Sunday, October 31, 2004

Yahiya Emerick Sums Up the Progressive Muslim Agenda

Yahiya Emerick wrote an essay called The Fight for the Soul of Islam in America which was edited and included in the Michael Wolfe anthology Taking Back Islam. He speaks about the prevalance of Muslim groups in America and how each group has either a Salafi, Sufi or Modernist orientation. Though most Muslims do not define themselves with such labels, we still encounter these groups because of they are usually the heads of huge Islamic organizations and they hold conferences, lectures and meetings. Since the Progressives at this time did not have the desired media coverage, he labels such liberalist reform groups as secularist or modernist rather than progressive but he certainly foreshadows the coming of a "Reform" Islam. Here, a few comments...

Emerick: The Modernists (i.e. Progressives) are next in our analysis, for indeed, these people are the most potent of the enemies of the Salafees. They are made up principally of settled Muslim immigrants from the Indian Sub-continent (with a few from the Arab world). No, not all Indo-Pak Muslims are modernists, mind you, just a small, very powerful segment.

Ris: While I certainly agree that the PMs are not predominately Indo-Pakistani or any other ethnic group, this does explain the lack of American born Muslim voices--especially Latino, Black and Caucasian Muslim voices.

Emerick: The modernists, who are almost always wealthy professionals, follow the Western-style secular-liberal tradition. (The infamous "American Muslim" crowd. When a person places their national citizenship in front of their Muslim designation, then watch out! The priorities are made clear.)

Ris: Does a infamous book come to mind?

Emerick: They were brought up in countries in which the ways of the British (and now the mythological Americans) are worshipped and idolized to this day. They are the people who are almost always in control of the suburban immigrant-dominated Masjids and Islamic schools (because only they had the money/clout to build them).

What is their agenda? In my experience, observations and travels, I seem to have identified three main goals of these modernists. They can be roughly listed as: Assimilation of Islam into the American mainstream, promoting an interpretation of Islam which is as loose and uncontroversial as modern Christianity or Judaism, and finally, curiously enough, the establishment of a class system based on status, position and a well-defined hierarchy dominated by the leader class. All three of these things are in contradiction to each other, but this fact seems to have escaped their intellectual gymnastics.

Ris: Translation: The Americanization of Islam where Ramadan is something they do overseas. Obligatory salaat is compressed into three times a day by "reformist" scholars, but that's if you pray at all. Leadership is determined not by piety or wealth of sacred knowledge but by who pays the highest memberships dues and who holds the highest college degree. Eid al Fitr is co-opted like Christmas and Hanukkah where we spend money on parties and gifts instead of spending time in the masjid reading the Qur'an and doing Sunnah prayers. You get my point. It's more or less an Islam that's been emptied of all meaning.

Emerick: Their goal of assimilation is easy to analyze: they want to be like the Jewish community in America. That is their model and they always reference it. They have this image of the Jews as being a "prosperous" minority which is accepted in mainstream American society. The Jews, in their eyes, control the media, government and foreign policy of this nation and therefore cause American policy to be pro-Israel. They do this with no serious backlash and no one bothers them based on their religion or ethnic group.

Ris: Read Living Tradition's entry on the Newsday article where one of the PMU board member and "arch secularist" Hussein Iblish makes a reference of comparing Muslim orthodoxy to Jewish Hasadism. Many of their articles point to how American Jews have changed their religion to accomdate the demands of American culture so accordingly we should be the next ones in line to jump on the Americanization bandwagon.

Emerick: Of course, the strengths of the Jewish community in America are well known, but what the modernists fail to realize is that the Jews have no religion. They are thinly united on a loose, ethnic affiliation and there is never any talk of prayer, morality, obedience to God or anything of the sort. As is accepted by all today, most Jews are atheists or hopelessly secular. (Inter-marriage with non-Jews, according to the few Orthodox Jews in America, is threatening to destroy even that tenuous ethnic affiliation.)

Ris: Though I won't go as far as saying most Jews do not have a religion, many have wondered if the Jews have assimilated too well, almost to the point where the lines of distinction between them and American Christians are almost gone. It would definitely explain the rise in Judaica and Madonna's sudden conversion into Jewish mysticism with the Kabbala. But as the article states, many Jews marry outside the faith with their children being raised as secular or Christian. They were once a religious and ethnic community with its own proud traditions. Due to mass assimilation, their numbers are shrinking with a few Orthodox pockets existing here and there. Is that what the PMs want for us?

Emerick: Modernists fight against communal living and never desire to challenge the validity of other religions, desiring, rather, to "live among the society" and to "dialogue" with others. Now if the modernists succeeded in getting themselves and their families assimilated in the same way the Jews are, then they would be Muslims no longer. (I have met a lot of Modernist Muslims and almost all of their children are hopelessly unIslamic.) They would be Americans of Indo-Pak heritage who are only interested in getting foreign aid dollars for their nostalgic homeland. Their spoiled, fun-loving Americanized children of course, would not continue this trend and thus their mission of foreign aid dollars for home-country X, Y or Z would dry up real fast.

Ris: Once again he states why Muslims must and should form their own communities like every other group has done before us. Not only will we survive the heavy cultural pressure to conform, we can live in safe, non-hostile environments where Muslims can be comfortable being Muslims. He also points out how many of these movements are just political issues with the veneer of Islamic reform, all devoid of spirituality.

Emerick: Once you give up the forms and structures of Islam, once you no longer really believe that it's true, then you defeat your original purpose, and that is to stay intact as an identifiable community. If no one prays, goes to the Masjid or reads the Qur'an, then your community is reduced to iced-tea sippers who water their lawns on Friday afternoons. Then there is no community after all. The paradox is that it's the modernists who make Americans less afraid of Islam and they are also the ones who usually make the mainstream aware of our holidays and similarities with them. Go figure.

Ris: That may be the only good thing.

Emerick: The second goal of the modernists is to dilute Islam so much that it becomes harmless and "normal" in the eyes of non-Muslims. They want an Islam where there are no Hijabs, no beards, no prohibition of interest, no judgments of right or wrong, no haram meat and certainly no moral restrictions on personal or social conduct. The modernist agenda is basically to make Islam as irrelevant and harmless as "Reform" Judaism. (Maybe they'll make a "Reform" Islam one day.)

Their favorite argument against any teaching of Islam that they don't like is saying that it's based on a "weak" Hadith or that the scholars are "divided" about the issue- so they can do as they see fit! I have seen all of these ideas promoted by modernists and I'm sure you have as well. What's the point of saying you're a Muslim if you throw everything in Islam out that you don't like? This last objective is shamelessly played out everyday in our Masjids and politically-oriented "Muslim" organizations.

Ris: Once again, the PM agenda is about removing that which does not conform to Western secular norms which is why they promote pre-marital sex, dating and the like. These movements are also known for their rejection of any hadith that does not fit into their agenda. Read the whole article and you will see what I mean.


Blogger mahin said...

Assalamu alaikum,
I did a search for "Yahiya Emerick" and found your blog..thanks for the article of the best articles I've read in a while..didn't know 'Al Jumuah' has a Salafi agenda, my family used to have a subscription to that like 10 years ago..however..Br. Emerick I think should lay off characterizing Arab universities as bastions of Salafi teaching..many of my teachers are from the Islamic University of Madinah..and are labeled Salafi based on that alone..and they don't really fit in to some of the 'extreme' descriptions of Salafis that Br. Emerick went into. Jazak Allahu Khair for your post again.

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