Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is there a Purpose to Dialogue?

(For More on the picture read This American Muslim)

Salaam, Dear Muslamics readers I have to say I am quite disheartened these past four days. I am not in the mood to write because it just seems so pointless. I don't even have the heart to continue to watch or read the news, but to keep from loosing my humanity I have forced myself to keep "connected".

What I want to share is my reflection with you. Recently Muslim organizations took part in this "Twinning Project" where Jewish and Muslim congregations partake in matching up with each other and "were part of a national "twinning campaign" to establish synagogue-mosque partnerships to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism." Don't get things misinterpreted, I think the interfaith work is important and necessary.

However, what I am questioning is whether its worthwhile for us to set aside our principles- ie. distract ourselves from talking about the real issues in order to make friendly with the Zionists. The excerpt below is from LOS ANGELES TIMES article on "twinning":

"Jews and Muslims, as the children of Abraham, not only do we share a common faith, but we share a common fate," Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, told the gathering. His organization has coordinated the interfaith effort with help from the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the World Jewish Congress.


"We have to change ourselves, then we can change others," said [Dr. Muzzammil] Siddiqi, who is also chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, the highest body of Islamic jurisprudence in the United States. "Muslims and Jews of America can . . . show this is possible to work together. This is the message of the Torah. This is the message of the Koran. This is the message of the Gospel."
While I agree with the premise of what is being said by the Imam and Rabbi say, I question again American Muslims inability to understand the implications of our full participation.

Why are we as American Muslims bending over backwards to support such efforts in the face of Zionist (often with mainstream Jewish complacency) agenda of only working Muslim organizations that bend over backwards and go out of their to not criticize Israel. Why are Muslims being asked to hold "Israel as a holy cow" that can not be criticized in order to benifit from "interfaith" efforts? Why are interfaith efforts even premised on the idea that Muslims have to put aside something principled in order to participate.

That is what I question. That is what I fear we as Muslims are loosing sight of when we rush to this "joining hands"- joining hands is such a facade if we can not come to terms that we "can agree to disagree and still work together on other issues" when one side- Muslims- are told that the litmus test for them to even come to join hands is to sell out the Palestinians in blind support of Israel.

With Lebanon war just behind us and this atrocity currently in Gaza, HOW can we as American Muslims conciensly continue to keep this charade wanting to participate in such hollow proposals like the Twinning Project? Why should we dirty our principles in order to be present at the table?

If we really want to look at doing something, then lets work on long term changes, lets begin by sending a clear message to our leaders that as Muslims we need to stick up to our principles.


H.Imam said...

I cringed looking at this pic.It didn't seem possible that a young man in NY would be so illiterate as to make such blatant blunder.
I then read someone's opinion on this & it may be a plausible explanation:

"IMO it was deliberate.
If the sign had read “Death to all Jews”, there could be legal hate crime or civil rights issues.
The sign is no less offensive but provides a legal loophole as the determination of intent becomes speculative."

Even if this was the case, it still displays very poor judgement & lack of wisdom.

Huda Shaka` said...

I think the ugly photo justifies the need for wider interfaith dialouge; however, without compromising on basic principles.
Possible, but requires much courage.

Affad Shaikh said...

H. Imam- I cringed too, and i thought of the "implications" as far as federal hate crime/civil rights issues are concerned, no it could be classified as a "hate incident" as there is not "criminal conduct" and it- the sign- is still a "protected" albeit offensive, ugly, despicable, form of speech. So in labeling it a hate incident we continue to protect the civil right to say stupid/idiotic/racist/bigoted things.

With that being said, no form of "deliberation" or "justification" can truly muster up the test for appropriateness let alone "Muslim behavior and conduct".

We as Muslims are here not to gain physical "territory" rather, to spiritually uplift and dignify humanity, and our mission is based on peace and most importantly justice. In the face of oppression we as Muslims have to be vigilant of becoming like the oppressed. What makes this "young man" poor judgment and lack of wisdom any less so then the Israeli soldiers forced into military service bombing away Gaza while celebrating Chanakah? Besides the point that one is forced to and the other chooses too?

Which leads me to my main point...yes Huda I agree we need interfaith dialogue and work, but the question remains, at what expense? I certainly hope not at the expense of our principles.

When some one pointed out to me the ISNA press release where they compare the Israeli aggression and that of the militants as one and the same, I was disgusted by ISNA. 1 Israeli life is worth 260 Palestinians lives according to the statement when it was issued. As if Israeli aggression of slaughtering close to 300 Palestinians, is on par to home made rockets shot indiscriminately and killing one individual. Who has the billion dollar guided missiles and f-16 and chooses to fire into crowded- civilian- population centers, accepting those deaths as "collateral" damage? And we have ISNA issuing a statement comparing the two as equal.

That for me is not just misguided naivete on ISNA's part, but just plain disgusting politics of appeasement. In which case, ISNA's participation and interest in acceptance into the "old boys" club of "legitimate" organizations is only acceptable by using "Zionist terminology".

Yes I am disappointed. My disappointment stems from this union in the name of Interfaith dialogue.

We are American Muslims, and our organizations should show more backbone in setting the rules for engagement rather then being dictated too and play appeasement politics.