Islam and America in the 21st Century
by Imaad Malik
Even before September 11, 2001, Western society had begun experiencing the onslaught of the global jihad network. Attacks such as the subway bombings in Madrid and London have taken more innocent lives, caused injury to hundreds and have spread panic and terror throughout the West. Similar atrocities have struck such Muslim countries as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and Indonesia. The recent Hezbollah provocation against Israel brought about the deaths of civilians on both sides of the border of Israel and Lebanon.
Global jihadists view America, with its democratic freedoms, as the primary enemy of radical Islam. Five years after 9/11, Islam and America's destinies are inextricably connected.
Some three to six million Muslims living in America have mainly been silent on the destructive forces of radical Islamist terrorism and its ideological foundations. But Islamist terrorism will remain the defining issue for American Muslims for much of the Twenty-First Century.
The time has therefore come for American Muslims to develop a uniquely American Islam. This perspective should be innovative, yet deeply rooted in Islamic tradition. Moreover, it should respond to all the social, political and economic challenges of the global era.
American Muslims and the organizations that represent Muslim life in America are woefully outdated in post-9/11 America. Organizations such as the Council on American Relations (CAIR) and others like them are obsolete. These organizations pattern themselves on and align themselves with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), another obsolete, but seemingly omnipotent "liberal," i.e. leftist, organization. Both appear bent on undermining U.S. national security.
These organizations are obsessed with combating President George W. Bush and his policy initiatives. The USA Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are under joint attack by organizations like CAIR and the ACLU in their vendetta against President Bush and his administration. In contrast, American Muslims should concentrate on synthesizing Islam with American democracy for the development of both in a technologically and scientifically driven global society.
Religious communities and public policy groups can help to fruitfully shape U.S. foreign policy and protect national security by developing programs with positive impact in the Muslim world.
At the same time, America faces a cultural meltdown. The conservative movement is involved in a struggle against the "liberal" left. The role of God and religion in American public life represent a major issue in this conflict.
Responding to the conservative appeal against the forces of the "liberal" leftists, the American Muslim community should create religious and public policy institutions to help restore religious and moral values to the American mainstream and create new democratic pillars of the American and global Muslim communities.
American Muslims should also focus on the assimilation of immigrant Muslims. Immigrant Muslims come from poor countries. Arriving in America, many feel isolated and frustrated, making them potential recruits for terrorism.
One of the underlying reasons for the spread of Islamic militancy is that the ideologies dominant in the Muslim world seek to suppress the rich heritage of pluralist interpretation of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad). Scientific, philosophical, critical thought was the foundation on which the brilliant legacy of Islamic civilization was built.
Islamic civilization produced outstanding thinkers like the Persians Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Imam Al-Ghazali in Central Asia, and the Arab Ibn Rushd (Averroes) in Spain, advanced the disciplines of philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, theology and Islamic law—to name a few.
Western Muslims can restore and revive rational methods of interpreting the Qur'an and the Sunnah. A rebirth of philosophy will help free Islam from radical ideology and will ensure that democracy and freedom, as Islamic principles, will flourish through the Twenty-First Century and beyond.