Fort Hood Tragedy: What Muslims Know and what non-Muslims conveniently don’t
by Robert Salaam
Now that the pitchforks have been dutifully handed out and the heads of Muslims have been called for, I sit back and shake my head wondering at which point do I have to fear for the lives of my family because some “Muslim” somewhere in America I have never been, decided to spit in the face of all that I believe in and cherish.
To have served this country honorably as many other Muslims in uniform have over the years, I don’t think there is a word to describe my heartache, pain, and sheer disgust I have concerning this madman and the actions he carried out. Even as I make extra prayers and give Dua, I know that my fellow non-Muslim Americans would love to see me leave my country. To go where I wonder…
To read the blogs, msgboards, comments, etc. while I understand people are upset, the reactions have been very disheartening. Some are calling for the expulsion of Muslims from the armed forces, others are calling for an all out ban on Islam, others are calling for a vetting process, etc. etc.
As the author of a blog in which I make it no secret my love of my faith but my Country and Corps, I have received countless emails over the years from Muslims who want to serve wondering what it’s like to be a Muslim in the Military. These Muslims often want to serve even to the objection of their parents, primarily because they want to be part of something, they want to do their part, and the myriad of reasons many other young Americans decided to get yelled at for several weeks and earn the title of US Marine, Soldier, Sailor, or Airmen.
When our military loyalties, honor, integrity, etc. are not being questioned even greater still is the commentary directed toward the greater Muslim community. Many wonder why we are doing more to prevent this, why are we protesting against terror, etc. and openly accuse the lack of action they perceive as a silent acceptance of this madness that infests the minds of some.
We Muslims know the very reason why these things occur and so do many non-Muslims however in the case of the latter, it’s not politically advantageous to admit these truths and would go against their agendas.
The truth is that Muslims can’t collectively do anything because we are disunited beyond belief. Nevermind the entire world, but just here in America you have divisions so deep along the lines of ethnicity and ideology, that even getting Muslims to agree on the language of a proposed universal statement would be an exercise in futility. Extremely sad but true.
The oldest Muslim community in America is composed of African Americans. You would think that our shared history, racial identity, etc. would at a minimum cause us to at be united, yet we are divided in ways that aren’t ordinarily discussed in mixed company. Not only do you have the various sectarian divisions, you have divisions based on class, interpretation of practice even within one “sect” (see salafi), the NOI, etc. etc. In our one ethnic community, African American Muslims are Sunni, Shia, Ahmaddiyah, NOI, Moorish, five percenters, and many other beliefs or non-beliefs depending on who you ask. Then you have other communities that contain many of the same sectarian divisions, but also bring their unique cultural identities from various regions across the globe. It would be an out and out lie if people stated that divisions here aren’t strong when you have majority Pakistani, Arab, African, Asian, East European, etc. etc. mosques all over, some even broken down by some cultural or community ideology I could never understand.
But we are all Muslim right? Sure on paper…
Muslims fight internally over the silliest of reasons once you examine the faith we all claim to share. Whether or not women should pray in a different location, behind a wall, or not come to the Mosque altogether, whether on not it’s proper to wear or not wear a beard, how one dresses regardless of gender, etc. etc. and the list is too exhaustive to detail here.
The greatest taboo is race. Yes race, but also class, and culture. I don’t want to single out any specific communities, but in many communities in America depending on what your country of origin, mother tongue, income, etc. is, can determine your access to a Mosque or the “welcome” you receive.
I bring some of these very real issues up to explain the reason behind the age old question of “why won’t the Muslims…” The reason is quite simple if one was really interested and not just trying to score cheap political points, the reason is obvious, there are no “The Muslims”. What exists in America and I dare state in other “Western” Nations are pockets of Muslim communities who in varying degrees may or may not communicate, associate, or fellowship with one another.
So when a tragedy like this occurs at best your going to get an isolated blog post, op-ed, or statement from the various “Islamic Organizations” but that’s pretty much it. Most American Muslims today are going to get up, get ready for work, send their kids off to school, and pray that nothing stupid happens because they happen to be Muslim. In the case of the Muslims in uniform, depending on locale and the professionalism of their units, you will have a range from escalating violence or fighting, to casual jokes and debate, my vote is on the latter.
I happen to know what’s it’s like to wake up one morning as a Muslim in uniform just to receive this sort of news. I was in uniform the day Hassan Akbar turned on his fellow soldiers. Here we had a black American convert, who was a Sgt, and was from New York, there I was a black American convert, who was a Sgt, and was from New Jersey. Fortunately, I served with professionals and the most I got was a few off-color Marine ribbing and jokes, but I count myself among the fortunate.
I wouldn’t want to imagine what it’s like for other currently serving especially those Muslims stationed on Fort Hood. One could pray that they won’t have any issues, but it’s definitely not for certain.
Thus far, every Muslim blog, tweet, facebook, messageboard, and internet comment I have read was universally sentimental, expressing outrage, disgust, and making sure others know that we don’t condone these actions. I pray for a day when we don’t have to go out of our way to state the obvious. However, that’s the best we can do.
It baffles the mind why some non-Muslims actually believe that a religious community (well only Muslims) have the unique human ability to see into the minds of other so-called believers and as such have the ability to control their actions, even if we do not personally know each other or even live near the person. Muslims all over America now have to deal with the negativity from other Americans because of the actions of a guy we didn’t even know existed prior to yesterday. What other faith community is taken to task in this manner? I know, I know, but we are not at war with people who believe in other religions, etc. etc.
The fact is the overwhelming majority of American Muslims share in the grief, horror, and disgust as every other American. We have given our condolences, some have gone out of their way yet again to state that this is not what Islam teaches (and can prove it) and generally stated we are sorry that some evil guy who claimed to be one of us that we did not know killed fellow Americans. How many of you have to apologize for the actions of others.
What else can we do given the reality of our division? What Catholic, Protestant, Jew, etc. can control the actions of their flock and your considered somewhat united? Yet, Muslims who can’t even agree on the start of Ramadan, where women should pray, etc. are supposed to be able to do what exactly? Walk hand and hand march on Washington and repeat loud and clear that we are sorry?
Not to take away anything from anyone, but look, we hate this guy as much as you do and not just because he’s a murderous traitor to God and Country, but also due to the fact, that sane Muslim lives all over the country are now disturbed once again for something we did not do.
I already grew up listening to the news fingers crossed hoping it wasn’t a black person, now I have to listen to the news cross my fingers and hope it’s not a Muslim, sometimes I get smacked twice!
So there, another long incohesive rant.
Lastly, I wanted to state that there are many who know the reality of the divisions within the Muslim community, many of these very people are major critics of Islam/Muslims who make loads of money criticizing us at every turn and opportunity, yet they promote this idea of Muslim oneness as if the actions of on Muslim directly ties to the actions of another. If if this well mass produced lie was true, then that would mean that once again the number overwhelming show that Muslims are in fact peaceful citizens and a productive part of society, but of course only the minority counts in our shock and awe press and no better page turner is the “radical Muslim”.
Look I hope this guy is executed and rot in hell like the next guy, but when you try to compare this and other idiots to the religion I practice, study, and live daily I have to draw the line. Many American Muslims have no criminal records and have HONORABLE Discharges, many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and are buried in Arlington, this murderer is no more a part of us as the pedophile priest, the abortion doctor killer, or the millions behind bars now who claim to be Christian, are a part of you.
Can we all just be civil for a moment see this as a tragedy for all Americans and go back to the health care debate?
Visit Robert Salaam’s site at http://www.theamericanmuslim.net/blog/