Thursday, October 4, 2007

American Muslim Community Experience

An excerpt from my blog- there is a larger context, however you can appreciate the historical analysis I put forth on the American Muslim community in the US. Its a brief and short analysis, there is much more to be added, however please comment and share your thoughts:

The forwarded e-mail is a internet lynching of AEF. Pipes, in all his load of junk, does share a meaningful quote by AEF:

"among American Muslim organizations, the intellectual and moral grounding—not just in the Islamic texts but in the pluralities of the Islamic tradition—is woefully, woefully absent. There has not been a serious movement among these organizations to create educational institutions that would attempt a critical understanding of the tradition they claim to represent. There are practically no such institutions, or even attempts to preserve the knowledge of Islamic law. These organizations remain activist, with a lot of energy but without direction."
The very people who he (Pipes) is associating (AEF) with, do not see him (AEF) as anything significant. It probably is because of his (AEF's) criticism of the lack of "intellectual depth" shown by the community at large or as I mentioned in my "Dancing" post that he runs miles ahead of the community so people just don't understand him.

But that is the problem in the United States and definitely the root of this is the Muslim societies "back home". I find the colonial period in Muslim history to be a significant factor in the demise of Muslim understanding of Islam and that coming from the growth of hardcore Sufism (loss of balance in dunyia and akhira). The freed societies, post colonial era, had this mixed attachment to Islam and the West, one that was superimposed by the idea of "modernity".

Islam became a culture, and that culture was taken by the Muslim diaspora- i.e. from Pakistan to America- which became part of the identity developed by Muslims in the West, until 9/11.

Sheikh Suhaib Webb, a convert said it best, during the pre-9/11 era, Muslim in America had a landscape dotted with the intellectual battles of the schools of thought in the old world. We saw these ravages first hand in the demise of the salafi movement, the "caliphate" establishers and now the Sufi attacks on the conservatives or traditionalists.

I believe this happened because the doctors and engineers and professionals that flocked to America's shores were all culturally Muslim, with limited training in Islam. I remember as a child the conflict that arose when some one prayed using a different way- based on a different school of thought- and the ensuing battles which became personal vendetta's that went on to split the community.

These rifts were from this flawed cultural understanding of Islam. From this idea that my Islam is the only Islam. The immigrants who came to America brought a basic understanding of Islam with them, definitely a love for the religion and a desire to be American. It is no wonder that we have so many doctors and engineers who run the boards, who chair the charities, who work in social services- giving up lucrative jobs in their fields to devote themselves to assisting the Muslim community in America, out of a love to be on the Godly path. That is partly also why we have "imported" Muslim "imams" and also why there was a lack of social rooting into the American fabric beyond the idea that "yes I am (insert your nationality)-American".

The concern was always "back home"- sending money, constant trips back, marriage, burials even. Since 9/11 that has drastically changed, and I see more and more people talking about being American Muslim.

I agree with Abu El Fadl in his statement, however, I think it lacks the historical appreciation of the development of the American Muslim community. Like other immigrant communities, the diverse Muslim community is following the same path, albeit, with a huge head start.

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