I’ve started the first, of many guest blogposting articles, on my site. The first of what I hope to be many blogposting article is a brother, named, Mohammad Humayun Khan, and he has written something very noteworthy to read-Mohammad Humayun Khan has written about the upcoming presidential-election, that is going to be a very crucial, perhaps the most crucial presidential-election to date.
This is his stance, in his own words:
I have wanted to write this article/note for a while but never had the chance to get around to it. However since it’s only a week away, I thought the elections would be an appropriate context in which to write this.
Just so you know, this piece is not intended to be political-I am not advocating for or endorsing a candidate-The purpose of bringing in the election, and current politics, is to illustrate the broader points I am trying to make.
Throughout this election-season, and up to the recent presidential-debates, I have noticed that most American Muslims (AMs for the remainder of this writing) lean heavily in support towards the incumbent, President Obama. Through conversations with most AMs (including both fervent Obama supporters and the ho-hum ones), I’ve noticed that the reasons, presented, for supporting him can be described as nothing less than narrow & linear. The most often-cited reasons are his rhetoric of inclusion (at least as compared to many in the Republican camp), as well as his anti-war stances (i.e. Iraq). Basically, it seems like most AMs have a goody-goody feeling about President Obama. Reasons, both on a conscious level and subconscious level, may include that he is non-white, his middle name is Hussain, he looks foreign, he goes to the Middle East and gives inspiring speeches, has a less hawkish sounding stance on the Israeli-Palestine issue, or he says Pakistan like any authentic, biryani-loving, tea-drinking, tobacco-chewing Pakistani, from Karachi, would.
If these are, in fact, the only reasons AMs support him, then this is a very disturbing phenomenon and points to broader issues we have in the AM community. The two broadest issues it points to is that of Muslims not taking ownership of this country and Muslims’ linear and unsystematic way of thinking. These two broad issues are the point of emphasis of this note.
The point of this note is not to take sides of who is a better candidate for this country. Obviously, AMs, like any other American group, will and should vote for the candidate whom they think will best represent their interests. For AMs, this includes issues on foreign-policy, related to Muslim-Countries, Islamophobia, civil-liberties, etc. However, why is it that most Muslims seem to virtually ignore the rest of the issues that affect the United States, as a whole? Issues related to the economy, deficit/debt, healthcare, and education, seem to be neatly tucked under the rug. From my conversations, with the average AM, they seem to be very ignorant about the facts and circumstances around these other challenges we face as Americans.
For example, we know that the deficit/debt problem is probably the number-one problem we have in this country; yet, I have not heard any AM or AM organization, in the US, take this issue very seriously. Look, if you are an American Muslim and looked at these other issues in depth, and have concluded that Obama is in fact a better choice for this country, I have no problem with that! What I do have a problem with are AMs totally ignoring the issues that are not exclusively tied to their sectarian interests. And, I honestly don’t think if all AMs objectively looked at these other issues, all or even most, would conclude that Obama’s policies are worth trumpeting for (i.e. Obamacare, high government spending, failed stimulus, drone-attacks, killing US citizens abroad without evidence, or due-process/trial, invasion of sovereignty of Muslim-Countries).
Of course, many would still favor some of his policies over the challenger, Mitt Romney; but, I don’t think all AMs would agree that his policies are unanimously better than Romney’s. Sadly, most AMs have not even taken a chance to read Romney’s nor Paul Ryan’s economic-plans; yet, they somehow spew-off the same extreme left-leaning rhetoric, of how it would be hurtful to the economy. If you did read it, and you think it would, that is fine! But most AMs have not, and yet, still ignorantly reject anything that comes from that alternative political-voice.
Shouldn’t we, as American Muslims, who live, work and reap the benefits of this country, start at the very least, weigh-in these broader issues, as heavily as those that only affect our narrow and exclusive interests? Or, at the very least start talking about the other issues?
Sadly, this phenomenon of exclusively concentrating on Muslim-centric issues sort of indicates that AMs are not taking real ownership of this country. Many AMs will say that they do not truly feel part of this country. To that I say, how could you not? Have we not been blessed to be able to come into this country, settle-down & settle-in, live with peace and security, obtain a better life than any of our relatives back home can ever dream of, practice our religion openly, send our kids (both boys and girls) to school, and live in a society that provides us opportunity after opportunity? Many will point to the growing tide of Islamophobia and the damage it has taken on their psyche. No doubt, that Islamophobia is a major concern-My response to that is if AMs genuinely and proactively start finding solutions, to the broader challenges that the country faces as a whole, Islamophobia will naturally start to dissipate.
What’s most-amazing is that there are a few issues that dominate the AM political-discourse, to such an extent, that most AMs who don’t even have a clue or genuine concern about these issues will vote for a candidate solely based on the stance the candidate takes on it.
I hate to bring this up, but the best example of this is the Israeli-Palestine problem. Now, this is one area that actually seems to unify Muslims around the world and AMs should care about this issue as it speaks to one of the most atrocious forms of injustice and divisiveness in Human-History. But most AMs, who are not even knowledgeable about the situation, completely write-off a candidate, just because they feel a candidate may be on the wrong side of the issue.
I mean, honestly, ask yourselves these questions: Do you really lose sleep at night, thinking about what’s going on in Palestine? I mean, really, wouldn’t the impending loss of your job or health-problems of your children, cause more consternation to you than some of these other Muslim-centric issues? If so, then, why should we not vote along the lines which actually has direct-affects on our day-to-day lives? Or, why not at least, start weighing-in on these broader issues proportionally?
I am not saying that we shouldn’t care about the Israeli-Palestine issue; but, we need to be more rational, in the way in which we make our voting-decisions, or at the very least, the way we direct our discourse!
Unfortunately, thinking in such an exclusively centered way also shows AMs’ unsystematic thinking-process which leads to counter-intuitive results. What I mean by this is that if AMs start becoming authentic participants in this society, and start finding solutions to the problems posed to this great nation, it would translate into better outcomes for Muslims around the world-Holding seats in Congress, or beings heads of major corporations/institutions bring a more dramatic change to the status-quo in both the Muslim-World, as well as the Western-World-A more robust US economy (with all else being equal) would, naturally, translate into more wealth for AMs, which can be used towards charitable-causes and more importantly, in the building of institutions and infrastructure of positive change in both the Muslim-World & the Western-World.
As a tangible example-
In the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of attending a few charitable-dinners, aimed at raising money, for greater causes in Pakistan, such as the renovation of hospitals or the development of schools. At one of these events, as I sat and watched my fellow, generous, Pakistani-Americans, pour out money for these worthy-causes, I couldn’t help to wonder how we became so blessed to have the opportunities to give back in the first place. For whatever the reason, Allah has chosen us, to be these most-fortunate individuals. But, I’ve also found myself pondering about the future of AMs (in this case Pakistani AMs) in this country, and the possibility of AMs being enormously wealthy and simultaneously being positive agents of change in our societies. So, I’ve imagined the same fundraising dinner, 10 years from now, and couldn’t contain my excitement on thinking about how we would be able to generate 5,10 or 20 times more funds, for all of these various worthy-causes! I mean, really think about that!
However, the success of AMs cannot come at the detriment of the United States of America. In other words, the success of AMs is intractability tied to the success of this great country of ours. Therefore, AMs need to become authentic stake-holders of this country, and, in turn, have to find and develop solutions to the problems that the US is currently faces. Moreover, some of the current problems the US faces are ones which Islam, itself, has the ability to solve. I mean, think about the fact that our National Debt sits at over $16 Trillion; how are we to pay interest on this Debt based on its enormous size?!!! Even rudimentary knowledge of Islam reveals the abhorrence of interest-based debt. Thus, we, as AMs, should be at the forefront, spear-heading the solutions to this financial-issue!
To end, I just want to thank everyone who has read this note, with an open mind. Again, this was never meant to be a political-piece; rather, I am just hoping to bring a change in peoples thinking methodology. Whether you vote Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, other, or even neither, please weigh-in ALL issues, which we all face, as Americans. Start taking ownership of this country, which means not just taking the benefits and hiding, but also sharing in the problems, being active-participants in the solutions, start thinking systematically and reasonably, because we know a community is doomed to fail if it fails to reason.
And please let me know your guys thoughts on this!
Mohammad Humayun Khan/2012