Monday, December 19

I Once Felt: Part III

Refer to Part I's intro to understand why I'm posting this. Don't be lazy.

*This is my favorite. I just read it, and I actually feel as though I've admonished myself into believing in possibility, in general, again. Maybe. : )

T/10.05.04
Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


No Da’waa, No Voice
Samira Choudhury



On Tuesday night of our national vice-presidential candidates’ debate, my family and I were one of many American Muslim families who tuned in to watch two very skillful politicians, each potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency, defending their competence and ability to lead the American people. We settled around the television, each trying to predict the outcomes and impacts of the debate based on what cable news networks had so successfully convinced us to expect. After the Thursday night presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry, a spark of hope had been lit in our hearts that maybe, the 2004 elections would not be a completely murky case of voting for “Anybody But Bush.” Kerry’s Machiavellian evasion of addressing the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and U.S. involvement, ironically, left many American Muslims feeling minutely optimistic. And giving the benefit of the doubt, to the fullest degree, to Kerry, my family and I were one of many who bought the idea that a positive change may lie ahead.

However, vice-presidential candidate, Senator John Edward’s decisive response to a question regarding the Israeli-Palestinian crisis shattered any prospects of reform in the treatment of Muslims in America, not to mention Muslims without blue passports. His unequivocal support for Israel was an effective corroboration of not only the significance of Israeli approval in American politics, but more importantly, the
insignificance of the Muslim American in the Land of Democracy.

And our community’s reaction comes not as a surprise at all; some brothers and sisters have become accustomed to internalizing the anger they feel in response to the unwarranted incidents of injustices of U.S. foreign and domestic policies that have been victimizing our Muslim communities on a continuum. In fact, reading statements like this rouse the passionate beliefs they hold so silently in their hearts and in the “privacy” of their homes. On the other hand, we have the Muslim American trying to ignore it all. (At some point, inshaa’Allah, it will occur to them that trying to ignore the victimization of his brother is a weak and losing battle.) Most typically, this is the student trying to stay focused on his or her studies and ensuring that he or she seizes all the opportunities of success that can be found in the Land of American Dreams—attempting to sidestep the hassle of being Muslim. And finally, we have brothers and sisters outright condemning all of America and Europe officially as “kaafiroon,” with whom we should cease all dealings (these tend to be the non-voters).

And so we find ourselves in a great deal of chaos and disunity, to say the least, within the Muslim ummah. Although the aforementioned groups may find some claim, whether by utilitarian interpretations of religion or logic (or both), to how each chooses to react (or not react), this has left a generation of American Muslims, youth in particular, vacillating in the attempt to establish the American Muslim voice. The fact is that in a time when Muslims must defend Islam and correct the misleading images that have become acceptable, we stand disunited and powerless.

Our
insignificance
is the result of the actions of none other than ourselves. It seems as though we still haven’t decided on our identity here; Muslim, or American. How long will it take us to realize that our own misperceptions are the primary inhibitors keeping us from being both (pious American Muslim citizens)?

Our indecisiveness and stubbornness to live in America yet not “get our hands dirty” in the American political arena has left us voiceless. Avoidance of our neighbors has conveyed to them “how Muslims treat their neighbors.” It is therefore the obligation of this generation to give significance to the American Muslim ummah by 1) educating ourselves about the Deen; 2) educating ourselves about the society we live in; 3)
effectively implementing
what we learn with taqwa, tawakkul, and sabr. In other words, engaging in da’waa with our brothers and sisters as well as non-Muslims everyday, in every setting.

It is well known that da’waa is the preeminent means by which Muslims can bring about change in themselves, as well as to the society in which they live. We must not make the mistake of choosing where da’waa belongs and where it does not. To say that politics is no place for da’waa echoes that politics is no place for Islam. Yet we all know that Islam should dominate all areas of our lives as Muslims, perhaps especially in systems of governance. Reality tells us that our past record of “silent resentment,” “I’m not involved,” and “I will have nothing to do with you,” attitudes are exactly what have left us crippled today. No political party can be expected to speak for us when we will not speak for ourselves. It is imperative for this generation to collectively and individually engage ourselves as well as non-Muslims in the education process that can help us become the pious American Muslims we ought to be. And we must use the greatest tool with which Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta`Alaa, has blessed us—
da’waa—to bring change.

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