By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief
Is Islam really the priority of Muslims? Is Muslim leadership really concerned about justice? And does the Muslim world really care for human life? Well, these questions can be raised in almost every religious community. Even in a non-religious community, these are valid questions.
Egypt saw a massacre through gunfire. Syria witnessed a massacre through chemical weapons. Afghanistan has been witnessing many many massacres. Iraq experienced even more. Israel has been inflicting death and destruction on Palestinians. Somalia is volatile. Ethiopia and Thailand are experiencing increased violence and in Pakistan the state and people have killed more citizens than killed by enemies in wars.
If only 10 percent of the revenue and aid money spent in supporting the armies in the Muslim world were spent on raising the standard of living through education, the situation would be different today.
But that is a different story.
If you read the statements of Muslim organizations and the leadership, you will easily conclude that they are concerned about justice.
If you hear the speeches of Muslim religious leaders, you would conclude they have the strongest and loudest voices in defense of Islam.
And if you talk to Muslim intellectuals you would be amazed at their commitment to human life and dignity.
So why are things not changing? Why are Muslims so ineffective? Why are Muslims so impatient?
The answers are not difficult to find out.
1. Sincerity is not a good replacement of effective and efficient strategies.
2. Dedication and commitment are not substitutes for preparation and planning.
3. Words may stir our soul but they do not cause change unless we act upon them.
4. Scattered voices create noises, but voices in unison create a symphony.
1.1 Every Muslim is sincere in his or her understanding of Islam; there is no mechanism to detect an insincere heart. Every judgment is subjective. The only one who knows his own insincerity in our human world is the one who is insincere (at least so it appears to him).
However, we as a community lack the skills to put our sincerity into action. We want every Muslim to act in accordance with our understanding of Islam, yet we fail to develop a mechanism and a civil and peaceful method to communicate our viewpoint. We often resort to violence and defeat the very purpose of our sincere thought.
2.1 Muslim organizations want to change the world, their world in countries where they are active. Yet they are not prepared to plan for this change. They are still not clear what kind of society they want to create and how to create it. They are not clear about an education system that would prepare the people for the future. Moreover, they have not provided skills to their people to transform their rhetoric into reality. They want to build a just society, yet they often violate the principles of justice when it comes to people of other religions or minorities etc. They are selective in their tears.
3.1 Every Muslim organization and leader talks about unity. Yet few are willing to develop strategies to create the unity at practical level. They all are working for the same goal: to find a respectable status for Muslims and they are even doing identical work, yet they are not willing to come together to coordinate and cooperate.
4. Every one of them is saying the same thing and then squabbling over who said it first. They even fail to recognize the simple fact that a 100 watt bulb is much stronger than a zero watt bulb, even though both have their place in mitigating the impact of darkness.
So what needs to be done at least in America where Muslims are least sufferings the excruciating pains, compared with the Muslims all over the world?
a. Muslim leadership should show more responsibility towards the people it claims to represent. They should develop effective lines of communication among them. They should communicate with each other on a structured and regular basis on issues Muslims are facing in the US and elsewhere.
b. They should speak with one voice on issues pertaining to justice, human rights and human dignity even if the voices challenge the behavior of some of the Muslim groups as well. If they have a national and regional board to coordinate their actions, this purpose can easily be achieved.
c. At the time of any serious crisis anywhere in the Muslim world, they should release a position paper for our elected officials and public opinion makers to inform them of their perspectives and facts on the situation. This again can be coordinated through a centralized board.
d. Through their coordinated efforts, they should try to educate their public representatives through concerted lobbying in Washington and States depending on the issue itself. For instance, if they are against the US Aid to Israel and Egypt, they should come up with a position paper and share it as a united voice of Muslim Americans with those who run the affairs of the country.
e. In matters of relief fund raising, they should develop a national strategy to pool their resources to create jobs and opportunities in places where they want to do the relief work.
f. This cooperation can even be established at the grassroots levels. Each community can create a network among its existing institutions and organizations and coordinate the fund raising events and other program to effectively use the resources.
The Muslim community has the human and material resources. It even has leaders who can move the people to action. It simply needs a mechanism through which its scattered resources can be effectively channelized for the betterment of people. It is achievable, but there is only one major hurdle, a hurdle that has always been there in all times and all situations. It is our own ego. The moment we can subdue it, we can see a different result for us and our world. However, the rhetoric that we hear from everywhere suggests that even those who are asking us to subdue our egos are victims of their own egos.