Role of Mosques in Politics
For some reason, Muslims in America have developed an allergy to the word, “politics“. We use this word to reject any discussion about our role in America, about Islam in America, about getting engaged in America and even about our own, internal structures of Muslim organizations (Masajid etc.,) in America.
Say, “this is just palitiks” and that ends all further discussions.
Yet everything we do, everything we live through is derived from politics…everything. Our ability to build a mosque close to where a number of us live, is from politics, our tax-free status is from politics, our job security is from politics and our protections, are from politics.
So are all the things used to attack us with…
Targeting Muslims in America is a political decision.
Targeting of Muslims by our security agencies is purely from politics, NOT from any considerations of threats to the nation, because there are plenty of threats to the nation that FAR exceed any threats that Muslims have presented to the US, but the focus and the publicity is driven by the political decision to focus on Muslims
Perhaps it is because we are targeted and because most of our faith leadership is either first-generation immigrant or non-citizens, that they tend to be so averse to doing anything that may have a possibility of drawing negative attention from “the authorities”.
We are unsure of our status in America because we have isolated ourselves from “Palitiks“, so we live in fear that our precious organizations, our centers and our masajid, might get taken away from us if we step over an imaginary line and into “Palitiks” we become owned by our Mosques and we live to serve our institutions, instead of the other way around.
The cycle of fear of “the authorities and avoidance of political discussions has served to marginalize us when it comes to making decisions that impact everyone, including Muslims and sometimes, especially Muslims. Our conscious and expressed avoidance of anything political has served only to instill a sense in our children…the future of Muslims and of Islam in America…that they too, should stay away from politics and from anything that stinks of “working for America”. This in turn, results in there being almost zero representation in every area that affects our lives and thus, when it comes time to decide who we are, what we stand for and how to deal with us (to attack us or to include us), only our enemies get to give input.
If we look at Churches, at Synagogues and other places of faith, they are all deeply-rooted into the political machinery. Their faith-leaders make sure their congregations understand what political decisions impact them and what the congregations need to do, in order to protect the faith-interests. Politicians understand the engagement of the faith-houses and so, they look to getting a favored relationship with the faith-groups; the more engaged a faith-group is, the more fearful politicians are, of disfavored by that group and the more, that group exercises it power.
Today, Right-Wing Churches and Right-Wing Synagogues are unanimous in their hostility towards Islam and Muslims, although, for different reasons. Still, when they share their distrust of Muslims, with politicians, politicians jump to serve and talk violently against Islam and Muslims and follow it up with laws (NDAA, USAPATRIOT Act etc.,) and actions (“detentions”, imprisonments, removal from flights, slow attention to citizenship applications, threats and attacks on Muslim-majority states etc.,).
As far as history is concerned, we Muslims are not in a unique position because all minorities lived in fear of “The Authorities” at one time or another.
Not any more.
Minority houses of worship are taking greater and greater interest in politics and are taking more vocal and assertive positions to ensure their interests are protected and supported by the politicians.
PEW Research recently conducted a poll of houses of worship (not including Muslims) and minority congregations’ involvement in the political fields (see below) and returned with results that might surprise our Muslim faith-leaders.
Churches have identified values that are important to them and have preached those values from their pulpits. While some values may be more rooted in the Bible, there were also values and rights that have to do with every day interaction with the authorities, such as religious freedom; they even took partisan positions regarding Presidential candidates. While I am nor suggesting that our Masajid take partisan positions (which they cannot do because of their non-profit status), it is interesting that Christian minority Churches feel strong enough to challenge, not only the politicians, but the IRS as well!
Muslims need to take their cues from other minority groups and actively pursue issues that impact Muslims in America…and therefore, Islam in America. Our Mosques should be centers where Muslims can become aware of the current events (tied to sermons) along with calls to deeper thought and perhaps, to action. Our Mosques need to understand that they do not exist only to lead their congregations in prayer, but they are centers where political involvement is encouraged so the persecution of Muslims in this country no longer stays profitable for our enemies and their political servants.
When we discover our Security services (Police, FBI Military etc.,) engaged in anti-Muslim training or when we discover another event where Muslims are taken off their flights because some bigot “feels threatened”, our Mosques need to help their congregations take stands and send their message to their political representatives.
It is high time we took our fates in our own hands and it is past time when our Mosques should start moving actively to encourage congregations to participate in every aspect of this country’s life or, any misery that befalls ANY Muslim in this country (because of his faith) will be the responsibility of the Mosques that remain silent and unresponsive.