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Islam and the West (07 Dec 2011 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Islam-Supremacism Taking Roots in the US too: Moderate American Muslims have a Herculean Task Ahead

 

 

By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

7 Dec 2011

•        Islam is a universal religion. Our prophet came to serve humanity. All other prophets came to serve only their people. Only al-Islam is a universal religion for all humanity.

•        Sword protected al-Islam for 1,000 years. There was no state to protect Bible or other holy books. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) created a state to protect the Quran. So Quran was protected. Sword protected it.

•        Quran is word of God. Word for word. Word of God and Man are mixed together in Bible. In Torah, Prophet Ishmael is described as an ass. Can God call one of his prophets an ass? 

•        A dozen people come to this centre to convert every month. A 21-year-old girl came recently. Father English Methodist. Mother Irish. Her parents were not happy with her decision. But she was adamant. How could I reject? 12 times a month, people come to get converted to Islam. Because Islam is the word of God.

•        Islam solves problems beautifully. Easy, clean solution. For instance, polygamy is required in certain situations. War creates situations in which there are not enough men for every woman. Half a husband is better than nothing. Because of the practice of polygamy a childless wife is not divorced.

•        The use of Quranic verses to justify violence like 9/11 is the worst disfigurement of Islam. 800 Muslim lives were also lost on 9/11. 9/11 was not a religious event. It was purely political. Muslims have never been terrorists in history. Even in the fight between the US and Soviet Union, Muslims were on the side of the US. Osama bin Laden was then a friend of the US. He probably wanted a price for supporting the US in the struggle against Soviet Union. But got nothing and so turned against the US. We felt relief after his killing. His ghaibana namaz-e-Janaza (funeral prayer in absentia) was not said here in America. He was a major cause of Islamophobia.

•        Islamophobia and Terrorism are souring our lives here. We are trying to convince Americans that we are a moderate people. For instance, there is a lot of violence in America. Thousands of cases of rape and murder and other acts of violence are reported. The one community whose members do not commit violence is Muslim. Muslim crime statistics is zero. At world level too, the Muslims who engage in extremist violence constitute merely a tiny percentage of the 1.5 billion strong community.

•        Islamophobia is a new phenomenon, promoted by anti-Islam media. US foreign policy is turning more positive towards Muslims. Bush period was bad. Things are getting better under Obama. But certain vested interests in the country fuel the fire of hatred.

•        Islam is the last and the youngest religion. Islam is the fastest growing religion. It is perceived by some vested interests as a threat, growing threat. Nobody is attacking other religions. The reasons are not difficult to see. Islam is against pornography, drug trafficking, alcohol, pork, gambling, Western banking – so it is a threat. All these interests join forces against Islam.

•        I don’t believe there are any Muslim terrorists in this country.

•        As long as a Palestinian state is not established, there will be violence, terrorism.

•        Arab Muslims are demanding freedom, democracy. So Muslims and the United States are in the same boat. We support the values of the United States. But as Muslims we live by Islamic values.

These are the views of Imam Shamsi Ali, the Imam of Islamic Culture Center of New York, which is the city’s largest mosque, located in 96th Street and 3rd Avenue Manhattan. He is chairman of the Al-Hikmah Mosque in Astoria and the Director of Jamaica Muslim Centre in Queens. He serves as an Advisory Board member to numerous interfaith organizations, including the Tannebaum Centre and Federation for Middle East Peace. He is also chairman of the Board of Trustees for the ASEAN Muslims Federation of North America. He is also a Board member for the Partnership in Faith in New York and co-founder of the UNCC (Universal Clergy Coalition-International). Furthermore, he is also Assistant Director and a Board member of the Muslim Foundation of America, Inc., and Chairman of the annual Muslim Day Parade in NYC. He also serves as the Vice President of the Asian-America Coalition USA (AAC-USA) and it’s UN Representative.

This may appear to be a rather long bio for a short article, but actually it is quite short, just 10 percent of the one provided by State Department to us, a visiting team of 20 Asian Muslim journalists as part of its programme “Many Facets of Islam.” The point is: Imam Shamsi is a very influential Muslim religious leader. The US administration, several other governments as well as leaders of different faiths treat him with utmost respect. He indeed has great influence among Muslims in New York and perhaps elsewhere in the country.

It’s a careful study of his views that is likely to tell us where American Islam is heading. One must carefully study, therefore, his thoughts on Islam, pluralism, interfaith relations, terrorism, Islam and the west, Islam in America, 9/11, and so on to be able to understand the state of American Islam. The above quotes must have given you some idea. Imam Shamsi is clearly a representative of Wahhabi, petrodollar Islam. And why not? He is the Imam of a mosque that was built by Arab petrodollars, mostly from Kuwait. So the ambassador of Kuwait is always the chairman of the board of management that runs the Islamic centre; nearly all Arab ambassadors are members of the board.

Imam Shamsi can be safely considered to be a representative of the community of Muslim Imams in the United States. All the imams come from madrasas and Islamic studies departments funded by Arab petrodollars. The one and only curriculum available anywhere is the one provided by Saudi Arabia and Saudi-funded Islamic websites.

In another interaction, this time with a representative of moderate Islam, Daisy Khan, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), along with her husband Imam Feisal Adbul Rauf, I asked if a moderate curriculum is available anywhere. She said ASMA is retraining Imams in Afghanistan and plans to do so in Pakistan. I asked her what her experience with retraining imams in America was and if she did think that these people could indeed be retrained. But it transpired that this question was based on a wrong assumption. I had assumed that she must have already experimented with retraining Imams in the US. She couldn’t explain why charity did not begin at home for her but I assume that this may be due to a widespread misconception in many multi-religious societies including India that living in a secular, multicultural society Muslims here would naturally evolve into a community tolerant of diversity and respectful of other faiths.

Islam has a long history of respectful co-existence with other faith communities. Respecting founders of other faiths and giving them the same status as our own Prophet (pbuh), is a part of our faith, as taught in the Quran. But Islam-supremacism, even contempt for other faiths, has been spread with such passion by petrodollar-funded media, schools, universities and madrasas, distorting the message of Islam, that it has become a widespread belief among Muslims all over the world. “We (Wahhabis) alone will go to Heaven, the rest of Muslims, and of course, others, are all fodder for Hell,” has become the reigning sentiment. Facts, however, prove otherwise. God told us that Islam is not a new religion; it is the same religion that has been revealed to tens of thousands of prophets since the first man and first prophet Adam (pbuh) came to earth. All these prophets taught to their people in the language of their region and time.  God promises in the Quran to judge people on the basis of their faith and deeds. But Imam Shamsi and all other imams actually, tell us that Islam alone is a universal religion. So Christianity and Judaism should remain confined to Palestine and Israel, Hinduism and Buddhism to India and so on.

It is anybody’s guess how his Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu interlocutors react when Imam Shamsi tells them in the “interfaith dialogue” he holds that the founders of their religions brought to them teachings that were meant only for their regions and not the whole world and only the teachings of God that were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) were meant for the whole world.

But, more importantly, if American Muslims are allowing such Islam-supremacist, un-Islamic views that directly contradict teachings of Quran, to cloud their horizon, this doesn’t augur well for their integration in American society. Already, as I discovered, in a large room designated as a Muslim prayer hall in the Congress building on the Capitol Hill, almost all the participants in Friday prayers, were trained in and followed the Wahhabi way of prayer. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are all Wahhabis. All Wahhabis too are not extremists. And if Wahhabi imams, media, books, websites, etc. are the only ones available to provide religious training, what else would one learn. But imams like Imam Feisal Adbul Rauf need to expend more energy in making an alternative moderate Islamic educational system, curriculum, text books, etc. available, first to American Muslims, and then to Afghanistan and Pakistan and the rest of the Muslim world.

 It would be a tragedy if American Muslims too went the British way. What Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, did in the United Kingdom in 1980s is being done in the US by a number of organisations and imams like Imam Shamsi today. Naturally in the post 9/11 environment, these elements have to be guarded in their language. They all have to mouth platitudes about Islam being against terrorism, etc., which, of course, it is.

But ask them specific questions about pluralism, co-existence, respecting other faiths, treating others religious groups genuinely as Ahl-e-Kitab, present-day applicability of war-related instructions in the Holy Quran, ban on minority religious worship places in Saudi Arabia, near-ban on propagation of other religions almost everywhere in Muslim-majority lands, etc. and the thin veneer of civilisation starts to wears off. The irony is completely lost even on the Muslims who are saying their prayers in the Muslim prayer hall on the Capitol Hill, the seat of American democracy; they do not care to express any opinion on the impossibility of having a prayer place anywhere in the whole country of Saudi Arabia, the seat of Islam. They may not ask for “Sharia-controlled zones” and the like a la Britain, but who knows where this trend is leading.

Incidentally the Muslim prayer hall was officially sponsored by Muslim congressmen Andre Carson (D-IN) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) and permitted, of all people by the right wing republican presidential hopeful and then House speaker Newt Gingrich. Regular participants in Friday prayers include about 100 Muslims who work for Congress in capacities like information technology, policing and legislative research. It’s their organisation the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) that manages these weekly Friday prayers. While there is a standby Imam, almost every week organisers invite a guest Imam or a trained khateeb (preacher), who can be even social and political activists, from different parts of the country. If you can believe Fox News, one of the prayer leaders here once was even Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious Al Qaeda cleric killed recently in Yemen.

Clearly moderates who can read the writing on the wall have to fight as fierce a battle in the US as elsewhere. Saudi Arabia will continue to export Wahhabism around the world. It will continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on the project as it has since 1974 and has continued even after 9/11. It would be futile to expect any support from the US or any other government. The US will continue to protect Saudi evangelism and flouting of civilised Islamic norms of behaviour. If there was one country asking for regime change after 9/11, it was Saudi Arabia. 16 out of 19 terrorists involved in 9/11were Saudis. But what to speak of clamping down, the US probably did not even so much as warn the Saudis. It cannot intervene in internal, particularly religious matters. This is the message I got in a nutshell from both envoys of the Obama administration for outreach to Muslims, Farah Pandith and Rashad Hussain, with whom we interacted in separate meetings. Ditto for every other country.

And perhaps that is as it should be. Government intervention might make matters worse; give the purveyors of Jahiliya in the name of Islam another stick to beat the world with. In any case this is war within Islam more than anything else. It is an attempt to colonise Muslim minds. It is Muslims who should fight it. It is for progressive Muslims, moderate ulema (religious scholars), to create a social movement that can reverse the growing tide of radical Wahhabism, so assiduously promoted by Saudis, no matter how Herculean the task may appear to be.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/islam-supremacism-taking-roots-in-the-us-too--moderate-american-muslims-have-a-herculean-task-ahead/d/6086

 


TOTAL COMMENTS:-   17
  • Supremacism Taking Roots in the US 

    The article below highlights Imam Shamsi Ali, the Imam of Islamic Culture Centre of New York who is telling that Quran was preserved through the Sword and other things about Islam that are not kosher. First of all, I will contact the officers of their board and if no response, I will visit the mosque to present an alternate view. I do need to ensure that  the information is accurate as finding the truth is one's own responsibility.

    As Americans, we value free speech,  he has the freedom to say anything he wants just as the Spencers, Gabrielles, Horowitzs, Santorums, Gingrichs and others have it and use the altars of places of worship to deliver it.  As a Muslim, I want to speak out against it, at least we cannot do evil things just because others do. I have been monitoring this for a while, this is the first one in several years... and Insha Allah, I will visit Imam Shamsi Ali and hope to begin the process to end that kind of rhetoric.  


    Mike Ghouse
    www.MikeGhouse.net


    By Mike Ghouse - 1/9/2012 8:09:19 AM
  • AA

    Thank you.

    Now, I have an incentive to visit Shamsi's mosque and listen to him and will speak out.

    We cannot let this this happen, and I will not put up with this in my country. I will take my camera and video tape the guy.

    Mike Ghouse
    www.Islamtogetherfoundation.com

     


    By Mike Ghouse - 1/9/2012 7:50:56 AM
  • Now these venomous speeches are available around the world through YouTube, but even much earlier they were available through audio cassettes. I remember hearing and then buying similar stuff on cassettes in Basti Nizamuddin more than 15 years ago. Zia and the Afghan Jihad had their ardent admirers in India too. Back then the worst remained in cassettes, now it is spilling over into the printed press too. The language now used in some Urdu newspapers concerning the Ahmadis, for example, would not have been considered acceptable a few decades ago.
    It has taken many years for such poisonous ideas and such abusive language to become acceptable, even respectable. And it will take many years and steady resistance for them to return to what they were much much earlier -- i.e. fringe ideas that most people would not even allow themselves to hear. The case of Pakistan is extreme, but those who find "religious" satisfaction in what is happening there are all over the world.
    C. M. Naim


    By C.M. Naim - 1/4/2012 2:40:16 PM
  • You are right, Mr. Rashid, "It takes two to a tango". But "those who are running away from ‘Shariah’ laws of the fanatic regimes and take to leaky and rusty boats or in cargo holds of planes, to seek asylum in the West," are not the ones demanding Shariah laws here. It’s the economic refugees who do that once they have found jobs and have settled down with a little bit of prosperity. But they don't realise the consequent Islamophobia they are causing will probably force them to go back to the abject poverty and helplessness of their lands.


    By Arif Khan - 12/20/2011 4:54:38 PM
  • Re: Elizabeth Potter's post, a petition has been signed by a large number of American Muslims censuring Loewe's for their hasty and inconsiderate action. Many Muslims have agreed not to shop at Loew's.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/17/2011 12:51:16 AM
  • Hello againI thought that you and the readers of New Age Islam would be interested to know that last week Lowe’s Home Improvement pulled its ads from the TLC show All-American Muslim in response to an organization claiming the show "falsely humanized Muslims in America.” The Lowe’s controversy has exposed more Islamophobia in America. This issue falls directly in line with what the My Fellow American project is trying to prevent and overcome in America.As a supporter of the project, would you please visit www.myfellowamerican.us to share what this controversy means to you? I encourage you to ask your readers to do the same to help spread the message of tolerance to fight back against intolerance and fear-mongering. We've just posted a host of new content from various entertainers and faith leaders on this topic.

    Thank you for your continued support!
    Elizabeth
    --
    Elizabeth Potter
    Unity Productions Foundation
    myfellowamerican.us
    facebook.com/MyFellowAmericanProject
    @usmuslimstories


    By Elizabeth Potter, Unity Productions Foundation - 12/16/2011 3:38:30 PM
  • It is a paradox that we in the so called West find ourselves battling to come to grips with.

      Not only the West’s selective application of ‘democracy’ but the various tones it gives to it. From absolute disregard to it a ala un-ambiguous support for Arab demigods such as Saudis etc to mad cap thrice declared mentally deficient pagal president of Pakistan (PPP) and many absolutely corrupt governments. Absolute support for military regimes for decades in many countries round the world which have usurped the power from parties overwhelmingly and fairly elected in democratic election processes. Too many to name.Overt and covert support for so called fundamentalist – really fanatics-- religious groups, mainly in Muslim countries to serve its national interests totally and unjustly.Their un-questioning and downright lap-dog subservience to Zionist State of Israel against all standards of international decencies.

     

    To add to the complexity or even felony, the majority of ‘refugees’ from Muslim countries when to escape the oppression in their home countries and ‘Sharia’ laws of the fanatic regimes take to leaky and rusty boats or in cargo holds of planes, to seek asylum in the West, they demand the same shariya laws on arrival!

     

    If it is a vicious circle then it has to broken some where and many try it out in their own way!! It takes two to a tango they say.


    By Rashid - 12/14/2011 12:55:15 AM
  • Mr. Sultan Shahin should not be so harsh on one Imam. I read somewhere that 80 per cent of mosques in the United States are run by Salafis, Wahhabis.

    But he is right on one count, there cannot be interfaith dialogue with such exclusivist views in your heart. And interfaith dialogue is the need of the hour, not just in the US but everywhere else.


    By Kahkashan - 12/12/2011 4:04:21 PM
  • Satwa is right. America is not blameless. Its closest ally Saudi Arabia is exporting the supremacist doctrines of Wahabism but there is nothing that America does to stop them or even to distance itself from them. It is also true that  governments which are doing a poor job for their people are keeping themselves in power by trumpeting their Islamist credentials. 
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/9/2011 1:44:05 PM
  • I am in full agreement with Mr Sultan Shahin and all other readers whose efforts have made it worth reading  and appreciate their scholarly comments and research work done on this topic. I expect some more Islamic intellectual scholars will write on this important topic.


    By Raihan Nezami - 12/9/2011 6:00:30 AM
  • Mr Sultan Shahin, it is my mistake that I read so fast that I miss out some MAJOR points. I am sure, I must not have noticed "ONLY" Islam as the universal religion. I apologise once again.

    It's also my lack of ability to make others understand what I want to say that has caused this confusion. I wish to emphasise that I had written: "The imam said that 'Islam is the last and the youngest religion'. It speaks of Imam's lack of knowledge and ignorance. Islam is the oldest religion, it is the culmination of religions, just like Muhammad (pbuh)is the end of the chain of prophets, which started from Adam (pbuh) and ended with Muhammad (pbuh). Similarly, the Quran is the last and final revelation of God, before it, came many revelations and to every nation". My motive to write this point was to reiterate that just like Muhammad, even prophet Ram or Krishna or Buddha or Mahavira or Jesus(pbut) were sent by God to different nations at different times with the message of God. That is the reason we see verses of the Bible or Rig Veda or Dhammapad( though this particular book i have not read) to be similar to God, indicating that the origin of all these holy books were one, i.e, from God.

    If this is what the Imam said, that ONLY Islam is the acceptable religion, then the major implication is more segregation of the Muslims, by the Muslims themselves, hence there will always remain misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, that Islam has no place for plurality, which actually goes against the teachings of the Quran.


    By Aiman Reyaz - 12/9/2011 5:57:12 AM
  • How could you, of all people, Aiman Reyaz, agree with the first point of what the New York Imam Shamsi is saying? You perhaps did not read it carefully. He is saying that ONLY Prophet Mohammad brought a religion that is universal, the rest of religions are meant for people of that area, region, or maybe just that village where those tens of thousands of prophets came and brought the message from the same one and only God, as authenticated by Quran, who revealed them to Prophet Mohammad.
     If God in Quran does not discriminate between any of His prophets and asks us all to treat them as equal in status to Prophet Mohammad, who are we or who is an Imam, for that matter, to treat these prophets as inferior in status to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
    What kind of interfaith DIALOGUE does this Imam engage in with this kind of attitude? What kind of interfaith DIALOGUE is possible with this approach?
    Don’t you see the implication of what he is saying? What he means is that except Islam, no other religion has any business being in America or Europe or anywhere else, except where it was born. Is this acceptable in any way.
    Let us not run after slogans. Islam is a universal religion. Of course, it is. But so are others. There is room for everyone on this planet. It should be especially so for a Muslim who believes that all previous religions were forms of Islam itself brought by God’s prophets in the languages of the time and place where they came.

    At the same time we should not expect other religions to consider themselves a previous forms of Islam. If they think they are separate religions, let them think so and compete with Islam in the matter of influencing people and even converting them.  We can continue to treat them as previous forms of Islam but we cannot at the same time treat them as inferior and meant only for a particular people and area.


    By Sultan Shahin - 12/9/2011 3:53:22 AM
  • @syed

    I agree, that is the reality of the moderate Muslim anywhere and everywhere where they are in majority.

    By satwa gunam - 12/8/2011 11:28:39 PM
  • Hi, after the end of cold war, the USA does not have any enemy to justify the arms business. From the USA / Jews perspective they have to show Islam in poor light before the world. Offer poison as a solution to poison. For the rigid attitude of Israel which is criticized by the whole world, they are creating a more rigid Islam through Saudi Arabia.
    Now see what is happening. USA is a friend of Saudi Arabia which exports Islamic fundamentalism that encourages hatred towards other religions but Saudi Arabia continues to be the best friend of America. America is the best friend of Israel.
    Today the whole arms industry of America is justified due to the threat from Islamic fundamentalism. Further it also helps them to dump the arms to countries like India and Pakistan. USA is a friend of Pakistan which encourages Islamic fundamentalism.
    Today Islamic fundamentalism is a diversion for many developing country politicians to cover their own shortcoming in the economic field. It is also to hide the increasing gap between the rich and poor in all these developed countries. These developed countries are being destroyed by the greed of a few people who have effectively purchased the political system of those countries.


    By satwa gunam - 12/8/2011 11:08:43 AM
  • In am afraid the apathetic moderate Muslims will sit on the side lines until things get out of hand.  I believe if some moderate Muslim questions the wrong doing of those zealots the poor guy  will receive the wrath of the zealots on the basis of some obscure Hadees or  some out of context  lines from the Quran, and the poor guy will be asked to shut up or loose his  head.  End of the story.


    By Syed Rizvi - 12/8/2011 1:48:15 AM

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