Mixing Politics with Theology

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Views: 4473
4473

Theology should shape politics and not vice versa

The tragedy that is happening in Southern Lebanon is of a magnitude that for a moment, it will draw some attention away from the other tragedies affecting the Muslims peoples where innocent lives are haplessly swept away and where despite protest, posturing, begging and kicking, shows no sign of abating. I wonder how many of the National Muslim organizations will use this issue to perpetuate its own agenda. I read a very well written article yesterday in which the author lamented the helplessness of the American Muslim organizations to effect any significant policy change in American foreign policy. 

What I can't fathom is that we haven't realized the futility in applying a political solution to what may indeed be a spiritual problem. The one billion Muslims in the world appear seemingly helpless in preventing or addressing the incessant loss of Muslim life, the decimation of Muslim countries, and the ongoing political turmoil in many Muslim societies. Muslims living in the United states who have seized countless photo opportunities over the years to lull us into a false sense of political influence. Either we haven't extended ourselves far enough in the effort to reverse Muslim suffering, or we have simply looked too far, when the answers are right under our noses.

In the Farwell sermon of the prophet , he stated: "Surely your wealth and your blood is sacred, like the sacredness of this day, and the sacredness of this place, and the sacredness of this month" 1 . Does it occur to anyone that the paltry value which we attach to Muslim life and honor, has anything to do with why the world is not incensed over the loss of innocent Muslim life? If inter-religious sectarianism, masjid bombings, Muslim on Muslim killings, internet fiqh fights, blatant disregard for darker skinned Muslims, barefaced nepotism and widespread corruption of Muslim leaders abroad, and suicidal maniacs who blow up crowded market places, is not enough to incite us to sustained moral outrage, what makes us think that the world would care that much about the bombing of innocent Muslim children in Lebanon? Lord Knows, we all should care about the innocent lives of Muslims and non-Muslims; perhaps now is the time when we should start looking for spiritual solutions instead of political or military ones. After all, did not our Lord be He Exalted and Glorified; say: "Surely Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change their own inner condition", (Quran 13:11)

The task before the Muslim is how to separate politics from theology. Theology should shape politics and not vice versa. While outrage against Israel is warranted for her shameless bombing of innocents, and her decimation of a countries infrastructure, equal outrage should be directed at the insanity of inter-religious sectarianism in the name of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Otherwise we join the ranks of those who have double standards. It is unlikely that the current consignment of national Muslim organizations of prominence will have too much of an effect on American foreign policy making unless they undergo some fundamental changes. Conspicuously absent amongst the leadership and policy makers of the national Islamic organizations are the faces of indigenous American Muslims; especially African American Muslims. This is a detail that does not go unnoticed amongst policy makers in America. Therefore the national Muslims organizational presence appears more like a foreign lobby than a genuine American Muslim representative. 

A man came to the Prophet and asked him: Oh Messenger of Allah, tell me about an action that if I do it, Allah will love me and people will love me? The Prophet replied: "Show detachment to the world and Allah will love you. And show detachment to what people have in their hands and they will love you" 2. You can't campaign Americans into liking Muslims or Islam; the more we attempt to ingratiate ourselves to the American people, the more it makes Muslims appear as if we are desperate, not really of this society, and that we employ the "Keystone Cops" public relations firm. 

American Muslims don't need to be taught how to be American; they are American. What we need to learn is how to be Muslim (without the baggage). We would do well to learn how to care without the politics. How to co-exist with other Muslims regardless of race and ethnicity, how to accept multi cultural Muslim leadership. And how to challenge doctrine from our scholars which contradict the teachings of our Beloved Messenger . I don't need to learn how to deal with western society; I am western! What idiot (pardon me), what well intending scholar came up with the idea that Islam is anti western? Who suggested that we include it in our theology. "To Allah belongs the East and the west and wherever you turn, you will find the Face of Allah". Is Islam anti kufr? Yes. Is Islam anti jaahiliyyah? Yes. And there's plenty of it to go around in the East, West, North and South. Islam by its nature, anti west? Apparently not. 

Unfortunately some people from abroad have convinced many American Muslims that to be a good Muslim, you must hate the West. That's like the Prophet saying that in order to be a good Muslim, you must hate Arabia. Of course, our Beloved Prophet never spoke such idiocy. Al-humdu lillah. However, because of this mixing politics with theology, many Muslims only show goodwill to American society as a pretentious public relations effort since theologically they are convinced that, they must hate America, and hate the infidel Americans. Here is where we need to apply a spiritual solution; When doing good to others, you either do so because you love them, or because you love Allah. In either case your charity, your neighborliness, your feeding the homeless, your kind words, are and appear genuine. When Muslims start charity drives, volunteer drives, and seek civic inclusion as a part of a national campaign to get Americans to like Muslims, we appear self serving, foolish and quite frankly, un-American. Who is coming up with this stuff anyway? When we do it by faith, from the heart, because it is a part of who we are, or who we've become as Muslims, or efforts not only appear genuine, they are genuine!

Excluding indigenous American Muslims from the leadership and policy making levels of the major national Muslims organizations that purport to represent American Muslims is more than a procedural and political faux pas, it is a slap in the face, which denies us the value experiences of indigenous American Muslims, which would help others understand this country and perhaps even Islam. Condoleezza Rice would probably dialogue more effectively with an African American Muslim woman more than with an immigrant from the Middle East who only recently gotten his American citizenship and who spends half of his time in the Middle East. 

Indigenous American Muslims have traditionally taken their theology directly from the immigrant led, and immigrant dominated religious authorities and Fatwa boards. African American imams are conspicuously excluded from the policy level of every major Fiqh Council, national board of scholars, national human rights group, and virtually every national political or civic organization. Perhaps this is ostensibly because the Muslims from the Islamic world have a history of Islamic scholarship that qualifies them in interpreting the Islamic texts to address American life issues. This has been an accepted fact which might have been true thirty years ago, certainly is not true today. Many of our immigrant scholars (may Allah preserve them) and political leaders have at best have a tenuous grasp on American political and social reality and many more do not have a clue. There have been a sprinkling of color here and there for decoration and as a subordinate adjunct.

This has resulted in faulty rulings in the guise of theology, backward Muslim policy coming from these well financed national Muslim organizations, and a series of critical misreadings that has hampered efforts at bringing true Islam to the American people, and has hurt our ability to sway our political leaders. . One cannot help to wonder, why are indigenous American Muslims, who in general, are more familiar with our country, our people and how to effectuate policy than immigrants, are unceremoniously excluded from participating let alone leadership roles in the national American Muslim organizations. Does this affect our influence on foreign policy? Do birds have wings?

Many of the political and social gains of Muslims in America have been chartered by the indigenous American Muslims; the armed forces, law enforcement, Fridays off for prayer, prayer in the workplace, the acceptance of hijaab, Muslim women bus drivers, the first Muslims in the federal judiciary, first Muslim mayors, first Muslim police chiefs, halal food in the prisons, in the schools, and the list goes on and on.. Thus, the attempt to control both the theology and the politics of American Muslims by Muslims who have limited experience in American plurality is a debacle in progress. There are still Muslims who believe that all Americans are ungodly and that every last one of them is an infidel. Any American Muslim who understands our people can tell you that there are plenty of Americans who believe in one God and who are committed to righteousness, and who are allies to practicing Muslims. why do you think that so many Americans concert to Islam? Some people come into Islam because of a basic goodness which is already in them; the Prophet once remarked to a companion who converted to Islam; "You have accepted Islam based upon the good which have already been doing".

You can't hypnotize Americans to make them think we care about them, or care about other human beings; you have to actually care. This is why this is a spiritual matter and not a public relations one, or political one. When more of us address our own selfishness and realize that just as there are hungry people in Palestine, India, and Lebanon; there are hungry and disadvantaged people here as well, and that Muslims everywhere have the same blood, and that innocent suffering is innocent suffering, we will change. When we change , our condition will change. It is heartbreaking that some of the Muslim charities in the United States were closed by the federal government; however and only Allah knows, if there were a sizeable amount of American children, elderly, homeless, handicapped and disadvantaged people who were benefiting from the "Muslim" charity of these organizations, the federal government would not have risked the political outrage and fallout from seizing the funds of an organization that provides housing for the homeless in New York city or food for the elderly in Los Angeles. We have to stop saying we care; and learn how to care. 

Charity is not a public relations tool 3; it's a tenant of Islam, a means towards salvation and a religious obligation. Neighborliness doesn't require choreography; it is a way of thinking, part of the Islamic way of life. Feeding the homeless needn't be a public relations activity with the requisite press releases and mega email notices, it is the Sunna of the Prophet, an Islamic spiritual mandate, and a means for salvation in the hereafter. We need to get politics out of our religion, or at least, remove politics from the helm. The answers for the problems affecting the Muslims, has to start within. It is a spiritual solution needed, not just a political one. 

I'll leave you with the words of a great American and Founding Father: Benjamin Franklin: "For my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as paying debts. In my travels and since my settlement I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return. And numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. These kindnesses from men I can therefore only return on their fellow-men; and I can only show my gratitude for those mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks, and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator ... "4

Imam Abu Laith Luqman is an Imam and freelance writer on the East Coast USA, He teaches a class on Spiritual Etiquette at Masjidullah in Philadelphia Pa. He can be reached at [email protected] or nthrough his web site at: www.lotustreepublications.com

Notes:

  1. Related by Bukhaari
  2. Related by Muslim
  3. The mu'allafatu qulubi'him of zakat, arguable can be viewed as a public relations tool, however that's another story.
  4. Written to Joseph Huey, June 6th 1753


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
Views: 4473
 
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Older Comments:
RAJENDRA FROM USA said:
I am curious as to how many of you people have visited the site:

http://www.apostatesofislam.com/apostates.htm

I read with interest how many Muslims left the faith, and are
happy. I myself am not subcribing to any religion, just remain
spiritual, and never harm anyone. I think that should be OK with
God, without all the ruckus about "My God is better than yours"

Anyone agree- In the spirit of reducing global terror in the name
of God, who really does not want it?
2006-08-06

YUSUF FROM SWITZERLAND said:
Is muslims,we need much of this kinds of reflection.
2006-08-05

DANIEL FROM USA said:
From a Christian perspective, this is a very refreshing article. As long as there are folkes like this in the Muslim community, there may be hope for peace between Muslims, Jews and Christians.
2006-08-04

DOIN PHINE FROM CANADA said:
Quoting Benjamin Franklim is a farce because he believed in the seperation of church and state. Mixing politics with religion is a disaster. Just look at EVERY Islamic country in the world, no rights, no freedoms. Not one Islamic country can match the freedoms of the West. Not one Islamic country can match the economic capabilities of the West. Not one Islamic country can match the scientific advances of the West.

Islamic and its fear of other cultures and religions destroys knowledge past and present. The destruction of the Buddhas in Afghanistan, the destruction of art from the time of the Pharoahs in Egypt. The destruction of pre-Islamic architecture in Saudi Arabia. All very sad, this destruction is a crime against all mankind. What is next?

Why is this you ask? The answer stares you in the face, but you do not see!

I wish all well, in this world that has had and will continue to be a place of both heaven and hell. May everyone be FREE to PERSUE their dreams, and desires free of persecution and judgement.

Last comment, in my home country thngs have taken a turn for the worst for enlightenment as Tarek Fatah of the MCM has resigned due to death threats. Even in Canada there are elements who judge and persecute. After so many years, it seems things have regressed by centuries!

I have found my answers that I have been looking for since I have visited this site. Thanks to all, who have posted, and in particular the visitors who I have exchanged postings with.

Signing off

Doin Phine, D. Thomas, and Tommy D.
2006-08-04

DAWOOD HAQ FROM USA said:
Alhamdulillah!! This is what I have been telling the muslims from the Middle-Eastern countries in my neighbourhood.I only see the religeon of Tribalism in them.
2006-08-03

NICOLE MARSHALL FROM USA said:
Peace unto you. this article brings up so many issues but there is one that stands out in my mind. I am a African American convert and i attend an multi cultural Islamic center. It always amazes me how immigrant Muslims come to this country and have the civil rights paved for them by the African American community, but do not even give the standard greeting to the African American Muslim, because of the stereotypes or just down right racism.It was we who sat at the lunch couters and got spat on. It was we who dealth with the dogs and the water. But yet it took 9/11 for immigrants to realize that they don't view you any better that us. In fact in some aspects you are less, for i can still take my hijab off and walk through the airport but yet you cannot. I do not want to spend all my words on the racist muslims. I agree with your article. the Muslim community has a long way to go internally before we can overcome the issues that we are seeing today. We are a great community. Our religion is beautiful. AlLAH is to be served. If every Muslim would do things with ALLAH in mind we would be in a much better predicament. I will continue to pray that we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Islam and work to establish a better muslim world.
2006-08-03

SAHAR FROM USA said:
May Allah reward you brother for articulating what
I have always known in heart to be the truth. May Allah help us to make positive change in the societies in which we live by embracing our deen and practicing it correstly. Ameen.
2006-08-03

AMINAH FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
Imam Luqman, may Allah (swt) bless you and preserve you. Your article has spawned a wave of self-reflection for me. I am compelled to ask of our Lord the opportunity and willingness to perform countless good deeds for my fellow man/woman. This article, so eloquent in speech, speaks to the heart of every human being and aptly identifies the painful truth that we need to change the condition of ourselves before Allah in His infinite Mercy and Wisdom will change the condition.
Still, as a collective body, we must tackle our own cries at our own ineffectiveness to render a solution to the bombings, genocide and suicidal flood of network terror.
We must first learn, then teach our family and each other that prayer changes eveything.
I hope that fellow Imams and leaders read this article and pass it on in the hopes of conveying an intimate detachment from that which we cannot change to that which we can: ourselves.
May God help us all.
2006-08-02