versus Dialogue: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
By Syed M. Islam
The need for a dialogue between Muslims and the west
has been identified. Progress along this need, however, has often been
hampered by a pressing challenge: to convert the sometimes-pronounced and
mute-at-other times propensity on both
sides for a "clash" into one more conducive for a
This propensity manifests separatist, communal
tendencies. It doesn’t matter whether the tendencies were triggered by ignorance about
a different way of life or an arrogance to consider as inferior
everyone else who does not subscribe to one's faith.
While some pioneering Muslim writers and leaders
might be willing to facilitate a respectful, honest dialogue, many
arrogant faithful may need to look inward to understand how they're
serving as tools for the destructive mindframe clawing for a
When some Muslims claim that by saying La
Ilaha Ill Allah they free themselves from everything else and
anything that stands between Muslim God Allah and themselves is nothing
but shirk, could they be paving the
way for a "clash" or a "dialogue"?
What exactly does a Muslim mean when seeking freedom
to run his life according to his faith? How exactly does he interpret the
rights and freedom of others to believe and/or not believe anything else?
Most people now live in pluralistic societies; does a Muslim faithful view
everyone else’s lifestyle as consummate subtraction from his
freedom to practice his faith?
This question I ask rather poignantly because I hear
many expatriate Muslims living here in the US grumble about the pubs, the
alcohol, the pork, people eating during fasting season and tempting them
with food, and of course the scantily-clad women prancing about that they
just cannot cane into veils. With so many of them being not only visibly
bothered but also ignorantly critical of the American way of life, does
their anti-American and communal attitude serve to fuel "clash"
Many Muslims seem quick to support the need for
"dialogue" when at heart they concurrently consider everyone
else who does not embrace Islam as a believer in kufr and
Jahiliyyah, who, regardless of their virtues as humans,
are doing nothing but living Fi Sabilish Saitan (in the path of
Satan). With this religious yet illogical bent, how could they
realistically expect any empathetic "dialogue" from the West?
Interestingly, many Muslims act bewildered when the west seems to harbor
prejudices against them. Must prejudice be
directed only from a Muslim believer to non-Muslims?
In a Jumuah
Khutbah (Friday sermon) delivered in a Midwestern town in the USA in
the mid-nineties, it was said that the Muslims were still not grasping
well the fact that the world they were living in was run, governed and
dictated by the global kufr and Jahiliyyah.
It was suggested that it was high time to realize the true
message of La Ilaha Ill Allah and confront the so-called new
Does the term 'confront' in this context evoke the
melody of respectful "dialogue" or might it beat, albeit
indirectly, the drums of Jihadi "clash"? Far from being an
isolated case of bigotry, similar rebel-rousing promotions of bigotry seem
to have been ongoing across the United States during the Eighties and
Nineties, much earlier than the fateful September 11, 2001 tragedy, after
which most if any of the latent prejudices against Muslims began to
surface in the US. What was the agenda of these faithful bigots?
When Muslims seek respect from others for their
belief, would it be too much to ask for the same in return, instead of
gunning their religion engines during Jumuah
prayers for a confrontation? How could a Muslim, who endorses a khutbah of confrontation, possibly display an iota of HONEST respect
for non-Muslims, while viewing the latter as nothing but global kufr and
Jahiliyyah? Is this dichotomy too difficult to admit or might
this be a case of hypocrisy and pretension, albeit faithfully engendered,
Centuries ago someone said
that charity begins at home, or so was I told. We must start offering to
others what we crave from them: honesty for a ‘dialogue’, as in this
Many years of bureaucratic slack and mismanagement in
the US has caused its immigration system to become bloated, disorganized,
and mismanaged. The tragedy of Sept. 11 yanked our perspective to the
obvious. Consider how organized terrorism managed to slip through their
cracks, allowing such a tragedy.
As a step toward tightening its security belts, the
US government started to reorganize the immigration process, beginning
with listing and fingerprinting Muslim men from a certain age group. Some
have argued that their civil liberties were violated. Perhaps.
Pipes recently raised the question whether Muslims should be trusted
in the US Security Services. This must have hurt many Muslims. However,
consider the case of Gamal
Abdel-Hafiz, which may have prompted Pipes to raise the question. Why
did Gamal refuse to ‘record’ a Muslim, claiming that it would be
against his religion? Why should his ‘religious bonds’ ‘trump the
requirements of his office not to show favor’?
Was it not religious bigotry when and if Gamal
refused to record a Muslim? In
this secular country, must we allow someone’s communalistic religious
preferences to interfere with his objectivity as required on the job?
Mustn’t he follow his religion in private like everyone is expected to,
and not bring it to his job?
Is it rare or frequent when a Muslim may fail to keep
his religious faith private? This is a valid question since Islam claims
to provide a comprehensive view of life. Hence it seems only reasonable
that its fervent adherents would
allow its comprehensive ‘guidance’ to supersede their job
I would have been convinced that most Muslims do not let their religion interfere with their jobs and
that they are not boorishly
prejudicial against non-Muslims. Yet why I am skeptical? It is because of
the proliferation of imams and other Islamic pundits across the US who are
seen vrooming about quite effortlessly, stirring up communal prejudices at
Let’s consider this. Had there been a general
rejection amongst the allegedly moderate Muslims of the bifurcated Islamic view of the world:
path to God (Islam) and paths to Satan for ALL ELSE, these
shallow utterances at Jumuah
prayers would have been long discarded. Yet, why do they virulently
Could there be a strong undercurrent of hatred toward
America, its foundational principles, and its way of life amongst
expatriate Muslims? Perhaps because American way of living challenges
everything that they have been taught as the ‘ultimate’, yet they see
America thriving economically, whereas their old countries, endorsing
primarily the ‘ultimate path to God,’ continue to languish at many
levels? Worse, Allah seems to be nowhere in sight to reset the trend, if
only to prove the truth and perfection of Islam.
The currency of shallow, bifurcated khutbah utterances at Friday prayers may lend defensible credibility
to Daniel Pipes’ contention. Gamal Hafiz may not be an isolated case.
Rather, he might be a poster-boy for the latent religious bigotry toward
all non-Muslims that wiggles in the hearts of many a Muslim faithful who
now call the US their home--and grudgingly so, on the surface. Yet, and
rather comically, they seem reluctant to move to any Islamic nirvanas,
such as Pakistan, Iran, or Nigeria, despite having complete freedom of
Would it be too much against their faith and ummah
to be proud as Americans? Does it seem reasonable that a Muslim faithful,
who endorses Jumuah khutbahs about a bifurcated world, can be capable to plot against
America, to rid it of its kufr
and Jahiliyyah and establish the true path of Allah aka
Muslims need to be honest and self-critical before
they can unite on the platform of “dialogue.” Why is it that so many
of them hate the US? What exactly do they wish to see in here? Must the US
rewrite its constitution, tossing out the word ‘secularism’ and,
better yet, adopt Islam as its ‘state religion,’ so that its less than
6 million Muslims would no longer cudgel their brains, losing sleep over
any potential confrontation with
the 'so-called' 'new world order' of kufr and Jahiliyyah?
Would this land then become 'free' and unhindered for Muslims to practice
their faith, with nothing between them and Allah?
In case anyone reading this should harbor such
delusion, let me ask: why should you not consider leaving this kufr-land
and migrating to a country where Islam and its seemingly unworldly
bifurcated perspective are more unabashedly flashed in the government's
actions and attitude? Just kill the 'so-called' notions of 'pluralism' and
separation of church and state, and sing instead in praise of separatism
and communal bigotry, of course as ‘interpreted’ by any Islamic
faithful. Incidentally, it might be a bit hypocritical to ignore
the context of Quranic verses that seem to highlight its virtues, while
discrediting anyone’s critique of other verses by insisting that all
those were taken ‘out of context.’
I must admit that a recent
comment on a forum by an erudite Islamic writer has bothered me
considerably. He stated "You may make the
case that Saddam Hussein was evil, but compared to the people who run this
country (and most of the world for that matter) he was definitely a saint!
So evil has been replaced with a greater evil."
I happen to know that the writer has for a while
enjoyed living in the sunny state of California, US. Saddam Hussain was
not an Islamic person. Rather, he was a secular dictator who was strict
about the length of men's Islamic beard, among other things. Is
the writer suggesting that a secular non-believer can be a "saint"
as a leader? That coming from a Muslim faithful seems rather perplexing.
Besides, how exactly has Sadaam been a better run-ner
of his country than any US President has been of his? Which US
President, for instance, has sat glued to his position as a dictator for
35 years, despite his people's wishes? Which US President has gassed
60,000 US citizens, as Sadaam did Iraqis? Which Us President led its
citizens to mass graves, as Saddam did? Perhaps the writer was
ill-informed and made hasty comments, primarily and presumably to vent his
interpretive Islamic anger
against the US?
It also seems relevant to wonder why the writer is
languishing in a country where the ruler, according to him, is much worse
than Saddam could ever possibly be. Did the writer not
have freedom of movement to migrate to a saintly country like Iraq? A point to ponder, applying the full gusto of
In this context let me quote Dr Ausaf Ali, a retired professor of economics based in the US, who wrote:
"What I find "amazing" is that
even orthodox, traditionalist, and fundamentalist Muslims, comfortably
settled in America, for instance, do not want to leave America, not for
all the Islam and Shariah that they can find, say, in Pakistan, Iran, and
Is that really true as a general rule of thumb? How
many amongst the Muslim expatriates fit the profile? Could the above
writer be among them?
While one has a right to stay where he or she must,
does the (religious) snobbery and anti-American arrogance so prevalent
among Muslims in the US helpful for any "dialogue", really?
Trying to be true to their faith, must every Muslim faithful in this day
and age consider all non-Muslims in terms none other than kufr
and Jahiliyyah, while
lip-singing to the global demand for a "dialogue"?
Unless the Muslims can unitedly be more sincere and
honest in this regard, respect others no less for their differences of
faith or lack thereof and exhibit no arrogance by playing little
judgmental gods towards all others and their customs, I do not see how
they could ever prevent the clash
from becoming more ominous and clangorously clear. Was Samuel Huntington
correct in his hunt—and hunch—for
It is high time for the majority of the Muslims to
match their attitude and actions to their stated desire for
“dialogue.” For actions can speak louder than words.
M. Islam is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at
[email protected] ]