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Islamic Names: Middle Name Phobia!

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  • Zafar Khan
    Middle Name Phobia! 3/1/2008 - Political Social - Article Ref: IC0802-3528 By: Dr. Aslam Abdullah IslamiCity* -
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 26, 2008
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      Middle Name Phobia!
      3/1/2008 - Political Social - Article Ref: IC0802-3528
      By: Dr. Aslam Abdullah
      IslamiCity* -


      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
      is unnoticeable.

      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.

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