Rajab 12, 1426/August 18, 2005 #64
Reader Abushadee suggests that we should have comics in New Trend.
To start off, he writes that the cute but hypocritical press
releases sent out by CAIR should be studied under the heading:
"Cair's Comedy Club" [CCC].
Jamaat al-Muslimeen News [4 items]
P.O. Box 10881
Baltimore, MD 21234
Cindy Sheehan Shows Concern for Lynne Stewart
There is news that Ms. Sheehan has heard about the case of
Ms. Stewart and expressed concern and support for the famous
attorney. Lynne is one of those outstanding women who are
the conscience of America. She fought relentlessly for the
rights of the blind Shaikh, Dr. Omar 'Abdel Rahman. Today she
herself is facing imprisonment on charges of helping "terrorists."
The Bush administration claims that this 65 years old grandmother
who has spent her life fighting for human rights is a "terrorist!"
Meanwhile all over America, support for Cindy Sheehan is growing.
Who Will Speak for Imam Jamil al-Amin?
Jamaat al-Muslimeen urges all Muslims, particularly African-Americans,
to speak out loud and clear against the imprisonment and mistreatment
of Imam Jamil al-Amin [formerly Rap Brown]. A lot of African-American
Muslims are silent because their leaders are hooked up with the
government. People of African descent were awakened by Malcolm X.
Will they be silenced by the White House's flunkeys? Would you be
silent if Malcolm X were in prison? Imam Jamil is walking the same
path, which is the path of Muhammad of Arabia, peace be on him.
He is the first African-American Muslim leader to follow the
Sunnah without a trace of nationalism. Why are you silent, dear
African-American Muslims? Crying for "massa?" because of London
or just plain scared of Bush?
Jamaat al-Muslimeen and Leader-Women
Within the Sharia [Islamic Law], both men and women are governed by
the rule of "taqwa" or fear of Allah, not by the superiority of one
gender over the other. The Islam of the Qur'an and the Sunnah is
neither that of "Saudi" Arabia where women have no say, nor that
of Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani who support the enemies of Islam
and blindly attack the traditions of the Muslim community.
Men and women must work together but within the limits of the Sharia.
Neither the segregation of the Saudis nor the free mixing and
Zionist-loving activities of the Asra Nomani types is acceptable
to the Muslims of America. [Separation is not the same as
segregation: Also, tradition cannot be dumped because the White Master
in the White House says so.]
'Ayesha Siddiqa, r.a., did not break tradition by making men and
women pray in the same line, yet is there any Muslim man today who
can say that he is better than 'Ayesha Siddiqa, r.a.?
Umm Ammara, r.a., saved the Prophet's, pbuh, life at Uhud,
shielding him with her own body. [See Ibn Sa'ad's Tabaqat.]
But she did not take off her covering and start claiming that
she should dress like non-Muslim women to be "liberated."
[Study of Hadith is essential to understand what equality for
men and women within the Sharia means. Remember Hadith is from
Muhammad, pbuh, the greatest revolutionary of all times. He taught
that Allah does not accept the prayers of one who enslaves people.]
Two Great Muslims Passed Away in August
Ahmed Deedat, from Surat, India was 87.
Zainab Al-Ghazzali, from Egypt, was 88.
Deedat, who lived in South Africa, is known for his polemic
against Christian missionaries. He knew the Bible as well as
the Qur'an better than most people. When missionary activists
started attacking Islam, he countered them with detailed criticism
of the Bible. His work was so effective that numbers of non-Muslims,
including some Christian missionaries, accepted Islam.
We respect Deedat but we think his kind of activity should not be
the core of the Islamic Da'wa. We do not want to criticize anyone's
religious books. Our emphasis should be on the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Zainab al-Ghazzali was a much greater role model. She stood against
the tyranny of Gamal Abdel Nasser [who was somewhat like Sadat and
Hosni Mubarak]. She was arrested by the regime on August 20, 1965 and
kept in prison for 6 years where she underwent severe torture, abuse
and humilation. She did not budge an inch from the path of Islam
and continued her Islamic work which brought forth scores of Muslim
women preachers in Egypt.
While in prison, she contacted Syed Qutb who was also in prison
[and was later executed by the tyrant]. From the great martyr,
she received his last writings available now in English under the
title MILESTONES [ma'lam fit tareek in Arabic].
She set up her own organization for Muslim women and educated
thousands of women.
May Allah bless both Ahmed Deedat and Zainab al-Ghazzali and give
them Paradise. Surely few can compare with them in piety and wit.
Profile by New Trend's Media Monitor
Gaza's Pampered Jews Get Top Level Media Coverage
August 15-17, 2005. It's been three days of non-stop propaganda by
just about every U.S. TV channel to glorify and humanize the
settlers being evicted from Gaza. it's been helpful in some ways
as viewers got to see the expensive subsidized housing the Jews
lived in, with class of the art interiors, with air conditioning
and car ports. These 7000 plus Jews had taken over the finest Gaza
real estate, often on the beaches, and were protected by 8,000
Israeli soldiers with tanks and helicopters. It was a "little America"
paid for by International Jewry and in part by American tax payers.
The TV screens do not show the nearly two million Palestinians
crammed into the Gaza ghetto lacking proper housing, clean water,
medicine, lighting and other basic facilities. Who are these
Palestinians? These are the people of the lands occupied by
Israel in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. Forced out of their homes,
they were deprived of decent living even as refugees in Gaza.
On top of that, the Gaza Jews, protected by Israeli troops,
committed crimes against their "neighbors." Instead of being
put in camps, as they did to the Palestinians, and being tried
for crimes against humanity, they are being cried over by the
media as victims. Each of these ex-occupiers will be paid $100,000
to $400,000 in compensation for their "losses," in addition to
$3000 to $5000 moving expenses. Even a New Yorker would be green
with envy at such 'severance pay.'
If these Jews had any sense of God or spirituality, they would have
left their habitations behind to be used by the orphans of the
Palestinians they have killed. Instead they are leaving total
destruction in their wake. Is there any sign at all that these
seemingly religious people want peace or recognize, in the
slightest, the humanity of the Palestinians? Do they worship God,
the Creator of all peoples, or some little Jewish idol who has
told them that they have the right to other people's lands?
No, there is no semblance of decency, shame or understanding among
these Jews, These are indeed the scum of the earth, parasites
funded by International Jewry.
Without the steadfastness in suffering of the Palestinian people
and the sacrifices of the martyrdom operators and their families,
these criminals would have never left. Even Sharon, known as
"the pig" in the Muslim world, could see that the zionist dream
had been shattered by the Palestinian families living 19 to a
room who would not accept the slavery of Israel.
[After Dr. Gamal Badawi on "jihad" and the One-Eyed Fatwa of
America's "Islamic Scholars" on London, we look at the entire
gamut of the "moderate Islam" the American power structure wishes
to create. A young Muslim intellectual takes on the views of
Dr. Muqtedar Khan as the epitome of "moderate Islam" and shreds
them. Enjoy! This is a rare treat, so new Trend accepted it in
spite of length.-Editor]
Muqtedar Khan and the Politics of Muslim Accomodationism
By Abu Dharr
Muqtedar Khan is a character who, despite his relentless efforts
to promote himself, has not been taken seriously by Muslim scholars.
The foolishness characterizing many of his writings over the past
few years is normally ignored on account of his na´vetÚ,
intellectual shallowness and delusion of grandeur. When some
of us would get irritated at his more imbecilic ravings, there
were others who insisted, yeh to bacha hai (he's just a child,-
or at least writes like one); just let it go! For those not
familiar with Khan's messianic writings, his website,
is a good place to start.
Perhaps the time has come to take him a bit more seriously because
his project - rather the project that he is a willing pawn in -
has become more insidious than initially thought. He seems to
have realized that the projection of himself as part of "a growing
number of young, moderate Muslim thinkers who believe themselves
engaged in a battle for the soul of Islam" cannot succeed without
getting some other American Muslim "moderates" on board. In order
for him to be the "prince's advisor" and to become "the first
Muslim Henry Kissinger," Khan must bring along some other
"moderate Muslims." Because of the larger Islamophobic-induced
fear amongst Muslim intellectuals in the U.S. today, Khan and
his policywalla pals seem to have been left with few other
attractive options at the moment.
Here I want to highlight some of Muqtedar Khan's writings to
comment on his right-wing theatrics.
Khan and 9/11
Immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11th 2001, Khan wrote:
"This is not the time for politics. This is the moment for unity
and all Americans, regardless of their faith, politics and
ethnicity must unite behind the singular principle that an
attack against one American is an attack against all."
Two questions arise: Unity with whom-the U.S. government, business
and political elites coveting opportunities that allow them to
expand their power across the world, sometimes by brute force,
or with ordinary Americans, bewildered and lost, because of the
massive state-corporate-media campaign to mislead them into
doctrinal mythology? And unity for what purpose-to give a carte
blanche to "nuke'em," or to critically assess the big picture
which we'll discover is not so black and white. Khan's tone seems
to be on the side of the former. The Qur'anic notion that the killing
of one individual is like the killing of all of humanity is much
more principled than Khan's parochial, nationalist "principle,"
if it can be called that.
He goes on to say:
"This attack against innocent Americans is not only a test of
American resolve and power, but is also a test of the loyalties
of American Muslims. Today American Muslims have to decide who they
are and where their loyalties lie. Silly debates about whether they
are American Muslims or Muslim Americans will have to be settled
immediately. You cannot enjoy American hospitality and secretly
applaud cowardly attacks against Americans."
For Khan, loyalties are about labels, pre-packaged, pre-approved,
rigid, and fixed, not about content, substance, and commitment.
For Muslims and millions of others from other faiths and traditions,
there is ultimately only one loyalty that is important, and that is
to the truth. After all, the Qur'an recognized the fundamental
division in mankind to be between those who proclaimed the truth
and those who covered up the truth.
As for the "silly debates" about the appropriateness of the term
"American Muslim" or "Muslim American," one can take a quick sample
of Khan's own writings to see that he is probably the most obsessed
and prolific writer on the topic, almost as if he is undergoing
some type of profound identity crisis. We can only express our
sympathy for him if that is the case. The hospitality business,
however, is a mixed bag. Khan may have a different experience but
South Asian cab drivers in New York and migrant Latinos working on
southern farms for less than minimum wage have not exactly been
treated like welcomed guests. And, as the cultural critic Vijay
Prashad has put it, it's been our labor that this country has been
interested in, not our lives, families, cultures, and heritages.
Commenting on the not so noble past of U.S. foreign intervention,
"I hope that the US government will conduct itself in a manner
that is in keeping with its long history of exercising power with
due regard to humanitarian concerns. I hope that wisdom prevails
and while recognizing the paramount need to maintain security,
the US will not give up its moral struggles to promote democracy
and freedom overseas."
The "long history" of "due regard to humanitarian concerns!" Is that
what Georgetown has taught Khan in his American International
Relations courses? Even Jean Kirkpatrick, the hawkish former
political science professor at Georgetown, will blush twice in
describing such a benign picture of U.S. foreign policy. The
"long history" of the U.S. exercise of power abroad is the history
of brutal interventions and subversion from Central America to the
Middle East and to Southeast Asia. The humanitarianism, though, does
sometimes express itself, as in the recent U.S. war on Afghanistan,
where while dropping "daisy cutters" and cluster bombs, the U.S also
dropped food packages. And also in Iraq, where the U.S. at least
evacuated most of the city of Fallujah before razing it to the
ground, and only killing perhaps a little more than a thousand
people. But we can all be happy that, as Khan states, "democracy
and freedom" are being advanced in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan,
as they've been advanced by the U.S. in places like Iran, Vietnam,
and Chile before them.
Khan then states how Muslims will need U.S. help: "Muslims overseas
will need the US to protect them from their own authoritarian
governments and from the nations that occupy them from Kashmir
to Palestine who may wish to exploit this tragedy."
According to Khan, other nations will exploit this tragedy, but not
the benign Bush administration. The two examples, Kashmir and
Palestine, are two areas where the governments involved in massive
state terror are two of the closest allies of the U.S. and crucially
rely on U.S. support to carry out what they do. While peoples all
over the world are looking toward regional blocs, the Europeans,
the UN, God, and anyone to save them from the menacing tentacles
of the U.S., Khan proclaims that they should count on the U.S. to
be their savior, and that too from the "authoritarian governments"
that have often been imposed on them by the U.S. itself.
Muqtedar Khan's Memos to American Muslims
Copying Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Khan has also
started writing memos to whosoever he is angry with. In a now
infamous memo to American Muslims, he writes:
"Muslims, including American Muslims have been practicing hypocrisy
on a grand scale. They protest against the discriminatory practices
of Israel but are silent against the discriminatory practices in
That is a very sweeping accusation. Do all American Muslims
practice such hypocrisy? Are there no voices at all among Muslim
intellectuals who are equally critical of all forms of injustices,
wherever they are practiced?
Amongst South Asian Muslims, I have not heard one discussion where,
when Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states are mentioned, there is no
mention of the ill-treatment of the South Asian migrant workers there.
He goes on to say:
"The Israeli occupation of Palestine is perhaps central to
Muslim grievance against the West. While acknowledging that,
I must remind you that Israel treats its one million Arab citizens
with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat
Such sweeping mischaracterizations simply pile up, one after the
other. Let Khan talk to some Israeli Arab who can tell him how the
Arab citizens of Israel are still treated like second class citizens.
Apartheid South Africa treated "its Blacks better than they were
treated in the Congo?" So what?
While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment
of Palestinians we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights
of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam and his
use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)? Remember Pakistani
army's excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)? Remember the Mujahideen
of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned
them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention
or retribution against them?"
The cases Khan uses here are interesting. Saddam Hussein in the
1980s, the Pakistan army in the early 1970s, and the Afghan
Mujahideen in the 1980s were all close allies of the U.S., to
varying degrees. Saddam did not need direct U.S. intervention
to help him crush the Kurds, but did at times to beat back the
Iranians, the Pakistan army almost cajoled the U.S. to intervene
on its side to help butcher the peoples of then East Pakistan, and
the Mujahideen could not do what it did without the crucial U.S.
financial, military, and political support and moral encouragement.
If anything, many Muslims are fully aware of the fact that these
regimes and forces in the Muslim world couldn't have done what they
did without the support they received from the United States.
And then comes his now trademark statement:
"Muslims love to live in the US but also love to hate it. Many
openly claim that the US is a terrorist state but they continue
to live in it. Their decision to live here is testimony that they
would rather live here than anywhere else. As an Indian Muslim, I
know for sure that nowhere on earth, including India, will I get the
same sense of dignity and respect that I have received in the US.
No Muslim country will treat me as well as the US has."
We can ignore Khan's simplistic dualisms and Daniel-Pipes- type
rhetoric as, again, being characteristically juvenile. However,
let's be very clear on what he, and much of the political Right
of the U.S., is doing. He basically is falling back onto the
weakest and most intellectually bankrupt card of all: the
"anti-Americanism" card, which has been a weapon of ideological
propaganda developed precisely to stave off sound, critical
analysis and debate. This is the criminalization of dissenting
voices (which are many millions in America now) under the label
of being "anti-American," and is the most pathetic intellectual
tactic available, which in itself should say a lot about Khan.
My response to Khan's reveling in the fact that he is appreciated
and respected here like no where else is simple: You say what
you like because they (media bosses) like what you say!
Once Mr. Khan starts saying the wrong things, as many dissident
voices in the U.S. do with the consequence of being shunned from
the mainstream media, no longer will there be Muqtedar Khan
articles in those dozens of global newspapers that one can see
pretentiously highlighted on his website.
"It is time that we acknowledge that the freedoms we enjoy in
the US are more desirable to us than superficial solidarity
with the Muslim World. If you disagree than prove it by packing
your bags and going to whichever Muslim country you identify
with. If you do not leave and do not acknowledge that you would
rather live here than anywhere else, know that you are being
According to Khan, we Muslims in the U.S. are being hypocritical
if we refuse to acknowledge an American life to be more valuable
than an African life dying of AIDS with the complicity of the
international pharmaceutical industry. Or an Iraqi or Afghan
child dying of American bombardment, or the hundreds of millions
more all across the world suffering because of displacement,
hunger, and exploitation. Many in this country are involved
in real solidarity with the victims of our government's direct
and indirect crimes, but Khan has absolutely no idea what that
is, so we can't blame him for this oversight. "Packing your bags"
probably would have been an option for many if the conditions
created by international capital and the "Great Powers" in
their former colonies were not so miserable. This "love us or
leave us" rhetoric is not Khan's; it is directly borrowed from
the extreme rightwing fringe of America that views any criticism
of U.S. policies as unpatriotic.
He goes on to say:
"Today the century old Islamic revival is in jeopardy because we
have allowed insanity to prevail over our better judgment. Yes,
the US has played a hand in the creation of Binladen and the
Taliban, but it is we who have allowed them to grow and gain such
a foothold. It is our duty to police our world. It is our
responsibility to prevent people from abusing Islam. It is our
job to ensure that Islam is not misrepresented. We should have made
sure that what happened on Sept. 11th should never have happened."
The pertinent question here is who is this "we" that Khan is
First, it is not the vast majority of ordinary Muslims who have
no say in these decisions, but various authoritarian regimes
in collaboration with the U.S. government. Second, Khan himself
continuously befuddles his Muslim reader here and throughout
his writings by his muddled use of the term "we."
Are "we" Muslims responsible for the global ummah's problems or
are "we" Americans working toward the progress and change of
American institutions and society? "We" are taken on quite
the roller coaster ride in trying to figure this out.
And then he advises "us":
"I hope that we will now rededicate our lives and our institutions
to the search for harmony, peace and tolerance. Let us be prepared
to suffer injustice rather than commit injustices."
Perhaps this is easy for Muqtedar Khan to say living on the
outer parameters of the American academy, but it seems
highly unjust for him to ask Palestinians, Kashmiris,
and other Muslims suffering injustices of decades
to continue to agonize and die in silence.
The "us" that are the usual sufferers are rarely "us" dwelling
in the West; it's mostly those in those God-forsaken Oriental
lands which, according to Khan, are not worthy of our solidarity.
"We must be always willing to express our disagreements with US
policies but we must also not be stingy in expressing our
solidarity with the US."
What does he mean by "solidarity with the US?"
The "US" is not an abstract entity. It has institutions and policies
with which many may have great disagreement; it has right wing
fascists as well as progressives. And if he means solidarity
with the U.S. government and U.S. power, then I can do no better
than to offer the advice of the courageous Israeli journalist
Amira Haas, who states that the role of journalists and writers
is to "monitor the centers of power," not to be their bedfellows.
And here comes the cat out of the bag:
"I remember telling my wife; maybe I will be our Henry Kissinger,
the first Muslim to become the Secretary of State. Then came
Bin Laden and his bloody men and along with the World Trade Center,
American Muslim dreams and
aspirations came crashing down."
If all Khan wanted in his life was to become Henry Kissinger and
to oversee military interventions, economic strangulation, and
political subversion of other nations and peoples, in short what
most U.S. Secretaries of State do, then perhaps Bin Laden did
Muslims a favor by saving ourselves from our own evil nafs (selves)!
Many Muslims speculate that Khan's emotional bombast since
Sept. 11th reflected precisely this issue of a lost opportunity to
climb the policymaking hierarchy. Don't worry, Khan: If you
remain steadfast in your sycophancy, you may still have a shot.
Here is another strange assertion:
"Most American Muslims have very little use for the radicalism
of militants that belong to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. That is
primarily the reason why they are here and not back home."
It seems like Khan is implying that all of the "homes" of origin
of American Muslims are overrun by Al Qaeda or the Taliban,
including his home India.
Perhaps he should remind President Bush to add all of them to
the list of "rogue nations" to be attacked next. And I was under
the impression that Muslims and non-Muslims came to this country
because their own countries have been so devastated by over 500
years of maldevelopment caused by colonialism and neo-colonialism,
and therefore could earn better here. Thanks Khan for clarifying
that it was the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that caused them to migrate.
Another of Khan's memos was addressed to Bin Laden:
"Once the war is declared, make no mistake Mr. Saddam Hussain and
Mr. Bin Laden, We are with America. We will fight with America
and we will fight for America. We have a covenant with this nation,
we see it as a divine commitment and we will not disobey the Quran (9:4)."
I hope Khan continues to maintain his enthusiasm to fight in the
U.S. war on Iraq since today, many American soldiers returning
from Iraq are refusing to go back and risking long sentences for
it and the majority of the U.S. population is opposed to the
continued occupation. At such a critical time for the U.S. armed
forces, Khan's services are needed more than ever. Can
we dare to hope to receive his next memo from the trenches of
Fallujah or Baquba?
"Sure at this moment out of anger, frustration and fear, some in
America have momentarily forgotten their own values. I am
confident that, God willing, this moment of shock and insecurity
will pass and America will once again become the beacon of freedom,
tolerance and acceptance that it was before September 11th. On
that day Mr. Binladen, you not only killed 3000 innocent Americans,
many of whom were also Muslims, but you signed the death warrants
of many innocent people who will die in this war on terror and
many more who will live but will suffer the consequences, the pain
and the misery of war. Before September 11th, the US was giving
aid to Afghanistan and was content to wait for the Iraqi people
to free themselves and the rest of the world from their dictator."
I will assume that most thinking readers will want me to spare
them the condescension involved in having to show them how Khan
is grossly misled on issues of U.S. foreign policy in the
twentieth century. In a world where so many Americans are
reading alternative U.S. media and foreign newspapers like
the Independent and Guardian on the internet, one is amazed
when such ignorance and na´vetÚ are displayed. If nothing else,
Khan could have learned much about U.S. policies toward
Afghanistan and Iraq before 9/11 by reading only Steve Coll's
The Ghost Wars and Chalmer Johnson's Sorrows of
And then comes another gem of wisdom for American Muslims:
"The choices we face are tough, but Muslims must realize that
the interests of our sons and daughters, who are American,
must come before the interests of our brothers and sisters,
whether they are Palestinian, Kashmiri or Iraqi. Only then
will Muslims in America become American Muslims."
This is probably Khan's most humane statement. He essentially is
stating that the U.S. can destroy Iraq and kill without limit
there; U.S. allies such as Israel and India can continue to
repress and kill Palestinians and Kashmiris, but as long as
we Muslims in America are healthy, have our jobs, and say our
prayers, then everything is OK. One would be hard put to
espouse a sentiment more humanitarian and
Khan's newly-founded organization, the American Muslim Group on
Policy Planning (AMGPP), best epitomizes the lofty ideals of
our "moderate" American Muslims. Some of the organization's
primary tasks will be: (a) to provide "valuable assistance to
the US in the war on terror;" (b) to "help improve US image" in
the Muslim world; (c) to "act as a spokesperson for American
policies, concerns and interests;" (d) to restore American
"credibility" in the Muslim world; and (e) to include Muslims in
Residents of Baghdad, Fallujah, and Ramallah should now be
comforted that we'll have a few of our very own Colin Powells
and Condi Rices overseeing the assaults against them. Perhaps
their inclusion in "policymaking" will make the bombs and bullets
The AMGPP folks can be expected to defer any critical political
analysis for the greater aim of "policy cooperation" with state
planners. There may be a few criticisms regarding the usual
grievances on Palestine and Iraq and some advice may be given
to the U.S. not to bomb this or that city so much since Zarqawi
or Al-Qaeda are really in that other city over there, which can be
bombed with AMGPP approval. We can also expect AMGPP to be
supportive of "moderate" Muslim dictators-Musharraf of Pakistan
and Abdullah II of Jordan-their moderation defined by the
former's possession of a pet dog and the latter's praise of
the internet, and lest we forget, their close alliance with the
U.S. The fact that the theologically immoderate Saudi regime has
been the oldest Muslim ally of the U.S. defies the
moderate-equals-U.S.-ally postulate. Khan's crowd in the AMGPP
will thus have no qualms about the fundamental immorality of U.S.
foreign policy in general and the undemocratic and elite
institutions from which all such decisions flow.
The flawed notion held by folks like Khan is that once Muslims
become a part of the hierarchy of U.S. government policymakers,
then U.S. foreign and domestic policy will be more moral and just.
There are few viewpoints as discredited as this one. Women have
seen their "caring" representatives like Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright callously asserting that the deaths of around
500,000 Iraqi children as a result of the US/UN-imposed
sanctions were "worth it." African-Americans will witness
one of their "own" women become Secretary of State, and if
her stint as National Security Advisor is any indication,
Condi Rice may just as well be one of the most hawkish
Secretaries of State in the history of the U.S., in close
competition with Khan's role model, Henry Kissinger.
"Moderate" American Muslims flocking to projects such as AMGPP are
not at all interested in engaging the broader Muslim community,
empowering Muslims in their times of great difficulty, and helping
to build alliances with other faiths and groups striving for
social justice at home and abroad. Their present preoccupation
seems to be more about being the unashamed posterboys and
cheerleaders for those laudable U.S. policies around the world.
Ironically, these folks also rely on the same "clash of
civilizations" thesis expounded by Islamophobes like Samuel Huntington,
Bernard Lewis, and the contemptible Daniel Pipes. The U.S. attempt
to "civilize" the Muslim world, articulated most explicitly in
the recent Rand report entitled "Civil Democratic Islam:
Partners, Resources, and Strategies," is what these
"moderate" Muslims are building their careers on, arrogantly
proclaiming themselves the handful of "good," liberal Muslims
amongst the herd of retrograde barbarians. Nowhere else but
in America can these mediocre "moderate" intellectuals gain
an iota of respectability and prestige, relying primarily on
Uncle Sam to build their images and egos.
Among the moderate Muslims that Khan has identified in some of
his writings is Chandra Muzaffar, someone who is not at all a
moderate when it comes to speaking out against injustice.
Muzaffar is someone who rejects Khan's pandering-to-power
political formula in favor of an approach that distances
itself from power and privileges the struggles and rights
of the marginalized and oppressed, the mustad'afun fi'lard.
Chandra Muzaffar and the political scientist Farish Noor are
leading Muslim activists in Malaysia, highly critical of their
own state and even more so of the U.S. and the global processes
of war and corporate-led globalization that the latter is
spearheading. And then there are the vibrant women's movements
in the Muslim world which often are as critical of the U.S.
as the Islamists.
They accuse the U.S. of opportunistically appropriating their
socio-political projects and discourses for its own geo-political
In South Africa, we've had Muslims such as Farid Esack and
Na'eem Jeenah who fought against apartheid there, and continue
to criticize the anti-poor policies of the ANC regime as well
as the criminal intellectual property rights and patents of
Western pharmaceutical companies that mercilessly deny medicines
to tens of millions of AIDS patients destined to die without
treatment. In Iran, reformers may be advocating freedom and
democracy, but we should not confuse this position with being
any less nationalist than the Iranian hardliners. Reformers in
Iran are just as firm in their conviction that their country
has every right to have nuclear capability to defend itself
from foreign aggression.
What all of these activists in the Muslim world demand from Muslims
in the U.S. is not to be spokespersons for U.S. policy, but to be
courageous enough to work alongside other religious and secular
social justice groups to halt U.S. military, economic, and
political expansionism abroad, and to fight against injustices at home.
At this critical juncture for Muslims in the U.S., one looks
around in vain for any Ali Shariatis or Eqbal Ahmads. And the
activist voices that are there, like some of the aforementioned
ones, are rarely given the coverage they deserve. The voices of
Eqbal Ahmad and Edward W. Said are sorely missed for their
penetrating analyses of the world situation, with particular
emphasis on the predicament of Islam and Muslims. It is a pity
that these powerful voices are now replaced by tactless apologetics
and opportunistic accomodationism. My suggested exercise for
American Muslim intellectuals, Khan included, is to read the
writings of M. Shahid Alam, a "rare voice" (to take a description
of Khan, albeit an incomplete one, because between "rare" and
"voice" was, you guessed it, "moderate") amongst American Muslims
who, in "a time of crisis," truly rose to the occasion to debunk
the racist discourse on Islam and Muslims and to challenge
Muslims to rise to the prophetic responsibility to struggle
against tyranny and injustice wherever they may be. It does not
require a genius to figure out what Muslims, in cooperation
and solidarity with others, should be doing in the heart of an Empire.
It is almost as if the Quranic injunction "to rise and bear
witness for God, even though it may be against yourself" has
been essentially reversed by Khan and his ilk. Their motto seems
to be: if it is for the immediate aggrandizement of my image and
my nafs (self, ego), then I will rise and bear witness to the
grand almighty U.S. state! If Khan's issues of nafs had only
been limited to undermining his own moral and ethical compass,
then it would not have really mattered to me or others sharing
my view. But his egotistical nafs is misleading other confused
and frightened Muslims to essentially follow his lead or be
labeled as the "bad" Muslim in an Islamophobic environment that
has concocted such coarse binaries as the "good" and the "bad"
Muslim. Khan himself is not yet ready to assume the
responsibilities of the "American" in "American Muslim,"
because for him some abstraction called "Islam" first needs
to be reformed, not the policies of the U.S. He is thus
abdicating his responsibility as a citizen of the empire,
and that is a serious dereliction of duty since, as the Indian
activist Arundhati Roy has said, the only thing more powerful
than the U.S. state is U.S. civil society, on which the whole
world rests its hopes.
The Muslim leadership in the U.S. must take a moral position on
the numerous injustices in the world, particularly those that
are perpetrated either directly or indirectly by the country
they now call their home. It is understandably difficult for
Muslims to do so at this time, but that is precisely why it is
crucial to build meaningful alliances with other religious and
secular groups working for social justice at home and abroad.
Nothing ethically worthwhile comes without risks and costs.
During the 1980s U.S.-supported counter-insurgency wars in
Central America, a significant section of the Catholic Church
both in Central America and in the U.S. knew what their
religious consciences as Christians required of
them. At the same time as priests and religious leaders and
nuns in Central America were being murdered left and right
by U.S. supported and trained paramilitary groups, many
Catholic Church leaders in the U.S. were being
implicated in harboring "illegal" refugees from
Central America who were fleeing from the wars in
their countries. This is what real solidarity work
and a commitment to the prophetic mission is about.
Alhamdullilah (Praise be to God), we still have scholars
like M. Shahid Alam who take the Quranic,
Prophetic, and humanist message seriously.
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2005-08-19 Fri 22:44ct