Halal eggnog, and other seasonal ponderings.

Just what is Thanksgiving about, anyway? It commemorates exploitation, theft, and family; it’s a feast that bears little resemblance to the early feasts that the European newcomers and natives shared, and even less the  literal Thanksgiving in Puritan tradition. It’s a tradition almost entirely created through lobbying and marketing, and produces a frenzy of shopping and cooking, and encounters with folk who you may or may not want to spend time with. And it’s a tradition that Americans are deeply fond of, warts and all.

There’s been some debate over whether Muslims should celebrate any holiday besides the eidayn; to that, my first and last response is “poppycock!”- that said, I’m also the woman who goes out to vote proudly wearing her American flag- patterned hijab, so I’m not unbiased. Arguments have been made that injunctions against extra holidays apply to religious and not cultural or national holidays, which is practical considering that no force on Earth would stop Iranians from celebrating Noruz, but larding the canonical calendar with saint’s days and commemorations of religious events would cause a bit of an issue fiqh-wise.

American Muslims will put a unique stamp on Thanksgiving. While many are home-grown, we have been blessed with the culinary richness of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and our faith tradition will challenge us to adapt and inspire us to borrow. Perhaps a Morrocan-influenced stuffing will grace the table, or a du’a will be developed for the occasion, to become a new tradition. The Thanksgiving culinary canon will expand to include alcohol and pork-free versions of standard fare.  I’m still considering whether or not to jazz up this homemade eggnog, but the pull of tradition is especially powerful at this time of year.

But there are ethical issues with Thanksgiving that Muslims should be concerned with. Is it morally sound to completely ignore the ugly implications of celebrating what was, let’s face it, an invasion? Or does it make sense to ignore or denigrate a celebration that’s transformed into a feast of gratitude for God’s provision? Do we shuffle off blithely to the mega-mart to buy turkeys who endured grim conditions for the sake of tradition, or do we challenge factory farming somehow? How do we create a feast of love and family that honors the earth that yields the delectable treats we whip up and one another?

I offer no answers, for these are issues I’m still pondering.  What I do know is this: I’m spending this day with family and friends both old and new. We will gather to celebrate the past , the present, and to committ ourselves to the future. The little one dancing beneath my belly button is heir to all of that, as are you. The way forward must be honest and respectful to the past and the future. As flawed as Thanksgiving is, it’s a humbling prospect to consider.

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It's on.

Oh, no he didn’t. Zawahiri actually used the “n” word.

Al-Zawahiri may like to refer to Malcolm X when it suits him, but apparently, he’s not as schooled in blackAmerican culture as he ought to be. If he had studied the life and work of Malcolm X, he would have known that attacking a beloved figure is not a wise move for anyone who is feared and despised by many. Barack Obama is admired by much of the world, including many in traditionally Muslim lands and the African diaspora and viciously insulting him might cost al-Zawahiri far more than the suspension and public gag that Malcolm officially received. But it was using the “n” word that may have been his worst mistake, for it will not endear him to the African disapora, who form a larger percentage of the world’s Muslims than Arabs. Referring to Barack Obama, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice as “abeed al-bait” or literally “house slaves” has the potential to do more damage to Zawahiri’s cause than any military offensive. People of African descent have objected repeatedly and publicly to the term “abeed”(slave), which some Arabs use to refer to all people of African descent. And in places where slavery has racial connotations, the comment has a highly personal sting.

To insult Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice was equally appalling and offensive, but as Obama is the most visible and admired of the three, al- Zawahiri shot himself in the foot by tarring them all with the same brush. Obama, Powell and Rice have come under similar criticism for being politicians that happen to be black, rather than participating in identity politics. These criticisms, however, generally came from the blackAmerican community. Zawahiri ought to know that while you can trash your group all you like, you circle the wagons the second an outsider echoes your complaint. But even Jesse Jackson lacked a free pass to trash Obama- that should have given Zawahiri pause.

Zawahiri’s comment may be a sign of what I’ve thought will be Al-Qaeda’s true end. Al-Qaeda won’t be defeated by bombs or imprisonment or investigating charities. Al-Qaeda will die by its own hand. Its ideals are ultimately unworkable and do not serve the real needs of most of its members. It is also comprised not of a hierarchy with uniform religious goals, but a ragtag coalition of groups with differing political aims. The infighting and disillusionment are already causing attrition. When you have a group that is highly motivated but naïve, and not discouraged by death or imprisonment, the best weapon is to deprive them of what they seek- glory and admiration. And it’s clear that Zawahiri does not return the admiration of his African supporters.

Does Zawahiri believe that any support he gets from the African diaspora will not waver, or that any support he loses, he can well afford? Or is it just taking advantage of the opportunity to talk smack while a lame duck is in office? Whatever reasons he may have for doing so, there’s no denying that Zawahiri isn’t in this for The Ummah(tm),or anything else but his own lust for power.

It’s on.

Oh, no he didn’t. Zawahiri actually used the “n” word.

Al-Zawahiri may like to refer to Malcolm X when it suits him, but apparently, he’s not as schooled in blackAmerican culture as he ought to be. If he had studied the life and work of Malcolm X, he would have known that attacking a beloved figure is not a wise move for anyone who is feared and despised by many. Barack Obama is admired by much of the world, including many in traditionally Muslim lands and the African diaspora and viciously insulting him might cost al-Zawahiri far more than the suspension and public gag that Malcolm officially received. But it was using the “n” word that may have been his worst mistake, for it will not endear him to the African disapora, who form a larger percentage of the world’s Muslims than Arabs. Referring to Barack Obama, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice as “abeed al-bait” or literally “house slaves” has the potential to do more damage to Zawahiri’s cause than any military offensive. People of African descent have objected repeatedly and publicly to the term “abeed”(slave), which some Arabs use to refer to all people of African descent. And in places where slavery has racial connotations, the comment has a highly personal sting.

To insult Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice was equally appalling and offensive, but as Obama is the most visible and admired of the three, al- Zawahiri shot himself in the foot by tarring them all with the same brush. Obama, Powell and Rice have come under similar criticism for being politicians that happen to be black, rather than participating in identity politics. These criticisms, however, generally came from the blackAmerican community. Zawahiri ought to know that while you can trash your group all you like, you circle the wagons the second an outsider echoes your complaint. But even Jesse Jackson lacked a free pass to trash Obama- that should have given Zawahiri pause.

Zawahiri’s comment may be a sign of what I’ve thought will be Al-Qaeda’s true end. Al-Qaeda won’t be defeated by bombs or imprisonment or investigating charities. Al-Qaeda will die by its own hand. Its ideals are ultimately unworkable and do not serve the real needs of most of its members. It is also comprised not of a hierarchy with uniform religious goals, but a ragtag coalition of groups with differing political aims. The infighting and disillusionment are already causing attrition. When you have a group that is highly motivated but naïve, and not discouraged by death or imprisonment, the best weapon is to deprive them of what they seek- glory and admiration. And it’s clear that Zawahiri does not return the admiration of his African supporters.

Does Zawahiri believe that any support he gets from the African diaspora will not waver, or that any support he loses, he can well afford? Or is it just taking advantage of the opportunity to talk smack while a lame duck is in office? Whatever reasons he may have for doing so, there’s no denying that Zawahiri isn’t in this for The Ummah(tm),or anything else but his own lust for power.

Should American Muslims worry about Obama?

I believe this is a question that many of us have been thinking about for some time now, however we have been secretly trying to hide our urges to ponder these thoughts by overwhelming them with optimism.

There have been several documented instances throughout the 2008 campaign that made us leery as a community, such as the incident with the hijabi sisters not being allowed to stand behind him at an event, to the fact that Obama didn’t visit any Masjids (that I know of) but visited synagogues and churches, and the fact that there was little to know repudiation of the terms “Muslim” or “Islam” as a slur.  In fact, it wasn’t until Colin Powell brought it up in the last two weeks of the election cycle that it became a national discussion.

So now that as a community we held our breath, took our insults and perceived punches in stride, and turned out in record numbers as a community to vote, how do we feel now?

We can pretend if we want to, but there is reason for concern at a minimum.  As it stands at this moment, with various appointments President-Elect Obama has made, plus his public statements, there is concern as it relates to his foreign policy agenda as it relates to the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also very important on the minds of Muslims not just in the US but his stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There have been some very pro-Zionist statements and promises made by Obama officials that hint to more of the same in this regard and I believe that as American Muslims who largely supported Obama we should at least be concerned enough to pay close attention.

Obviously, I’m not advocating pessimism or skepticism as a replacement for the optimism we all feel about Obama, but as a self-proclaimed realist I have to at least put it out there.

Let us remember that our civic responsibilities and patriotic zeal do not begin and end with a vote.  We must ensure the we keep our leaders and representatives honest, accountable, and representative of our interests.

Which is why yet again I bring up the point that we need an American Muslim agenda, God willing we will at least think about it.

 

Related Articles:

Is Obama the Muslim World’s Superman?

Obama: Sandwiched Between Emanuel and AIPAC

What can American Muslims expect?

Should American Muslims worry about Obama?

I believe this is a question that many of us have been thinking about for some time now, however we have been secretly trying to hide our urges to ponder these thoughts by overwhelming them with optimism.

There have been several documented instances throughout the 2008 campaign that made us leery as a community, such as the incident with the hijabi sisters not being allowed to stand behind him at an event, to the fact that Obama didn’t visit any Masjids (that I know of) but visited synagogues and churches, and the fact that there was little to know repudiation of the terms “Muslim” or “Islam” as a slur.  In fact, it wasn’t until Colin Powell brought it up in the last two weeks of the election cycle that it became a national discussion.

So now that as a community we held our breath, took our insults and perceived punches in stride, and turned out in record numbers as a community to vote, how do we feel now?

We can pretend if we want to, but there is reason for concern at a minimum.  As it stands at this moment, with various appointments President-Elect Obama has made, plus his public statements, there is concern as it relates to his foreign policy agenda as it relates to the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also very important on the minds of Muslims not just in the US but his stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There have been some very pro-Zionist statements and promises made by Obama officials that hint to more of the same in this regard and I believe that as American Muslims who largely supported Obama we should at least be concerned enough to pay close attention.

Obviously, I’m not advocating pessimism or skepticism as a replacement for the optimism we all feel about Obama, but as a self-proclaimed realist I have to at least put it out there.

Let us remember that our civic responsibilities and patriotic zeal do not begin and end with a vote.  We must ensure the we keep our leaders and representatives honest, accountable, and representative of our interests.

Which is why yet again I bring up the point that we need an American Muslim agenda, God willing we will at least think about it.

 

Related Articles:

Is Obama the Muslim World’s Superman?

Obama: Sandwiched Between Emanuel and AIPAC

What can American Muslims expect?