Page 6 - Pakistan Link - January 26, 2018
P. 6

P6  –  PAKISTAN LINK  –  JANUARY  26,  2018                                                                                           OPINION
                             Becoming “Great Americans”: A New Year Call for 2018

                        n By Azher Quader                                                                   lims and being Americans.
                            Chicago, IL                                                                         They certainly don’t carry the baggage their forebears bore.
                                                                                                            They are elated by the freedoms they enjoy. Perhaps even drunk
              ver the past so many years, if not for a lifetime, we                                         a bit of the elixir of ‘American exceptionalism’ and invincibility
              have all tried to become ‘Good Muslims’. To many of                                           too. These are challenging times though for them as well, as
        Ous that has meant the usual encouragements from                                                    they navigate between the inviting shores of assimilation and
        the mimbar: attend to salath, observe the fast, go for Hajj,                                        the rugged banks of integration.
        pay the zakat, memorize the Qur’an, come to the masjid -                                                What then should be the course for our future? Is it enough
                    the oft-repeated criteria for being ‘Good                                               for us to be ‘Good Muslims’, isolating ourselves in our sacred
                    Muslims’. Millions of us in America, and                                                spaces and our private schools, separating ourselves from the
                      millions more around the globe, have dili-                                            influences of a society we dub to be socially undesirable?  Or
                    gently followed this prescription from the                                              should we become fully involved in the life of the country we
                    doctors of our faith, who we trust and revere.                                          live in, identifying the challenges it faces, seeking solutions for
                        On regular Fridays we flock to the masjids                                          them and become better Americans?  Should we engage with
                    of our choice, rain or shine, snow or sleet in                                          our neighbors, excel in the services we can provide and reach
                    ever increasing numbers. Every Ramadan we                                               beyond our narrow circles of comfort, to touch the lives of
        fast with greater fervor, no matter how long the days or how                                        those who may not know us, or may even hate us?  We must,
        short the nights. Every year for Hajj our numbers keep swell-                                       I humbly offer, make the case for becoming ‘Great Americans’.
        ing, with more ramps for tawaaf, more hotels to stay, more traf-                                    That should be our manifest destiny, just as much it is for us to
        fic to confront, more crowds to observe as far as the eyes can                                      be ‘Good Muslims’.
        see. The mullah is well pleased with this show of our religiosity.                                      So what does it take to be ‘Great Americans’?
        To him of course we are the true exemplars of faith, the faith                                          For starters, ‘Great Americans’ know their history. They
        he preaches.                                                                                        are aware of who they are, where they come from and what
            On the flip side of these impressive scenes of our commu-                                       cultural heritage they possess. They also know the history of
        nity’s religiosity, are the sobering realities of growing Islamo-                                   the land they live in, from what is taught to them at school or
        phobia among regular Americans. 83 percent of our neighbors                                         media and what they learn at home, and realize the difference.
        (a whopping 269 million Americans) do not have a positive                                           They reflect and learn from the lessons of their past, so they
        opinion of Islam and Muslims ( After   been doing thus far, is clearly not helping us with our neighbors.   can adopt better ways for the future. They are aware of the seri-
        911 a PEW survey showed 59 percent of Americans had a fa-  A change of course may well be needed. Many thoughtful heads   ous ongoing debates of their times. They are neither a rubber
        vorable opinion of Muslims. Today, that figure has dwindled   have suggested additional choices to pursue. From greater in-  stamp for the policies of the right nor for the policies on the
        down to a disturbing low of 17 percent.           terfaith dialogues, to more Open Mosque Days. From media   left, but embrace what in their fair judgment, produces the best
            More troubling is the loss of lives to sectarian violence   campaigns to dawah campaigns. From turkey drives to blood   outcomes, for the society they live in and is in conformity with
        among Muslims killing fellow Muslims, in Muslim lands. The   drives. From disaster reliefs to community iftars. We have tried   the demands for justice and compassion.
        daily news coming out of Syria, Iraq and Pakistan and the re-  them all and more. They obviously work in their limited ways.   ‘Great Americans’ don’t blindly confirm to the social
        cent massacre of Christians in Egypt, all in the name of reli-  More however may be the need of the times we live in.  norms they see around them. They question the practices of
        gious theology, are not just troubling, they are shocking to us   For far too long we have lived the hyphenated American   a liberated society, that delights in the joys of sexual freedoms.
        all.                                              dream. A generation of the gutsy pioneering Muslims who   They question the wisdom of a judicial system that redefines
            Innocent American lives too are lost periodically to Mus-  made America their new home, journeyed a very long way to   marriage, permits abortion, permits the free flow of corpo-
        lim violence, here at home, and we rightfully distance ourselves   come here, but with passions for the people they left behind,   rate money to influence a political system already corrupted
        from such acts of violence and their perpetrators, whenever   one may now conclude, they really never left home. As they   by lobbying dollars. They are civically engaged in a host of so-
        they happen. How much of the fear and the rhetoric of hate   are slowly departing the scene, a new generation of Muslims   cial causes, without a desire to build image, or popularize their
        against us, comes from these occurrences, however, remains   is coming of age, born and bred in the only country they have   faith, but to make a difference in the lives of the people they
        uncertain and unknown.                            known to be their home, more committed in their loyalties, and   serve.  They rally in the streets and fight in the courts, not just
            What should be known however, is that whatever we have   passionately seeking their own identities between being Mus-  CALL, P28

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