Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Imam Zaid Shakir on Segregation among Muslims in America

RACISM in the USA is "understandable," but among Muslims, it is the most dispeakable and rotten acceptable thing in many American Masjids. I am sorry to say that most of the Muslim leaders in many Muslim organizations and Imams in most of the Masjids were trained in the TOILET. While Americans are busy trying to get rid of their racist past, Muslim immigrants are busy reaching out to all the waste from the segregation out houses. The following interview is an indictment to the Muslim community and if nothing is done about it, defending the image of Islam will be impossible. Imam Zakir Shakir happens to be an indigenous American and that is why he can point at the cancer. It is about time ISNA, ICNA and all immigrant led organizations come out and say they have been busy spreading FITNA.

You can click the link below for more information.

Segregation and Marginalization is NOT the will of God

Wajahat Ali (AltMuslim)

There is a problem of race relations within the Muslim American community: Muslim on Muslim crime, if you will. Often most Muslim conferences talk about "Unity" yet we traffic in stereotyping and racial prejudice that is rampant within the American Muslim citizenry. What causes this?

Imam Zaid Shakir:
As Muslims in this country there are lots of factors that work to create divisions at a fundamental level between communities whose populations are rooted in immigration and communities of converts: African Americans primarily, but increasingly Latino and Caucasian-American. From an immigrant perspective you have people in many instances who are coming to America, who have been, historically, attracted to her through "brain drain politics."

People who were successful on their own right, people able to pass very rigid entrance exams in their respective countries - they were very privileged and talented individuals. When coming to this country, they found the universities to be very receptive, and the brightest were given scholarships and education. When you have that degree of talent, it becomes very easy to assume anyone, who just works hard and gets ahead, makes it the way "I made it" - and not to look at the some of the factors that work against everyone getting ahead just like in the country where you come from. In that country, there were, say, only 5000 seats for education, but there were millions who couldn’t pass the high school exams, and millions who couldn’t pass the junior high exams.

So, there is a tendency when one is successful to forget the realities that render a lot of people unsuccessful – to use those terms. Coming with those attitudes and seeing people whom you assume had the same opportunities you had in this land of opportunity – it works towards creating very narrow minded attitudes that are very shallow in terms of really understanding the dynamics at work in the lives of many people from different racial, ethnic groups. Those prejudices play themselves out in the mosques.

In addition, many of our societies are plagued by racialized thinking. You see a lot of color consciousness in a lot of Muslim societies - Syria and to a lesser extent Sudan. Pakistan and India where lighter skin people are looked in a different light than darker people. The daughter who has lighter skin, even if her features aren’t as attractive as the darker skinned daughter, she gets all the marriage proposals.

Wajahat Ali (AltMuslim)
She’s the number one draft pick.

Imam Zaid Shakir:
Yeah, so then you come to this country and you see a lot of African American Muslims and you have this built in mechanism to project the inherent, intrinsic racialist, racist attitudes towards those people. These create a lot of discomfort when the two groups come together and this is perceivable. Especially at those who are considered to be at the lower end of the economic spectrum. It is very important for Muslims to acknowledge this and not be in a state of denial regarding a lot of these racialist attitudes, color consciousness, and social economic snobbishness – it’s real!
You have those attitudes, you have that tension, and then you have a desire to exclusively pursue those interests. Each group is pursuing its respective interest and not looking at how coming together in certain areas could strengthen certain communities, especially in this indigenous, racial divide. So, when each group is selfish, then the everyday life activity and organizational activities of the other group becomes irrelevant.
You get a phenomenon like 40,000 people in Chicago for an ISNA conference [the largest Muslim American conference in America] and less than 1% of that is African American Muslims, even though 35% of American Muslims are African American. Or, you have Warith Deen Muhammad’s convention [Elijah Muhammad’s son] and over 99% of attendees are African American, because people feel it is relevant to their circumstance and identity. We have, as Muslims, stagnated ourselves in terms of how we organize ourselves, our interests and those advancements that deepen these divisions. We need to transcend this because we have so many ways we can help each other and strengthen each other.
Malcolm X when he went to Hajj had an observation that I don’t deny: that people of different groups tend to congregate and gravitate towards ones who are similar. Urdu speakers go to Urdu speakers, Spanish speakers go to people who speak Spanish for example. Should there be a level where we can recognize this and even celebrate it? This is part of what the Quranic message encourages: "We made you into nations and tribes." It’s a reality, it’s a cultural reality. But shouldn’t there be a higher level where we can identify some common issues that no individual group or no individual ethnic collectivity has the power to address individually? And then come together at that level to those larger issues that affect all of us? So, it’s important for us to mature to a point, where as you said, as opposed to empty cries for unity that totally ignore the sociological basis of the separation that exists in the community are replaced by a mature call for creating common agendas that don’t seek to eradicate the existing divisions, but seek to glorify and celebrate those divisions.
But, on the other hand, look at a higher level of interest where our collective resources are needed. For example, challenging the spread of prejudicial and hateful attitudes towards Muslims. That’s a massive project. The people spreading those ideas are spending lots of money, publishing books, dominating talk radio, getting their voices on major media outlets like Fox and others. So, to compete on that level and put out a countervailing message, is going to take a tremendous amount of resources that no one community possess. It will taken a common agenda, a common message, a common strategy and pooling of resources, such as a nationwide legal endowment with lawyers on retainer with ongoing research into civil rights and human rights issues that are relevant to Muslims in this country – like a NAACP legal fund but for rights of all Muslims. Responses as a community to those situations in a very effective manner: fueled jet plains loaded with resources to supply medicine ready to fly anywhere in the world for example. That’s what we are capable of doing as Muslims if we are to come together and think at a higher level and not confine our activism to issues that are specifically germane to "my corner and segment" of the Muslim community

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Kibaki must be held responsible for the bloodshed. ECK has no excuse, they too can be charged for complicity to commit genocide. Those who are looking at the tribal hatred and murder might be naive to try to blame Raila, but the truth is Kibaki number 2, must be stopped by any means necessary. The signs are very clear, "A Tribal Dictatorship." Kenyans had no problem in the last election when Kibaki, a Kikuyu ran against Uhuru, another Kikuyu. It is time for Kikuyus to stand up and smell the chai. Kikuyus are the poorest and the most oppressed. Shoot to Kill has always been used against Kikuyus "Del Monte." The only matatus that must go to the police station for a strip search, are the ones going to Kikuyuland. There are more Kikuyus in prison than any other group. Kikuyus just like they rejected Uhuru and what he stood for, can reject Kibaki for trying to bring back the KANU type dictatorship. Raila and Luos should also be very careful when making statements about the election. Kenyans did not vote for Raila the Luo; Kenyans voted for Raila the ODM nominee.