Being a Muslim today - in the middle of America's 'war against global terrorism' - carries some new hazards. But it is not without its bright side for a few Muslims who are eager to profit from this war.
Muslims need little tutoring in the hazards they now face. Many tens of thousands are already dead in wars imposed by the United States - on Iraq and Afghanistan. The death toll is expected to climb, perhaps steeply, as these wars are carried to Iran, Syria or Pakistan. Iranians also face the prospect - perhaps, imminent - of incineration in nuclear strikes.
Death or dislocation in wars are not the only hazards that confront Muslims. In principle, any Muslim can also become the object of 'extraordinary renditions.' No matter where they happen to be, they could be kidnapped by the CIA, hooded, and transported to secret offshore US prisons, or delivered into the hands of US-friendly regimes with expertise in the fine arts of interrogation. No one knows how many Muslims have suffered this cruel fate - or how many of them are still alive.
By comparison, Muslims who are captured or bought, and imprisoned in Guantanamo as 'enemy combatants,' are lucky. After facing down several legal challenges to these detentions, the US now brings these prisoners before military review boards. Although many of them have been cleared of any terrorist connections, it is quite touching that the US is now refusing to release them - it says - because they could be tortured by their own governments. The prisoners can now thank the US for offering sanctuary.
In fairness, America's 'war against global terrorism' has also created a few hard-to-resist opportunities. The chief beneficiaries of the new US posture are the Muslim rulers eager to get the US more firmly behind the wars they have been waging against their own people. They are happy to torture Muslims 'rendered' to them by the CIA, and, periodically, they capture their own 'terrorists' and put them on flights to Guantanamo.
The 'war against global terrorism' is also a war of ideas. In order to defeat the 'terrorists' the US must win the hearts and minds of Muslims. This is where Muslims can help. The US needs a few 'good' Muslims to persuade the 'bad' ones to reform their religion, to learn to appreciate the inestimable benefits of Pax America and Pax Israelica.
In the heyday of the old colonialism, the white man did not need any help from the natives in putting down their religion and culture. Indeed, he preferred to do it himself. Then, the opinion of the natives carried little weight with the whites anyway. So why bother to recruit them to denounce their own people. As a result, Orientalists wrote countless tomes denigrating the cultures of the lesser breeds.
Today the West needs help in putting down the uppity natives - especially the Muslims. One reason for this is that with the death of the old colonialism, some natives have begun to talk for themselves. A few are even talking back at the Orientalists raising all sorts of uncomfortable questions. This hasn't been good: and something had to be done about it. In the 1970s the West began to patronize 'natives' who were deft at putting down their own people. Was the West losing its confidence?
The demand for 'native' Orientalists was strong. The pay for such turncoats was good too. Soon a whole crop of native Orientalists arrived on the scene. Perhaps, the most distinguished members of this coterie include Nirad Chaudhuri, V. S. Naipaul, Fouad Ajami and Salman Rushdi. They are some of the best loved natives in the West.
Then there came the 'war against global terrorism' creating an instant boom in the market for Orientalists of Muslim vintage. The West now demanded Muslims who would diagnose their own problems as the West wanted to see them - as the unavoidable failings of their religion and culture. The West now demanded Muslims who would range themselves against their own people - who would denounce the just struggles of their own people as moral aberrations, as symptoms of a sick society.
So far these boom conditions have not evoked a copious supply of Muslim Orientalists. Irshad Manji has made herself the most visible native Orientalist by cravenly playing to Western and Zionist demands for demonizing Muslims and Palestinians. I can think of a few others, but they have little to recommend themselves other than their mediocrity. This must be a bit disappointing for those who had pinned their hopes on using Muslim defectors to win the battle for Muslim hearts and minds.
There are some indications that this disappointment is turning to desperation. On March 11 the New York Times published a front page story on Dr. Wafa Sultan, "a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims." Deep anger and despair at fellow Muslims? Are these the new qualifications for Muslims to gain visibility in America's most prestigious newspaper?
If the only Muslims that the United States can recruit in its battle for ideas are at best mediocrities or worse - nobodies - what chance is there that it can win the battle for Muslim hearts and minds? The short answer is: very little. Muslims are not helpless children. You cannot molest them and then expect to mollify them with trifles and protestations of pure intentions. That may have worked for a while. It will not work for ever.
Muslims are too large and too dense a mass to be moved by wars. Military might could not break the spirit of Palestinians, Afghans, Bosnians, Chechens, Lebanese, Moros and Iraqis. What chance is there that wars will be more effective if applied against larger masses of Muslims?
The United States cannot expect to change Muslims unless it first thinks seriously about changing its policies towards Muslims. Americans must stop deluding themselves. Muslims do not hate their freedom: they only want that freedom for themselves. The United States and Israel seek to build their power over a mass of prostrate Muslim bodies. Stop doing that and then you will have a chance to win Muslim hearts and minds.
M. Shahid Alam is professor economics at a university in Boston. He may be reached at [email protected].
Yes the west is guilty of countless atrocities not just against the muslim but anyone who has anything of value, aqnd even those who dont. The native americans, countless african countries, asia, austrailia, middle east...is there a country left where they havent stuck they're blood thirsty noses into?
The fact that the greedy rich can send others children over to places like Iraq to fill their pockets sickens me, even though i hate what the US does, i feel sorry for those who give up their lives because they couldnt find a decent job back home...thats a FACT mark...how many of their dead came from powerful families? any sons of senators out there driving tanks....didnt think so.
But this is what we should expect, what makes my blood boil is the puppet scum so called muslim rulers who torture prisioners on behalf of the US. They should be the first to be hung, drawn and quartered. Shame on the Saudis, Kuwaitis and all the others....these are you brothers being butchered and sit in luxury with a glass of single malt.
I pray the people of the west see what is really happening and why....time to see how democracy really works or is it just a facade? I pray the muslims can take back our countries so we can live how we should...which includes the right to raise our concerns and have something done without the fear of losing our fingers nails and more...thats a fact too mark ;-)
Alhamdulillah! This article was very well written, quite informative, and articulates my exact views regarding the state of the Ummah. May Allah subhana wa ta'ala continue to strenghthen us to speak truth to power without ceasing.
Wa Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
Assalam Alaikum all.
This article is a total waste of time & space. The lamentations of a bitter man about the state of things in the world, that GOD has allowed to unfold. What we should be doing is asking, "why" has he allowed this reality to unfold.
I am weary ( tired ) of muslims (lower case) complaining about the U.S.A.. Everyone of us humans, much less so Powerful nations are guilty of transgressions at some time or another.
Yes the U.S.A. foreign policy makers at times overstep the bounds of what is reasonable. Bit on the "Day of Judgement", people will accuse Satan of making them do wrong, when all he did was "suggest or tempt". Please by all means criticise evil where it exists. More importantly loof at the sickness of the "uma" especially our own clergy, The "shaiks".
Lastly to the brother that wrote the article,
"WHICH COUNTRY DO YOU LIVE IN". Is it the U.S.A or some similar country where you get to have a vote And the right to express yourself as you have done so , on this American based site.
The problem lies in the inability of Moslem nations to take care of themselves and by their sociological failures being blatantly and embarassingly exposed to world viewing.
After all it is the Moslems' choice to deal or not with any Western nations. Of course, to do that, one must be self-sufficient.
If the Moslems think they are mistreated by Western Nations wait until the Far East takes hold of them.
Today, Musyriqins are using, bribing, paying, coaxing and threatening the Munafiqs of the Muslim ummah to capture and kill the Mukmins. In the eyes of Allah s.w.t, there is no such thing as moderates, fundamentalist, militant, conservative or fanatics. Those are Musyriqin-coined terms. In the eyes of Allah s.w.t, humans are clearly divided into Musyriqin, Munafiqin, Muslimin and Mukminin. Humans are either one of the four! In the Quran, there are surahs describing the traits of Musyriqin ( surah al-Kafirun), Munafiqun ( surah al-Munafiqun) and Mukminin ( surah al-Mukminun). Muslims? Muslim was mentioned only eight times thus reflecting it's unimportance in the eyes of Allah s.w.t? Also, the promises of Allah s.w.t such as success in dunia and akhirat, peace and entrance to Paradise are directed to/for the Mukmins. There is no ayat promising anything to Muslims.
So, I hope and urge, Munafiqs and Muslims to stop addressing the problems of the Muslims ( provide solutions please)and try to please the West. What we need is to please Allah s.w.t by bringing the kalimah lailah hailallah to the West ( and all human beings) and stop the Musyriqins. For the Muslims, the negotiating mode is over. Jihad has become mandatory but as usual you would never hear the word Jihad from Muslims and defineitely, not from the Munafiqs.
America loves the Munafiqs of the Muslim ummah. For Muslims to be effective ( harness the powers of Allah), they just need to do dakwah ilallah and from that, Allah s.w.t will enhance their faith i.e from Muslims upgraded to Mukmins. Only when a Muslim becomes a Mukmin will they begin to see with their "hearts", not their "mind", like Mr Shahid Alam.
Muslims were successful during the times of the Sahabahs because there were all Muk
No further explanation necessary except request for continuing to provide us with his opinions on the many other issues of the day
I think the problem is, the US is not 'seriously' interested in winning hearts & minds of the muslims. They only come up with eye washes. Basically these are trigger happy people. Their basic & only policy is 'you gotta do, what you gotta do'.
One of the common human failing is lying...but I have not seen or history will not be able to show a 'lying nation' like the US. This nation lies about everything and anything. The art is taught in their school & college classrooms. Double standard is the order of their life. Every day when these people wake up in the morning, they begin their day with lies, double standard, and finest hipocrasy.
Big talks of US democray is a huge baloney. They only spread moral corruption under the umbrella of democracy & freedom.
The US is now in a self destruction mode. There will be a time, when it will be too late for them to abort the self destruction mode. They & their friends in Israel can kill the muslims with their might killing machines, but they will not be able to silence the muslims of the streets, never insha-allah.
I totally agree with Mr Alam, muslims wants and deserves the freedom to live in peace as everyone else.
I hope more Muslims are given this ability to defend our culture, views, and religion with the might of the pen and power of persuasion instead of using the power of might.
God Bless Mr. Alam,
After the fall of communism their madness turn to Islam (not even muslims) thinking they can extinguished the light of truth (the eternal truth). But they are deluded in their machinations if only they but new..
Empires are build, they reached their zenith and by the time they transgressed they crumbled. Quran has told the story and history has confirmed this time without number. And by design we are witnessing one of that phenomenum unfolding insha-Allah.
I enjoyed reading this article. thank you
one of the brainwashing Idea in America is: some people believe moslems in America can influence the moslems who are living daily under attack.