I should quit!

Founder of Islamic TV station accused of beheading wife

Here we go again, it really doesn’t matter what folks like me say or do, because we are never going to get the media attention that idiots who behead their wives, who just happen to be founders of promoting a “positive” Muslim image station do.

It really doesn’t matter what evil men do in their personal lives as long as they are punished, but we all know that they will be used as the poster boys for everything “Muslim” if the major media can help it.

Even though we know sensationalism sells, I still can’t help but feel that we as Muslims in general, but in this case, American Muslims have a role to play in this.

What I’m about to write may appear racist, but I happen to believe its’ true and necessary…

American Muslims who have been born and raised in America for generations who do not have the cultural baggage of our brethren from the “Muslim world” need to make every attempt possible to take back our name, image, and reputation lest we go down as well.

Prior to 9/11 and for decades, “Muslim American” meant one of two things, either you were a black convert, or a first generation immigrant.  While neither was true, the point was, most Americans felt their greatest threat from Muslim Americans was some black guy in a bow tie calling white people the devil.  Now, they believe that their homes and buildings will be blown up.

Ever since 19 Middle Eastern guys blew up the WTC, “Muslim” has become equal to Arab or Middle Eastern descent.  And what has been the American Muslim answer to ensure that Americans don’t look at us as a whole as foreign and not from here…..We ensure that when it comes to the major media outlets, platforms, and speeches we have Arabs and those with Middle Eastern descent represent us!  The shear idiocy of this fact is both comical and sad at the same time.

So here we go again another smack in the face of American Muslims, and to be quite blunt, as an American, I know what many American non-Muslims are thinking when they look at this guy who helped found “Bridges” TV:  “Another Muslim shows their true face” and guess what, it doesn’t matter if he is Arab or South Asian, Muslims as a whole will be associated not only with his actions, but those of the region he has helped firm negative opinions about.

So what we get when we continue to put foreign faces as our representatives for Islam in America or the West for that matter is a continued equation with the actions of those whose cultural, country of origin, etc. actions are both foreign to America and Islam for that matter.  So every little negative action that occurs in the Middle East or every little stereotypical norm for those regions now become associated with the true intentions and beliefs of all Muslims in America.

Maybe it’s just me, but if we started putting Caucasian or African-American faces out front more as the faces of Islam in America, people would be better equipped to see how this murderers actions are not the norm.  Maybe it’s just me but if the Muslim spokesman or woman on every TV show just happened to have blond hair and blue eyes most of the time, people wouldn’t readily associate “Muslim American” with mouth-foamed terrorist in the dessert.

Because the ugly truth is this murder in this way is more conformation for other’s agenda as yet another of our “representatives” who just happen to look like the mouth-foamed terrorists, did exactly what’s expected of all Muslims even if they are American and live in upstate NY.

Bravo Muslims, our PR firm is doing a wonderful job, maybe they should get a raise.

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Love?

I have been going over this “Gaza thing” in my head now for several weeks.  I have been carefully going over my commentary on my blog, to my friends in person, on message boards, and through email.  I’m still now sure I have successfully articulated how I feel but as I thought heavily on the matter this morning the only thought that kept emerging was love.

Such a simple yet complex word.  For letters that could take thousands to attempt to explain confidently.  A complexity that I must admit that I readily accept as true based on my understanding of the verse in the Bible “God is Love”.  Obviously in my mind if love can be equal to God this explains the complexity of using said word.

Nevertheless, I began to explore my thoughts on “love” and what I realized is that it adequately explains my thoughts on Gaza and the Muslim world in general.

It is this “word” which explains my emotions about my faith.  A faith I came to know as a result of my utter denial and nefarious research to begin with. (for those that don’t know I converted to Islam trying to explain how evil it was)

I have tried over these almost 8 years to explain my love for Islam.  I can easily say without shame, ill will, or malice that I truly believe that Islam is the true faith given to man by God without any hesitation or concern for my Christian past.

This love is the main reason why I’m so frustrated with Muslims and was so “contrary” over Gaza in the past month.  I ultimately want to see us as a community succeed, and no I’m not talking about world domination.

I would like to see Muslim countries and communities actually reflect the glory of the faith I came to love, trust, and rely on.  Sometimes I muse that it’s really just the rose colored glasses falling off as most converts would easily laugh with me in an aside, and that is partially true.

Even after being Muslim now almost 8 years it still drives me crazy at times when I see that some of the most violent or repressive societies  (in my Western eyes) or better yet societies who lack the opportunities of freedom should have exist in majority Muslim societies!

I often muse to other Muslims including my wife who were born into the religion how I just don’t get it.  For me as one who converted purely on the beauty and reasoned expression of the glorious Qur’an I have a hard time even now believing how a people, community, or group could have this text their entire lives and some spanning generations back to the first community and yet they exist in the state they do today.

From my reading and study of the Qur’an and the thoughts that formed from such that led to my conversion, I expect Muslims societies to be the model for all societies as the Qur’an itself states.  We should be the first to lead in justice, equality, and freedom.  Our societies should be at the forefront of scientific, medical, and educational pursuits and discoveries.  The level of morality should shine like sun in a dark world, but this is not the reality.  It’s almost like we have The Book, yet it’s treated as just a book.  I mean, what good is having a book of this stature when the contents of the book are not used to benefit a fellow human?

I have the benefit as do all converts but especially the newer ones amongst us of being able to see the Muslim world from both a Muslim and non-Muslim perspective.  In retrospect, while I used to envy “born and raised Muslims” for having a life filled with Islam, I’m actually quite happy that God gave me the opportunity outside “the box” for a little while.  My greatest benefit to not always being Muslim I know understand and embrace is the fact that it gives me perspective.

Which sums up in many ways why I take the positions I take from time to time and finally gets to the main point of my diatribe this day.

As a Muslim it would be foolish for me not to empathize with the Palestinian people.  What kind of Muslim would I be if I did not hurt and become enraged at times at the suffering of fellow Muslims?  Many fellow Muslims have made sure to remind me of such in my email. 🙂

But it is this same solidarity that makes me a skeptic at times.  The deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children and other incidents in this latest battle really got me thinking on this subject of Muslim solidarity and love for Islam.  It is because I love Islam so much and the Muslim world that I feel I have to be critical and ask the tough questions that no one wants to hear, ponder, or think about as doing such is almost regarded as treason of some sorts.

I watched and read through narrow eyes my brethren and co-religionists the world over protest, give condemnations, and act in other ways to show their anger, frustration, etc. against the deaths and suffering of Palestinians.  My heart ached for the little broken bodies and shattered lives of those who range in age like my very own little ones and it was for them that I felt that I should be “controversial” and continue my case that in general plainly states that the “Muslim world” needs a big swift kick in the rear!

What we have been doing and trying is obviously not working so why do we continue in this same cycle expecting different results? (insanity)

It’s almost like a long brewing epiphany hit me as I truly understood why it is that non-Muslims view us the way we do (not that I give it any precedence in my list of priorities) and why no matter what we say we are constantly looked at as snakes and wolves in sheep clothing.

Their thoughts are almost equal to those of the new convert after they accept such a wonderful religion and look at the glory of Muslim days long ago.

We both ask, how is it that a religion is so great yet we rarely see any manifestations of it on a large scale today?

Think about it, most non-Muslims first interactions with Muslims or Islam is not the golden age of Islam, Saladin, the Prophet (saw), or any of the great stories, history, or revelations.

It’s the angry face of some Muslim screaming against the West, Israel, etc. and the order changes depending on the day seemingly, but the West, the US, and Israel is always thrown in for effect regardless of the incident.

We come off as a really angry and violent people.  You look at our countries and many are ruled by royal, dictators, and despots who look at and treat their citizens a little less than a pair of old, worn shoes.

People are routinely killed for no reason (outside of the “official cause”), women have little rights, opposition is censored and crushed, economies suffer, illiteracy is high, and the populace often lives in fear.

These scenarios play out in various extremes but I’m certain people get the point.

Whether or not I’m completely right in my assessment or my Western Eyes are too jaded to be fair is not the issue, the real issue and the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the most simple of questions that no one asks or seems to care about anymore:

Are there any Muslim countries that can honestly say that today their country, society, and people are at least near perfect examples of the model outlined in the Qur’an?

It is the resounding answer to this question that plagues us as a Muslim world.  We continue to tell the truth the Islam is Peace yet there is very little if any real world examples in Muslim dominated societies.

The Qur’an and the example of the Prophet (saw) states the women are not only equal but that paradise itself lays at the feet of the mother, yet in some Muslim countries women can’t drive, go to school, work, or excel in any way comparable to a man.

The Qur’an and the example of the Prophet (saw) states Muslims are to be peaceful and live in peace with our neighbors, that we should never cause injustice even if we hate a people and that our neighbors should not live in fear of us, yet the level of intolerance is deafening.  No sane non-Muslim would be caught dead in many Muslim countries because they would end up dead, it’s so bad that even many Muslims won’t go to Muslim countries because God-forbid you do something “different” than the local majority sect, school, ideology, etc.  and I don’t even think I have to get on the “neighbors” discussion.

It is several examples like this that point out the open hypocrisy of our words that we continue to express and act upon (the hypocrisy that is) that continues the insanity that leads me to protest the protests even when they are noble in principle.

Of all the Gaza events of late, has anyone heard of any that targeted Hamas?  The crickets in the room are so loud that it neutralizes the calls for justice in Palestine.  How can we truly expect people to take us seriously?  We cry for Palestinian innocents but rarely if ever speak against a group who’s primary targets are innocents and don’t think twice about using their own innocents as a shield to fuel more propaganda!  Every time Muslims are called on this glaring hypocrisy the best we offer is what Israel did.  I even got an email pointing out that Israel actually started it this time and on the the post about the incident at a Florida rally (Jews go in the oven) that there were Jews and others saying that and worse about Palestinians!

With all due respect my dear brothers and sisters, I’m not denying the sincerity or truthfulness of your reports and corrections, but so what?

So what if Israel and the US really are starting the aggression?

So what if their are pro Israel and other groups who have said even worse about the Palestinians, Muslims, or Arabs?

So what?

We sound like children.  It’s like I remind my children, the actions of others does not lesson your/our responsibility to be mindful of ours.

Think about how history in America for blacks would have been different if Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders began physically fighting back with the cops and others who did what they did at their protests and rallies?  Imagine if after the church bombings if blacks decided to go blow up white churches in retaliation.

Would whites and others really have taken MLK and others seriously if they said that all they wanted was peace?  Even groups that many considered “black nationalist” or “separatist” like the Nation of Islam advocated non-violence except in self defense with a staunch requirements that no member ever conduct themselves immorally carry anything not even  a “pen knife”.

Yet somehow not even 40 years after the historic march on Washington or the death of Dr. King, in America we have a black President, blacks in general represent 13 trillion dollars in wealth and by many accounts have come leaps and bounds from our Jim Crow and slavery roots in the very same nation that committed these crimes.

How far has Palestine come since the state of Israel was created?

This is why in my probable Westernly-jaded eyes I think we are insane by employing the same fruitless efforts that lead us nowhere.  Hamas kills a dozen, Israel kill a hundred, we protest, they enact policy, and when all the current round of hostilities fade and shaky truces are accepted, Palestinians still live impoverished having no advantages of other modern state counterparts.  When the media lights turn out, the sensationalist headlines fade for the moment, and all the leaders, groups, and organizations halt the rallies and speeches, the facts are that my Muslim children will be playing Xbox360, playing on their computers, watching cable TV, getting a good education, eating plenty of food, and being children in the comfort and security of a non-Muslim majority society where someday they could be whatever they want maybe even President of the United States, while Palestinian children of the same ages, will have none of this in a Muslim majority society.

Our outrage, blog postings, rallies, etc. will not change these facts without real change on the ground and the reality is that it’s up to Muslims to make that change.

We have to be shapers in our own destinies if it be the will of God, and actively work to build, fix, and create an infrastructure in Palestine that 40 years from now would make today seem as distant as the civil rights movement is for my children.

But we are going to have to be willing to change course, tactics, and have the courage to realize that some things we can’t change but others we can.

We can’t change the fact that Israel is a nation, but we can create a Palestine that rivals and/or exceeds her so much so that citizens of both have to decide where best to live.

We can’t change the ideologies that motivate groups that employ terrorism as a tactic, but we can put in place alternatives that halt recruitment, marginalize, and condemn them.

We can’t change the fact that the golden age of Islam is over, but we can look to those times to build on our present and future realizing that their success was due to their practice of Islam and in many of their societies non-Muslims were able to coexist, human rights were respected, justice was not for “just us” elites but all, and learning, education, and science was encouraged.

In the end, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see how we expect to progress as a community if we are not willing to change our actions.   How can we seriously demand respect when we don’t respect ourselves?  Unless, we make a conscience decision to take a stand rooted in Islam and be willing to rid ourselves of those amongst us that don’t, we will continue to fail and be mocked as the hypocrites we play on TV.

Islam means peace will only be judged against our actions displaying that statement or not.  Throwing acid on Muslim women going to school isn’t peaceful, quelling dissent with violence and torture is not peace, suicide bombing and the specific targeting of civilians in and from civilian buildings is not peace, and no matter how much or how long we continue to deny these realities, or how much we would like to not protest against them and instead rally for the victims of such on both sides, will change that we will continue to be viewed as hypocrites and our actions to the contrary will bear little fruit in the way of bettering the community.