Fail to prepare, Prepare to fail

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Views: 4724

The ineffectiveness of Muslim Americans

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail, says a popular proverb. The failure of Muslims in the United States to make any impact on the current US policy in the Middle speaks of the ineffectiveness of Muslim organizations in preparing themselves for a catastrophe like the one being witnessed in Lebanon. It is apparent that Israel is pursing a belligerent policy of aggression in the region under the direct patronage of Washington. The White House and the Congress as well as the public opinion seem to be solidly behind Israel.

The fact that only 22 members of the House didn't endorse the HR 921, a resolution that advocated violence in the name of self defense and condoned the aggression of Israel in the name of national interest is a clear indication that despite the protests of Muslim organizations, the legislatures of the nation's top law making body don't care about the concerns of Muslims as far as the situation in the Middle East is concerned.

Of course, one can explain the congressional position in terms of the influence exerted by the pro-Israel lobby or in terms of the activism of right wing evangelical Christians. Yet the question that must be asked is why have Muslim organizations failed to create a public opinion that is fair and objective towards the Middle East?

Part of the answer can be that, Muslim organizations seem to be more concerned with hobnobbing with officials in law enforcement agencies and bureaucracy rather than making a firm stand on principals and reaching out to the masses and those public officials who ultimately shape the public opinion. It is perhaps time to look critically at the existing Muslim organizations and ask tough questions.

During the recent crisis in Lebanon, besides issuing condemnation, no Muslim organization produced a single piece of serious analysis on the situation educating the community about the nature of the crisis and their responsibilities. No organization sought to develop a national Muslim consensus on the issue. Only a few organizations have planned a day of either prayer or protest. No organization has given any clear guidelines to its members about the future course of action.

The reason of their failure is not their apathy or indifference to the plight of Palestinians or Lebanese. I believe this is because none is prepared to handle the crisis and none is capable to mobilize Muslims the way Jewish community has mobilized its ranks in support of the ongoing unjust war of aggression.

A critical analysis of most of our Muslim organizations in the US will show that they operate on an authoritarian style. They are not grass roots organizations and they have made few efforts to mobilize Muslims on a consistent basis. Most of the time the effort is put on promoting their own organizations, instead of promoting the issues and coordinating the work with other organizations. They may have chapters and branches, but most of these outfits comprise of people who rarely work with the masses. Most leaders are content with the situation because they don't want their leadership to be challenged or questioned. 

Additionally, very few organizations make efforts to involve women and youth in their political discourses. When they do involve youth or women, they usually assign them the task of arranging the chairs or cooking for the believers.

Even the conventions that are ritually held by Muslim organizations annually, rarely talk of a national consensus strategy or outreach plan. 

It is this style of work and leadership that give rise to failures. It is time that we review what we have been doing to ourselves and decide upon an honest course of action that would help us become effective at the grassroots level. 

We cannot ask our fellow citizens to change their perspectives on the Middle East on the basis of a few statements that our organizations issue ritually. 

We cannot ask even public officials to change the direction of the country, when we our selves have not found any direction in the country.

In order to win over the hearts and mind of the people, we have to prove that we care for this country and humanity at large. Besides building our mosques and centers for the purpose of our own gratification and glorification, what else have we done to get involved in the affairs of the country? We are conspicuously absent from our city council debates when issues such as homelessness and development projects are discussed. We are conspicuously absent from school boards when the educational strategy is discussed. We are absent from the discussion when the library board decides the budget and the number of books to be purchased each year. We are absent from debates on environment, crime, nuclear disarmament and many other issues.

In chapter 3 verse 110 when the Quran says - You are the best of people, evolved for mankind, it qualifies it by saying that you are the best because, you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.

Over and over during conventions and from the pulpits of the mosques we claim that Islam has the answer to our social problems, yet we are not prepared to show how to implement the answer for the well being of all. We want people to accept the call of Islam, yet when someone joins the ranks of Muslims, we rarely welcome them in our homes or identify with their concerns. We want people to believe that Islam is an egalitarian faith, yet we find it hard to accommodate African Americans or people who do not belong to our ethnicity in our decisions.

We are ineffective simply because we chose to be. No one would prevent us if we mobilize Muslims for the welfare and well being of people. 

Unfortunately, we have been stuck with individual and organizational leadership that uses the name of Islam and Muslims to serve their personal interests. There are those who parrot the language of the state department and leave us confused and there are those are so engrossed in their ethnic identities that they rarely talk of the concerns of the umma in a practical sense.

It is time that we hold our organizations and leadership accountable. It is time that we develop a sense of responsibility towards our fellow human beings and it is time that we work for the emergence of a Muslim community that can effectively play a dignified role in promoting truth, justice and welfare of people in this country and around the world.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer and the director of the Islamic Society of Nevada as well as the director of the Muslim Electorates Council of America.

  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
Views: 4724
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Older Comments:
I am not quite against the article. I liked it very much but I think that the writer (a friend of mine, by the way) is a bit too hard on the organisations. For clarification's sake, I am not an office holder nor ever was one in any of them. The problems which Br. Abdullah highlights are true and serious. But his accusation is a bit lopsided. I would place it more on the somnambulence, the introvertedness, the hedonistic lifestyle of the Muslim families and the youth. The organisations try their best, yet the attendees to any conference is pathetically small and is composed of only the same familiar faces. My angst therefore is towards the apathy and defeatism of the Muslim older generation (of my age) and the hedonism of the youth--the Me First generation, the Y Generation etc. There is so much the organisations can do with the limited funds and resources available.

Example: A developer had dug his sewage pipe along a mosque rather than across the road along his property and we had to go to the City Hall to present our case that it is his pipe and should logically be on his side of the road. This was announced in the mosque and people asked to attend the hearing. Do you know how many showed up? Two; other than me. Not even the Imam was there. Only the president, an activist and yours truly.

The article however is correct in highlighting the overall malaise afflicting this once sceptred race.

This is a loosing strategy. You can not convince people once they have decided to whose side are they on. I have been watching this since 1967 war. This is waste of time and resources. Please preach of self reliance it may take a long but you will win. Ignrant and illitrate masses can not win any thing.

The muslim status and impact on policies,etc;in this country (usa),is due to The Immate(Imans)being given more importance than needed regarding social,political,community affairs.The article covers the ground very completely.But we do not or refuse to venture forth in a pro-active way.An excellent place to start is the promotion of muslim women leadership and establishment of a viable community economic/business development organization.Where are the 22000 muslim in Fla. who voted in a bloc in 2000 and put George Bush in the White House.Have they or can they demand anything from Bush.I think not because it was all done for show.The article is right about muslim in the usa looking past one another seeking acceptance of the majority community.The African-American Muslim the natural leader is happy in its Micky Mouse role.Thank You.

This is in response to Brother Yusuf's qyery. The organizations that I am involved with actively have issued statements and taken up stand on the crisis. The Islamic Society of Nevada in Las Vegas is involved in a number of civic activities. It is part of a broader coalition against nuclear proliferation. It is part of a coalition against hunger, homelessness and crime.
It opens its mosque to house homeless on a regular basis. It outreaches neighborhood with programs to help youth and others.
It is involved in library and school curriculum projects. Almost every week it invites an elected official or a religious leader to communicate with its members.
A lot more needs to be done and inshallah it will be done.

I think this is an article that many leaders should read. Perhaps it will open their eyes to these very important issues.

Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem,
In the Name of Allah, i agreed with that. Insh'Allah we will always survived in everyways. Ameen....Allah blessed you!!

Thank you for your clarification Br.Aslam. Yes, it is commendable and we should do our civic duty not only as citizens but as Muslim citizens. But, as someone has commented it is indeed a very uphill battle in this judeo-christian climate. I also do not see that the situation has improved for many African Americans especially when you visit the larger cities and see the segregation of areas and the depth of poverty and squalor in these areas. The bottom line is that when Muslims are equated with terrorists, and injustice against muslims is seen as normal, our efforts are never shown in mainstream media, it doesn't make much differenc. We are already cast in a mould.

AsSalaamo Alaykum Dr. Aslam,
I agree with most of the article. My humble request, since I see that you are involved in at least a couple of Muslim organizations, did any of the organizations that you are involved in, issue any statement or prepare any of your constitutents for this kind of situation. If you have, please let us know what you did, so we can also try and do the same.
JazakAllahu Khair,
- Yusuf

Thank you very much for this nessary article.
I agree with the article 100%. Thus I believe that it's a must fo forward this messege whether by the written text or verbally to muslim organizations and the general Mulsiim mass in the US. We can no longer sit and listen to Bush and Condalezza and the rest of the gang's promotion of secret Israeli terrorism under the name of "right to defend itsself". Yes! it is must for our true voices to be heard. aay Allah reward you well for forwarding such a constructive article


Salam Alaikum,
Thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate those who agree and those who disagree as well as those who chose to be neutral.
The point I have been trying to empasize is very simple. Unless, we discharge our responsibilities to the society and country we live in, we would never be able to impact the opinions of opinion positively. We cannot always complain about the influenec of the Zionist Lobby. We cannot always complain about the one sided policy of the Administration.
So far, our vioices have not been taken seriously simply because we are not serious about our voices. We have not given the impression to the nation that we care for its people and issues such as education, crime, social security, gun violence, family values, social injustice etc. are as important to us as the rights of Palestinian and peace in the Middle East.
We ought to behave like a universal community and not like a sect who is concerned only about its issues.
It is our opportunity to develop a better understanding of the society in which we live and play a constructive role in its growth and development. America will change its attitude towards Muslims as it changed its attirudes towards Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Quakers and African Americans. The difference between others and us at present is that they worked tirelessly to identify with the good and bad of the country. We want to make use of the opportunities available to all in America without any concern to its social and economic and moreal concerns and issues. Unless we are seen as part of the social and economic fabric by the people at large, we will remain on the periphery of the society.
The criticism of Muslim organizations or their leadership is not on their apathy but on their vision that has kept Muslims in isolation.

To complain about the ineffectiveness of Muslims in having any influence or power to lobby for causes that concern that Islamic world or to sway public opinion is easy. However the author neglects that Muslims do not share the same historical connection with the west as to the Jews. Muslims can try and utilize whatever methods that are at their hands but there simply is no trust or a deep connection between the Islamic world and the west, and therefore all their hard work and determination will amount to a hill of beans. Christians and Jews for better or for worse see themselves in the same boat and they have for centuries. They certainly don't have genuine love for each other, but it is a love hate relationship. How can we Muslims have any hand in shaping public opinion when we are seen as outsiders in the 'judao-Christian' western society? Not to mention fundamentalist Christians and Jews use one another to bring about the messianic age. No matter what Muslims do they will never be allowed in the circle of power.

The author of this article nearly lost me when he stated that the White and the Congress as well as public opinion "seem to be" solidly behind Israel. "Seem to be!" Is he joking? What a simple minded statment. He goes on to use "seem to" several times in this artices. Isn't he sure? On the other hand, he is absolutely right by the statement that American Muslim organizations are more concerned with hobbnobing with government officials than taking a firm stand on principles. He doesn't mention names but ISNA comes to mind. If I see one more picture in Islamic Horizons of an ISNA offical smiling and shaking hands with Bush, Rice, or Rumsfeld I'll vomit. It isn't hard to notice that the tone of Islamic Horizons is mostly self-congratulatory back patting. Then again it was our Muslim leadership that urged us to vote for the looney in the White House in the first place. So what can we expect.

Just for clarification, the word infidel is actually a word used by the Christian's to describe the Muslims. It comes from the Latin word Infidelous, which means 'that without faith'.

You are trying to turn things around by making out that this is how the Muslim's view the rest of world.


This should be a must read for all Muslims especially those in management committees of Muslim organisations.

Gary, Allah(swt) has a plan for this country whether you like or not. Tell me what you can do to stop it or even slow it down.....Nothing!!!

I really don't care what Americans loyalty is to Allah(swt) alone. Islam is a monotheistic religion....we are loyal to Allah(swt) and not to any specific country.

Now where in the Quran does it say we can lie to infidels?.....

Thank you so much for this inspiring (albeit sad) article. I totally agree. I liked how it encouraged us to get involved in the community. I am currently studying to be a school counselor and this article inspired me to keep going. May Allah swt help us!

If muslims nation and many non muslims nations leader are usa payroll.

what makes yiu think that muslims organization in usa , .. is any different.

what kind of Naive talk is this.....

I think our condition is not going to change until we change ourselves first. Sometimes we blame our leardership for everything. That's the easy thing to do. They are not able to do everything themselves. As Abu Bakr (ra) said if I do right then support me. Please check out this article by our great scholar Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah
Dead Hearts

Islam has the answer to America's social problems? Would that be the introduction of Sharia Law into the American legal system? That must never happen because America has a constitutional separation of church and state. The vast majority of Americans, whom are not Muslim by the way, have no interest in living under oppressive Islamic solutions. If you all want to live under Sharia law, go back to your Middle Eastern and Asian homes.

In addition, as long as Muslim leaders and its followers continue to hide behind the tripe that Islamic inspired terrorism does not exist, that it is not Islam, very few non-Muslim Americans well ever trust a Muslim candidate for any government post - not even as a dog catcher. After all, the Quran states that it is acceptable in the eyes of Allah to lie to the infidel -- and 99% of the Americans are infidels. In addition, thanks to the Islamofascist element plaguing the earth, how can infidel America trust any Muslim politician not to be a part of any sleeper cell or to sell us out. Americans want to see loyalty to America - not loyalty to Mecca and the various Islamic terrorist groups. Americans want to see you all stand up and take a stand against the evil element that has undermined the reputation of Islam in America. Or do you all really support what Hezbollah and the others are doing? Have you been lying to us infidels all along? To repeat what the Quran instructs, it is acceptable in the eyes of Allah to lie to the infidel. And as long as this remains true, Muslims will never be an influential part of the American political landscape.

As Salaam U Alaikum,

I could not agree more with my brother Dr. Aslam Abdullah. In order to live up to our calling our selves muslims we have to take the initiative to make things happen on behalf of muslims and humanity in the United States and abroad. We can only do this with a clear focus and strong leadership. As muslims in this country our leadership has to motivate us to get involved and provide a consistant message leading towards change. Only a united stance will produce results.

Hard hitting but every word is true. This is a wakeup call.

May Allah reward the writer & more important;wake up the sleeping Ummah.



The author addresses several issues but I would like to speak on two of them - the Muslims organizations in the US and the racism that some American Muslims practice.
You get what you pay for! If you really want talented people to run these organizations you need to financially support them. Find out how much money the Jewish organizations get - it will blow your mind. The lack of young American Muslims in public service - lawyers, accountants, and politics is part of the overall failures. The fact that in times of crisis we are dissecting the leadership serves the wrong master. You would have to blind not to see the problems in the leadership but now is not time to criticize them. When was the last time anyone of you were hungry, homeless? In America most of us do not feel these pains -we just engage the average ignorant American to debate the issues. I am amazed at the ignorant Muslims that I encounter -many have no clue of their own history or the issues from a non emotional point of view. They look to imams or other to speak for them. READ! and EDUCATE you families. Americans respect knowledge and power.

Secondly, the racism and nationalism among some of the community is just incredible. Those of you who call yourselves Muslims and practice any form of racism / nationalism have missed the message. Go back and read the prophets last sermon - think about what he said 1400 years ago...this predates the founding fathers of this country and the constitution. Are you living by his simple guidance? Or are you waiting for the IMAM to give you your opinion?

Absolutely correct. We muslims need a common ground and only effective organizations can do it. All conscious muslim americans are asking what can we do stop these "mighty powers" doing injustice to the innocent people.

Ray - Muslims are not held in warm esteem, because people like you are brainwashed by the media. Islamophobic people fail to understand that Muslim behavior is not representative of the religion. Just like Timothy McVeigh or the IRA or even the Israeli govt's actions do not necessarily reflect the values of Christianity or Judaism. PLEASE, ignorance and lack of appreciation of each other as humans is the reason for the situations in Palestine and Lebanon.

Jazaaka Allahu khairan Dr. Aslam, I share your sentiments completely. Now that the door of introspection is opening, I belive the time has come that we start to examine root causes of our ineffectiveness, and when we begin to ask those tough questions that you are speaking about, perhaps we might find that the problem is not a political one; it's a spiritual one.

Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Alhudullilah! I'm just starting to work on an article dealing with the intersection of racism and failed community among Muslims in America. At the core of the failure of Muslim organizations is a desire not to deal with justice issues on the whole in the US. Instead of connecting w/oppressed peoples, too many Islamic Centers run to the heart of communities that are to a large degree hostile to Islam and spend a great amount of time and money trying to make friends w/these affluent and 99% white non-Muslim communities. They turn their backs on non-white and poor communities and inject their racism into new Muslims. It is a sad state of affairs.

Very well said, Masha Allah

Alhudulla, This article speaks directly to the issue at hand. We have sowed no seed here can anyone be surprised that we have no harvest.

salaam aleikum

this line in this article was most poignant:
>It is time that we hold our organizations and >leadership accountable.

Why don't we start by:

1. Questioning the financial transparency and political accountability of Muslim organizations?
It is a well known fact that many receive funds either from the U.S. govt. directly or from its agents overseas be it Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Jordan. This money does not come free but with strings attached in terms of what u are allowed to say and do.

2. This extends out to the far sighted and wise decision of "American" Muslim organizations to endorse Bush for President in 2000. Has anyone ever been held accountable for this? Or are they like the arab dictators overseas, ma'sum?

3. What steps ensuring transparency and grass roots participation are these organizations capable of accomodating?

Seems before we preach we need to take stock of ourselves in order to move forward.


MARYAH said:
Ameen Allehu Akbar!, I am for this! I am a white caucasian american musliman that is tired of dealing with some of the self absorbed ethnic and culural obsessions of some of my brethren. We are here living as Americans and need to let the Americans knoq tHAT WE we have good and charitable values behind the hijabs that they see. Why are so many people in the Ummah in american so absorbed with being arab, pakistani, or whatever! You are in America the strongest nation on the planet and YOU can make a difference. Go to and send your representatives an email of your disaproval of the war in the middle east, paint a sign and picket, whatever! Sisters, remember how Aisha led a war from the back of a camel, who says you are stuck in a mold!
Quran 16:125
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

Jazakallah khair to those who are brave and make their beliefs known!

This article is very much on target, The Muslim/Islamic Organizations in the US need to get their act together It appear that with all the so-called muslim/Islamic organizations in the USA, there remains very much dis-organization or lack thereof as it pertains to certain vital life and death issues re, muslims in the World, perhaps a bad case of Islamphobia? May Allah save us from the fire and the enemies of Islam. Sometimes I think we are our worst enemy. Apparently the shaitan has a grip on us, as he divides and conquer muslims all over the World? Muslims must rid themselves of some of their selfish ways and expose the shaitan, we must absolutely stop succumbing to the games/ways of the wicked west/shaitan. Muslim ummah is like a sleeping giant in the west. There is not even Muslim Lobby in Washington DC. The wizard of oz has the Muslim ummah scared stiff.


US is a nation-state. Nations deal with other nations, not with religions. Islam is a religion. Judaism is a religion.

US does not support Jews, it supports a country called Israel (which Jews support). Now, which country do Muslims repesent?.

Seems to me that the author of the article has no understanding of a secular nation. Like it or not, US is secular state and does not represent any religion.