Politics and American Muslims

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: George W. Bush, Politician Channel: Opinion Views: 4716

The American Muslim community has yet to develop a focus or strategy that will help it gain a voice within the American political system. 9/11 and a rapidly changing America has created an enormous challenge for which the community is not prepared. Its institutions are in disarray; its leadership is uninformed and most of the community comprising of immigrants is culture bound and confused. As presidential elections approach, the community once again faces the question: which candidate to vote for? In the last presidential elections, the American Muslim leadership and major Muslim organizations - much to the annoyance of the Afro-America Muslim community - urged their community to vote for President Bush.

A recent poll conducted by CAIR, a Muslim watchdog group, indicates that Senator John Kerry is the preferred choice this time. He seems to have the endorsement of most major American Muslim organizations and individuals.

Most American Muslims, specially the immigrants among them who constitute a majority of the 6-7 million Muslims in this country, view the entire political spectrum through the prism of the Middle East conflict. Candidate Bush was favored during last elections because he did not return checks from the Arab American supporters and gave lip service to the Palestinians in one of the pre-election statements. The Democrat candidate kept clear of Arab-Americans and American Muslims.

It is interesting that even though Senator John Kerry's position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is similar to that of the present administration, American Muslims prefer John Kerry. An explanation could be that the present administration's involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, besides the Palestinian issue, must weigh heavily against Republicans. The American Muslim community's inclination to go for John Kerry illustrates the reactive, polarized state that forms the basis of American Muslim decisions. It also reflects the state of confusion in the community caused by a failure in the development of leadership and institutions which are not able to see beyond the events of the Middle East. The problems that America and the global community face in a post 9/11 world have neither been analyzed outside the perspective of the Middle East, nor are they understood properly at the institutional level.

The processes of building strong institutions that could serve the greater interest of the community besides contributing to the benefit of the society at large remain unattended. These processes are not within the realm of experience of most of the American Muslim leadership; consequently the formulation and framing of ideas and discourse remains fragmented, rudimentary, and reactive.

In the broad perspective of what is good for American Muslims, America and the world, American Muslims may be right in voting against President Bush. However, they must spell out what they stand for and make what they stand for the basis of their decisions, not what they are against. 

In the wake of the Patriot act and other initiatives of the present administration that are insidiously and steadily encroaching on the civil liberties of all Americans including themselves, it should not be difficult for American Muslims to recognize that four more years of Bush will change the delicate balance within the Supreme Court. If there is any reason to vote for the democratic candidate, this must surely be the one. It is time that American Muslims direct their efforts toward processes of analysis, consensus building, and working for common cause instead of just reacting.


Dr. Nazir Khaja is a Pakistani American. He is Chairman of Islamic Information Service that produces weekly Islamic programs for television. He practices and teaches Medicine. He is also active in inter-faith dialogues and activities related to Peace, Justice and Mutual Tolerance.

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  28 Comments   Comment

  1. Yahya Bergum from USA

    I invite President George W. Bush to publicly declare that Prophet Muhammad (peace be with him) is God's messenger. At the present time if this is too much then perhaps his assertion that Islam is a well-founded religion might regain for him some portion of the Muslim vote. If that is still too much at the present time then - while the hour for timidity would appear to be getting late - perhaps his encouraging Christian Evangelists to practice a bit more self-restraint, before slandering what Muslims hold dear to them, might yet be of benefit.


  2. AAAhmed from UK

    Amazing the number of republican shills trying to tell the Muslim community that voting for a party composed largely of backward minded fanatics and terrorism supporters is for our good.

    Dont waste your votes on either Bush or his lite version Kerry, either vote Nader or dont vote at all.

  3. gault199 from USA

    Although I am not islamic or christian I think you should always vote your principles. You must know that Kerry stands against many of them. He supports gay marriage, he supports abortion etc. Does Geroge Bush always do what I think is right, no. But you have to look at the whole of what a person stands for not just one instance. Our government is a represntative, not a democracy you vote to elect the person whom you will make the best decisions for the country, knowing at the outset he will not always do what you think is appropriate.

  4. marvin from United States

    This article represents the classic mis-use of the religious pulpit. The simple truth is missing from it.

    The reason Muslims generally supported Pres. Bush in 2000 is his stance on conservative values, much more like a Muslim's view, and the reason that Muslims do not today, is that rather than thinking of Liberty and the values they hold dear, they are thinking of blood and nationality. They believe the press and it's view of the War on Terrorism or more rightly, the War Against Islamo Fascist.

    Blood and nationality work against Liberty and for the same social structures supported by Communism and Socialist earlier in our history.

    Libertarian or Republican votes may not be exactly to a Muslim's needs, but are closer than a Democratic vote will ever be.

  5. Zaheeruddin Ahmed from USA/Pakistan

    It has been almost decided that casting the vote for either candidate would be an attempt towards choosing the lesser evil.

    The American Muslim community should be united again this time like the last presidential elections. In addition, the Muslim leadership must do a better homework this time by making clear agreements with the candidate they decide to support. While 6-7 million is merely 3% of the entire voting population, it is in fact, a significant enough percentage to shift the outcome of any election. This 3% voters certainly contributed towards the outcome of the last presidential elections as close as it was. The failure was probably in making clear agreements with Mr. Bush and the Republicans and holding them to it afterwards.

    The Muslim leadership must demonstrate their voting potential to each candidate and sell their ability to effect the outcome and utilize it to make favorable agreements.

  6. H.A. from Yathrib

    American Muslims need not worry about voting. The American Christians and atheists will vote Daddy's "HOPE BOY", Bush jr., out of office this coming November.

    I would suggest that American Muslims start running for political offices. It is crucial to neutralize or check the zionists' agendas in the racist-filled American gov't, which is presently a theocratic and not a democratic gov't.

    Very sad.

  7. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Here is a thought and may peace be upon you. Why not perhaps vie with one another politically (if Allah so wills) as long as our goal is towards Allah? A limit in this would seem to be that we should work for the well being of our competitors - as well as for that of our team-members.

    Also, I agree that voting for Nader when you would have otherwise voted for Kerry is effectively like voting for Bush. Back when I called myself Christian, I voted for Perot in '92 (and never forgot that effectively I had voted for Clinton).

    On the other hand, if the "Muslim vote" assured public funding for the Green Party then my guess would be that Nader (and the ACLU) would be very unlikely to forget it. He is after all a politician.

  8. DMac from USA

    Give me a break, voting for either republicans or democrats is waste, they're both different wings of the same corporate party. Only an idiot would vote for Bush, and a bigger idiot would believe voting for a closet neocon like Kerry would make things better.

    I'm voting for Nader, and dont waste my time with this stupid conspiracy theory that voting for Nader means helping Bush. A country of 290 million needs 3rd, 4th and 5th party candidates especially since the 2 main political parties have been sold to special interests.

    Muslims are going be the losers if they vote for either Bush or Kerry, makes you wonder what kind of country this is when the best it can do is offer 2 crooks for leadership.

  9. Abubeker Osman

    I agree with over all idea of voting in blocks after looking at what each candidate put on the table, however, the problem with Muslims in America is the immigrant think this country is off limit in terms of careful politics and rather associate with close tribal or nationalistic base that cause the suspicion of other Americans that are already brainwashed by the media. There is no understanding of intra Muslim dialogue between different nationalities of immigrants and American born Muslims which caused a rift between them. We are poor, divided, unorganized, uncommitted and react spontaneously with each candidate without strong foundation. There are some strong Islamic leaders who are developing peoples consciousness, promote a dialogue between faiths and more (an example is being is Islamic Center of Southern California) and there are many weak ones like in Seattle where you can't find undivided community (things might have been changed since 1994) there is no excuse or blame on one group another; we are just failed and saw the result specially after September 11, 2001 attack. Muslims were deported without due processes abused and mistreated and sent overseas for torture and the house of Allah attacked... because we refused to organize and refused to learn from history unorganized people are exposed to these kinds of attacks.

  10. mohammad qasem from usa

    No Muslim should waste his/her vote on Nader. The Nader's vote is a vote for Bush and the gang. All the steam and money and publicity that Nader is getting, is from right wing republicans who want to divert votes away from Kerry. They have learned from Clinton Bush I and Pero votes in 92.

    Do not fall on the green my brothers/sisters, let Bush fall of the stage and send him back to his cows in TX. We need Kerry for 8 years, Edwards for 8 More and may be Hillary for 8 two to wipe out the dirt of all the conservative. I want no 10 commandments, no conservative judges, no biblical scholars in the white house. I want no AM conservative talk shows. Put Dick in the back, GW in the front and Rush them to the Hell of retirement.

  11. mike from USA

    Tp Abdulla,

    .., and you are all but Abdulla, you are a Christian Fanatic ...

    A simple comparision of Republicans Vs. Democrats respectively:

    Republican - anti abortion

    Islam Does not oppose abortion. Islam does not allow sexual relationships beyond marriage. If a married couple decide to abort the fetus before 120 days, that is OK.

    Democrat - pro abortion

    Republican - individucal responsible for their own actions

    Democrat - The State is responsible for an individuals actions

    Islam urges feeding the poor.

    Republicans - against homosexual marriage

    Democrats - pro homosexual marriage

    Islam holds every one responsible for his/her own actions. If a man wants to marry a man, Allah will judge them accordingly

    Republicans - pro death penalty

    Democrats - Against Death penalty

    Republicans - Against legalization of drugs

    Democrats - Pro legalization of drugs

    Republicans - for faith based initiatives

    Democrates - against faith based initiatives

    Republicans - for freeing oppressed individuals. Action NOT talk

    Democrats - for freeing oppressed individuals. Talk NOT action.

    Republicans are like Abu Jahl

    It should be obvious anyone who believes in the Abrahamic faiths could not vote for a Democrat.

  12. Ahmed Asgher from Bahrain

    To Brother A. Jaleel Mohammad.

    You, brother, live in America, by choice I hope. In such a society, how can you dictate your terms upon them and expect them to follow your version of Shariah. Who defines Shariah is?

    Forgive me for saying this but I truly want to discuss this with you and others, without any reference to what Allah wants. As human beings we are in no position to really make a decision on what Allah wants. All we can do is to look inwardly and pray that our deeds meet Allah's acceptance. There is a lot of guidance for us to ensure we do no fall in the traps of the 'misguided" nor the "accursed", as Surat Alfateha tells us.

    My thinking, like I said before, Muslims must gather their strengths, unite first to speak with one voice. "Hold on to the rope of God and be not divided". Then assuredly Allah will come to your aid, but first you must 'act' and action to me means solidarity, as we all know following Kerry is like following Bush.

    Step A: vote for someone like Nader, then ensure that in years to come you as American Muslims have formed a strong party based on UNIVERSAL JUSTICE, for Allah loves justice and HE is JUST.

    This way you will attract more than Muslims. Other American who yearn for justice will join you but preaching unidetnfied rules of Shariah will make them run away from you, given how some Muslim countries apply shariah. They will never want to be like feudal societies of some Muslim countries and to be frank, I do not want that for my children either.

    Be a light unto other nations by being clean and virtuous. "kuntum khair ummaten ukhrijat illanaas". Let your leaders be the best from amongst you who uphold justice, side with right and denounce wrong, but never fail to be human for compassion is above law.

    You have a golden opportunity to show us what Islam is all about and let our self-serving leaders and governments bow out from under your shadow. America is the only super-power. "Be the power for good

  13. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Peace be unto you. I like the suggestion submitted by Mike. That sort of an organization could perhaps attempt to present a hopefully Muslim course of action for resolving serious problems faced by their nation. For example if their nation seemed committed to invading some other nation then perhaps the organization could attempt to identify any potential justification for such a severe act of aggression. If such aggression was potentially justified then the group could perhaps attempt to present their nation with a description - insha'Allah (God willing) - of how the rightly guided would handle the operation in question from start to finish. The hope here would be that even if the nation seems compelled to take actions we do not like then why not at least consider trying to encourage the nation to act as rightly as Allah (i.e., God) permits?

    Also, on a decidedly political note, if President Bush granted a full pardon to an ex-convict who had discovered Islam while in prison and gone on to become a very upstanding member of their community would Muslim Americans seem likely to vote for either one of them? Part of the thinking here would be that if the Muslim woman or man can only rent a voice in their government then perhaps it might nevertheless be an improvement if the voice were to speak for the Muslim before getting paid. Of course, even such a politically-motivated gesture might somehow be perceived as a promising sign regarding the president in question.

    Here is another thought. Excluding the wisdom of the people might seem likely to result in unwise leadership. Putting it another way, if you advise the Muslim to avoid guiding non-Muslim neighbors because doing so might interfere with your own leader's designs then your advice might seem to be decidedly political. (Insha'Allah the Muslim will avoid being vainglorious - jazak allahu khair.) Wassalam.

  14. Musa Abd Al Rashid from USA

    As an indigenous Muslim I am aware of the weight my opinion has in the inmigrant community. Nevertheless I feel an obligation to comment when I see my brothers in the din so far removed from reality. To suggest that there is a discernable difference between George Bush and John Kerry on any subject of interest to Muslims is ludicrous.

    The learned Dr. refuses to inspect the absurdity of attempting to distingiush between Bush the Jew lover and Kerry the Jew on the subject of the murders in the "Middle East" So he raises the red herring of Supreme COurt appointments. The argument would carry more weight if he could name a single jurist on any Court appointed by any president who has rendered any opinion that could be considered as remotely favorable to Islam. Sometimes I long for the simple days of Gunga Din.

    hank you for reading this comment.

    Peace to all who follow guidance


  15. mohammad qasem from usa

    The majority of muslims, unfortunately, are voting based on how do candidates look at our strugle back home. The general american policy on those issues is locked up by the stronger jewish and right wingers nvote. We can't evaluate Kerry or Bush based on their proposals for palestine, kashmire, or iraq. There is no difference at all on those issues. We have to look at our conditions here, is my child going to be forced to read the bible, take hejab off, or salute the flag forcefully? Am I going to be descriminated against because I take 2 hours on friday off and do not celebrate sunday or the christmas holiday?

    Bush and his extremist right wingers will push us in that corner for sure. I do not want to receive my morals from public school, I don't want my son or daughter to be taught that christ way is the only way of salvation. I want them to learn ethics and moral from their family and community and to follow the religion of their choice. Not the religion of GW, not the gods of ashkroft and rumsfield. kapeesh?

  16. Saima Khalil from USA

    Reactive. That is precise term to describe Muslims living in America. The author does a good job of pointing to the serious deficiencies within the Muslim communities. I think it is important as Muslims that we seek to EDUCATE ourselves. If Muslims do not this, we will be the ones facing serious losses.....some families have already experienced this. The most we have in this country is the right to voice our opinion...we should use that to our advantage. All politicians are the same. Don't think that Kerry is any better than Bush. We should not be give in to "lip-ervice" rather we should we should be proactive.

  17. jalil Mohammad from United Snakes of Amerikkka

    Allah (swt) says: "...and he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them" (5:51). Remember, this system of the west is the gun and your votes are the bullets used to kill the innocent muslims of the world.

  18. Abdullah from USA

    No honest Muslim brother could vote for John Kerry. He more anti Islam than anyother candidate out there. No honest Muslim could vote for any candidate than a Republican. Republicans share Muslim values, in part, because they are based on Judeo-Christian ethics. A simple comparision of Republicans Vs. Democrats respectively:

    Republican - anti abortion

    Democrat - pro abortion

    Republican - individucal responsible for their own actions

    Democrat - The State is responsible for an individuals actions

    Republicans - against homosexual marriage

    Democrats - pro homosexual marriage

    Republicans - pro death penalty

    Democrats - Against Death penalty

    Republicans - Against legalization of drugs

    Democrats - Pro legalization of drugs

    Republicans - for faith based initiatives

    Democrates - against faith based initiatives

    Republicans - for freeing oppressed individuals. Action NOT talk

    Democrats - for freeing oppressed individuals. Talk NOT action.

    It should be obvious anyone who believes in the Abrahamic faiths could not vote for a Democrat.

  19. Abdul-Jaleel Mohammad from United Snakes of Amerikkka

    Some organizations sadly think that by voting for these corrupt politicians for things like a street sign, a traffic light, the right to wear a beard or a hijab that they're actually part of this system. But if you think about it, are you supposed to be voting in this non- islamic corrupt satanic government? A system made for the servitude of man to man, not Allah(God). A system run by thieves, sodomites, racist, drug-dealers, and those who indulge in mass destruction against humanity and nature. In fact it is against Islam and everything Islam stands for. Allah says: "O you who have obtained faith! Take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if

    they love infidelity above faith." Are you going to dispute Allah's words??? The Prophet Muhammad(saw) struggled to uproot all man- made laws and systems in order replace them with Allah's law; Islam. While the US government zealously pursues the establishment of man-made laws. The Muslims are suppose to be uppermost in the land. Islamic law(Shariah) is suppose to govern the world. The Muslims are obligated to speak up against injustice and oppression, not become part of it. The problem is that the Muslims don't want to upset their master (the west). They don't want to be the odd man out. The Prophets(as) were not like this. They were always anti-status quo. When you speak the truth they're only going to become more upset. That means that we have to stand up for justice in every sphere of life. "...And speak the word of truth even if it be against

    yourself. It also says: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, Nor acknowledge the religion of truth..."(9:29). Do these people share our beliefs and should we should vote for the people we were ordered to fight? Islam is based on guidance from Allah(swt) to conduct all the affairs of the people.

  20. Ahmed Asgher from Bahrain

    The writer implores Muslims in America to:

    "make what they stand for the basis of their decisions, not what they are against."

    But this has been the hallmark of democracy in almost all Western countries. They always vote a bad government out instead of voting a good one in. it is because there are no good alternatives.

    Politicians are in it for personal gains. Forget about the rehtorics. They seldom serve the people. they always serve the paymasters. America has the best democracy money can buy. The same goes for their legal system.

    The ADL, AIPAC and the many other Jewish and Zionist lobbyists control American government. there will never be a president who does not suck up to the Israeli Likudniks. they will never make it if they are pro-Palestine!

    The best American Muslims can do is to embark on forming a solid political party based on universal justice for all, with Islam being the core value. There is no conflict between Islam and universal justice. They are one.

    Those who form such party must be clean, honest and give their lives to serve others. They must not have any personal interest but only to serve God and His creatures, ALL of His creatures, not only Arabs or Muslims, because if they did then they are no different than the ADL's and the AIPAC's, a purely self-serving lot who do not give a toss in ruining lives to get to their aim.

    This is your chance to make the rest of Islamic countries take notice of your power in America. "A power for good". In fact this could be your slogan! Lead by example and do not be followers - Kerry is just as bad as Bush. The only seemingly good thing about voting for Kerry is to get rid of Bush. But rest assured he has already cosied up to the same Zionist lobbyists and has vowed to even do more for the state of Israel.

    The way I see it, you do not have much choice. thus you should prepare for the future years. forget about this one. the game is already set.

    let peace rein.

  21. Adam Ibrahim Muhammad from Nigeria

    Bush says, well no need to even mention that but we all by now know his intentions for the muslim world by now.

    Kerry on the other hand agrees with Bush n foreign policies to a larger extent with only promises to internationalised Iraq and by implication ME perpetual occupation.

    What about Nader? The man promise to pull the US occupying force from Iraq. And possibly from other bases all over the world.

    If you ask me I would rather that American muslims vote for Nader a lesser of the other evils. Even though I was told the American muslims' votes does not matter at all or does it? But at least a message could be sent to the NEOCONS, even if it is 30,50,20 for Bush,Kerry and Nader in that order. Just a thought though, still the best alternative remains doing away with "DemoCrazy".

  22. Mike from USA

    What we need is a Muslim political party that practices Islam and derives its views from Qur'an and Sunnah. Many Americans who are not Muslim are fed up with both Democrats and Republicans, they want to see an honest player. Let us set up a political system that is deciplined with good people, not like the ones we see leading the Islamic centers across the US and the result will be a better life for all.

    May Allah Bless the Good.

  23. abdul from usa

    Whether it is Kerry(D) or Bush(R), the basic agenda, principles and policies will remain same for muslims and muslim world. Because they are dictated and influenced by israel and radical christians.

    ALLAH(GOD)is great.

  24. ali abu umar from usa

    assalaamu alaykum,

    first the muslims in the west and in the whole world need to realize that democracy has

    failed,just as communism failed mankind. Why,because it is man-made. Why do you think that the voting turn-out in the west is so low,because even the people living under this sick system see it crumbling.But, the sad thing is that the people have no other system to turn to for solutions. This is where islam comes in. It is heart breaking to see muslims calling for the very system that has taken mankind into darkness. Are we so blind to see this?

    Have we given up on islam that when we read the quran we can not see what it is telling us. That this deen of ours is the only hope for mankind.

    Anything else will and has failed mankind. We need to work in the same fashion as our Prophet did. To establish this deen to bring real justice,real peace,and real security not just to the muslim people but all of humanity.

    Why are we trying to give mankind the same poison(democracy or anything other than islam) that has brought him to the state he is in now. If you think the west is on some high level you are sadly mistaken. remember quraysh was considered the noblest of the arab tribes,but Allah said they were in deep ignorance(jahl) and their nobles like abu jahl and abu lab were cursed in the quran even though the arabs thought of them on a high level. It was islam that saved mankind back then and it will be islam to save mankind again. This is not to say trying to get mankind to become muslims, that is only with Allah who changes hearts,but to make mankind truly equal in the eyes of the law,to satify man's basic needs,not be homeless,or hungry. islam is the only system that can revive mankind and only system we as muslims to strive to implent.

  25. mohammad qasem from usa

    I am so mad about those who favors any right wing conservative republican. If you look at who votes for Bush and his like, they are KKK, rednicks, extreme crossaders. Why should I vote for a person who would vote in a blink for the bible to be part of public schools, to deny any woman the right to choose, to re instate slavery if he could. I want to vote for the most liberal democrat, for gun control, for drugs legalization, for God not to be even mentioned in school because it will not be mine, it will be Jack Ass Kraft god. Ther is no need for any person who is in the morning with Billy Graham, with Jerry Fallwell in the afternoon and with Pat robertson in the dinner time. Satan is a better chise for me, and should be for all Muslims too.

  26. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Rather than simply renting a voice perhaps the Muslim should strive at employing their own. If what the Muslim has to say makes sense to the majority of Americans then surely Allah would have willed it to be so.

    In the meantime if you think it is impossible to purchase an Arab then try purchasing an American politician. I would imagine you might discover that they speak for their own (at least before speaking for others). Perhaps it is similar with an Arab. I bid you peace.

  27. Abdulghaffar Muhammad Aliyu from nigeria

    Assalamu Alaikum.

    Time will tell!

    America looks like another Macca to me.

    One day the plant will grow into a big tree. My joy is that the seed of Islam has been planted in America and it is growing, one day Insha Allah the world will come to know that Islam does not preach violence and Muslims (muminin) are not terrorists.


  28. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Dr. Khaja, it's a noble message, but seriously get real! You say:

    "The American Muslim community's inclination to go for John Kerry illustrates the reactive, polarized state that forms the basis of American Muslim decisions. It also reflects the state of confusion in the community caused by a failure in the development of leadership and institutions which are not able to see beyond the events of the Middle East."

    How can you just say something like this without providing some detailed, accurate reasons to back up your claims? It seems as if all you're doing is playing the blame game just like those phony experts on "orientalism and Islam" that come on CNN. Seriously, you provide no real proof that the majority of Muslims in the USA are being reactionary, when in fact I can personally say you're wrong. Do you not think that the foreign policy actions of the Bush Administration play a MAJOR role in the voting decision of millions of non-Muslim anti-war rallying Americans? While it is a half truth to say that Muslim institutions are not the best in the USA yet, can this be said anywhere in the world? I think you need a positive solution to this problem instead of just passing the buck around that way.

    Muslims in the USA are highly intelligent people, and are among the most law-abiding citizens in the USA, according to the govt., but unfortanately they also are among those of the the lowest voter percentage turnout.

    Finally, how many non-muslim Americans were reactionary when they voted Bush into office last term? And didn't Muslims vote for Bush last election because he "reached out" to them, while I think they should have considered his family's history in waging war in the middle east?

    All that American Muslims of various ethnicities need to do, is to be positive and work with each other first, and learn to listen to where the other is comign from. That's how you start building institutions Dr. Khaja, not by throwing demands.