Muslim Americans Must Be Vocal
We are told that there are 7 million Muslims in America, yet only 2 percent are active in their communities. That's only 140,000 Muslims who contribute either their time, money or resources to advancing the concerns of Muslims both here and abroad. We are told that there are 30 million Muslims in Europe and 1.3 billion worldwide. We even have an organization, the Organization of Islamic Conferences.
In spite of our sheer power in numbers, we remain silent and hidden. What are we afraid of? What will it take for American Muslims to come out of their cowardly shell and speak out for peace, justice, enjoining the good and preventing evil, as our Holy Book commands us to do?
Our absence, like the absence of the American voter, has left a power vacuum in Washington.
For some unspeakable reason, we have the courage to curse and demean each other on the internet sites and chat rooms but are too cowardly to speak in public on behalf of Islam and for each other. The Prophet (pbuh) taught us that we are one ummah, one body; if one part hurts, the rest of the body comes to the aid of the ailing part.
What has corrupted our faith? Have we surrendered our lives to live a low key life not rocking the boat out of fear of losing our lives, our jobs, our peace of mind? Is it that we're uneducated about our faith and history?
I grew up in this country without parents and guidance or a strong faith. I know the temptations. I know the need to assimilate and be accepted in this culture by friends. I especially know the pressures upon our young Muslim sisters and their concern for marriage. It's a difficult existence and not an easy situation to handle. But what the Muslim world has been facing from U.S. and the potential for a widespread war on several Muslim nations is a matter of life and death for thousands, if not more. Our silence is not only a sin, but is in a way complicit to potential harm to many innocent Muslims.
As Muslims, we must live up to our patriotic duty as citizens and prevent the murders of innocent people. Every major Muslim cleric and Islamic organization has condemned these attacks as contrary to Islam. We can't be hypocrites condemning Israeli and Indian terrorism and remain silent about this unspeakable act of terror against thousands of American civilians.
As I read the national papers, I hardly see the voices of American Muslims. On the contrary, the many letters defending our faith and the lives of Muslims in Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere come from non-Muslim Americans who speak of their peaceful faith and the need for America to evaluate its domestic and foreign policies.
There will be many excuses; fear of retaliation, the inability to write well, etc. But can any of us truly accept any excuse when we in this country and Muslims abroad are at risk of dying?
Many Muslim activists had the same concerns. But when they did get involved, they became more secure in our communities. Americans by nature are a peaceful people, and they respect people who stand up for their causes and rights. They want to know about other people here and abroad and they are hungry for knowledge. When they become better informed, they usually are in the front lines of causes of peace and justice. In my community, I didn't even know there was an Islamic society. They were, as usual, hidden and silent. In a short time, we became more active, began writing to the media, held and sponsored conferences on Islam and Interfaith Dialogue, and now our community is aware of us and currently has shown a great deal of support to us and our religion.
Let's not be like the leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, whose impotence and corruption has led them to beg America, Europe, and the United Nations to solve their problems. We are in the most democratic nation on earth, a nation that respects our faith and our freedom of speech more than our very own countries. Let's take advantage of our freedoms and teach America about Islam. Let's tell the American public about its nation's foreign policy and how it has oppressed Muslims. Let our people and government know that we vote and pay taxes, and that we won't be ignored anymore, that we'll work to the benefit of America and the Islamic world.
Our absence, like the absence of the American voter, has left a power vacuum in Washington. That has left small, but powerful groups like the Jewish American lobby to dictate and indoctrinate our politicians. Many politicians tell us the same thing--we don't hear from Muslims, we don't know your point of view or even know about your religion.
Please, my Muslim brothers and sisters, raise your voice, pick up your phone and pen and get involved to save humanity. Don't be silent and absent and expect America to take up our cause simply because we feel it's the right cause.
If you remain silent, then don't blame America for bombing and killing Muslims here and abroad. No excuse is accepted. No excuse is logical. No excuse will be accepted by Allah (SWT).
Let's propose to our Muslim organizations that they organize a Million Muslim March on Washington to tell America about our faith and our concerns for our nation and the world. Please contact them and urge them to do so and then please show up.
May Allah (SWT) guide us with courage and wisdom in our internal and external struggle.
Dr. Mohamed Khodr is a physician and Muslim American activist living in the Washington D.C. area.