No one is exactly sure just how many American Muslims there are in the United States. Estimates are anywhere between three and nine million. According one national Muslim advocacy organization which labels itself as the largest civil Muslim rights organization in the country, there are close to 9 million Muslims in the United States. This same organization reported that there were a little bit less than 3000 incidents of anti Islamic, or anti Muslim sentiment occurring in the United States for the entire calendar year of 2008. Interesting enough, many of these incidents were in the form of anti Muslim, or anti Islamic rhetoric, some of which bear the legal definition of hate speech. This means that a full .03% of the American Muslim population have been victimized by anti-Muslim sentiment. Sounds like a civil rights crisis folks.
One of the dangerous paradoxes of national American Muslim civil rights organizations is that it mixes politics with religion, obfuscating the boundary between the two, in a way that morally bankrupts our practice of Islam as a religion, and replaces it with the triviality of tribal based politics. Political Islam in America has put on a convincing, Broadway caliber performance as the defender of the faith and the bedrock of Muslim morality. Unfortunately, for most practicing American Muslims, Islam is meant as a way to personal salvation, and a path to righteousness, both of which are antithetical to the real intention of political Islam. Before it was; convert to Islam, purify your soul, and get right with your Lord. Now it’s; convert to Islam, join the tribe, take over the world.
Political Islam is arguably the most crippling and spiritually debilitating element confronting Muslims in America. It effectively derails the virtuous aspirations of Islam as a faith, re-colonizes indigenous Muslims of color, and removes looking out for our own spiritual best interests as an option. Political Islam undermines the foundations of our morality as people of Muslim. It even has its own enchanted language, and interpretations.
In political Islam, there is no mention of the Devil, no reference to the signs of the last days, and no upward spiritual trajectory. In the lexicon of political Islam, anti Muslim sentiment, in the form of verbal disparagement, or rhetoric, is characterized as a civil rights crisis for American Muslims. How about that for an irony! I remember learning in kindergarten that sticks and stones may break your bones and that names will never hurt you. “Let not their words worry you. We know well what they say secretly and privately” [36:76 Quran]. In the philosophy of political Islam, Muslims and Islam are one and the same. In other words, we don’t aspire to practice Islam; we are Islam! Thus, since Islam is perfect, we as Muslims are also perfect, and cannot be criticized. We have it all worked out. Criticize us; you criticize Islam.
Political Islam has no spiritual endgame. In the magical world of political Islam, American Muslims have no moral deficiencies. We have reached the pinnacle of our spiritual potential; gone as far as we can go, and the only thing left for us to do, is to bring everyone else up to our level. We accomplish this by pointing out every possible deficiency we can find in the West, in the non Muslim, in Europe, in American foreign policy, in the media, and so on. We spend the rest of our time arguing amongst ourselves. Political Islam is so convincing that even American Muslims who were born in the west, and think with critical discernment as westerners often do, criticizing being western as anti Islamic.
The political process of political Islam in America is to think as a tribe. When American Muslim Communities were first formed in this country, we would have Imams as our leaders. You knew his name, where he lived, and knew what he looked like. Now that political Islam seems to be in charge, American Muslims don’t have too many individual religious leaders. Instead, we have tribal councils. These tribal councils tell us which issues are important, and which issues are not important. They issue suggestions as to what Imams should speak about during their Friday Sermons, and they tell Muslims around the country when and where they should stage demonstrations. These tribal councils, the most influential of which is CAIR, are the ones which have designated responding to the American Muslim civil right crisis and fighting islamophobia, as the issues most deserving the attention of Muslims in America.
How about that? American Muslims, go to work, go to school, and open liquor stores virtually anywhere they like, buy cars, sell cars, purchase homes, open businesses and engage in the pursuit of happiness without fear or fanfare. Unless of course you’re part of the 33% who are African American, in which case there may be some statistically disproportionate socio-economic obstacles to overcome. This is something I find very interesting since, the national American Muslim “grassroots” organizations tend to avoid addressing tissues that disproportionately affect the darker hued, indigenous third of the American Muslim demographic. However, the tribal council says that we have an American Muslim civil rights crisis on our hands, so let’s get with the program.
This is not your father’s type of civil rights crisis mind you; no church bombings, no lynchings, no fire hoses and dogs set loose upon the innocent, and no Jim crow laws.(except amongst the tribal leadership councils). On the contrary, my friend, we’re living in a virtual age. We have virtual Islam, virtual Muslim communities, and a virtual civil rights crisis. You can summon your American Muslim civil rights crisis on your schedule. Once you get home, make your prayers, check the mail, and pick up the kids from soccer practice, all you have to do is click on your computer, or cell phone, check your inbox, and presto! You can enjoy your civil rights crisis, while you are having dinner with the family. You can even share it with your friends.
Concerned about boredom? No problem, we’ve got four-hundred million souls here in the land of the free. Finding anti Muslim sentiment is easier than finding a tourist in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. This assures that, maintains a full complement of issue options in our jihad to defend Muslim civil rights in America.
Granted, anti Muslim speech can become monotonous, so for those who also want variety, here are some other potential targets of our scorn; an obscenity blurted out by a passer-by, a co-worker ordering someone a ham hoagie when you specifically asked for albacore tuna on Jewish rye, somebody pressured into lip syncing Christmas carols at the companies’ ‘holiday party’, tribal council not getting advanced notice of an FBI investigation, a water meter reader guy not taking off his shoes when he walked into the Masjid, and anti-terrorism laws that make spending charity on poor Muslims and non-Muslims living in the United States, easier than sending all your zakaat abroad, (talk about crisis!).
As a self serving political strategy, hyper-sensitizing American Muslims to random occurrences of anti-Islamic rhetoric is perfect. In a country of 400,000,000 people, where people are free, to speak their mind, finding someone with a negative opinion of Islam, or Muslims, or Arabs, is a no brainer. It could be a city councilman in Iowa, a screenwriter in Hollywood, a citrus grower in Florida, a syndicated talk show host, a civil service employee, a small town newspaper reporter in Kansas, or a third grade schoolteacher in Arkansas. You simply pick the disparaging statement which you believe will generate the most indignation in the American Muslim cyber community, and you got yourself a campaign. Throw in a press conference or two, followed by several hundred thousand e-mail alerts, and you got yourself a miniature golf version of an American Muslim civil rights crisis. Gil Scott Heron was right; the revolution would not be televised, it will be in your inbox! Lions and tigers and stares, oh my!
Imam Luqman Ahmad