Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1             Spring 1420/ 2000

Lifestyle

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

Their Game...Their Rules

          I hurried to get my seat. Paul Findley, the invited speaker, was already talking. I found an empty seat in the center section and excused myself to everyone whose feet I stepped on as I made my way to one of the few available seats in the large lecture hall on the campus of the University of Michigan. As I sat down quietly, trying to be inconspicuous, although people were staring at me; as people always do when someone arrives late, I hardly noticed my friend Ammar just three seats down from me. He was making a terrible face at me and holding his foot. Oh, well: "Assalamu alaykum, Ammar."
          Paul Findley is a former Senator from Illinois. He served in the Congress for 22 years until, as he puts it: “The Jews got rid of me” for lending an ear to the concerns of his Muslim constituency. He is a sincere man who has received his share of awards and accolades for his tenure in public service. After his defeat in the Congress, he formed a grassroots organization called “Americans for the National Interest.”  He has also written a very popular book, although it’s not on the Kahana Khai’s Top Ten List, entitled, They Dared to Speak Out; a book about people in the public eye who criticized Israel and it’s oppressive police state in Palestine and who as a result paid the price for it.

by Rafael Narbaez

"Few seats were available in the college campus 
lecture hall."

          As I listened attentively to his story, I, like I suppose most of those in attendance, who by the way were predominantly Muslims, was very moved by the genuine honesty and sincerity of Mr. Findley. He was not at all fooled by the Jews and their propaganda about the situation in Palestine. He was very empathetic towards the Palestinians and seemed to understand firsthand our frustrations and hopes. All around the hall, I could see those hijabs nodding affirmatively to what he was saying.
          After a detailed account of the pathetic situation in Palestine and having blasted the Jews for all the atrocities that they were committing, Mr. Findley gave his evaluation as to why the Muslims are in such a state of weakness and unable to alleviate the suffering of their brothers and sisters not only in Palestine, but all over the world, as well.
          He outlined some things that are painfully obvious to us as Muslims about the behavior of Muslims when thrown in certain situations. Things like our tempers and infighting, arrogance, stubbornness and lack of cooperation amongst each other. He mentioned how when Muslims go to their representative in Congress to express their concerns, they are never organized, everyone wants to speak, they end up arguing and yelling at each other and in the end, nothing is accomplished.

The Main problems with Some of us Muslims:
short tempers 
infighting
 arrogance
 stubbornness
lack of cooperation 
never organized
everyone wants to speak
 arguing and yelling 

Some needed changes:

          He painfully compared our behavior with that of the Jews who, when given an appointment with their Congressman, are always organized, only one person speaks and it’s a very pleasant experience. I understand all of that, and I know that we have to make some changes in our behavior and conduct when dealing or cooperating with other people on joint ventures, whether it is addressing our concerns to the authorities over Palestine or trying to buy a washer from Sears. The bottom line is, you don’t have to scream, yell or be rude. You must be organized, and you have to have a plan. What I took exception to with Mr. Findley, is some of the methods that he suggested that we should employ in fending for ourselves and the image that we should portray to others about ourselves and our lifestyle, Islam.
          He noted for example, that most politicians when going over their mail, and many of them get hundreds, perhaps thousands of letters a week, will screen their mail. They will quickly look through the outside of the envelopes. The names of those contributors who contribute more than $1,000 to their campaigns are easily recognizable to any politician worth his salt. They put these to the side. They give the rest to their assistant to discard. They will read and respond to the mail of those people who contribute heavily to their campaigns.
          He mentioned that the Jews know this, and they contribute heavily in order to buy the ear of their favorite politician. He mentioned that if it works for the Jews, it can work for us and so we should form lobbies and PACs as the Jews do and contribute significantly to a politician in order to win his favor. Ya Allah! I thought. Allah help us. How can we possibly use such tactics? We want justice for our people! Your saying, now, we have to get in a bidding war with the Jews for establishing justice in Palestine or anywhere else! Audhubillah! What kind of justice is this? Justice to the highest bidder! Astagfirullah!

Patience                         YES Cooperation                   YES 
Humbleness                   YES  
Understanding                YES  
Organization                   YES  
Unity                              YES                                        
Heavy "contribution"  NO!



"They will respond to those people who contribute"

          The second thing that I took offense with, was his view or methodology on how we should work closer with the non-Muslims in our community. Now, all of us agree that we should cultivate better understanding and communication with non-Muslims in our communities. We must never totally isolate ourselves from non-Muslims. How could we possibly invite them to the way of Islam if we did that? In continuing his line of reason, however, Mr. Findley expressed how non-Muslims should get to know us for who we really are. “Americans”, he stated, “should understand that, yes you are Muslims, but you are Americans FIRST, just like them.
          Americans, have to understand that they have no reason to fear you because you share that commonality that we are all Americans first and then Hindus or Jews or Christians or Muslims, secondly. I looked around in disbelief as those around me, Muslims, kept nodding their approval. How could anything be farther from the truth. No way will my place of birth or the country I choose to live in ever take precedent over who I am inside, a Muslim. I am first and always, a Muslim. A Muslim that happened to be born in the USA. I am a Muslim who lives here by choice so that I can spread this Deen to my neighbors who so badly need and want it.
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