Monday, May 30, 2005

Whither Progressive Islam?

Not necessarily.

Actually, we can do away with the labels because all they do is set up boundaries and cause conflict. With the shenanigans of the PMUNA and MWU.com, many Muslims shrink back from using the word "progressive." Not because of the word itself but because of the baggage that comes along with it. Not too many Muslims want to be associated with the media antics, the badly written porn or slams on Islamic activists. In fact, unlike the PMUNA counterpart, we would rather work with other groups for the improvement of our communities rather than following through with the RAND report.

They (the unofficial spokepeople for the enlightened, progressive Islam) have let us down tremendously. They can pull a fast one on unsuspecting non-Muslims but we educated Muslims know better. Then again, their Islam was never for us in the first place so we shouldn't feel too bad. Who wants to rub shoulders with anti-Palestinian activists or former RAND employees?

Not me and I don't think you want to either.

So what do we do? How do we empower ourselves as a community? How do we get a chunk of this media that so desperately wants to paint the picture of the liberal, non-practicing Muslim as good verses the believer, the mu'min as the evil, al-Qeada-loving terrorist?

How do we become more progressive as Muslims?

Well, it depends on your goal. Is your goal to sell books or to be accepted by Allah subhana wa ta'ala? Is it to be accepted by the ignorant neo-cons who bomb innocent civilians or is it entry into Jennah? When you speak, defend or write about Islam, is because you want glory for yourself or do you want to glorify your Lord? If you've answered in the latter, then, insha'Allah, we are on the right track.

God has commanded us to establish and teach others Islam but we haven't done as good of a job as we could have. In fact, some would argue that we (American Muslims in particular) are still in the pioneer phase though there are 6 to 8 million of us. Where's the local Islamic newspapers and magazines? Where are the charitable Islamic organization established in your neck of the woods? Where are the women's clubs, the men's clubs, youth groups, etc? Where is Islam in America beyond ISNA, ICNA, MAS, CAIR? What about small local groups working within their own communities?

Here are some better questions. What are you doing? Do you write, design websites, build houses, cook well, design clothing, speak well publicly? Are you using your God-given talents to serve God? I know some of us are thinking that 9-11 will blow over and that with time, Americans will get over it. Well, that's just wishful thinking. September 11th is still fresh in my head and if we don't get to work (I mean really get to work) we might live in a nation that will not be so accomindating to our religious beliefs.

At least 25% of the American population thinks that our masajid and organizations should be monitored for terrorist activity. Call me paranoid but the rhetoric that we are hearing, and Muslims that are speaking for us in the media...doesn't it remind you a little Judeophobic Germany before the rise of Hitler? We shouldn't be too naive to think it can't happen to us.

So get busy. Be progressive, but not in the PMUNA way. Write articles to your local newspaper. Start a women's group to address the gender injustice that goes on in some of our masajid. Invite your neighbors to the masjid so that they can see average, ordinary Muslims living Islam. Start a website or a newsletter (No, I'm not letting the website/newsletter idea go). Put on a food drive, art show, cultural fair, lecture, or interfaith dialogue session. Don't be afraid. There's no where to hide away. The PMUNA and MWU aren't afraid to spew all kinds of muck. You're armed with the truth so why should you remain silent.

Please give us some feedback about your Muslim community and what you guys are doing for God and Islam. May Allah ta'ala strenghten us.

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