Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

My Withdrawal From CAIR Event; Update

On April 22nd, I was at a meeting with Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR National, but more of that later.

I was a table captain at the up-coming CAIR (Council on Islamic American Relations) fundraiser and was well on my way to having two tables filled until CAIR National appeared to support the Tomahawk bombing of Syria and within the same period, another CAIR chapter had made vile statements against a Shia spiritual leader. For years, CAIR has appeared to hold a position of supporting causes that had Sunni Muslims as victims and at best, remained silent on causes where Shia Muslims were the target. This time, it was too much for me; I told CAIR-WA that unless steps were taken to reject these clear acts of sectarian bigotry, I would resign my role as table captain for the fundraiser. At that point, a CAIR board member labeled my call as “blackmail” and suggested I resign anyway so I did. Since my resignation was public (FB April 12th), I was criticized by some Muslim friends that my actions hurt CAIR and I should not have helped destroy CAIR. This reminded me of a story (Hadith) about the prophet Mohammed:

  • Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed person”, said the Prophet. A companion asked: “Messenger of Allah, I will help him if he is an oppressed person, but please tell me how I am to help if he happens to be an oppressor?”. The Prophet answered: “Check him from doing injustice, because preventing him from committing aggression is a help to him”. (Ibn  Malik)

I am actually not a member of CAIR but I whole-heartedly support its cause. In my opinion, CAIR is the only effective, Muslim civil rights organization in the US. But in my eyes, that comes with an affirmative responsibility to remain neutral and objective where Muslims may be on opposite sides of an issue because drawing the line between whom to support and whom to oppose and when, is an impossible task. CAIR has been seen as partisan (against Shia) on far too many occasions and when certain CAIR local chapters take partisan positions, CAIR National has been seen to remain silent on all of them. Such a position is guaranteed to alienate groups that see themselves as being targeted at a time when CAIR cannot afford to lose any Muslim support in America. The best policy for CAIR would be to keep silent on international Muslim-to-Muslim issues.

At the meeting with Nihad, there were a few Shia representatives and myself. The point about CAIR’s apparent bias was most forcefully brought forth to Nihad who is a thorough gentleman. He listened without interruption and took notes and then responded to each person.

Nihad accepted that the actions and events shared with him were unacceptable and that at no time, should there be any question of bias between Shia and Sunni. He went out of his way to tell us that CAIR has issued many press releases against persecution and bias towards Shia and that he has made several Khutbahs (Sermons) at Shia mosques in Washington DC. He shared over a dozen of those press releases and indeed, CAIR had rejected the persecution of Shia on many occasions. Nihad also promised to “follow up” on the case where an idiot chapter-leader had made vile comments against a Shia spiritual leader. Generally, the Shia members present were satisfied that they had been heard as was I.

The ultimate test however, is not in the words we heard but in the actions we expect to see, time will tell.

I did a web-search on “CAIR rally Syria” and up came up with a host of reports where CAIR chapters had conducted, supported or led, rallies against the tragedy in Syria and in support of the anti-Assad groups. That itself would not be so bad except that the Syrian conflict has become a polarized Shia-Sunni bloodbath and supporting one side means taking a partisan position; supporting the anti-Assad side means supporting Sunnis against the Shia.

Ok, one could let go of this issue, but it is only one among many where CAIR has either ignored a tragedy against the Shia or allowed its chapters to oppose the Shia in silence.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

CAIR could be seen as objective if it speaks out against Assad’s forces and also speaks out against the atrocities the House of Saud and Qatar are committing against the Shia in Yemen, with full support of the US and UK. Yemen is noted by the UN as being one of the greatest human tragedies with adults and children being driven to starvation…IF they survive the relentless bombing by Arabia-Qatar-US- UK alliance.

CAIR could have taken energetic positions against the slaughter of the Shia by the House of Saud in Bahrain.

At times like these, issuing press releases is good, but not enough; the human conscience demands more, it demands open, loud, action.

I have met many Shia and invariably, I hear complaints that CAIR is a sectarian partisan. These folk have become alienation from CAIR and if CAIR does not change its behavior fast, it will have absolutely no support from the Shia population. Locally, Shia like Arsalan Bokhari, the director of CAIR-WA very much, but at the same time, they have little or no trust that CAIR cares for Shia.

If support for CAIR wanes or becomes a sectarian issue, ALL Muslims will lose. CAIR’s strength will diminish as will its ability to solve the multitudes of anti-Muslim hate events that occur with increasing frequency in America and ultimately, Muslims will get crushed. Strength goes two ways; CAIR will have to strengthen its support and change its perception among minority Muslim sects and they in turn, will have to trust and support CAIR.

It is our only path to survival in America.

April 26, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I am indeed sad to see this rift opening up between Muslim. I agree CAIR had been the most effective organizaiton working to protect Muslims against the rising tide of Islamophobia in US and elsewhere. I am so sorry to see it succumb to sectarian hatred.

    Jaffar, you have said it well.


    Comment by Qaseem Khan | April 26, 2017 | Reply

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