Any thinking Muslim can point to 1,000 problems in the Ummah. Few can assess the underlying causes of dysfunction and propose solutions. I hope that by the end of this short article, the reader will agree to a few proposals.
Muslims have been in decline for hundreds of years. This is not news for any Muslim. While the Muslims of the Middle-Ease, Africa, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Turkey, and elsewhere struggle with their own causes and solutions, our concern in the U.S. must be about Islam in the U.S. And this is incredibly significant. American Muslims are living in the cradle of global power. From Wall Street and Washington a few miles from us, decisions are made that affect humanity everywhere, and the future of human civilization and the planet itself are threatened. So far, Muslims in the U.S. have failed miserably to respond.
Societies are formed under codified principles – the “law of the land”. This isn’t the written laws or methods of enforcement. Rather, it’s the set of principles upon which the entire society has been formed. And the most basic set of laws in America, that shape the movement, institutions, function, and dysfunction of America is the existence of a “free”, unregulated market. The laws of this market dictate both political parties, foreign policy, the judicial system, the unity and separation of peoples, the pains of racism and other forms of injustice, even the destruction of the planet itself. The entire polity of the U.S. is unable to respond to the very-real threat of climate destruction because the laws of market dominance do not allow collective progress on this deadly issue. THAT is how powerful the market laws are over our society. And Muslims are no-less a part of this failure.
But this brief article isn’t about the problems of the world. Plenty of books, articles, and speeches exist on those other subjects. This is about how the laws of market will decimate the Muslim community, effectively dissolving us into the destructive machinery of capitalist society. To lay the groundwork for understanding this, I use just a brief historical timeline.
Some 300-400 years ago, capitalism began in England and France. It began with laws that divided the lands of those nations into parcels of “real estate” that could either be converted to productivity (farming, textiles, raw materials), or directly bought and sold as commodities on the market. Prior to this, the people lived on the land freely, without paying rent or being thrown in jail. They worked to produce for themselves and one another. The creation of privately-owned land caused a massive transformation in society: humans were no longer allowed to live on the earth without paying rent to someone. People were forced into towns and cities where they had to compete with one another for daily wages, and wage-slavery was born. Yet, capitalism was still young and simple.
Over these last centuries, as corporations have formed to meet all basic needs, another need arose: how to create demand for luxuries, how to create false needs, how to create disasters so that solutions could then be sold. Today, there are corporations established to collect dog-poop from people’s yards, to decorate peoples’ homes, and to sell sexual imagery. There are corporations to build bombs, to drop bombs, and to rebuild the structures destroyed by those bombs. The general trend: after basic needs are met, the capitalist must seek to create new needs. Most of those new needs are for essentially useless objects, or products that are clearly destructive. Again, the Muslim is a part of this system. We live by the very same laws, and are induced to participate by the sheer force of market demands.
Return, then, to look at the Muslim “community”. In the beginning, we collected to form corporations to build masajid. Other corporations to build schools. Then other institutions. For example, learning institutions to discuss and elucidate the intricate details of Qur’anic verbiage. So I ask: is this a necessity, or a luxury? What about markets for hijabs and kufis(taqiya, skull-caps)? What about the “Muslim entrepreneur” training programs? What about web-sites that have devolved into mere opinionizing? Hookah lounges? Smoke shops? The laws of market competition have forced Muslims to create more atomized objects and services, until we’ve already reached a point in which our occupations are diverse, yet practically useless to any of Islam’s objectives !
Where is there a collective response to the neoliberal wars destroying Muslim countries?
Where is the collective response to Israel?
Where is the collective policy and solution-providing institutions for Islam’s Converts, who are in desperate need of help?
Where is there any SENSE of collectivism in a community where fewer than 5% attend the greatest of our social icons, the corporate “masjid”?
WHERE IS THERE A SET OF OBJECTIVES FOR THE 300,000 MUSLIMS LIVING IN DFW ? If civilized societies have always been ORGANIZED around PRINCIPLES and OBJECTIVES, then DFW Muslims have not yet begun a civilized society ! And they’ve been here for over 40 years !
How could we accurately describe the insanity or carelessness of our situation? While the world burns, Muslims are either making hijabs and kufis, smoking hookah, or discussing the detailed nuances of Allah’s Book. While the entire purpose of ALLAH’S BOOK does not exist anywhere in DFW ! One way I would describe it: while the Muslim’s house is on fire, he/she makes a cup of tea ! Or, even worse, they take themselves to a corner of the burning house to play with their privates ! I hate that my need to be blunt leads to this ugly reference, but I think it is accurate in depicting the real scenario of the “Muslim community”.
Contrast this with any organization, colony, nation, or empire. All have objectives, and all have unifying principles. Better yet, look at the organization of our Prophet’s Community in Medina. There was organization, objectives, and unifying principles.
History of Western societies, and our brief 40-year history of Muslims in DFW prove that our community will dissolve to nothingness, irrelevance, and incapacity if we do not establish community-wide objectives and principles, and organize our efforts accordingly.
Another, simpler, way of understanding this: take a look at the following puzzle.
A child can put the pieces of this puzzle together, into a coherent, single picture. Why? Because the pieces are defined by shapes and clues that indicate HOW the puzzle should come together. If the pieces were shattered into another 1,000 pieces, they could still be put together. Because there are rules that clarify the objective results.
Without a picture, the puzzle would have no meaning. Where do we have a PICTURE for a coherent, meaningful Muslim community? Currently, there is none !
Without the precise cutting of edges, the puzzle would have no rules for HOW it should be placed together, and we would be left clueless. Where are the RULES that would enable our community to be put together? Currently, there are none !
So, the truth of the “Muslim community”:
- nothing that gives us a meaningful shape
- nothing that gives us clear objectives
- nothing that provides tools for organizing
- no purpose, no principles, no CLUES !
No target to shoot for !