Want to join the [political] fight against terrorism?

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Current Issues, Political U[niversity] | 0 comments

American organizations dedicated to fighting terrorism tend to bathe in strongly pro-Israeli or anti-Islamic rhetoric. Having had several personal friends who are Muslim, I firmly oppose any effort to marginalize Muslims in American society. The best way for non-Muslims to fight terrorism is to actively support our secular Constitutional form of government, seek friendship and understanding with American Muslims, and to neutralize the impact of terror incidents by following these recommendations from the American Red Cross.
However, it is even more important for American Muslims to promote broader understanding of their faith and political values. We frequently read about the allegedly tepid response by Muslims against terrorism committed in their name, but two American Muslim groups are actively working to change that:

Islamic Society of North America

The mission of ISNA is “to foster the development of the Muslim community, interfaith relations, civic engagement, and better understanding of Islam.” Their primary emphasis is educational – they sponsor numerous conferences around the country focusing on spiritual and family life. The ISNA’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances works to break down misunderstandings, form partnerships of faith and ethics, and advocate for social justice issues.

Free Muslims Coalition

The Free Muslims Coalition focuses on ending the Israel-Palestine conflict. They favor a “one-state” solution which “allows Israelis and Palestinians to pursue a shared future based on a compromise arrangement that give both Israelis and Palestinians most of what they would have if they had separate and independent countries but organized in a manner that allows them to function as a united country to reap the benefits of a union that guarantees permanent peace and prosperity for Jews and Palestinians.” The federation would, in their view, ensure “security, equality and respect for all citizens regardless of religion, gender, race or ethnicity.”
They envision a federation somewhat similar to the United States, in which Israelis and Palestinians would live in separate “states” (in the American sense) with equal representation in the federal parliament. To support this vision, the Coalition has written a detailed program, which even includes a solution to the Jerusalem question. However, they stress that democracy in the Middle East will not be possible until the concept of a secular government is well established.
The American Muslim is a publication established in 1989 by Sheila Musaji to provide an open forum for discussion of ideas and issues of concern to Muslims in America from various points of view, and to support interfaith dialogue on divisive issues. It includes numerous articles rejecting the notion that terrorism is consistent with Islamic teaching.

Why political involvement is in the interest of the American Muslim community

Since I have no standing to give an opinion, I will defer to one of the ummah, Mohammed Khaku of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who wrote a letter to the editor of Lehigh Valley Live. He is concerned that

There is no political activism encouraging U.S. Muslims to exercise their right to vote. I do not believe Muslims should turn mosques into forums for political campaign, but to be active in registration drives and invite local candidates to open forums at Islamic centers.

He warns that the consequences could be dire if Muslims do not speak out in the political arena:

Since the war on terror began, counter-terrorism policies initiated by President Bush and Islamophobia created by the right wing media has pushed Muslims and immigrants into disenfranchisement and resistance to taking part in politics.

If Muslims choose to disengage, they risk being misrepresented or defined by others. American Muslims must come out of hibernation to have their voices heard and opinions known. They must register to vote, either with a party or as independents. They should communicate with their federal and state representatives, mayors, governors and other elected officials.

Mr. Khaku also makes this observation: “Islamic law says laws should be enacted for the betterment of humanity, for the deterrence of evil and attainment of good.” Politics is a messy process. Sometimes it is hard to discern good and evil in the minutia of budget bills and laws dealing with white-collar crime.

The struggle against evil is eternal, and requires the best talents of all of us. Those who are called to enter this fight through the political arena should not be afraid, but engage themselves with enthusiasm. (Enthusiasm comes from a Greek word meaning “God within.”)

Give us your comments!

Comments, as always, are welcome. If you know any other groups promoting interfaith understanding with the Islamic community, please bring them to my attention.

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