A turn of good faith deserves another in kind

Category: World Affairs Topics: Barack Obama Views: 4400

U.S. President Barack Obama, tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo on June 4, 2009, with Dr. Zahi Hawass, at right, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center.

One Arab observer said this must be the most historic speech ever given by an American president to the Muslim world. In his address on Thursday, Barack Obama extended himself to Muslims in an unprecedented sign of good faith. He laid the reputation of his administration and the veracity of his foreign policy on the line when he proffered the Biblical claim: "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

An Arab proverb says: "If you honor a noble person you will possess his allegiance." Meaning that he will feel himself beholden to respond honorably in kind. Granted, these are only words. We anticipate the practical steps that will prove their sincerity. But they are significant words all the same, the like of which the Muslim world has never seen. Whatever the case, the ball is now squarely in the Muslim court. Can we be magnanimous in return?

Are we prepared to shift our own discourse on East-West relations and expand the paradigms that inform that discourse?

President Obama is seeking to remove every excuse for intolerant reactions to unbalanced and narrow-minded policies; those justifications for Muslim actions that have not reflected "ourselves at our best". The question is: will Muslims be able to find themselves and their humanity once more? Can we deftly handle this ball that has been pitched into our court?

Muslims will have to demonstrate that they can be constructive participants in global community - with their faith. This is already being done by individuals; it is time that it becomes an agenda for a community. Obama's recognition of past accomplishments of Islam on the world stage was lost on no one in the room. But the time is now to turn that golden past once more into a robust and relevant present.

I couldn't help but notice, as the US president stood there in Umm al Dunya, heartland of the ambitious enterprise that was pan-Arab nationalism, that the message was about faith, and about Islam.

The mistress of secular nationalism is showing her age, her flower of infatuation is wilting, yet Islam remains timeless in an eternal springtime.

The Muslim people will never be separated from Islam; it is indelibly dyed into the fabric of their culture. The time has drawn nigh for Muslims to find comfort again with their Islamic identity. Comfort with that identity in the 21st century will come from a prescience of consciousness with their contemporary moment joined with a purposeful mining of the very deep structures of the rich wellsprings of their intellectual and theological tradition.

I'm not sure that Muslims realize what a risk Obama has taken by extending himself to this degree in reaching out to the Muslim world; a risk that is at once political and otherwise. His opponents believe that he is wasting his time as well as squandering diplomatic capital and depleting the fund of martial clout. They gamble that their prejudices toward the abilities of Islam will prove their cynicism correct.

A sea change in American diplomacy has opened a window of possibility for those who have resolved to be truly great persons. Muslims are once more presented with an opportunity to be on the right side of history. If Michelle couldn't say it, I will. This is the first time in my adult life that I have been truly proud of my nation's leadership.

Jihad Hashim Brown is director of research at the Tabah Foundation. He delivers the Friday sermon at the Maryam bint Sultan Mosque in Abu Dhabi

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Barack Obama
Views: 4400

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Older Comments:
I generally agree with this article. I also agree that the US has been messing around in the Middle East with little knowledge of the culture and little concern for the well-being of its citizens. We have much to apologize for.

However, I don't think we have as much to apologize for as most Muslims think we do. America's primary concern has never been to oppress Muslims or even to control their resources. Our primary concern has been doing business. The US pays fair market prices for the oil it buys. US companies that get wealthy extracting oil in the ME provide capital and skills that are generally not available locally. Sometimes powerful special interests push policy in a unethical directions, as in support for the overthrow of Mossadeq (sp?) in Iran. For these things we owe apologies and more.

Fareed Zakaria notes an essential difference between Britain's empire and American "empire." The British populace was generally proud of their imperial successes. The US populace generally says "when can we leave?" (I say NOW. We're going to be blamed for every violent death in Iraq and Afghanistan no matter who pulled the trigger - we might as well save our money and our own lives. The ME will still sell its oil.)

To Andrea:

While its fine that you found a faith that suits you, many Americans have been exposed plenty to Islam and are unimpressed. It is quite clear to me that although Muslims may be humble before God and each other, when it comes to dealing with non-Muslims they're far more interested in their self-declared righteousness than humility. This can be seen in the sorry state of non-Muslims in Muslim lands - a state which follows quite logically from the rules in the Koran and Sunna.

Meanwhile, Muslims in America are among the most successful minority groups - able to live freely with only fringe discrimination. Hopefully they'll extend us non-believers the same courtesy as they grow in numbers and power.

I believe that President Obama's speech to the Muslim world was
desperately needed. I am an American woman raised as a
Catholic but converted to Islam three-years ago; before my
conversion I felt an emptiness in my heart and all the US talks
about when it comes to faith is Jesus. I kept asking, has
everyone forgot about God? When I learned more and more
about Islam it is so beautiful and the lifestyle is one of honor,
righteousness and humility.
What I am trying to say, is that most Americans are ignorant
when it comes to Muslims. Most Americans know only what the
Western media tells them; and they know what Bush and his
immoral & lawless administration told us.
Most Americans have Islamaphobia and if they would open
themselves up to the tolerance of others beliefs and not give in
to the fear-mongers, they would understand that Muslims are
just like they are, regular people who want to freely practice
their religion. And most Americans forget that America was
found based upon religious freedom.
President Obama 'gets it' when it comes to Islam and the Middle
East. I truly believe that he is America's last hope. America has
changed alot in these last 8-years and I believe that President
Obaba has opened the door to make make Americans want to
learn more about what they were once told to be afraid of. In the
world of American technology, I think that Americans will seek
out the truth and come to accept Muslims and Islam and know
that it is not the monster that past presidents and western
society has made it seem. At least that is my hope.
If me, this once Catholic go-with the flow to be what "normal"
society in the west expects us to be can seek out and find the
truth, I have faith that my neighbors will do the same and finally
come to understand the beauty of Islam. Once that happens,
enshaallah we will have peace. Assalamu Alaykum wa

The perfect answer to this article by a Muslim is from a non-Muslim who cares about Justice and Truth. Ladies and Gentlemen Mr. Stephen Lendman (PLEASE READ and DRAW your own conclusion)


The majority of Muslims are blessed and lucky enough, for not blindly following the first 'intellectual' or the first 'leader' who comes as a Muslim to talk to us and 'reason' us, like Mr Jihad Hashim Brown and others who easily get flattered by a non-Muslim head of state quoting of the Noble Verses and praising a glorious past. I am sorry to say that his article and his thinking are simply rubbish to say the least. For people like him, the empty rhetoric by a new US president is more than enough to wipe away over 60 years plus crimes (and the ongoing crimes) against the Muslims.
He said "Whatever the case, the ball is now squarely in the Muslim court. Can we be magnanimous in return?" Oh really? Then I ask you Mr. Brown;
Should we be more magnanimous and allow more bombing of our cities and our homes? Or allowing more raping of our sisters, mothers, daughters, and allow more blowing and crushing of the brains of our little ones, or more crushing of the old bones of our eldest? Should we be more tolerant to the raiding and pillaging of our natural resources? Should we be more open and allow more foreign military bases on our lands and more warships patrolling our seawaters? Or welcoming filthy and brutal foreign mercenaries in our cities and villages? Should we be accepting of their dictators posing as our rulers? Should we be more receptive to media with their slurs, affront, and vilification of our Deen? Should we more collaborating in overthrowing, or boycotting governments chosen by us? Should we be more generous and allow them to grab more and more of our lands and destroy our holy places? The list is long Mister Brown, but you got the idea and you can tell us is that the magnanimity we ought to show?

Simply because Obama had talk the talk doesn't imply the Muslims should "act the act" if you know what im sayin.

The honour lies in the person talking to act then and only then the equation can be balance. Do as I do not do as i say, this is the base.

The author of the article had been carried away by the Orator Obama too much.

I guess it's an excellent thing that US is opening up to Islamic world. I hope this will fine-tune Muslim world and do not consider Muslims and the radical. I presume that Obama is bold for visiting some Muslim nations. I hope all well for Obama and USA. I also hope they ( Obama, USA and the west) wish the same for Muslims

Given that Obama stated that the relationship with Israel is unbreakable, he will not unclench his fist in Afghanistan and he will not recognize the freely elected representative of the Palestinians one might speculate that his speech is another ruse to make demands of the muslims and then say he has no honest partner in the peace process when those one sided demands are not met. We have seen this ruse used many times by his allies. But such a ruse would put the final nail in the coffin of relationship between the west and those that supply the west with its energy.
Consider that bush's aggression raised the risk to shipping in the straights of houmse to the point that oil went above $100 a barrel and threats by Israel pushed it even higher. Bush had to tell Israel to back off or risk collapsing the worlds' economy. As it is he destroyed one of the last manufacturing sectors left in the US, the auto industry. (Arguably, their inability to change their behavior in producing gas guzzlers didn't help but that's illustrative as well.)
As the world moves toward the down slope of the Hubbert curve and yet demand continues to increase the price sensitivity will increase. Disruption of production or transport will have increasingly significant results. The US might be able to gets it's oil from Venezuela but the bush regime didn't endear the US to Venezuela.
So if this is a ruse, the US is setting itself, and the rest of the world, up for a fall.

re: John House.
I wish you peace.
You have been reading the massacre of Muslims in their own homes quite incorrectly. They are being murdered by the West and the illegal state of Israel before they can reach you with a clear message of peace. It is the West and Israel that needs to leave the Muslims alone. They are occupying their lands They are being bullied.
Indeed if you wish to see the so cold religious 'kiosks' I suggest you visit many countries south of the Sahara and you will be 'delighted' to see the active 'missionaries; buying the populace into christianity. That is; imposing christianity upon the poor.

Until there is visible change in Islam, like the ability to leave Israel, the US, the west, and the world alone without trying to impose Islam on others via lies, subversion, blackmail, terrorism, jihad, oil embargos, bullying, war, etc Jews and Gentiles will reserve the right to embrace, employ, and spread Biblical Christianity.

OBAMA is no different. He is as coward and as weak as all the other American presidents.

Anyone who brags about being a staunch ally of Israel, the illegal state, deserves no respect from me. One has to be brave and speak the truth even if the truth goes against you or against your whore/sweetheart.

Muslims need to stop looking at America to fix their problems. Muslims need to be united and solve their own problems. America will never solve your problems. So, stop being naive and please grow up for God's sake. As long as you have oil, America will pretend to be your friends to fill their gas tank. No OIL, NO AMERICA, NO OBAMA. You do not have to be a genius to figure this out.


Palestine. Afghanistan. Iraq.