Islamic Names: Middle Name Phobia!
- Middle Name Phobia!
3/1/2008 - Political Social - Article Ref: IC0802-3528
By: Dr. Aslam Abdullah
Each day in America over 100,000 Muslim physicians,
surgeons, and therapists devotedly report to their
clinics and hospitals providing the best health care
they can to their patients. Each day in America,
several thousand Muslim engineers are part of the
nations engineering staff, managing and running
infrastructure facilities to ensure that water,
electricity and critical services are supplied in an
efficient manner. Several thousand software engineers
use their skills on a daily basis ensuring that the
businesses that provide the lifelines of this country
are managed smoothly. Even in securing the security of
our country and US embassies abroad, about 5000 Muslim
military personal provide valuable services to the
Over 2 million Muslims work hard to contribute more
than $30 billion annually to various taxes and revenue
The Muslim dependence on welfare is minimal. The
number of alcoholics, child abusers, drug users and
pushers and criminals involved in big or small crimes
Yet, when a political candidate's middle name is
announced as "Hussein", all kinds of doubt are raised
about his links with Muslims and Islam. People are
urged to reject him because his presence might
contaminate the sanctity of the seat of power in
Lets not beat around the bush! The issue is not about
a middle name, the issue is about Islam and Muslims.
Those who are questioning Obama's middle name are
using the phobia that has been created against Islam
and Muslims and using that for their political whims.
They might as well start creating fear against
everyone named Adam (From Prophet Aadam, the first man
created by God) and Susan (Derived from Soozan which
connotates pure like a Lily flower) which are also
common names used by Arabs and Muslims.
Obama has clearly stated that he is a Christian
belonging to Trinity United Church of Christ in
Chicago and his loyalties are to his country. Yet the
tirade and fear tactics from the right-wingers against
him does not stop.
Despite a history in America as old as the history of
first European settlers, Islam is still viewed with
fear and suspicion in America and more so after the
tragedy of 9/11. The rejection and hatred shown in
Europe by earlier Christian leaders towards Islam
still lingers. Forgotten in this frenzy are the facts
that Muslim slaves were an essential part of the
construction of the roadways, railroads and
development of agriculture and industries in their
resent forms in this country.
Europe has never been objective in its relations and
understanding of Islam. Its religious institutions
viewed Islam as anti-Christ and its ideas pertaining
to individual autonomy in relation to the divine as
dangerous for its religious hierarchy. These biases
were formed even before Europe took the path of
enlightenment and renaissance. Islam was always seen
as a faith of sword-holding nomadic people bent on
destroying the kingdom of the Lord that was yet to be
experienced on earth.
Even with enlightenment and renaissance that gradually
rendered the religious institutions irrelevant in
Europe's growth, Islam was seen as an anti-rational
and anti-science faith. This was a pattern that came
to America's with the arrival of European settlers.
Even though the founding fathers of our nation were
enlightened leaders, but the centuries of bias are
even reflected in Thomas Jefferson's letter to Dr.
Stiles in 1815 where he wrote, "It is really a pity so
charming a country (Turkey) should remain in the hands
of a people whose religion forbids the admission of
science and the arts among them." (Aslam Munjee's
book, "Crusades: Then and Now")
The religious and secular elites of Europe and America
have somehow concluded on the basis of their own
prejudice and contaminated reading that Islam cannot
be trusted in any aspect of life as it is based on
false ideas. Despite the presence of large Muslim
communities in Europe and America, this view has not
changed as there is very limited and serious dialogue
and interaction among various sections of modern
religious and secular European and American elites and
Muslims by and large, have not made any serious
efforts to address the concerns and issues raised by
the power elites in a language that can be understood.
And the power elites are so comfortable with their
position that they do not want to make any serious
efforts to comprehend Islam.
Those who have extensively written about Islam and
Muslims from either a religious or secular perspective
in Europe and America have tried to interpret events
and the faith of Islam from their selective and highly
biased sources often used to reinforce their
viewpoint. Amongst Muslims, the shadow of colonialism
has always been present in their writings.
How can this challenge of developing a better
understanding of these two view points about Islam be
met in our times? Perhaps the best response would come
from Muslims if they engage with people at levels of
society and make their presence felt through service
and improving the conditions of life wherever they
are. The fact is that Muslims have remained confined
to their mosques and secluded shells despite their
presence in America and Europe for centuries. In art,
science, technology, social services, welfare
activities, they have abdicated their
responsibilities. They somehow, believe that by
confining them to their mosques, Europe and America
will one day discover the beauty and rationality of
their religion. Things do not happen that way. Even
the Prophet had to roam in the streets of Makkah and
Taif identifying people in the situation they lived
and engaging them in efforts that had direct
consequences for their lives.
In order to do that a new agenda has to emerge and a
new style of leadership has to take roots within the
Muslim community. A leadership that understands its
responsibilities towards people in general regardless
of their religious or ethnic background. To do this,
Muslims have to have a paradigm shift in their
thinking. They have to rise above their sectarian
identities and issues. They have to look at the future
rather than dwell on the past to redirect their
Without Muslims preparing them for this new role,
things will not easily be changed. Violence and anger
have never solved any problem. They only complicate
things. Those who believe that through terrorizing
people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, they would be
able to force change in the thinking of people about
Islam, must realize that history is not on their side
and above all the creator is not on their side.
Change in the attitude and behavior of people comes
when they see a clear contradiction in the their
biases and the actions of those they were biased
against. Once their own paradoxes become clear to
them, they begin to realize the myopic vision they had
held and begin to appreciate the viewpoint of others.
So far, Muslims in America and Europe and elsewhere
have not acted in a manner that reconciles them with
the spirit of their faith. A spirit that views all of
humanity as a big family and a view that feels the
pain of others as ones own.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is director of the Islamic Society
of Nevada, editor in chief of weekly Muslim Observer
and in charge research and publication of
Interalnation Iqbal Leadership Institute, Lahore.