Obama and The Lesson of The Two Hijabis

There has been a lot of optimism and hope from young people about the campaign of Barack Obama. Particularly I know of a lot of young Muslims who are very excited about the Obama campaign. In fairness I am one of those people. I think Obama represents change and a breath of fresh air. Obama is a man of big ideas and I think he just may be the man to bring about some of the significant changes we need in this society and put away the old America and usher in the new era.


Having said that I do not necessary look at politics as something that can deliver everything the people need in order to make change. True change comes from the bottom up. Change can be nudged along or inspired from the top at times and there are certain things that can only be done from the top but change is something from the bottom up.


There are a lot of Muslims, and non-Muslims, who are waiting on some messianic figure to rise in order to make everything alright. Muslims are looking for a khalifah who cannot make salaah, fast or worship for us and cannot from the top down reorganize dysfunctional Muslim societies without Mao-like massive brutality. Americans are looking for one man who can redo some of the ills that have plagued this society from its inception and it is not possible for one man or a group of men to do all things in the system that we have. I except very little from politicians I vote for and if I get anything I’m surprised.


Muslims looking for Obama to change everything will be disappointed. Muslims looking for him to make some gradual changes that will benefit all of society and change the direction of government will probably be fulfilled. There are even subtle ways Obama will benefit Muslims. For example just having someone with his name can open the minds of many Americans that this is not just a nation of Smiths and Robinsons anymore. It will also open the worlds eyes to the fact America is a lot more racially and ethnically complex than we often get credit for.


The two Muslim women in Michigan last week who were denied entrance to the stage because they were wearing hijab got caught up in politics. There are already millions of Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim and America will not elect a Muslim to national office so Obama and his campaign have to reasonably distance themselves from the Muslim community. This may not be comfortable for Obama-loving Muslims but it is smart politics. I expect Obama to have a limited interaction with Muslims during the campaign but to send surrogates to try and get the Muslim vote. However, if I am right, I believe that after elected he will reach out to the Muslim community in a way no other president has.


20 thoughts on “Obama and The Lesson of The Two Hijabis

  1. I seriously doubt Obama will do any good for the Muslims beyond America. His foreign policy will not change and you can still expect the lobby to have its way. He was at AIPAC, gave away the WHOLE of Jerusalem and is fighting for Israeli prisoners, he then has the audacity to give billions to Israel- what about the Palestinians Mr Barack?

    Yes, Muslims within America can be a little cheerful about Obama, he represents a positive change. But outside of America – I doubt Obama will be any different from Bush in his policies. He surely will be a kinder face, a ‘nicer man’, but he will not bend over backwards for equal or fair treatment of Muslims across the world. The crux of the matter is the Palestine/Israel issue – this where everything begins – if he doesnt get this right – then expect terrorism to not stop. He has to please the AIPAC lobby, but he has to also carry out these promises and they will make sure he does.

    He will get out of Iraq – but not anytime soon – they have to ‘finish the job’. They will go after Iran, this wont stop, until they have good control of the Middle East, it is in their interest.

  2. As salaam wa laikum,

    I would like to hope that once he gets elected, that he will suddenly open his arms to Muslims, but I doubt it. The media/critics will curse him if he openly associates with Muslims before the election, and they will do so even during his presidency even if he wins. If he wants to get re-elected, he most likely won’t change. He is a politician in a modern liberal democracy, first and foremost. The people that sell his image are the same people selling us Pepsi and Coors. His aim is to get votes, and that requires pandering to the wealthy and powerful in actuality and to the masses, majority of whom are not Muslim, in terms of image and rhetoric.

    I do think some of the points you bring up are important. How his race and name will play an issue, and in general in terms of how I view his character he is far better than McCain and is actually the kind of head of state that America needs. But change comes from the bottom up as you said, and he is far from a savior. Matter of fact, all the significant change, the change that makes people want to come to America, came from the bottom (labor, Civil rights movement). Muslims in the Muslim world should take heed of this and not worship state power the way they do.

  3. The job of real leadership is to inspire people to action and I think Obama is very good at that. I think people generally are a reflection of their leadership, when people are inspired and motivated change happens naturally.

  4. Ultimately men are judged on their deeds and Obama is a man of vision this I can see clearly. Sometimes the ultimate goals of one’s strategy is hidden from public vision because we tend only to see what is in front of us. We will see how his vision plays out In Sha Allah.

  5. As-salaamu-alaikum,

    Just like Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) allowed during the treaty of Hudaybiyah I believe, the concession of leaving off the title of Messenger of G-d to settle the sensitivities of the meccans with the bigger picture of long term impact, societal transformation in mind, some of the compannions there flipped out on the Prophets decision. Obama is and muslims/conscious minds alike have to be very strategic and have broader vision on how we view “Islamic” victory, it may not be as romantic as we wish it would be, but it damn sure feel right to those who appreciate common sense and balanced logic (ie. the Qur’an talks of Prophet Muhammeds Uswah (balanced inner logic/charachter , not his sunnah,as an excellent and beautiful example for all). Just to note Imam Warithudeen Mohammed ( who is a very open and balanced supporter of Obama as a candidate & what he symbolicly represents in history and for the future) early on in Obamas candidacy asked for a muslim youth conference in his community to be cancelled because it had invited Obama as the guest speaker and he did not want Obamas campaign to be negetivly manipulated by his enemies. Peace. All muslim keep checking http://www.newafricaradio.com

  6. Salaam. I do not share your enthusiasm about Obama. His many miscues with Muslims so early in his campaign are an indication of his mind set. I have written about this several times in my own blog. Here is just the latest:
    I wish Obama had the integrity to buck the political establishment and say ‘yes he will accept people of all racial and ethnic persuasions’ and not be ashamed of that association, but he can’t.

  7. as’salaamoo alaykum,

    I agree that is smart politics to not align himself with any group. At some point I think some people were angry that he was not with the black cause enough. I had this discussion with my mother and told her by not seeming like he was in it just for black folks, at that he was in it for Americans is what helped him get this far. Having the attitude of being out to serve one group of people is part of what sunk Jesse Jackson before he could even get started.

  8. As-Salaamu `Alaykum,

    Actually as the person who dealt directly with the Obama-hijaab situation in Michigan, let me state a few things that have escaped many of us or somethings that we might not know.

    1) Those sisters didn’t look for the media to bust Obama’s chops. A reporter saw the incidents go down and the utter frustration of the sisters, one who actually voluteered for his campaign out of state, giving up her personal comfort and money.

    2) Obama has done more than just stay away from the community; he’s treated us like a “vile” disease. See his website comparing the misinformation against him as being “smears” and “vile.” I don’t expect him to visit a masjid, but he should have enough decency to not use such language, which the entire Muslim knows about.

    Of course, I like him better than McCain, but I don’t believe in giving him a free ride on how he’s treated the community. His feet need to be held to the fire on this issue if he’s truly presidential material.

    I’m glad that he showed some integrity in calling the sisters personally to apologize; however, he hasn’t done enough in addressing Islamophobia, which is the Neo-McCarthyism of America.


  9. Obama calls Muslim women to apologize
    Duo accept senator’s apology for hijab incident, say they still support his run for the White House.
    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
    U.S. Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday called and apologized to the two Muslim women who say they were told they couldn’t stand behind the candidate at a rally in Detroit because they had on traditional head scarves.

    Shimaa Abdelfadeel of Ann Arbor and Hebba Aref of Bloomfield Hills attended a rally in downtown Monday but were barred from prime seats directly behind the candidate because staffers were concerned that they were wearing traditional head scarves, or hijab.

    “I reached out to Ms. Aref and Ms. Abdelfadeel this afternoon. I spoke with Ms. Abdelfadeel, and expressed my deepest apologies for the incident that occurred with volunteers at the event in Detroit. The actions of these volunteers were unacceptable and in no way reflect any policy of my campaign,” Obama said in a statement released Thursday. “I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background. Our campaign is about bringing people together, and I’m grateful that Ms. Abdelfadeel accepted our apology and I hope Ms. Aref and any who were offended accept my apology as well.”

    The women say they accepted Obama’s apology and support his candidacy.

    “Senator Obama has called us each to personally convey his deepest apologies and acknowledge that this was inexcusable,” Aref and Abdelfadeel said in a statement released Thursday.

    “We both immensely appreciate the senator’s phone call and his commitment to remedy this issue,” they said. “We commend him for displaying qualities befitting an effective president.”

    The women earlier had received phone calls from aides to Obama, who talked to them for nearly 40 minutes.

    Throughout Wednesday, Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations, who had talked to the women, said that they were hoping to hear from Obama and that he would make clear the behavior would not be tolerated by his campaign.

    They also called on Obama to be more forthright in addressing prejudice against Muslims.

    At Monday’s rally, two volunteers denied the women seating behind the stage, where they might appear in media images of Obama speaking and accepting the endorsement of former Vice President Al Gore.

    “Volunteers informed us that we were not allowed to sit in that area due to the hijab, the head scarf that each of us was wearing,” the women said. “This incident was unfortunate and extremely disappointing.”

    Abdelfadeel works for the University of Michigan in the office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs. Aref is a lawyer.

    Obama’s campaign issued an apology Wednesday, saying that volunteers told the women they were not welcome to stand behind the candidate, at the rally, because of their head scarves.

    Obama was at Wayne County Community College in Taylor the day after the rally, and he was photographed by The Detroit News with a woman wearing hijab.

    Muslim women wear head scarves as a practice of hijab that encourages modesty and morality

  10. Salaam alaikum,

    This is OT, but I’d like to read your series on the rise and fall of the salafi dawah, but I’m getting error 404 messages when I click the links to read the first parts. Love it if you could get that corrected.

    Just found you from the Brass Crescent page. Worthy reading here. Keep up the good work.

    S–a struggling convert

  11. Are you serious? Do you really think that Obama will reach out to the Muslim community when he stated that He has never been a Muslim and clearly is an apostate. He clearly said that he was a Christian, if I am wrong please correct me.

  12. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    We can only pray for such things akhi Umar. I personally do not trust Obama, though I do believe he’s the best politician for the job of President. I personally think, the hardest thing to do is to unify and mobilize the American people, Muslims included to stay strongly involved in what are representatives do in Washington. We can no longer sit back and go ok he’s in we did our job. It’s our responsibility to check our representatives to ensure that our best interest is being served and not the best interest of the rich and the few. InshaAllah, May Allah bless America.

    AsSalaamu Alaikum

    Abdul At-Tawwaab

  13. Immorality, lack of principle, and cowardice often masquerade as “smart politics”.

    Lawyers from the Bush administration have been testifying before Congress in the last few weeks to say that it was “smart politics” or due to the circumstances, the fever of the moment, etc. that caused them to ignore the Geneva Conventions, the treaty against torture, U.S. and international law, legal precedent, and morality to justify torturing of prisoners at Guantanamo.

    Politics in and off itself is not immoral but rather the political actors that are immoral when they sacrifice principle before the alter of political expediency. Obama has many good qualities, yet, I am annoyed by the excuses people make for him as he throws one issue after another under the bus as if no issue is important as long as he is elected by any means necessary, which is also immoral.

  14. The problem here is the principle conundrum of democracy. It’s as much ends justifies the means as any other way of changing things. Do what you have to do to get power and make the world a better place blah blah blah and you end up being what you did to get in. Utopianists of all shades take heed. Anyone who imagines **they** won’t be corrupted is surely going to be Shaytan’s plaything.

    OK back to the point. So who is the “real” Obama ? Is he fully formed yet.? All that crawling in front of AIPAC – was it a necessary evil or will it prove to have been a formative experience? Lets face it – the process of becoming the president of the United States would have an affect on just about anyone’s character.

  15. Obama will only help those like him. He is acting with a slave mentality already, trying hard to please his masters in Tel Aviv and his white voters. The black people that are so extatic about him are only in it for his skin color. He clearly expressed his intention to send in troops into pakistan, bu I guess that doesnt bother the “muzlems” in the US.
    Urge anyone with understanding of true Islam and not the americanized version of it, to check themselves if they love Islam more than they love America.

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