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Musings — Looking Beyond Ourselves

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

How are we to gain any semblance of sanity in our daily lives with the great destruction of property and life heaped on innocent people who are just in the way of superpowers seeking world dominance? Unfortunately, even though most people are miles away from the carnage in the Middle East, and not even affected by it personally, the tragedy still affects them because they feel helpless and powerless to make any changes. They say, “How am I going to get through this one?”

I see this happening on a daily basis since the escalation of violent altercations between Palestine, Lebanon and Israel began. In the Detroit area, where I live, there is probably the largest concentration of Muslims and Arabs outside the Middle East; and with so many family ties to this area, that worry and grief is a constant companion.

In order to witness these events every day and still maintain hope for humanity, it takes looking at the situation in a different way than we are accustomed. We may have to step outside of our personal grief and ask what I can do to help the situation. I am not speaking of actually controlling the big international situation—that’s the work of the United Nations and if John Bolton or Condoleezza Rice can’t, or won’t stop it, I am not naïve enough to think you or I can. But we can spread as much cheer as we can and maybe, just maybe, have it catch on enough to influence the real players.

There was a song out once called “Respect yourself.” In the lyrics we were reminded to not “talk about the President who won’t stop air pollution – put your hand over your mouth when you cough, and that’ll help the solution.”

Even though Israel and the Palestinians/Lebanese are 180 degrees apart politically, we must keep insisting that everyone come to the table putting our humanity and true concern for human life first. Human life must not be taken for granted and written off as mere collateral. This “collateral” just happens to be someone’s mother, aunt, grandmother, child, or even yourself.

Let us go inside ourselves and look at something greater than our little egos. It is easy to become callous and small-minded when we focus inward and disassociate ourselves from our true human nature. But when we start thinking in concepts greater than our own situation, we become involved in actions that can cause peaceful, positive change in the world and will influence those who don’t think that way.

It is especially important for those who have organizational or political restraints on them to ask for strength to enhance their humanity. The terrible situation we are now in demands it. We must not become so cold-hearted that the mangled bodies of innocent women and children do not faze us. What inhuman thought can cause a country to shell a building and kill scores of innocent women and children—and refuse to publicly feel sorry? What can cause supposedly pious people to fly planes full of unsuspecting, innocent people into tall buildings, and murder them all for “your cause”? Probably many of the victims didn’t even like George Bush.

Remembering that we are all products of the one All-Powerful, All-encompassing Creator obligates us to put aside personal gain and look to the greater good of all mankind. Let’s hope the inhuman thoughts and deeds of both sides in this crazy war go the way of all ignorant thinking—in the dirt.

As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin


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