Masjid Ibaadillah’s Annual Black History Program

The following are two audio recordings I took from Masjid Ibaadillah‘s Annual Black History Program on February 21st, 2016. The first part (Session 3) features Anne Ali and professor Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabbaar discussing Sister Clara Muhammad: The Legacy of Sister Clara Muhammad and teaching Black Nationalism. The second part (Session 4) featured Imam Fateen Seifullah, Margari Hill, professor Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabbaar, and myself:

[Session 3 — Direct download]

[Session 4 — Direct download]

Muslims, America and the Greater Good

The Muslim community in America has been under fire since the tragic events of September 11th. And yet, most of the efforts of Muslims since then have seemed to focus more on how to get back to the foggy, lackadaisical lifestyle which allowed a great many Muslims to enjoy the comforts of American society without having to contribute very much. Sadly, I feel this still persists. And in the light of a society that is in desperate need of help (of whom the Muslims are also in desperate need!), how can we justify our self-indulgent attitude? I muse on this and a few other items in this podcast.

Further Readings

Dawabit al-Maslahah fi’l-Shar’iyyah al-Islamiyyah by Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti.

The Uncritical Bias of Ibn Warraq

While perusing the book store today I came across another title by the prolific “Muslim” apostate, “Ibn Warraq”. Mr. Warraq has made a career out of not being Muslim. His latest title is Why the West is Best. Here’s a sample of the uncritical bias Ibn Warraq often exhibits:

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind1.

While Ibn Warraq may feel very comfortable with his trump card of values, I notice one disparaging absence in his thesis, one often left out by Islamophobes: racism. The legacy and continued perpetuation of racist attitudes by the dominant white culture in America (i.e., the progenitors of Western culture) are woefully absent from their so-called “disinterested search for truth”. For the likes of Mr. Warraq, Pam Geller and their colleagues, America’s dirty little history of slavery and its continued legacy in American society goes untouched by their rational, self-critical pursuit of equality. How is it that America can be “the best” (an absurd notion that countries can be “ranked” somehow) and not a single critic of Islam—apostate or Right-Wing Christian—has addressed this topic. It is clear the reason why: America’s troubled past regarding slavery (and present!), in the eyes of Islamophobes and the proponents of white supremacy, is merely an inconvenience or unfortunate occurrence in the inevitability of American greatness. For me, this is the very definition of Western exceptionalism.

The issue at stake here is not merely Ibn Warraq’s racial agnosia (see Sherman Jackson’s piece on racial agnosia as well as a short article I wrote on being socially relevant) but the manner in which he casually essentializes the West and Islam: one is the transcendent bastion of all that is good, the other an ahistorical monolith that encapsulates all that is retrograde, defunct and barbaric. Reductionism at its best, Ibn Warraq’s truck with Islam is not with its “Muslim-ness” but in how it is not western (an idiom that falls in on itself as this author is both “western” and Muslim”). But perhaps most revealing is Ibn Warraq’s narcissism: Islam is bad, not because “it doesn’t work”, but because it didn’t work for Ibn Warraq. This line of thinking is similar to Irshad Manji’s, and thus my criticism is also similar. Despite Ibn Warraq’s claims to the contrary, Islam is more than capable of withstanding criticism from individuals as well as from other religious or civilizational traditions. Perhaps if Ibn Warraq were to approach his apostasy from that position: that Islam didn’t work out for him, then his criticisms would have more weight instead of sounding like a whining, snotty-nosed sore loser.

My point here is not simply to play the race card but rather to illustrate how those who claim, uncritically, that America or the West “is the best” often do so through myopic vision and reckless abandon. How do the likes of an Ibn Warraq justify their stance of “the West is the best” when examining the injustices that are rampant in American society? How would Ibn Warraq justify the claim as “best” when we look at the penal system in America and the vastly ill-proportioned number of Blackamericans who are in jail? How would the West be defined as “best” in light of the fact that the last one hundred years of war alone have been at the behest of Western powers? How can the West maintain its status as “the best” when it was responsible for the largest genocide in the last hundred years (yes, I’m talking about the Holocaust)? And yes, how does Ibn Warraq justify the West’s immanent “goodness” in light of a continued theater of aggression throughout the world? These are just to name a few (the list could go on and on):

  • The invasion of Granada.
  • The Bay of Pigs incident.
  • The dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
  • The scientific experimentation of America on its own subjects (Tuskegee).
  • The Guatemalan syphilis experiments.

If I didn’t like living in America I would move. It’s a simple as that. The West in general and American in specific are my homes. I don’t know any other way of life other than being a Westerner and an America. However, neither of those precludes being Muslim, ensuring America’s “goodness” or simply doing away with America’s and the West’s un-glorious history. Instead, I would settle for America (and the West) are as good as its people, as good as it wants to be. America’s greatness cannot be achieved by glossing over its history nor sweeping under the rug the injustices it still commits in the name of “freedom”. And yet it would seem that Ibn Warraq applies a strange brew of logic when determining “best”: it appears to have nothing to do with history.

  1. Why the West Is Best – My Response to Tariq Ramadan, from City Journal.

Required Reading: Explaining Islam to the Public

The following is an article that was published in the online Blog, The Immanent Frame. The piece, by Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis religious studies professor, Edward E. Curtis IV, is well worth the read. Professor Curtis highlights some of the difficulties, dangers and pitfalls to the symbiotic relationship between 9/11 and Islam in the Academy. In particular, Professor Curtis speaks about the issue of authority and the media’s demand for authoritative voices about, as he puts it, “x or y”:

The expectation that Islamic studies scholars were prepared to “cover” the Islamic tradition and speak to its beliefs and practices on a normative, global basis was stressful for many of us.

We were not allowed to answer, “It depends.” What was generally desired, it seems, was a fatwa, an authoritative ruling on what the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the ulama’ say about “x,” not a lecture on how the historical practices of real people refuse easy generalization.

I hope you will enjoy reading his article and take away a seldom head but very much needed critique of not only the media, but also of American academic institutions.

Note: this article was originally published on The Immanent Frame‘s web site. For whatever reason, the article was down so I have republished it here. My apologies for stepping on any toes. I felt the article needed to be read. You can read it here on SSRC’s web site.

Explaining Islam to the Public

from The Immanent Frame by Edward E. Curtis, IV

Perhaps no group of scholars has had as much at stake in the public understanding of religion of late as Islamic studies pecialists. The attacks of 9/11 indirectly created opportunities for career advancement for Islam specialists. Though the number of positions for scholars of Islam advertised through the American Academy of Religion (AAR) has increased only modestly, from 61 between 1996 and 2001 to 74 between 2002 and 2007, Islamic studies scholars found new funding sources through both the government and private foundations, and they scored higher publication rates in journals of record during the latter period. At the same time, all the new public attention resulted in attacks against Islamicists by the general public and, perhaps more alarmingly, systematic campaigns, led by groups such as Campus Watch, to deny tenure to scholars of Islam. In addition, foreign scholars, such as Tariq Ramadan, were prevented by the U.S. government from even attending the meetings of the AAR, which subsequently sued over the matter.

The expectation that Islamic studies scholars were prepared to “cover” the Islamic tradition and speak to its beliefs and practices on a normative, global basis was stressful for many of us. The idea that we could speak with authority about the practices of 1.4 billion people who speak dozens of languages and have inhabited the planet for the last 1400 years is absurd, of course. Like other academics, Islamic studies scholars are trained in certain fields of knowledge; in the best of programs, they are trained to be exceedingly careful about claiming too much. The pressures to become the academic voice of Islam both on campus and in the media frequently led scholars to abandon caution. We reached for our copies of the Encyclopedia of Islam and sent out queries, sometimes quite urgently, to the AAR Study of Islam listserv. “What does Islam say about x?” was the way questions were often framed. We were not allowed to answer, “It depends.” What was generally desired, it seems, was a fatwa, an authoritative ruling on what the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the ulama’ say about “x,” not a lecture on how the historical practices of real people refuse easy generalization.

The pressure to come up with one-liners and sound-bites was particularly acute when Islamic studies scholars were asked or permitted to participate in media outlets. Here the line between professor of Islamic studies and practitioner of Islam was often blurred, as Muslim professors offered answers that reflected, not only their considerable knowledge of the topic, but also their personal opinion or practice of Islam. Not all of them did so, of course, but autobiography was one strategy for dealing with questions about Islam’s position on x or y. At the least, these scholars could answer questions about what Islam says about love, war, life, and death by giving their own views as Muslims. It was as good as any other way of trying to answer impossible questions. But explaining one’s personal beliefs and practices was not a viable strategy for non-Muslims. In both cases, Muslim and non-Muslim scholars were forced to develop strategies, or simply to improvise, to deal with questions about veils, terrorism, churches in Saudi Arabia, Ibn Taymiyya, and a whole host of topics that were bubbling up, especially among anti-Muslim hate groups and in online forums.

My opportunity to participate in national debates over these questions came with the Ground Zero mosque controversy in the summer and fall of 2010. This controversy took the spotlight away from Islam abroad and shone it on Muslim Americans. Like many other Americans, I was angered by the intolerant tone of the debate. I was especially maddened by the idea that building a Muslim community center near Ground Zero would be insensitive to the hallowed ground of the 9/11 attacks. I didn’t like the conflation of the 9/11 hijackers with the Muslims of lower Manhattan and one of their leaders, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who happened to be the single most prominent proponent of interfaith dialogue in New York City. I decided I had to
do something.

So, I wrote an op-ed.

Rather than discuss issues of freedom of religion or the politics of contemporary Islamophobia, I wanted to stress the idea that Muslims have lived and worshiped in Lower Manhattan since the Dutch first arrived in the New World. I don’t know, in the end, if shedding light on Muslim contributions to the history of the United States helps to reduce contemporary prejudice against Muslim Americans or Muslims more generally; but if I am to participate in public scholarship, this is one area in which I can do so with intellectual integrity. Even if history is boring to a lot of folks—as some people have gingerly admitted in response to my speeches about Muslim-American history—I also know that this is a novel approach to Islam in America, and I still get a lot of “I didn’t know thats,” “wows,” and “goshes” when I outline the imprint of Muslims on the thirteen colonies and the United States in both public and academic forums.

The editorial that I penned included descriptions of the Muslim slaves who lived and worked either on or just blocks away from the Ground Zero site when New York was still New Amsterdam. It mentioned the escape of Muslim slave Mahommah Baquaqua from a Brazilian ship on Manhattan’s docks. It reminded New Yorkers of the Arab-American Muslims who lived in the very neighborhood where the twin towers were eventually built. I sent it to a few papers and heard back from the New York Daily News—to be sure, not the New York Times, but still, a New York daily with a circulation in the hundreds of thousands. The editor didn’t think he could run it, but he did ask if I had references for all of my claims. Yes, I told him, I did, and I sent him a very long list of peer-reviewed references. The take-home line of the piece was, “It may be a strange, even perverse fact of history, but Islam in New York began on or near Ground Zero.”

The first draft that I sent to the Daily News was informational. It largely avoided direct criticism of the anti-Muslim activists who opposed the building of the community center. My goal was to make it impossible to talk about Muslims as new or foreign, thinking, perhaps, that if Americans thought of Muslims as part of their shared past, they would be less inclined to perceive them as threatening. But my editor encouraged me to take a stronger stand and to criticize the Islamophobia that animated much of the opposition to the community center.

Thus, my third draft used the word “troubling” to describe how politicians had exploited the pain of 9/11 victims to advance their own anti-Muslim agendas. I even used the word “lie” to label the argument that the community center would be a “9/11 victory mosque.” But this still was not enough for the editor, who added the following lines himself: “Comments by [Gubernatorial candidate Rick] Lazio and [Sarah] Palin are mere drops in an ocean of right-wing vitriol over this issue.” And: “Rhetoric that treats Muslim Americans like hostile foreigners fundamentally—and intentionally—skews the story of New York and its Muslim community.”

My reaction to these edits was, “Yes, exactly! But … I didn’t know that I was allowed to write that way.” My first draft, which attempted to relate the long history of Muslims in Manhattan as an antidote to Islamophobia, assumed that the reader would understand my larger purpose. I was writing history without explaining why I thought that history was so urgent to expose, and I had forgotten that I was writing for an editorial page. It was a form of self-censorship. In order to find a publisher, I had unconsciously written in the dispassionate tone of the so-called objective academic, trying to avoid the expression of my own feelings. I never expected that an editor for the New York Daily News would help me find my voice, but he did, and he made the op-ed better as a result.

But if working with the Daily News helped me to find my voice, my next experience with a major media outlet, the Washington Post, was a different story. In this case, I lost my voice, or at least a part of it. The Post contacted me to become a one-time contributor to a regular feature of the “Sunday Outlook” section called “Five Myths.” They wanted me to identify and then correct five myths about mosques in the United States. I pointed out that religious studies scholars use the word myth to meanmore than misconception, but that was just the name of the feature, they said. I accepted their offer and submitted the five myths that I wanted to correct.

One was that “all Muslims pray in mosques.” I hoped to point out that Muslims also pray in private homes, Sufi lodges, Shi‘a imambargahs, Isma‘ili jamatkhanas, and Nation of Islam temples. There was too much focus on mosques, I thought, and not enough on other Muslim-American sacred spaces. But this suggestion was rejected on the grounds that it was “interesting, but maybe not worth devoting a full myth to.” In its place, a new myth was suggested by the editors: “Mosques seek to spread shari‘a law in the United States.” One editor wrote that “this one has been coming up so much in conversation … in particular, people have been raising the status of women under shari‘a law.” I went to work correcting the five myths—in 1200 words or less.

Following the scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl, I responded to the myth about shari‘a by writing that shari‘a is an ideal, that it is not codified, and that the human attempt to realize this ideal is called “fiqh,” or jurisprudence. I said that most contemporary mosques don’t actually teach the shari‘a because it is too dry, too pedantic, too arcane. I stressed that mosques devote their weekend classes instead to discussions of the Qur’an and the Sunna and how they apply to everyday life

But my answer had sidestepped the question. In retrospect I realized that I was trying to respond to the negative feelings of Americans toward shari‘a by downplaying its importance in American mosques. I didn’t want to leave people with the idea that lots of Muslims were busy learning when and how to take the law into their own hands and apply hudud penalties, such as the stoning of adulterers. Working on a deadline and with space for two paragraphs or so, perhaps this was the best I could come up with. I was much more pleased with the other parts of the piece, but I had to move on.

In any case, it did not seem to hurt the piece’s reception. Whereas the Daily News op-ed about the history of Muslims in Manhattan received about 500 likes on Facebook and a few dozen comments, this piece received 4000 likes on Facebook and 523 comments. It was syndicated in papers around the world, and more people read this short piece than anything else I have ever written. It led to two subsequent interviews on NPR’s Weekend Edition and Tell Me More with Michel Martin; a harrowing call-in to a show on a Pittsburg Fox radio affiliate (during which my wife almost took the phone away from me to tell off some callers); several speaking engagements; some severe criticism by Stop Islamization of America leader and professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer; and some very angry emails. I got a lot of compliments, too. All of this attention and feedback made me nervous, excited, and scared.

I also received an email from a colleague who wanted to quibble about my claims regarding the teaching of shari‘a in American mosques. Yes, he said, I was technically right that the whole shari‘a is not taught in mosques. That would be impossible. But some of it is, he said. That’s how Muslims know when and how to pray, how to observe Muslim holidays, how much money to give to charity, etc.

He was right. My answer hadn’t exactly been wrong, but my response to the question was not sufficient. In addition, it did not respond explicitly to the public’s biggest fears, for instance, about the cutting off of hands and stoning. When a Middle East studies newsletter asked for permission to reprint the piece, I kept some of my original answer but added the following: “most mosques in the United States teach only those parts of the shari‘a having to do with religious rituals and obligations. They do not teach the part of the shari‘a having to do with criminal law.” And further: “Few Muslim Americans advocate a shari‘a-based theocracy. Instead, most Muslim Americans insist that democracy is the most Islamic system of governance in the world today.”

During the brief course of my five minutes of high-profile public scholarship I came to realize just how difficult such work is. Many of the topics on which I was queried and the ways that I could write about them were already determined in such a way that I felt like I was making an appearance in a largely pre-written script. Responding to the public’s misconceptions about Islam is part of what we do. But if we cannot question the assumptions on which questions are posed, we cease to be critics. We must retain the ability to ask questions as well as to answer them. The problem with my Washington Post piece was that I did not explicitly name the prejudice that was animating the question about the shari‘a in the first place. As recent legislation passed in Oklahoma demonstrates, there is a special animus on the part of millions of Americans toward shari‘a, which is viewed, like Islam more generally, as particularly dangerous.

As I reflect on my moment of high-profile public scholarship, and on teaching religion more generally, I want to conclude with two further responses to the “myth” that “mosques seek to spread shari‘a law.” First, perhaps my response to the myth should have been: Yeah, but so what? Most American religious organizations seek to educate others about their ethics and rituals, and that is exactly what most of the shari‘a taught in American mosques is all about. Second, most Muslim Americans are not “spreading” shari‘a; they are trying to figure out how to apply it to their own lives.

The final point I should have made is that public discussions about shari‘a and other aspects of Islam are inevitably influenced by and reflect anxieties about the nation’s war-making in Muslim lands. A supermajority of the American public thinks that Islam is more violent than any other religion. As I wrote the original version of this piece, which I delivered as a talk at a recent meeting of the Midwest AAR, Congressman Peter King was holding hearings on what he calls the “radicalization” of the Muslim-American community, demonstrating that it is far easier to project blame onto either the Muslim foreigner abroad or the Muslim other in our midst than it is to acknowledge and reflect on American culpability for the deaths of thousands.

To be sure, foreign Muslims who resist U.S. dominance in their own countries utilize their religious traditions in so doing. But analyzing this religious violence in isolation from U.S. foreign policy, economic dominance, and military interventionism renders us mute as critics of our own societies and serves—however inadvertently—to normalize the secular nation-state’s monopoly on legitimate violence. There is a clash of interests between the U.S. and those whose lives it seeks to shape, often in its own image. But this story does not begin in Mecca; it begins in Washington. Middle Easterners, including Osama bin Laden, were not fantasizing when they saw the U.S. establish military bases in the Gulf region nor when it restored the Kuwaiti amirate to power in 1991 when it intervened on behalf of both the Iraqis and Iranians in the Iraq-Iran war, when it shelled Lebanon in the 1980s, and the list goes on. This is not primarily a story about religious fanaticism but a story about secular, imperial power

It may be tempting for religious studies scholars to take advantage of this historical moment by deploying one-dimensional explanations of religion to justify our own usefulness to the academy and to the nation. But even if we have to admit our ignorance, or just say that it’s complicated, it is better to resist further propagating or reinforcing simplistic conceptions of Islam, or of religion in general. Instead, we should spend more time exposing the political contexts in which popular understandings of Islam and religion more broadly are generated, disseminated, and used. And if we must produce a sound-bite about Islam’s role in making violence for the media, then let it be this: “Islam is not the cause of violence, but it does offer one means of resistance to U.S. political, military, and economic domination in Muslim lands.”

America: A Post Bin Laden Response

The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, the American government’s most wanted terrorist, came as a surprise last night as I was turning in for bed. Like many Americans, the news brought about a flux of emotions, from relief to something more along the lines of morose. I say morose because as a person of faith, it’s an odd mix to feel elation at someone’s demise, even if there were someone as nefarious as Bin Laden. Muslims were not alone in these feelings. Vox Nova, a Catholic blog, wrote a piece, The Death of Bin Laden, where Henry Karlson asked the question in relation to the rejoicing we see on the evening news: “But should there be?” Karlson continues with, “Taking the life from someone else will never be an act of justice – it does not restore what has been lost, but rather, brings further loss onto the world.” While I personally do not agree that taking a life can never be an act of justice, nonetheless, Karlson’s words resonate with what I observed from a broad stripe of Muslims. The moral quandary had less to do with Bin Laden’s death being just but more with the celebratory spirit with which it is being observed. However, in the current climate it is unlikely that many Muslims will feel free to express this sentiment out of fear of their commitment to America will appear to be weak or suspect. In this manner, we Muslims owe our Catholic neighbors a debt of gratitude for speaking out on this topic, helping to add a much needed nuance to an ever shrinking dialog.

Beyond all of the speculation of right, just, or wrong, lies another set of questions that many American Muslims have and that is: Even with a proponent’s stance on Bin Laden’s death, what dividends will this pay for brokering a more fair and equitable viewpoint on Muslims in the American public sphere? Many Muslims that I spoke with and observed harbor a cynical attitude towards the significance of Bin Laden’s death. Many fear that instead of smoothing over the perception of Muslims in the broader public dialog, it may even induce further backlashes. Evidence of these fears was seen in the vandalizing of a mosque in Maine as well as a hit-and-run accident in Florida which looks to be the result of a hate crime. The perpetrator, Gerald Prebe, of Clearwater, Florida, said, “he intended to kill” his target because he “looked Middle Eastern”. However, the victim, Terry Butler, was found out to be African-American.

It remains to be seen if the death of Bin Laden can make life for American Muslims any easier to live [this was the gist of my interview on Philadelphia’s CBS3 below via Oren Liebermann – click here for a direct link to the video in case it doesn’t load below]. But as a person of faith, I am committed to an optimistic outlook, even if I have to work on it day by day. For now, we will all have to sit back and see what further facts can unfold from this bizarre and emotional story.

Muslims in Phila. have three reasons to rejoice


Amidst the din of a meat-cutting machine quartering a lamb carcass at Al Aqsa Halal Meats in the Northeast on Monday afternoon, store manager Ray Hamidah shared a thought about his adopted country:

“A bullet in Osama bin Laden’s head was something the American people needed. Revenge relaxes people.”

A Jordanian-born U.S. citizen, Hamidah, 42, is a pragmatist who saw bin Laden as a “perverter of Islam” who brought pain and prejudice to Muslims in America.

“This will be better,” Hamidah concluded, the fresh lamb being sliced at his butcher counter an apt symbol of springtime renewal. “We’re not celebrating. But this is better.”

Arabs and Muslims in the Northeast as well as in mosques and professional organizations around the city are expressing a sense of relief that U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks during the early morning hours Monday.

Still, the killing has not alleviated the fear that Muslims will long be linked with terrorism, forever viewed with suspicion.

“My main worry is that anybody in the world can do something bad now and people will blame Muslims avenging bin Laden,” said Aeman Ali Mohamad, 26, owner of Safe Side Services, an insurance firm on Wyoming Avenue across from Al Aqsa.

Weary of being associated with terrorism, Mohamad, a North Jersey native, explained his distance from bin Laden.

“Al Qaeda has nothing to do with me, with most Muslims, and I hope they die with Osama bin Laden,” he said. “I feel relief that he’s gone.”

Down the street, it was more of the same at Pizza Point, where manager Mohammed Jubran, 27, bristled that bin Laden “wasn’t good for the Muslims, killing innocent people.”

The Jerusalem-born Palestinian, now an American, spoke as though the constant heat of his pizza ovens scorched his words as he spoke them: “The man deserved to die.”

Along with the businessmen of Wyoming Avenue, the Arab American intelligentsia of imams and advocates in the area detailed their delight in bin Laden’s end.

“As Arab Americans, we’re triply happy,” noted Marwan Kreidie, executive director of the Philadelphia Arab American Corporation, a social service agency.

“First, he killed at least 3,000 Americans on 9-11, and we’re glad he got his just due.

“Next, as Arab Americans, we know the vast majority of people killed from his reign of terror are Muslims.

“And third, his actions caused reactions here, making us unfairly targeted – a community under fire.”

Kreidie added that bin Laden’s message of a violent Islamic revolution yanking the world back to the 14th century never took hold among the youth of the Arab world.

The proof has been the so-called Arab spring, in which young revolutionaries have gathered and fought for democracy – not jihad – in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere.

Moein Khawaja, executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that as an American and a Muslim, he cheered when he heard of bin Laden’s demise.

“My wife and I were watching the Phillies game where they announced his death,” Khawaja said. “As people at the game chanted, ‘U.S.A.,’ we yelled, ‘We got him!'”

He added, “I never forgot the day our country was attacked so brutally, and at the same time the religion of over 1 billion people was tarnished.”

Among the religious, a paradox develops around bin Laden’s death.

“I’m not not happy he’s dead,” said Marc Manley, a South Philadelphia imam not associated with any particular mosque.

“But I do feel odd about being happy a human was killed. Is it appropriate?”

Manley also wondered what changes would develop from bin Laden’s demise.

“Will we Muslims get screened less often in airports now?” he asked. “Will we not be used as political hockey pucks during election campaigns that include anti-Muslim feelings?”

Manley said he’d like to be optimistic that pressure on Muslims will lessen.

“But,” he added, “the cynical side kicks in, and you say, ‘Of course this isn’t going to change everything.’ At least not yet.”

Contact staff writer Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or

Read the original article here.