Paying the Price For Our Lack of Vision

I’ve been resisting writing and posting during Ramadan but I opted to put out one small post. I pray everyone’s Ramadan is rewarding, redeeming, and fulfilling.

One of the most memorable lines from the Star Wars franchise was Emperor Palpatine’s cruel admonishment of Luke when he cackled, “you shall pay the price for your lack of vision!” This chastisement was swiftly followed by searing bolts of blue lightening. If it weren’t for the timely intervention of Luke’s at-one-time sinister father, Darth Vader, Luke may have met a very unfortunate fate.  In what has also become now a cruel twist of fate, American Muslims are now paying their own price for lack of vision, as the United States now increasingly turns on Muslims, demonizing and terrorizing them, not unlike this recent incident in New York, where a mosque was attacked by a small pack of marauding teens. Similarly to Luke’s blunder, American Muslims simply did not adequately prepare, in this case, for life in America. Where is our Darth Vader in our time of despair?

Sadly, Islam in American, in its heretical inception—referred to as the First Resurrection via The Nation of Islam—did a far better job of indigenizing Islam.  The Second Resurrection [Islam 2.0?], consisted of both immigrant Muslims and new orthodox converts, who were initially unconcerned with the dominant culture’s views of Islam, and thus chose to either live anonymous lives in their new found homes—vis-a-vie through the door of whiteness—or in the case of Blackamerican Muslims, chose to live new lives that had little to do with the existential realities as colored folks living in a post-Jim Crow America. Both groups lived in a fantasy; a bubble.  Of particular interest to immigrant Muslims, whiteness has been the gateway that many if not most immigrants have successfully integrated into the American social landscape.  This created a dichotomy in American Islam in which immigrant Muslims increasingly turned a blind eye to the underside of assimilation: whiteness, and all of the unearned privilidges it entails. Blackamerican Muslims, having no such option, opted to simply limp along, paroting their immigrant counterparts without the Players Club incentives. Much to the dismay of [immigrant] Muslims, the 9/11 attacks did away with any hopes of Muslims being considered white/American, and thus we arrive back at our “price” for “lack of vision”. In another twist of ironic fate, blackness and its legacy of civil rights engagement [i.e., its holy protest against white domination and supremacy] seems to be the last bastion of hope for both communities. It is the only social modality that is seen and recognized as viably America: out of immigrant and indigenous Muslims, it’s the only one that’s socially acceptable, if not preferred. Perhaps if immigrant Muslims had not uncritically flocked to the banner of whiteness [I can hear Admiral Akbar shouting now, “it’s a trap” – or “it’s a twap”, however you prefer your phonetics] and Blackamerican Muslims had not been so quick to abondon blackness, we might very well be in a completely different situation today.

The Nation of Islam, and subsequently its splinter group, led by the courageous Warith Deen Muhammad, charted a vision of Islam [by Islam here, I mean as it was socially expressed by the NOI, and not by the normal rigors of classical Muslim theology] that sought to place the cares, concerns, and proclivities of [Black] American Muslims at the heart of its agenda.  And while the WD movement has also fallen on hard times, it still alludes to the crux of the current social predicament.

In many ways, Muslims in America were afforded a tremendous blessing post-9/11. Public sentiment towards Muslims was somewhat tarnished but by and large, the cloud of negative perceptions of Islam were held at bay, only occasionally making their way in to the public arena.  In fact, there was a notable calling amongst non-Muslims that the 9/11 attacks were perpetuated by a few terribly misguided souls and that Muslims and Islam were not to blame.  American Muslims, instead of capitalizing on this opportunity to push forward efforts to indigenize [not assimilate] themselves to their social, cultural and political landscapes, simply rested on their laurels.  Both sides of the indigenous/immigrant isle have been equally to blame.  Native-born Muslims still continued to favor a brand of Islam that was more about cultural acting than getting down to brass tax and most immigrant Muslims were so devastated at the quandary of being abandoned on the doorstep of whiteness that most of the efforts out of that community have been mostly assimilationist at best, if not simply down-right floundering.  So again, where is our Darth Vader in our time of need?

Simply put, it is my belief that if Muslims do not solve this issue [if it is already not too late], then Islam will suffer a fate worse than persecution: irrelevancy.  And by issue, I mean to address what is at the heart of mainstream America’s growing resentment towards Islam. I believe this to be mainly aesthetic: people simply do not like the way Islam looks and feels as a result of not knowing what Islam’s story is, or more precisely, what the American Muslims’ story is. And American Muslims have failed in telling their own story because they have yet to craft one. Narrative is crucial to survival in America; if you don’t have one, you don’t belong. Perhaps it’s not too late to stop, reflect, and take stock of our condition, our situation.  Let us look at examples from our common cultural past that have succeeded: the Nation of Islam as well as the American Jewish community, who have critically understood the necessity of story and narrative as a primary means of not only survival but also of flourishing. To delay any longer would be akin to another favorite Star Wars quote: “almost there … almost there …” – and we all know what happened next after that.

Cross posted on Tumblr.

27 Comments Paying the Price For Our Lack of Vision

  1. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Do you really think the immigrant Muslims were trying to assimiliate into “white” society

    Absolutely.

    whatever white society means

    I think we all know what “white society” means. If you’re American, it’s the default setting that you hold uncritically to be the repository of all that is good, innocent, hardworking, etc.

    My observation of them is that they try to acculturate into American society, into pluralistic America.

    I would disagree.

    Even the suburbian immigrant Muslims in my area try to “live the American dream” but don’t consider themselves white Americans.

    In America, there’s two modalities: black, or white. And they definitely ain’t thinkin’ of themselves as some black folks…

    As a white Muslim, let me tell you, it’s no picnic for us either.

    Of that I am certain. However, many white Muslims are foisted into positions of authority, prestige and voice in the community, not based on their merits, but simply because whiteness is seen as a defacto qualifier. I have been and worked at Muslim schools where the principal is white, though he had no qualifiers to be there: no advanced degree, lack of considerable experience in education. This has also been similar in other positions in other parts of our community as well. The fact that immigrant Muslims reinforce the stereotype of white supremacy is well know and documented by American Muslim academics and laypeople alike. While I am not at liberty to reprint it here as of yet, a Blackamerican academic friend of mine has been working on such a paper, that upon its publication, I hope to quote a portion of its text here. This is a real issue and dilemma in our community.

    I have a Polish Jewish background and we were some of the most hated people in America in my day. And our skin is white! Our white skin did not help us, believe me.

    Sister, I do believe you. What I want to make clear is that while you may have experienced some descrimination, that in no way expiates the reality that many immigrant Muslims uphold white supremacist values [I’m not talking the KKK – repeat!: I’m not talking the KKK] that have had and continue to hamper the efforts for our community as a whole, regardless of racial make-up or national origin. Siting personal episodes of racism in the context of a piece written about the incontrovertible truth of racial bias and preference on the part of Muslims only further hampers our efforts to bring this issue out in the open and to talk about it critically.

  2. Jihadlevine@yahoo.com'Safiyyah

    Salaams:

    Do you really think the immigrant Muslims were trying to assimiliate into “white” society (whatever white society means)? My observation of them is that they try to acculturate into American society, into pluralistic America. Even the suburbian immigrant Muslims in my area try to “live the American dream” but don’t consider themselves white Americans. In many case, they don’t consider themselves Americans. They merely have American passports.

    As a white Muslim, let me tell you, it’s no picnic for us either. As others have observed, many of us immediately lose our identity when we become Muslim and our lots are cast with the immigrants and Blacks. Many non Muslims ask me where I’ve from, lol. I am white, but am not seen as an American to some folks.

    This is my experience and opinion only. I have a Polish Jewish background and we were some of the most hated people in America in my day. And our skin is white! Our white skin did not help us, believe me.

  3. Jihadlevine@yahoo.com'Safiyyah

    Oh, and about your post, lol – I agree, and think we definitely did not do a good job of letting America know about Islam and who Muslims area. Yes, there were a few interfaith groups, but not enough for the chore. We’ve had 9 years after 9/11 and a lot of people in America still have crazy thoughts and beliefs about us. On the other hand, you can’t educate a closed mind.

  4. teachernaeem!@yahoo.com'Khidhir Naeem

    Salaams

    Brothers and sisters, in this time where the major scholars have delivered almost every aspect of Islam we still bother ourselves with the plight of our Arab brothers and sisters or should I say the community of gods incarnate, it’s no wonder that Islam in the U.S. or any other country in the world has not nor never will have the effect that it had 1400 years ago. We must redirect our worship to Allah (SWT) using the Prophet (SAW) as a guide. This can be done without looking, eating, dressing, and acting like our neo gods (Arabs) or the demi-gods the Indo-Pakistani. This by no means is an attack on those groups but a redirection of our (indigenous Muslims) sincere worship. The Prophet’s mission was in part to improve our character, how many people see us and wonder what part of the world are we from. Why must we ignore our heritage (encouraged by our foreign brothers and sisters) or do we truly believe we were the worst of mankind instead of those who Allah (SWT) identifies in the Qur’an by their worship, not their ethnicity. I was in a movie theater restroom waiting to use the toilet and found their was a line forming behind me. I overheard the man behind me telling the others, “I’m going after him, they’re clean”.

  5. Jihadlevine@yahoo.com'Safiyyah

    Salaams Marc:

    I’m trying to understand what you’re saying. Really. And I appreciate you trying to break it down for me.

    From my perspective though, as a 61 year old Eastern European (Polish) Jew (now Muslim, lol), I’m just trying to tell you that NO ONE in America saw us as white people in my day. Maybe “in my day” is the key to my confusion. Maybe it’s different for the immigrants now. If it wasn’t anti-semitism for us, it was the discrimination for being Polish, people calling us names like “hunky” “dumb Polack,” people thinking we were dirty, my grandparents not speaking English well, kids making fun of our accents, etc., and all that. I was very ashamed as a child. Couldn’t get away from it on either side. Add to that my mother’s people were Catholics and America wasn’t happy with Catholics in my day either. The greatest thing that happened to us was when a Polish pope was elected! My family felt the pride that day like some people of color felt when Obama won the presidency. For us Polish, we finally felt that we had something to be proud of.

    “White” was the last thing we thought about ourselves. And our fellow white folks didn’t see as as white either. We were Polacks, Jews – different from them.

    I don’t see the immigrants in my masjid trying to be white. Maybe it’s because I live in a small rural area? Maybe it’s because I’m not understanding the issue? I’m not trying to be disrespectful or argumentative. I’m trying to understand and to learn. I told your wife that in the past I have had problems discussing this topic because people of color have told me that I don’t have the “authority” to speak on the issue without understanding and compassion. How to understand and be compassionate if there is no open dialogue – only arrogance?

    Thanks for reading and hoping you and your wife are having blessed last 10 days.

  6. Jihadlevine@yahoo.com'Safiyyah

    Salaams Marc –

    Me again, lol

    You wrote:

    “However, many white Muslims are foisted into positions of authority, prestige and voice in the community, not based on their merits, but simply because whiteness is seen as a defacto qualifier.”

    Ah ha – there’s an eye opener. I can agree with that.

    As your wife knows, I am a chaplain. I have a college degree and am a retired employee (counselor) of my facility. I have worked in prisons for nearly 20 years and am well qualified to do what I do – counseling, now pastoral counseling. But, some of the women there were honest with me and shared that it was difficult to have me as their amirah, being white, and in authority with the facility. Sometimes, I’m not trust by the Muslims. The amirah before me for 8 years was White, and before her, an African-American brother who the inmates loved and still talk about/miss to this day. He is deceased, may Allaah t’ala forgive his sins and grant him Paradise. Only a few of the Muslim inmates are White, the majority are Black, and to a lesser extent, some Hispanics. I speak Spanish and the Hispanic women gravitate to me, but it is difficult with the Black sisters sometimes.

    I feel sad that we Muslims can’t see each other as brothers and sisters without having hizbiyah play such a large role in our affairs 🙁 What a mess.

  7. margari.hill@gmail.com'Margari Aziza

    Salaam alaikum Safiyya,
    Your personal experiences seem to reflect the opening of the category of whiteness to Eastern European and Jews during the second half of the 20th century. As you stated growing up, Jews and Poles were not considered white. Now, Jewish Americans can represent the American experience and even uphold standards of white beauty without anyone blinking an eye. White no longer means Anglo-Saxon Protestant, it is a category meaning all Americans who are of European descent (or even more emphatic, non-Black). There have been some amazing studies on the subject of whiteness and the many ways it’s constructed;I just have to dig a little to find the titles. My good friend who is of Irish Catholic extraction wrote extensively about the assimilation of Irish Americans. To paraphrase her, she said that America placated Irish Americans who were agitating against the systematic discrimination against them by offering them the white card.

    The early Arab immigrants fought really hard for the status as whites. But post 9/11, they got their white card snatched. The funny thing is that Arab Americans are still legally classified as white, but they are treated as a non-white other (and this includes legally and politically) Here’s a great study:
    http://www.amazon.com/Race-Arab-Americans-Before-After/dp/0815631774
    . Here’s another great book on Muslim Americans:
    http://www.amazon.ca/Casting-Out-Eviction-Muslims-Politics/dp/product-description/080209497X.

    It is unfortunate that the Black American Muslim women at your facility cannot relate to you. Their unwillingness to overcome their racial mistrust is much to their detriment. I think the issues you face in your job largely arise out of racial trauma and trust. The scars run deep and sometimes privileged members of society can trample on the marginalized feelings without even knowing, therefore you are dealing with a lot of baggage. But group think also comes into play. Many Black Americans see Islam as a club, a club that white people don’t join. So, when they see a white Muslim, there is cognitive dissonance. If you’d like to continue building coalitions across ethnic and racial lines, I would suggest speaking to white anti-racism activists to find out better ways to bridge these gaps and open dialogue. It is worthwhile work.

  8. Jihadlevine@yahoo.com'Safiyyah

    As Salaamu Alaikum Dear Margari:

    Jazaka Allahu Khayrn for your feedback. I shall also, Insha Allaah, read the resources you have kindly provided me. It’s deep indeed, and I shall also talk with folks as you have suggested.

    You are right about the sisters at my facility. It takes a lot of patience and understanding. Please say dua for us there; all of us 🙂

    Eid Mubarak to you and your family.
    Peace
    Safiyyah

  9. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Perhaps you could do a photo essay on the carpets of women’s sections at different masajid. Very creative!

  10. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    The assumption is that “Muslims” have the heavenly power to solve anything at all.

    Who’s talking about heavenly power? Perhaps you subscribe to some form of fatalism but Islam is not a fatalistic religion. Allah has most certainly granted Bani Adam agency – how else could we work righteous [or evil] deeds? Iblis’ choice to not prostrate is indicative of the agency that the creation has. Allah gives us space to make choices and actions in; it’s that none of our actions or intentions can either encompass Allah nor move outside the jurisdiction of Allah’s knowledge and awareness. Why else would Allah admonish the Believers for this or that thing or encourage them to strive in His Path if they did not possess some sort of “earthly power”? To me, this is nothing other than a cop-out, an excuse to not address the issues at hand. The arrogance is to assume that Allah will simply “do everything” without us putting in the right intentions and the right efforts.

    I think you have misunderstood the trajectory I was coming from. Addressing earthly matters is in no way incompatible with the reality that Allah is the First and the Last.

  11. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    So enjoining the good and forbidding the evil can only happen once the Khalifa is restored? I hear many adages of people talking of resurrecting the old Ottoman Khalifa but that ship has sailed. But none of this addresses what I was writing about which was about acting in accordance with our reality: if you truly believe Allah to be In Control, then one must also stop treating one’s Islam in America as some sort of cosmic accident, a cosmic hiccup, whose existence [the Muslims], at best-case-scenario, can only be imagined to be either “over there” or “back in the good ol’ days”. This methodology sees Islam as is either accidental or incidental instead of quintessential: Allah made no mistake when He brought Islam to these shores and to these people.

    I understand that your thing is all about the deceased Ottoman empire, but again, that has nothing to do with what I was, and am, talking about: the indiginezation of Islam in America, not whether or not we’re following Jewish or Christian Democrats or Republicans [which, by the way, is way outside of the context of this article]. Perhaps try re-reading the article again and you may get at what I’m talking about.

  12. seyfettin.callier@gmail.com'SEYFETTİN

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    “Simply put, it is my belief that if Muslims do not solve this issue [if it is already not too late], then Islam will suffer a fate worse than persecution: irrelevancy.”

    The assumption is that “Muslims” have the heavenly power to solve anything at all. Politics, the division of labor and socio-economic standing are all interesting things to mull around in our minds as we seek a “universal religion” and “world peace”. But the reality is that not even our breath enters or leaves our body without the permission, grant and favor of Allah Almighty.

    So how arrogant and stubborn we are… no how stubborn I am to suggest that I can determine the relevancy or irrelevancy of Allah’s religion. I am not the owner of the religion, I am not even the owner of my self.

  13. seyfettin.callier@gmail.com'SEYFETTİN

    BismillaharRahmaniRahim

    There is currently no head. Islam is not a Republic nor is it a Democracy. As long as there is no head, there will be very little resolution to its internal issues. Every-time we try to approach Islam as modern polemics, we make Holy Prophet’s (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) come to life:

    “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure, you would follow them.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Whom else?”

  14. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Awesome. Let me know when the Khalifa shows up and we’ll get everything taken care of. Until then, we’ll just wait.

    Nice plan…

  15. seyfettin.callier@gmail.com'SEYFETTİN

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    the indiginezation of Islam in America

    I don’t believe that discussion can be had let alone be accomplished without a head, a single leader as opposed to a conference, parliament or committee.

    I could be wrong but, a strong leader is the sunnat of our Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him).

  16. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    The only thing disingenuous was coming on my blog and going off on some fatalist rant when it had nothing to do whatsoever with what I was addressing. If that’s your schtick, write it on your own blog. I did not invite Saif here; he came of his own volition. If, however, I disagree with what he wrote, well … so be it! And as far as being defensive about Islam in America, yes: I am defensive about it. I am protective of it. I also happen to be one of those so-called community leaders, one who is in the trenches in a real, tangible way, not, as Saif put it, involved in, “interesting things to mull around in our minds”.

    What baffles me is why is it that it is ok for one person’s special little group to act as if they have a monopoly on piety while others, who choose to operate in a different vein, are cleverly demonized; “they’re not attached to the Tradition”, or “they’re not part of some special group”. To be frank, I am a little tired of dealing with all the piety wars going on between the Muslims. If the Naqshabandi Sufi tariqah is your way of “getting’ it done”, then so be it. But don’t show up on my doorstep and tell me in my own house what I am and am not doing. I wrote a piece about Muslims acting responsibly and the consequences of not having done so. What does any of that have to do with the comments that Saif left? I ridiculed him on that; I did not say Saif is a bad Muslim, or that I wouldn’t pray behind him. Perhaps it is YOU, Yursil, who’s the polemic. We’ve been around this bush before. Saif seemed to be doing fine all on his own – is he incapable of expressing himself or refuting what I said? Instead, you’ve turned into a battle royale.

    If you don’t like what I read here, hit your back button in your browser. I realized my own shortcomings and arrogance when I came on your blogs and wrote my disagreements with you. I still disagree about a great many things with you Yursil, but it’s honestly a waste of my time to go to the trouble of visiting your blog and then tearing things down because I don’t agree with them. You’re entitled to your opinion just as is Saif, and just as am I.

    To discredit them as failed or failures or less-American because they maintain a strong connection to that Islamic tradition and culture, is a cop-out.

    The Ottoman Empire is dead; gone; vamous. I did not, however, make any comment on the Ottoman Empire and America – I’m not even sure with that it is you’re talking about. I never said that the Ottoman Empire fell because they failed [i.e., Allah punished them]. I simply stated that they ain’t ’round no more. Those who have affection for the O.E. are entitled to have whatever connections they think they have, but don’t expect me to share those sentiments [which is why I have a lot of truck with the problematic use of “Islamic” – the O.E. may have some traditions that were carried on by Muslims … by “Islamic”?]. If, however, you decide to come on my blog and start talking about some washed up enterprise – à la lumière de – the present conditions we face, then yeah, I’m going to voice my opinion about that. It is, after, my blog. My advice is to do what I did; leave it be. You got your way of doin’ thangs, and I got mines.

  17. seyfettin.callier@gmail.com'SEYFETTİN

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Until then, we’ll just wait.

    Indeed, until then we should be patient and steadfast in things you mentioned (“enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”), seeking a simple life; a clean life. This is my belief Marc. This is what has been taught by my Shaykh and what we struggle to live by. What I struggle to live by, tripping and falling but trying my best.

    Our Shaykh has mentioned many times that during Ahir Zaman (The End Times) this is what will be best for Muslims. It is a guidance from our Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). I desire a simple, clean life: http://thedailystar.com/localnews/x885940704/Local-Muslims-seek-simple-quiet-life

    Narrated Abu Said al-Khudri:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “There will come a time when the best property of a man will be sheep which he will graze on the tops of mountains and the places where rain falls (i.e. pastures) escaping to protect his religion from afflictions.”

    But I do understand your post and you feelings.

    -SEYFETTİN

  18. yursil@gmail.com'Yursil

    BismillahirRahmanriRahim
    Salamu’alaykum,

    “I hear many adages of people talking of resurrecting the old Ottoman Khalifa but that ship has sailed.”

    Who is talking about that? Why is having a leader so always tied to ridiciously logic of:

    Leader = Khalifa = No More Khalifa = Worthless talking about.

    Having a leader doesn’t require resurging some centuries old state, Muslims have had personal leaders, at the spiritual level or even at the village level, that tied them back to the Prophet (AS) in the absence of any overarching state or global politics.

    I’ve noticed Marc gets extremely defensive about indigenous Islam… I must have missed the people who talk about Islam being in America by accident.. I just haven’t met such people, and I’m surprised that they deserve such a vicious assault.

    At the same time its particularly disingenuous to exclude communities in America, who are totally American, and whose ideas and communities are based and spreading in America, but who maintain a significant connection to their community’s leaders traditional culture.

    To discredit them as failed or failures or less-American because they maintain a strong connection to that Islamic tradition and culture, is a cop-out. Its primarily within their work that we are seeing positive change for Muslims at a level that has not at all been accomplished by those who live as ‘independent Muslims’.

    Just look at Umar Lee’s example with the brothers in Islamville (check out the latest blog entry on EID over there)… interesting enough there you find African Americans singing Urdu naats better than most Pakistanis.

    Or in our case, African Americans singing Turkish Ilahis.

  19. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    Seffitin said:

    The assumption is that “Muslims” have the heavenly power to solve anything at all.

    That sounds fatalistic to me. That comment was in response to my words above:

    “Simply put, it is my belief that if Muslims do not solve this issue [if it is already not too late], then Islam will suffer a fate worse than persecution: irrelevancy.”

    So yes, I view that as fatalism. It also in no way addressed what the article was talking about.

    you can behave with such scorn and contempt?

    Ridicule is not a condemnation of character. It just means I took objection to what he wrote.

    I’ll pray behind anybody. What license does that give me?

    Well, I don’t know if I’d pray behind anybody, but as you like. And as for what license that gives you, only you can answer that.

    Who was talking about the Ottoman Empire?

    He has a link on his site for “The New Ottomans”. I know the O.E. plays an important role for you guys.

    Of course, if you don’t want to discuss or clarify these types of statements, that is fine, but isn’t that what discussions sections are for? Or are we just looking for ‘atta boy’s here?

    I’m not sure how much discussin’ is going on here.

  20. yursil@gmail.com'Yursil

    The only thing disingenuous was coming on my blog and going off on some fatalist rant …

    and

    I wrote a piece about Muslims acting responsibly and the consequences of not having done so. What does any of that have to do with the comments that Saif left?

    Why is it fatalist to suggest leadership as a solution to having a lack of vision? Maybe our lack of vision (the topic of your article) is a result of a completely disparate group of individuals living their faith completely independently? That’s a valid topic for Saifuddin to discuss.

    I ridiculed him on that; I did not say Saif is a bad Muslim, or that I wouldn’t pray behind him.

    Ridicule is part of Islam? So because you’ll pray behind him, and inshaAllah you will, you can behave with such scorn and contempt? I’ll pray behind anybody. What license does that give me?

    I disagree with what he wrote, well … so be it

    Of course, but your vitriol about the whole thing is worth noting.

    The Ottoman Empire is dead; gone; vamous. I did not, however, make any comment on the Ottoman Empire and America – I’m not even sure with that it is you’re talking about. I never said that the Ottoman Empire fell because they failed [i.e., Allah punished them]. I simply stated that they ain’t ’round no more

    I’m sorry.. .What the heck? Who was talking about the Ottoman Empire? As far as I can see, Saifuddin talked about Muslim leadership in America and you think he was calling to some battle in Istanbul for the Ottoman Khalifate. The first mention of the Ottomans is from you.

    I am sure you have your way of doing things, the topic I brought up was relating to your original article:

    Native-born Muslims still continued to favor a brand of Islam that was more about cultural acting than getting down to brass tax and most immigrant Muslims were so devastated at the quandary of being abandoned on the doorstep of whiteness that most of the efforts out of that community have been mostly assimilationist at best, if not simply down-right floundering

    I find little difference in this approach to owning American Islam and Palin’s bold claims in saying she ‘represents America’. American Islam is wide, it is varied, it includes aspects of many cultures, and we don’t need to wear blue jeans and a fedora to be real American Muslims any much than we need to live in a red state to be considered real Americans.

    Of course, if you don’t want to discuss or clarify these types of statements, that is fine, but isn’t that what discussions sections are for? Or are we just looking for ‘atta boy’s here?

  21. theblog@manrilla.net'Marc

    I rest my case. Ramadan is over, Shaytan is back. Perhaps in person I could better articulate my point. May Allah guide and protect us both.

  22. yursil@gmail.com'Yursil

    The assumption is that “Muslims” have the heavenly power to solve anything at all.

    That sounds fatalistic to me. That comment was in response to my words above:

    There were a lot of words followed up after that, and particularly around the quote encapsulated ‘muslims’. As I mentioned it’s clear he’s talking about individuals Muslims working independently vs having strong leaders… leaders who are indeed, according to my understanding of orthodoxy, understood to be imbued with heavenly authority and support as long as they work towards the deen.

  23. seyfettin.callier@gmail.com'SEYFETTİN

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Marc, we clearly see things differently. My interest in posting a comment was to share the views of a African-American son, brother, husband and father who happens to be a practicing Sunni Muslim following and learning directly from a Shaykh, while living in New York City.

    Given the context, this give me a lot of credibility. Perhaps the lack of vision you mention is not actually a lack of vision but instead a kind of tunnel vision. Perhaps this is true and perhaps its false, I’m asking for safety from batil.

    As for any responsibility in this ‘battle royale’, I’ll accept whatever is mine to accept and leave you with this, an open invitation to meet me whenever you like – if interested – you can better articulate your points. Points I’m sure I once had (and worse).

    This will be my last and final comment on your blog.

    -SEYFETTİN

  24. homeiswithin@yahoo.com'Soul Woman (a.k.a. Sister Seeking)

    Salaam Br. Marc and Sr. Margari:

    I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. — Maya Angelou

    I’d respectfully like to respond to you Br. Marc and Sr. Saffiyah:

    Sr. Saffiyah:

    I mean NO disrespect to you nor do I wish you or others like you any ill will but I’m concerned about your responses here. Before I present my concerns, I’d like others to know that I actually started a black woman’s support group in my area that meets the third Saturday of every month. I’m NOT an expert, professional, or even a clinical assistant—I’m just a lay person.

    1.Your response( the tone in which you responded actually reminds me of this incident http://www.thegrio.com/politics/dr-lauras-n-word-nonsense-the-latest-in-string-of-slurs.php) is exactly why I believe that when African Americans particularly black women need professional help their first preference should be for an African American practitioner who is more likely to understand if not relate to their patient. Even the upper middle class blacks ( read Lawrence Otis Graham) understand how being racially profiled as a black man wears and tears on you after awhile. That patient wouldn’t half to sit there and argue about white privilege with the provider who is supposed to provide culturally competent care to them-the care they deserve. There are many African American pastoral counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. We also have our own associations.

    2.I’ve learned in college that in order to comprehend and locate history one must subordinate their own race and culture in order to view the subject objectively. In this sense it is easier to understand the connectedness or unity of mankind and our similarities. From that perspective I understand that you are trying to explain the injustices inflicted upon your ethnic and racial group in the United States. Pain is Pain. Grief is Grief. Rape is Rape. Where I believe you are wrong is projecting your ethnic and racial group’s distress onto my ethnic and racial group experience in this country. From the simple study of history, your ancestors were NOT enslaved, and segregated here. The descendants of your ancestors don’t face the same structural inequalities passed on from generation to generation that my ethnic group does. This is not a competition to see who has experienced the most injustice or pain—it’s about dealing in facts and truth.

    3.I highly recommend the following books if you are attempting to counsel a population that has been marginalized as a result of structural racism:

    African American Psychology: From Africa to America by Faye Z. Belgrave

    Handbook of African American Health Robert L. Hampton PhD

    Handbook of African American Psychology Dr. Helen A. Neville

    Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem bell hooks

    Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery (South End Press Classics Series)bell hooks

    Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America

    When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America Paula J. Giddings

    Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit Queen Afua

    Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting Terrie Will

    “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity by Beverly Daniel Tatum

    Time Wise books are also a good read.

  25. homeiswithin@yahoo.com'Soul Woman (a.k.a. Sister Seeking)

    Salaam Br. Marc and Sr. Margari:

    Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the road which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well.
    — Maya Angelou

    Br. Marc said:

    “ Perhaps it’s not too late to stop, reflect, and take stock of our condition, our situation. Let us look at examples from our common cultural past that have succeeded: the Nation of Islam as well as the American Jewish community, who have critically understood the necessity of story and narrative as a primary means of not only survival but also of flourishing. To delay any longer would be akin to another favorite Star Wars quote: “almost there … almost there …” – and we all know what happened next after that.”

    My reply:

    Brother, I’ve finally come to a point in my life, and relationship with Allah where I have been able to work through and now live beyond the psychic pain, grief, loss, distress, and especially anger at my overall experiences as a self-respecting African American Muslim woman. Praise be to Allah for that… I did this by getting rid of negative people, places, and things. I did this by removing myself and my family from participating in Muslim community events. I did this by allowing myself to feel what I needed to feel without judging or punishing myself for those feelings. I did this by going back to the elders in my family, and listening to their narratives. I did this by going back to our ethnic and racial group history, and when I did that I found heritage and pride. It wasn’t hateful. It wasn’t exclusive. It was that universal recognition of your own worth and dignity how that is an act of worship if it motivates you to arise and live up to your own nobility in order to serve mankind. I did this by making a decision to be happy, to be content, and to live in peace. I now seldom complain or look for what’ s wrong with Islam or Muslims. I’ve found that I’ve simply outgrown the tired sorry scenarios you describe of both IMM’s and BAM’s.

    I’m saying all of this to say, we are the change we have been waiting for. NO ONE is coming to rescue us. NO ONE owes anybody anything. It is life. I believe that we need to learn to be our own leaders and exercise critical thinking ( and common sense) in our approach to life. I personally don’t look at what is transpiring as a crisis but as an act of purification and an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, our space, and our relationship with Allah. Although I’m a “young-old school-black woman” I ALREADY saw this vitriol islamaphobic neurosis coming. I saw it coming because although I converted to Islam I never forgot my people’s history especially my biological family’s history. I’m no longer anger with IMM’s and their insensitive behavior because I know WHO and WHOSE I am. I see that their excessive preoccupation with exacting white privilege might be the DEATH OF THEM BUT NOT US certainly NOT me. I understand that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. My approach is to let go of people who insist by their current attitude and behavior of dying off into the wilderness and moving forward. Allah exist rather people believe or not. Islam is supreme rather people believe it or not. I believe Allah is greater than some of our expectations.

    I’m glad to see another BAM advocate that we focus on our strengths, achievements, and victories—use that information to be innovative, and motivated. I mentally tune out people who refuse to do this because this a common practice in other ethnic groups: it’s how they transmit their culture and survive white supremacy.

    What Keeps Me Standing: Letters from Black Grandmothers on Peace, Hope and Inspiration Dennis Kimbro

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