, academia, Muslim media and amongst the large Muslim organizations. In the West all of the above exist in the Masjid and are under the imam. If these Imams are in Britain and don’t know the first thing about the society then it is highly doubtful this individual can be effective in addressing the problems of the community and most especially the young. I do believe that British and American imams should speak English, but I do not believe that the government has any business in regulating this matter; it should be a matter of common sense for the Muslim community to want an imam who speaks English.

The next problem is the fact that these young British Muslims are growing-up in a society that their parents may live in but don’t understand. So in one home you have two totally different world views; the mind of the parents is still rooted in Asia or Africa and the kids are British. The Islam of the parent may be defensive but the Islam of the child is assertive. The parent is bashful but the child knows Britain and has grown up with its children and feels no shame of being a Muslim and is not the least bit intimidated by fellow Brits. You have Muslims who are in trendy London neighborhoods and at the elite levels of British society and they have seemed to have internally worked out the meaning of being a Muslim in modern Britain. Some have preserved most of their Islam while others have just retained a Muslim name.

Amongst the middle-class and working classes of the Muslim young you have a generation that can produce Amir Khan and Naseem Hamed and then also produce the bombers of 7-7. These young people say yes to much of Britain; Football, music (especially hip-hop), and film. However they know that amongst much of Britain there is a profound disrespect for Muslims and for non-whites. This should come as no surprise as Britain until a generation or two ago was a virtually all-white nation and previous interaction with darker-skinned people had come through war and colonialism. In modern Britain there was supposed to be equality amongst the races and religions but much of that never left the minds, pens and tongues of the British cultural elite.

In this global world, where everything and everyone is connected electronically, everything becomes local. Britain enters Iraq, and this may or may not be a contributing factor for terror, and young Muslims in London and Brighton are watching the war play by play on satellite TV and chatting with Muslims online about the problem.

The vast majority of Muslims were angry about the British involvement in the war in Iraq and few British politicians (with the exception of George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and some Lib Dems) came to the support of the Muslim community in any real way. When these Muslims went to the Masjid they heard irrelevant Khutbahs and the imams and leadership had no real answers to the frustrations of the young. The parents of these young Muslims also had no answers, as a matter of fact they didn’t even understand why their children gave a damn about Islam and were not focused on trying to get a P.H.D. and marry a Punjabi princess. These Pakistani mothers without hijab watched as their British daughters listened to Mos Def and Radiohead and put on the hijab and their British sons let their beards grow while they cheered Manchester United and Ricky Hatton.

Without having anyone responsible willing or able to give these young men answers these young men out of anger, rage and a sense of wanting to defend the ummah embraced the method of terror. We do not know if these young men were corrupted or influenced by some militant Muslim scholars, because that is often the wrongheaded assumption that people need to be incited from the outside and are not internally committed to commit acts. We do know however that whatever the method of radicalization that these young Muslims can find solace and comfort on the internet from a variety of forums and websites and the rest is history as day by day the rage grows and peers are found in neighbors and online.

The problem that exists within the Muslim community is the problem that some Muslims believe that terror will help solve the problems of Muslims (or at least make the aggressors against Islam feel the pain). Not only is this a false belief but a belief that puts the whole community in danger as we see the hysterical reactions in America and possibly Britain to acts of terror. One Muslim commits an act of terror and the next thing you know the entire community is suffering over something they had nothing to do with and the problems of the Muslims still have not been solved but have only gotten worse. Furthermore, even if these acts were successful with regards to their intentions they would still be immoral and un-Islamic.

Muslims have to be patient and not simplistically think that a couple of bombs here and there will solve the problems of the ummah. In the West Muslims must recognize that if we maintain our deen we will not be wholly accepted by the greater society and not have are feelings hurt by this. We must also recognize that our world-view is unique and that both the political left and right have major beefs with Islam. It is our job to work hard, educate ourselves, work to make the communities that we live in a better place and create a positive image for Islam and Muslims. Once we advance as a community and become successful and organized then we can be in a better position to advocate for our positions in the Muslim World and for the greater acceptance for Islam in Western societies. On an issue by issue basis coalition building is also very important and we should be working to formulate domestic and local agendas for the places in which we are living and support those who support us in the political arena.

Watering down Islam, or a Progressive Islam, is not a solution because this is no Islam at all and has no credibility so any attempt by British or American authorities to support such movements will end in disaster. The heavy-handed approach of cracking down on all Muslims with opinions also will not help because these opinions will just go underground. The answer is in cooperation with the Muslim community and refraining from the group-indictment mentality that has been so common in the history of humanity.

If the terrorist attacks in the US have shown us anything they have shown us that as a society America has advanced very little over the past fifty-years. The great stain on American history is race and as America struggled with this issue over the last fifty-years civil-rights laws were passed and the new America was supposed to be a tolerant America were different races and cultures were accepted. 9-11 brought out the bitter truth that, to a large extent, much of this tolerance was a fraud and below the surface many Americans, and most on the American Right who now control the country, never believed or accepted the fact that White Christians (and those running up behind them) should have to live as equals with others. So the response to 9-11 was a group-indictment on Islam and the entire Muslim community led by an administration that’s ideologically opposed to most of the advancements Americans have made since the 1960’s.

Let us hope that this does not happen in Britain. After all it is a country where most of its subjects can find their city on the map, can tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, know that the civilized world doesn’t end at their borders and can name their local politicians unlike America.

Young Muslims: Do Not Throw Yourselves Into Destruction

I am writing this in response to the suffering of many American-Muslims. Allah has told the believers to “not commit oppression of yourself”.

Muslims are suffering all over the world at this time and occupation forces control many Muslim lands; including the US forces in Iraq. Because of this many young Muslims in this country are full of rage and want to lash out at this oppression. They see those fighting against occupation forces in Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and other places and want to join them in order to defend Islam. These young men have good intentions but are headed upon the path of self-destruction.

In the 1990’s young American Muslims headed to Bosnia and Kashmir to support Muslim causes and today are in prison because of that. They did not tip the scales for Muslims in those lands and in fact have hurt Muslims because they have caused Muslims to be incarcerated.

Do not fool yourselves; do not think that the battle in Chechnya is even and that the scales will be tipped when you arrive and that you shall single-handedly bring victory to the believers, that is folly. There are plenty of mujahudeen in all of these places, there is no shortage of fighters, and fresh bodies are not what they need.

Attempting to join one of these groups, and interject yourself into a physical conflict you do not belong in, will only land you in jail and those around you will be in trouble. Look at Sheikh Ali al-Timimi, because some around him attempted to go to jihad he landed into trouble and will be going to prison because he is guilty by association to people who theoretically thought about going to jihad.

Federal task forces have been set-up, and there job is to find Muslim terrorists and lock them up, and because there are almost no Muslim terrorists in America they are forced to make things up and blow things out of proportion and you should not give them an excuse to do this. The US government is at war with Islam and there is no need for you to stick your neck out for them to cut. Some Muslims, in good faith, have tried to help the government understand the nature of Islam in America only to find out that they are not after extremist Muslims they are after all Muslims.

If Muslims in this country want to help our suffering brothers and sisters then we have legal ways to do so.

lobby our elected officials on issues important to Muslims
hold informational lectures and discussions open to the public
work with local Muslim student organizations on events
join into coalitions with non-Muslim organizations on specific issues
support those politicians who support our causes
engage in a dialogue with the government and explain our positions
talk to our neighbors, coworkers, and peers
write to your local newspapers
call radio talk shows
support good causes in America and establish meaningful relationships

Those are just some of the things that you can do. The most important thing is duah, and you should remember the oppressed Muslims in your prayers. Next you can contribute financially to charities that help needy Muslims.

With all of these options open there is no need for American-Muslims to harm themselves, and harm the community, by doing anything foolish. You will only be giving ammunition to a government and society already hostile to Islam by doing so.

Our job in America is a non-violent one; changing hearts and minds. That is what we should be doing and we do this through strength and not weakness. We do not compromise our deen and our values rather we hold tight to the rope of Islam and to the Sunnah and we shine the light of al-Haqq in this world of darkness.

We have enemies, we have those who will always hate us just because we are Muslims; but along with the evil ones we also have good and honest people who work within the government and we must not be bullied into isolation and retreat. For those who are fighting Islam in America we can only say this; may they be guided to Islam or may they be punished by Allah on the Day of Judgment. Allah is the Avenger and for those who criminalize Islam in this life he will criminalize them on the Day of Judgment so we should not despair or be depressed for we are promised victory by Allah.

Muslims Are Too Obsessed With Jews

I pain for the suffering Muslims (and others) in Palestine and I support their cause, as it is just, as much as anyone. There cause is just, the Palestinians need sovereignty over their own land, the refugees need to be dealt with in a just manner and the Kalima should fly over the Haraam ash-Sharieff.

Recognizing the victimhood of Palestinians however does not mean that I see Jewish plots in a bowl of Cheerios. It also does not mean that I cannot be critical to some of the methods of the Palestinian resistance or the general feelings in the Muslim World towards the situation.

Over the years, in my opinion, Muslims have adopted some of the classical European anti-Jewish rhetoric. Because of the frustration of Muslims over the issues of Palestine Muslims are so full of rage and a feeling of helplessness and act and speak out of frustration.

This only adds fuel to the fire to the enemies of Islam and the enemies of the Palestinian people. Our cause, and the cause of the Palestinians, is very different, and morally superior, to the phobias of Western anti-Jewish thought.

This is not to say that Muslims do not have very real enemies in the Jewish community because we do. Particularly in America there are Jewish groups and leaders that have an almost pathological hatred towards Muslims and refuse to engage in any constructive dialogue with Muslims.

However there are a number of Jewish organizations in America, and individual Jews, who have worked hard to find common ground with Muslims and if we sit in dialogues with Christians and others there is no logical reason not to sit with these Jewish groups.

In order to do this though we have to live in the real world and not some anti-Jewish fantasy land. For example, if there is a new brother at the Masjid and is skin is white do not think he has been sent by the Mossad to measure your level of incompetence. Nine Arab leaders aren’t secretly Jews, Jews do not drink Gentile blood or eat babies, and Sharon doesn’t bark orders to Bush.

The reality of the matter is that American-Jews do have a very powerful lobby here and as a group they are highly successful and have a lot of influence in American society and in many other nations. But they are humans, just like us, and sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong and some times they will be victorious and sometimes they will be defeated.

To the extent that these Jewish groups work in America against Palestinian interests, the Sudan, Muslim countries in general and the organized Muslim community in America they should be fought with all the energy we have and we should work to defeat them on those issues.

There are other issues such as hate-crimes legislation, rights of religious-minorities in this country, and the treatment of the poor, children and the elderly were Muslims and Jews in this country can work together on these issues.