Wednesday, February 22

Lost at the Frontlines

Alright. Although I'm still embedded in my "sponge" mode, I've decided to try to formulate some thoughts on what I've been absorbing.

So first, there are these anti-Islamic cartoons, right? Then the demonstrations--the boycotts...Then the riots... Or was it the UK bombings? The war in Iraq? The first war in Iraq? 9/11? "war on terrorism?" Palestine in '67?

Wait, something seems amiss.
If I've learned anything at all over the past few weeks, and perhaps past half decade or so, it's that no problem can be seen as something that can be snipped off and discarded. The challenges we face today cannot be independent of the contexts that have been created, that led to them or allowed them. Particularly for the Muslim communities of present, the events that have been testing us should teach us that these anti-Islamic attitudes, the misperceptions, and the horrifying direction our world is going towards that we see on the news every waking moment, didn't just arise because a group of guys took their anger out on two towers and thousands of innocent people on one day. Muslims stopped looking at themselves in the mirror decades--no, centuries--ago. The face that the non-Muslim world shows of Islam is what we've allowed to be reflected--and yes, I believe it is every Muslim's responsibility to know and understand that although some Muslims misrepresent us, they are still claiming to represent Islam, our religion. While we've been busy answering to the world for what we're seeing, we stopped answering to ourselves. The questions that face us today only do so because we did not ask ourselves these questions when we should have--long before they appeared on the news. This is nothing short of irresponsible; It is carelessness; And it is unbefitting of the Ummah of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him).

I doubt most of us haven't heard this type of talk--that we Muslims are where we are because we've brought ourselves here. We're lazy, ignorant, etc., with few exceptional individuals per community, when it comes to our deen. If only that was all; As often as we claim that there needs to be differentiation between what Islam is and the practice of some Muslims, don't we feel ashamed that there is such a blatant disparity between the two? It's a depressing fact I think every Muslim, especially in the U.S., wakes up to each morning.

And this brings me to my point.
For the past few years, the Muslim communities in the U.S. have been at the epicenter of the recent "Muslim identity crisis." Although Muslims everywhere are affected by these events, the majority of them live in societies where they may not have to interact with non-Muslims on a daily basis. We, on the other hand, live in a uniquely diverse country, which, unlike Muslim-populated European nations, itself is very much still shaping an identity in the world.

This sets an awesome stage for American Muslims to step up to the plate--and not just because someone has to; People--the wrong people--already have. We're long overdue, and now we feel overwhelmed with the burdensome task of damage control. Well in case anyone's still confused: Open your eyes--we're at the frontlines.

Being on the defensive doesn't have to mean that we must concentrate all of our efforts in repairing what has been (and is being) destroyed. Introspectively, we have to realize how critical it is to additionally create the image of Islam that we do want reflected. The opportunities that are open to American Muslims today to educate themselves and those around them are amazing. Letting this slip by, even if under the notion that we're already overburdened in trying to undo past and ongoing damage, would arguably be the greatest shame.

Now we don't have to try to get a Muslim scholar on the next presidential election ballot. But we can take initiative to try something called "citizenship." And no, you don't need a blue passport to be a good citizen. With a real, sincere understanding of Islam in your heart, citizenship--i.e. being a good example (**da'wa**cough*) and working to better the society one lives in--should only make sense. Islam is definitely a way of life which, if truly embraced, will be of benefit to society--even societies of a non-Muslim majority.

Finally, I have some ranting to do. Along the same lines as the previous ideas, though it may seem a bit off-topic (trust me, it's not):

Guys, we're so clingy. And I direct this particularly to sisters because I think the brothers blend in better with non-Muslims than the sisters. This itself causes so many sisters to cling to a circle of friends. Hijabies with hijabies, non-hijabies with non-hijabies, the particulars who mix with the particulars of the other who mix. IT'S STILL "CLINGING." Freaking leave your comfort zones once in a while. Go to a presentation hosted by a culture other than your own. Join a club outside of the Muslim ones. Stop waiting for the next anti-Islamic article or cartoon to show what Islam is not; Show what Islam is --always. Right?

I hate comfort zones.

PS Most of you who know me well will identify that this entire post is really a long note-to-self, because sometimes we need to remind ourselves of who we want to become. It helps us make self-assessments. And most importantly, it enables us to take the necessary steps to work on our weaknesses. However, if you don't know me well enough to have recognized this, I'm more or less saying that I discussed my concerns the way I did not because I exclude myself from the group of people who need to "step up." Rather, what is most concerning to me is that I have been a wallflower when I should have been actively being a good Muslim; I've been a part of the problem and done little to nothing to rectify it. So this post is intended to be my mirror (kinda like the rest of the blog...hmmm...).


EA said...

You have a good heart.

Nandita said...

you totally went not so right on the color diminuation. yes thats not a word. no I didnt finish reading.

I will now. ttyl yep you kind of have a good heart.

EA said...

I feel that your heart is good, for you ask 'honest' questions within yourself, you seem to really strive to better understand your faith, and you treat others that are apart from your faith with the same dignity and respect as you would your friends. This is at least my humble observation. This kind of goodness is rare indeed.