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April 20, 016     

A Confused American Muslim Community
and the US Politics

By Syed R. Mahmood 

Why are American Muslims an easy target in the United States to become victims of BIGOTRY and RACISM? Nowadays, the situation is so bad that Muslim children are asking their parents, “are we going to be kicked out of this country?” Every time you turn around, as you watch the news, someone is making anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic comment. Although there are a good number of Americans who are very supportive of American Muslims, bigotry and racism remain part of American History.

 These days, people like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz; contenders for the Presidency of the United States, are not exceptions. Karl Rove, a former George W. Bush campaign strategist called Mr. Trump "a complete Idiot”, and a Chinese Newspaper referred him as a "Racist Clown." Mr. Ben Carson's statement that a Muslim should not be an American President shows that he has very little understanding of the American Constitution and History. Mr. Ted Cruz's recent statement regarding the American Muslims is that the police should "Patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." The latest shameful feud between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz started on late Tuesday, on March 22, 2016 in respect to their wives. From that, I believe that the souls of our founding fathers must be very disturbed.  

These three gentlemen, who are Presidential candidates, should know that the Muslims in America are not aliens. Mr. James H. Hutson , chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin, wrote in May, 2002, in his paper "The Founding Fathers and Islam," that the "Readers may be surprised to learn that there may have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims in the United States imported as slaves from areas of Africa where Islam flourished."*

Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad, a seventh or eighth generation African American, through genealogical research, discovered that the journey of Muslim history in America starts from the year of 1312 when African Muslims from Mandingo explored inside America by sailing up the Mississippi river. Later on, Christopher Columbus arrived here in 1492 with two Muslim Captains aboard his ships. Muslims soldiers also fought for the Continental troops during the Revolutionary War and Civil War.*  Enslaved Africans also played a very crucial role in helping the southern states which became very powerful and rich. 10 to 30 percent of the slaves were Muslims.

In the last forty to fifty years, the political situation for the American Muslims have not improved. Every year things are getting worse. Islamophobics are determined to make things very difficult for American Muslims. Non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are spending millions of tax deductible dollars for anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim projects.  The resulting general attitude in the Muslim Community is that things will get better, let us not do anything. We should mind our own business. Let us build our Mosques, Allah will then build a house for us in Paradise. According to an estimate there are more than 2,500 Mosques (Islamic Centers) in the United States so far.

The question rises among Muslims, are these centers making any impact in the American society? These Mosques are failing to attract the younger Muslim generation. How many of these Islamic Centers invites the local American population of other faiths in for any open house? This indicates that the management of these Islamic Societies are also failing in public relation services which is a reflection of the “mind your own business” attitude.

Being a founder and President of a major Islamic Society in the San Francisco Bay Area,  I learned in a few years that only building an Islamic Center is not the solution or a remedy to solve the Religious, Social, Cultural and Educational problems of the American Muslims. We, who are the immigrant Muslims, forget that we are living in the United States. There are  people of many faiths, cultures and ethnicities, who are a part of America, and contributes to the diversity of the population which provides strength to the American society.

Building Islamic Centers is intended to help Muslim children and the American Muslim community to fulfill their spiritual and educational needs. Living in isolation is not an option for the American Muslim community.

Pretending that the only connection with the outside world is to go to school, find a job and earn dollars, buying a car and a house are not enough. Consideralso that occasionally only giving our opinion and participating in some public affairs activities is not our responsibility. Then on weekendswe sit with our fellow Muslim community members to eat chicken curry and biryani as the only social obligation we have.

Finally, once we have a little extra money, we take a trip to our home country. We figure that donating money for charitable causes is also a good deed to earn heaven. In some circles, performing extra UMRA: Visiting holy places,  Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia is also a guarantee to wash off our sins.

These are all wonderful things to do and they earn SAWAB (rewards) from Allah (swt). We American Muslims have become so self-righteous; Individual success in America is a lot easier to achieve. We are blessed by Allah (swt) that we are Americans. Our fore- fathers and even just the previous generation did not have the luxury of the modern technology which we are enjoying in today's world. Our ancestors had to pay heavy dues to build this great country. The American Muslim community is very proud of our INDIVIDUAL success. However, we should remember that “A COLLECTIVE success is the key of EMPOWERMENT” for any community or society.  

The question is: If American Muslims are so very highly educated and affluent members of this society, why they are treated like aliens by some segments of Americans. Maybe they are insecure? Or Americans were never taught about the History of Muslims in America. They may feel guilty about the slavery and how brutally the enslaved  Africans were treated. But now the world has changed and it is changing every day. We are as though living in a small village. We cannot hide our history under the dust. The internet communication is at our finger tips. This oppressed policy and attitude is not going to prevail, and the unjust political alliance has no future. The policies which focus on only national interest without any moral consequences are bound to fail. In today's pluralistic world, people of all faiths have to share their responsibilities to build a better world on the basis of Justice and security for all.

We American Muslims also have a great deal of responsibility. We should also become part of mainstream America. We have to start participating in American Civic Affairs.  The majority of Americans think that we do not exist. We have all of the required ingredients to become a strong political voice in America: i.e.,Education, Professionalism and Financial Resources. A politically weak community is not going to survive in America as a viable group. Only donating money to political candidates or presidential candidates does not count to be part of the political process. It is the participation and learning of the complete political process which is the key to make an effective impact  Your adversaries are going to crush you if you don’t. The American political process understands only one language: Votes, Money and political involvement. The American Muslim community could change this tide of anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic rhetoric in America in three to four years,if you are determine to learn how to fight political battles. Do not let anyone treat you like a second class citizen.

The majority of American voters do not like the politics of BiGOTRY and RASICM. They are going to reject Donald Trump and Ted Cruse in their bid for the White House.

Syed R. Mahmood is the Founder and President of the American Institute of International Studies (AIIS)

       * For further Information regarding the History of American Muslim, read;

          The American Revolution as Affected by the Muslim World" 

           Author:  Syed R. Mahmood