Be Very Concerned But Also Be Involved
By Naseeb Khan
It has now been four years since the United
States decided for whatever reason to go against all international law and UN recommendations and invade the sovereign country of Iraq without any provocation from them. This war which has turned into invasion is about to enter its fourth year. This continuing conflict with the Muslim populace has led to a rising number of Americans to have a negative view of Islam.
In the years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the number of Americans expressing negative views of Islam has been increasing steadily. A poll released in early March this year by the Washington Post and ABC News showed that 46 percent of Americans view Islam negatively. That's up seven percent from the months following the 9/11 attacks. This should be a grave cause for concern by all Muslims living in the United States. The continued violence in Iraq that is seen daily on our television does not help the situation.
To add to this mix, we witnessed the attempt by Dubai to buy and manage six American ports. This deal was seen as one of the greatest potential threat facing the United States and U.S. lawmakers did everything in their power to block the deal. They succeeded by whipping up the American public and scaring them into thinking that allowing this deal was tantamount to giving away our security to a foreign government. The Muslims view this scene from a different perspective. What they see is that this deal was opposed purely on the concept of mistrust for all things Arab or Muslim. This is their belief. The British ran the ports before and it was okay. There was no evidence that Dubai Ports had ever been associated with terrorism or any misbehavior. They have been running ports all over the world for years. Yet, they were penalized because they were Arabs and Muslims. Even though they are among the best allies of the United States presently in the war on Iraq, it was not enough to trust them.
This is the danger Muslims must be aware of. When the American people begin to view everything Muslim or Islam as a threat to their lifestyle, then they must be justifiably concerned. The other factor that has contributed to the negative view of Islam and Muslims is the ongoing saga with Iran. The constant media coverage of Iran's nuclear crisis serves to confirm that Muslims are bent on securing weapons to destroy the world. The survey taken also indicated that one in three Americans believe Islam helps fuel violence against non-Muslims, while one in four admit to being prejudiced against Muslims.
Given the reports of violence in the Middle East, including kidnappings, killings and videotaped beheadings, it is small wonder that Americans would view Islam in a negative way. Then in addition to all of this mess, along came the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (SA) in the most hideous manner. The Muslims again as if programmed reacted by burning buildings, boycotting products, marches etc. This again did not help the image of Islam in the minds of Americans or people of the West.
All of these incidents and surveys should be taken seriously by Muslims living in the United States. What was not noted and no survey taken of, was the views of the Muslims towards America. With each passing day, Muslims are slowly becoming distanced from all the good that America stands for. The Muslims also see the pictures of innocent Iraqis being killing while praying in their Masjids. They see families being humiliated by soldiers breaking down their doors at night and forcing them to stand improperly dressed while they ransack their homes. The Muslims also witness the Iraqi prisoners being treated as if there are sub-humans and animals. They see the young Iraqi women who are being raped by soldiers as if they do not count. Yes, the Muslims see all of this and it makes them hate America, the land of their citizenship and birth. But the Muslims also see something more important, they see that these acts are being done by Christians. They hear the preachers using hate speech against Islam from their pulpits and they come away with the conclusion that this exercise is really an attack on Islam and all things Muslim by Christian fundamentalists. This conclusion gets even more concrete in the minds of Muslims when they get harassed at Airports, on their jobs, in public places and their Masjids and homes being bugged. If this continues much longer it will only serve to radicalize Muslims and make them see America as their enemy. This is what is so dangerous.
As a Muslim myself, I must let my Muslim brothers and sisters know that we can no longer sit back and just attend our Masjids and feel that all is going to be fine with us. We have got to realize that if there is a negative perspective and view of Muslims and Islam, then we have got to try to do something to change this. We have got to start to speak out and explain our faith to others. We have got to get the truth about Islam out there in whatever way we can. We have to let others know that our faith, Islam is one of the most peaceful and tolerant ways of life on this planet. We need to let them know that Muslims are some of the most generous, kind and peaceful peoples on the face of the earth. We have got to change the image of Islam and Muslims ourselves. We must team up with any person or group who are involved in this process and help them too. We must begin to speak, to write, to debate, and engage the non-Muslims as much as we can in order to set the record straight. We have got to wake up and act as if we are awake.
There are those on both sides of the aisle, the Muslims and Non-Muslims who have agendas of destruction. We must not let them win. America is our home and we must protect it from extremism regardless of where it is coming from.
We must speak truth even against our own. We must work with those on both sides of the aisle who understand the danger we are heading towards. Some have called it a clash of civilizations. Whatever the name the result will not be pretty. It will result in the innocent once again being randomly slaughtered and killed.
I urge all those conscious Muslims who feel my concern to recognize, that with every survey showing America's negative view of Islam, it means fewer opportunities for us in this land. After the 9/11 disaster, many Muslims had their contracts terminated and many more were fired without justification from their jobs. It had become fashionable not to do business with Muslims.
It has not really gotten better. In fact if the survey is to be believed it is now worse than ever. I urge all of our young people to become engaged in this new struggle to make the Islamic teachings known. This can be done in two ways, namely by practicing it and by advertising it. Becoming engaged and involved, vocal and outspoken is our only way forward. Let us all embrace this new struggle and we pray to Allah to help us win it quickly.