The Muslim Answer to Terrorism and Islamophobia
by Abdul Cader Asmal
In the ‘Islamophobic world’ of the Republican Presidential wannabees, all Muslims whether American citizens, or victims of terrorism i.e. refugees, are potential terrorists. They share a collective guilt for the acts of people who do not represent them, or their religion and over whose behavior they have no control. Thus with canards such as, allowing refugees opens the door to terrorism, mosques pose a potential threat of radicalization and need to be shut down, Muslim masses celebrated the destruction of the Twin Towers, and for ‘national security’ Muslims may need special identification, the Republican scare-mongers amplify the chorus of anti-Islamic hysteria previously the hallmark of hateful bigots. In an apparent effort to accelerate recruitment in the ‘enemy camp’, in the wake of the most recent atrocity in San Bernadino, Mr Trump has just declared ( 12/7/15)that all Muslims should be banned from the US!
In the world of ‘terrorism’, ( the enemy camp) the self-appointed ‘caliph’ of Daesh, Al Baghdadi has issued his diabolical dogma that the killing of innocent peoples regardless of their religious backgrounds is an act of jihad that leads to martyrdom and is a gateway to Paradise. This heresy contradicts the basic principles of Islam, the religion he purports to represent. But the heresy with a promise of martyrdom is the enticement for the disenchanted, psychopathic or illiterate Muslim youth who respond to his call for ‘jihad’. His grotesque distortion of Islam coupled with a savage cruelty against those who contradict his omnipotence is the trademark of his demonic cult.
Branded as ‘terrorists’ or ‘terrorist-sympathizers’ on the one hand and demonized collectively by Islamophobes for the actions of a few, the dilemma that Muslim citizens may be forced to consider is, in which so-called Muslim country would they feel safe enough to seek refuge? For most there is none. Some ex-patriates may return ‘home’ from which they emigrated in search of the ‘American dream’. Apart from the many failed states overrun with poverty, violence, and corruption, what are the dwindling options available? How much religious freedom do they allow ‘foreign’ Muslims? Do they permit any to minority groups? As a minority I was able to celebrate this Thanksgiving in a Church by sharing a recitation of the Quran. Where else in the world would a Muslim be granted center stage in a Church? Where else would a non-Muslim be invited into a Mosque and be permitted to make a Christian or Jewish offering? Possibly only in the US, as happened this past week in Boston!
No one wants to be treated as a second class citizen in his own country. Certainly Muslims do not. But ask the African Americans who have suffered under institutionalized racism whether they like being branded by their skin color? Worse still ask the Native Americans who were vanquished and then virtually vanished with no visible identity in the land of their birthright.
So if Muslims feel the radical Republican rhetoric too unsettling, they should consider the plight of those that is indescribably worse, and the spirit of America which has the resilience to change. In dealing with any tribulations, they should remember the Quranic injunction “ Seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: for, behold, God is with those who are patient in adversity.” 2:153. Muslims thus need to take the lead in redressing the injustices of those subjected to greater oppression the worst expression of which are acts of merciless terrorism. This is a call to action. For Muslims this is their home and their country. They must be prepared to fight for it and die for it. To ensure that their grandchildren’s birthrights are not undermined by ‘homegrown’ or international terrorists, or usurped by opportunistic politicians. They need to take strength from President Obama’s powerful remarks ( 12/6/2015) in which he dissociated the barbarism of Daesh from the theology of the overwheming majority of Muslims. Muslims as American citizens have inalienable rights of religious freedom but as such they also have a collective responsibility to attempt to eradicate the hideous Daesh ideology from taking root in their communities.
They need to echo Bernie’s message that plutocracy is not for working people, and help Hillary extinguish the rekindled xenophobia. If despite their concerted efforts should Daesh through its ‘terror-mongering’ tactics be able to ‘trump’ our electoral process , America will fail.. for a time. In anticipation of such a grotesque reality Muslims must be ready to galvanize with the majority of fair-minded fellow citizens to prevent such a catastrophic scenario for our country. Muslims must be ready to champion the fight to realign America in its rightful place, standing for the unshakable foundational principles of truth freedom and justice, reminding the xenophobes, of Washington’s warning, “To Bigotry No Sanction; to Persecution No Assistance”. The Muslim answer to hateful politicians and diabolical terrorists is one,’ We are patriotic Americans, faithful Muslims, and we are here to stay!’
Abdul Cader Asmal MD PhD
Former President Islamic Center of Boston and Islamic Council of New England