The Predicament of American Muslims
"O my dear son! Establish worship and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity, and persevere whatever may befall thee. Lo! That is of the steadfast heart of things."
We have just entered into the New Year 1424 AH. This is the month of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic Calendar. 10th day of Muharram is called the Ashura, the day prophet Muhammad (s) fasted. When Rasoolallah (s) migrated to Madinah, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them the reason for their fast. The Jews told him that it was on the day of Ashura that Prophet Moses (as.) left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea with his community. Then Prophet Muhammad (s) said that Prophet Moses (as) is closer to us than you and asked his followers to fast on the day of Ashura. After Ramadan fasting became compulsory, fasting on the day of Ashura became optional
We do not celebrate the New Year. The New Year reminds us about the great tragedy of Karbala. The sacrifices of Imam Hussain (as) and his household. They became martyred or Shaheed.
This article tries to shed light on the predicament of American Muslims in facing the problems of American society and how they affect the lives of the Muslims.
The Muslims in America constitute about 6 million out of a total population of nearly 300 million. That is about 2 per cent. The Muslims are a tiny Island in the Ocean of America where the majority has non-Islamic values.
The world is plagued by all sorts of problems: social unrest, political instabilities, mass poverty and destitution, prostitution, homosexuality, sexual assaults on children, homicides, killings, drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, family break-ups, juvenile delinquency, gun violence in schools and in the public, suicides and the so-called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
If we look around, we encounter scenes and events, which are counter to Islamic values.
In the Public Schools and Parochial Schools, our children may have a teacher who is a Gay or Lesbian. Our next-door neighbor may be a Gay or Lesbian couple with adopted children. That child sees his/her friends have different sex parents compared to her/his own.
There are 216 lawsuits against priests in Louisville, for sexually molesting the children.
The question is how many Imams and how many Muslim teachers are accused of such crimes?
In our work places we see our colleagues having girl friends or boy friends or mistresses. Even the White House is not free from such activities. Even our Governor is accused of such extra marital affairs.
In the Schools our children may be introduced to drugs (I know of two college going Muslim students addicted to drugs- and their brains have holes). One went to the University of California at Berkeley and the second one went to Emory University in Atlanta. Both Universities have a fine reputation for higher education. Both are prestigious schools. A common thing between these two students is both their mother and father were professionals and come from a very rich family background. Our children may also be introduced to alcohol or cigarette smoking. They watch their friends kissing, hugging their friends of the opposite sex. The American children do much more than this.
Muslims are taking active part in cleaning their neighborhoods of drug addicts. Here in Louisville in West End Imam Siraj Wahaj who is the Imam of Al-Taqwa Masjid in Brooklyn, New York has cleaned several Blocks in the neighborhood of drug addicts. He also received an award and recognition for this outstanding work. The Muslims in the Nation of Islam have a reputation to be free of Alcohol and Drugs.
Both boys and girls who watch a lost of violence on television have a heightened risk of aggressive adult behavior including spouse abuse and criminal offenses, no matter how they act in childhood, a new study (presented in the March 2003 issue of the Journal of Developmental Psychology by psychologists L. Rowell Huesmann, et al., at the University of Michigan's Institute of Social Research) says. The study recommends that parents restrict viewing of violent TV and movies by young children and preteens as much as possible.
Our children watch many programs on the TV and movies on TV. TV has a great impact and profound influence on Children. When you see a James Bond movie on the T.V., your child may innocently ask you "Why James Bond is kissing so many women?" James Bond is a hero who fights the evil enemies. However his morals do not fit into Islamic morals. The child's question may be funny but it cannot be laughed off. The parents should give serious thought to the question. May be your TV should a V-chip which sensors the programs. Discovery, TLC, KETV and others are educational channels. Parents should monitor which programs the children are watching. In some Middle East countries the TV programs are Censored.
The Internet, for a scholar is the greatest invention. Recently, the news came out that the Internet transmission of digital data is 3,500 times faster than the broadband (cable modem) transmission.
Access to any knowledge is so vast and so fast. There was a time when an individual devoted the whole life to study one subject. Now-a-days one can become a specialist or become master of a given subject in a short time.
House wives can down load Food Recipes, Gardening tips, Childcare, children's education, Health information, travel information, geography, Magazines, Newspapers. Newspapers from different countries. With E-Mail, one can receive and send letters, documents, photos, etc., anywhere in the world in a second. Now there is Internet-Telephone service.
One can do shopping online, book airline tickets, and perform e-trade and e-commerce. Search Jobs and post one's resumes on the Internet. One can find a Mosque in any city; one can find prayer times, Islamic holidays.
There are good things and bad things about the Internet surfing. The good thing is Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh, Fatwas, Islamic History and Hundreds of topics on Islam are available on the Internet. There are hundreds or even thousands of Websites on Islam.
The undesirable thing is the promotion of erotica on the Internet. Crimes, sale of Alcohol and Drugs on Internet, online gambling, child pornography. Many have been arrested for child pornography by FBI sting operations. The question is how many Muslims have been arrested? Our teenagers and youngsters are susceptible or vulnerable.
Rape and Murder of teenage girls who use the chat rooms, are frequently reported in the News Media. Strangers entice innocent girls and commit rape and later murder them. They kidnap innocent girls. This happened here in Louisville.
The Internet has filters to block undesirable things- a type of censors. Some Middle East countries block even the E-mails.
Looking at the Moral problems of America, Some Muslim families got scared and returned to their homeland in order to raise their children in an Islamic atmosphere. However they come back to United States within a few months. Because of corruption that is unbearable there. Or problems of adjustment to the old world.
Now those of us who have decided to stay in the United States and have become citizens of Unites States should face the social problems and find solutions. Everyone in this Jamaat will be recognized as Pioneer Muslims by future generations. The Sahaba, Tabeyeen and Tabe-Tabeyeens were pioneers who went to strange countries in Jihad or for Da'wah. They settled in those strange lands and raised their families Islamically. Iran was a Zoroastrian country, Egypt was a Coptic Christian country, Turkey was a Byzantine Christian country, and India was a Hindu Country. They went to Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Russia and many Central Asian countries.
People living in Third World countries are attracted to USA. USA is glorified as glittering, glamorous, rich, and affluent. Almost every country in the world transmits American TV programs, Hollywood movies. Many of us who are immigrants and naturalized citizens came here for higher studies-in Medicine, Science, Technology, Computers, Business Administration, etc. We decided to stay here to avail of the good job opportunities, for career advancement and to lead a high quality life. America has a high standard of living. Everyone likes the Affluent life of America. This country offers high quality education for our children. Harvard, MIT, Caltech rank highest in the world. Johns Hopkins Hospital stands number one in the world for medical treatment. Everyone witnesses that every year the Americans get the majority of Nobel Prizes. Americans win a majority of the Gold Medals in Olympic Games. Everyone looks forward to fulfilling the American Dream. We can advance educationally, professionally, spiritually, financially, etc. America gives the opportunity to become rich. But here time is money. To earn money you have to sacrifice your time. Bill Gates became the richest man in the world in 20 years. I do not think this possible in any other country. From 60 Billion dollars he is worth 40 Billion dollars now due to the economic depression. I believe everybody lost money. Our Pension funds have reduced to one half. Bill Gates also established a 24 Billion dollar charitable foundation. There is nothing wrong in Islam to become wealthy and accumulate wealth, provided it is Halal earning and Zakah is given on the wealth.
There is a saying that if wealth is lost, nothing is lost, if health is lost, something is lost, but if Character is lost, then everything is lost. Anyone goes astray or deviates from the Right Path or Siraatul Mustaqeem may end up becoming Home Less. I do not think Third World countries have Homeless people. Drug addicts, Drug pushers, members of Organized Crime, gang members and other anti-socials will end up in jail or get killed.
Every year, Drunken Driving results in 40,000 deaths due to Highway automobile accidents. The Muslims do not have this problem of drunken driving. However the other fellow who is drunk can kill us. MADD- Mothers Against Drunken Driving are spearheading a campaign to stop drunken driving. We Muslims should get involved in such projects.
America also gives us the opportunity to practice our faith, to build Masaajids and Islamic Schools. To build Muslim hospitals, to own and operate T.V. stations. To own and publish Newspapers, Magazines. So we have opportunity to cater to the needs of the Muslim Ummah.
Recent news media report indicates that there are 15 million new STD cases each year in the United States, and teenagers account for a fourth of them. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. As Muslims are 2% of the population the STD among the Muslim adults must number 300,000 and among teenagers it should be 80,000. How many Muslim adults and Muslim teenagers suffer from STDs? In Kentucky in the year 2002 there were 88 cases of Syphilis, 3,722 cases of Gonorrhea and 8,755 cases of Chlamydia. Accordingly there should be 2 cases of Syphilis, 74 cases of Gonorrhea and 175 cases of Chlamydia among Muslims. But in reality this is not the case.
Every year in the United States, one million teen-age girls give birth to children out of wedlock. This is scary, but the question is how many Muslim teen-age girls give birth to children out of wedlock?
According to the estimates, 2 per cent of one million that is 20,000 Muslim teen-age girls should give birth to children out of wedlock in the whole of United States. Kentucky is one of the 50 states; so Kentucky's share any State's share is 400 Muslim girls. Almost one-third to one-fourth of Kentucky's population lives in Louisville. Hence Louisville should have at least 100 Muslim teen-age girls giving birth to children out of wedlock per year. This is a rough estimate, because the population of US is unevenly distributed. The Northeast, Chicago, California have very high density population.
So what is the Inference or conclusion? The result is zero, which means we are adhering to our Islamic values. We are following the commands of Allah (swt) as revealed in the Qur'an and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (s), which is the Sunnah.
We should get a pat on our backs and we should say "Alhamdulillah" (Praise be to Allah). This is a blessing. This is a great achievement and we are an excellent example to the non-Muslims. This is an example of Da'wah work. Slowly American will appreciate the Islamic values and the Islamic Way of Life. Insha'Allah, the Muslim population in America will grow and it is already growing. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America and in the World.
The May 1979 issue of Life magazine had an article on Prison Life in a San Francisco Jail. The emphasis of the article was on the Muslim inmates. What attracted the attention of the Magazine was that all the Muslim inmates were free from Homosexuality and drug abuse and drug addiction.
About 10 years ago, The Christian Science Monitor a newspaper published from Boston made couple of documentaries films on Muslims in America. Those documentary films showed how the Muslim Inmates when they are released from the Correctional Institutions lead honest lives, and practiced Islam sincerely and faithfully. To the extent the Christian building owners whose lawns the Muslim Inmates were mowing, gave the keys of their building in complete trust.
We see the bright side of America and also the dark side of America. We need to enjoy the best of both worlds. What I mean is we can lead our lives as Muslims and at the same time we can enjoy the bright side of America. How to do this?
There is hope and there are solutions.
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