Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Evidence of a Flawed Strategy

Given enough time, it will become manifest to anyone whether they're on the right path or the rotten path. I think we Muslims have reached one such milestone and it's time to reflect.

Muslims once created and lived in a great civilization. The world from Spain to Indonesia woke to mueddhin's call to prayer and fasted every Ramadan. With time, they became complacent and abandoned critical thinking, science and innovation.

Western Europe came late to the civilization party, but got some things right. They pursued science, rational thinking and embraced innovation. When they came to Muslim lands with their superior weapons, Muslims could barely put up a fight. The world outside had changed forever, but in their complacence Muslims thought it was just a local, passing anomaly and they would regain their past position of being the trend-setters.

For over 250 years Muslims kept losing battles small and large and ceding control of their lands to Europeans who colonized these lands. They only took notice of events that were symbolically big. For instance, when the Allies abolished the Caliphate, Muslims tried hard to restore it. The nation that had little discourse or debate over the fact that the Caliphate had become a hollow, meaningless shell of an institution for centuries, stood up in outrage when its irrelevance was made official.

Another big shocker was losing control of the Holy Lands.

Two generations of Muslims have waged armed struggle in the Middle East and other parts of the world. When they were completely out-powered by their adversaries, Muslims have adopted guerrilla warfare and a more sinister war which is appropriately labeled terrorism.

In general, the Muslim nation is still unable to fully come to grips with the fact that the world has changed and we are living in a new paradigm. They think the mueddhin will soon sound the call to prayer at daybreak and, waking up, they will realize all this had been one long bad dream.

Now, I think Muslim grievances in many instances do bear merit. Millions of Muslims have been wronged individually and the nation has been wronged collectively. But such is life. American Indians have been wronged. The Irish have been wronged. Franks and Persians have been wronged. Jews have been wronged by the Pharaos, the Nazis and generations of Christians over Passion of the Christ. India's untouchable class has been wronged - and that's been going on how many centuries? And, right before our eyes, with plenty video footage still available, we have seen the subjugation, humiliation, dehumanization of African-Americans. They were stolen from their homes, brought to America as slaves and worked without so much as being accorded their humanity.

In the 1950s and 60s, this last group was at a cross-roads. With few rights in a land that brimmed with wealth, they had a choice. They could go violent, and some did, or they could adopt the path of passive resistance. Passive resistance means you don't commit violence, but you stand firm in the face of your oppressors telling them that you want them to stop oppressing you ("speaking truth to a corrupt leader" is extolled in Hadith as the greatest jihad). The cross-roads is symbolized by the Rev. Martin Luther King as one path and The Black Panther as the other. It is also symbolized by the speeches and path of an angry Nation of Islam Minister called Malcolm X and the path suggested by a more mature, Al Hajj Malik Shabbaz.

History bears witness that despite some flirtations with the path of violence, African Americans have largely chosen the path of passive resistance.

And today, a man whose father was as black as the blackest slave ever traded and dehumanized in America, is counting days to assume the highest office in this land. And he was voted there by the children and grand-children of those who once oppressed.

As I look back at the history of Muslims and African-Americans, I think we see two nations acutely aware of the oppression, subjugation and dehumanization and two nations that have taken two radically different paths to addressing it. I think it is as clear as daylight which strategy has failed and which strategy has worked.

The perversion of Islam to convince Muslims that their faith allows for random acts of violence is one of the biggest tricks the devil may have pulled in a long time.

One last point: There is a management principle that if you do more of the same, you get more of the same. Is 250 years plenty proof of a failed strategy? Do we want another 250 before we open our eyes and realize this isn't a bad dream, it's real? It is not too late yet. We need to categorically abandon terrorism as a mode of fighting against anyone we consider an adversary and adopt the path of our Prophet (pbuh): get your own house in order, stand firmly against oppression, but don't resort to acts of violence. Our African-American neighbors did and look where God is taking them. Allahumma Salli 'Ala Sayyidina Muhammad...


Naeem: said...


You speak as if there has existed a unified strategy by the entire Ummah of partaking in terror for the past 250 years?

Yeah, *that's* real accurate.

And although it is definitely a landmark occasion that a black man was voted as President, it's also important to remember that the oppression suffered by the African American is far from over.

Speaking of the good Dr. King, Zaid Shakir himself recently wrote about how King's stance near the end of his life had shifted from a pure passive resistance to a more aggressive tone where he called out the injustices of the American elitist system that ran a three-headed monster of militarism, racism, and materialism.

I've said many times before on my blog, real change can never come from within. Our prophet (saw) was proof of that...

ThinkingMuslim said...

Salams Naeem. Your point on whether there was a unified strategy...obviously this has unfolded over centuries, and a vast countless movements have arisen. Terror, however, has become the signature and defining approach of this nation esp. over the last few decades.

I don't think you, Dr. Shakir or anyone is implying Dr. King was about to start preaching terrorism. If we agree on this much, I think my point holds.

Real change from within: Not sure what the connection of this point was to anything in the post.