Muslim-Americans on C-Span – Issues Facing American-Muslims

Sherman Jackson


Channel: Sherman Jackson

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men say

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Muhammad Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa alayhi

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wa, certainly certainly loved him and his colleagues.

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First of all, I want to apologize to our dear

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moderator, I just don't like long introductions, they sort of warned me and made me nervous. And secondly, I like to really thank the

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for their very diligent work.

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And I hope, I hope, I hope that my remarks will not tax you too much. Actually, I have just three points that I would like to put forth, for our consideration in terms of the theme that we are here to contemplate, namely, navigating challenges, and seizing opportunities. I think this is particularly relevant in the political season, and the overall socio political context in which we're living now. So the first issue that I'm gonna put forth for our consideration is an enormous challenge and a challenge, I think that as a community, we have got to come to a level of being more attentive to what we're doing in this realm. And that has to do with how we negotiate on the one

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the enormously important and complex social political challenges that we face, including the challenge of building and sustaining meaningful alliances with communities other than our own.

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And yet, at the same time, as we do that, how we go about the ability of preserving and protecting our own moral identity as Muslims.

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How do we have political alliances with other communities, other communities whose moral point of departure may differ from our own? How can we come to the point where we recognize shared interests between us and those communities, and yet, not be so overtaken by the existence of the moment that we are willing to forget our moral identity as a Muslim community, including some of those things that might separate us from some of our allies? I think that in this regard, we write, you might want to remember

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something that I think that probably all converts in an aroma, remember, particularly those who come from a Christian background, and those are the words of the Bible.

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For what does a man pass it to gain

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if he should gain the whole world, but lose his own soul. And sometimes we get into the political arena. And it seems like, perhaps all we think about is winning, or getting the right press. And what I want to submit to us is that we have to be careful at the same time about protecting our moral identity. Because to be a Muslim, is to have a moral identity, we stand for certain things, and we do not stand for other things. And we cannot allow the existence of the moment to cloud that for us. So what this means to me, is that we have got to find a way to get beyond the simple logic of quid pro quo as a fancy word. That simply means that if you scratch my back, I'll scratch your

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back. If you support me, then I'll support you. And the logic is very simple. But I think that instead of engaging this logic in a very flat and nuanced, unsophisticated way, we have to engage it as a community, that is principle the self respecting

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And that is discriminating. When we reach out to build alliances with other communities, we have to be willing and able to say, these are the things that we can join you on, that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with you on, that we can march into battle with you on. But these are the things that we cannot do that. And we have to be a self respecting community. I had a friend once his father was the Mauritian, not the Martian, the Mauritian from the country, Mauritius off the southern coast of Africa. He was the Mauritian ambassador to Singapore.

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And I asked him once I said, What is the first principle of diplomacy. And he said to me, the first, the first principle of diplomacy is that if you're going to speak to another

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interest group, then you have to be willing to recognize their interests, and you have to be insistent that they recognize yours. So as we go about this business, especially in this political season,

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I've tried to reach out and build alliances, and call people to the causes that are meaningful to us, and be called to causes that are meaningful to others, we cannot lose our soul. We have to stand for who we are. And let me just give you a concrete example that I'm sure will be a bit controversial, but we're living in that age. All right. I think that so for example, when it comes to communities, like the LBGT community, we have to be discriminated. And we have to be willing to say, we will stand with you in terms of supporting your right to housing, your right to employment, your right to health care, your right to education, all these basic rights that have to do with

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sustaining a life. But we are not necessary. We are not standing with you when it comes to supporting a particular lifestyle, a lifestyle that may violate our moral identity. We have to be willing as a community to stand up and be who we are. Because if we're not going to stand up and be who we are, what is it that we're fighting for?

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We have to remember that. So we have to remember that there's a difference between supporting somebody else's right to life, and to live and supporting their lifestyle on the other. And we should expect them in many instances, to stay to say the same thing. But we have to be clear about who we are. The second issue I want to raise

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is an even more in some ways, potentially controversial issue. But as I said, we're living in times where we have to face reality. And we have to face reality with each other.

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I've said on other occasions, that, in my view, the black community in America is potentially the baddie Hashem, of the Muslim community.

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You know, if you don't really think about this, either and the sooner Muhammad Soloway was,

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you know that he was able to sustain and prosecute his mission in Makkah, because he had the backing, he had the support

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his client, Abadi, Hashem, who came to his support, not because they believed in him as Prophet, most of them at that time did not. But because they recognized and accepted him as one of their own.

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And they said that,

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as he has it, it would be an offense to our honor to allow anyone to accost this man who happens to be one of our own.

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The process

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took full advantage of the fact that he belonged to Benny Hashim, and that Bernie national was willing to come forward and protect him from his enemies, including physically.

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I have long argued that I believe that the black community in America is potentially the bendy hash of the Muslim community. And one of my fears that I have right now today is that we are squandering potentially, and it's an extremely important relationship.

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Jim, with the black community in America, because we are being very hypocritical in the way that we relate to the black causes, we are trying to commodify black causes, and use them for our own interests, and then turn around and demonstrate virtually no concern for the lives and the welfare of the black community at all. And this hypocrisy, this hypocrisy, this hypocrisy will have a devastating effect on us. Because let me tell you something, you think it's tough being looked upon as terrorists,

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try being looked upon as hypocrites, and people who are liars, and do not believe in what they say they stand for. If we get branded as that, we will be isolated, we will be able to achieve nothing. And just to give you an example, of just how serious this is, many of you here today, because we were celebrating

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the legacy of the great Muhammad Ali, Hola, here at this.

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What I want to share with you something that hopefully may give you insight into what I'm trying to convey

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in 1967 When Muhammad Ali refused to go into the military,

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and he argued that his position was based on his understanding of his duty as a Muslim. So he was taking the stand as a Muslim,

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the black community at large rally to Muhammad Ali's defense, and these are primarily non Muslim, black Americans. And we're talking about many people who had just as much to lose, as did Muhammad Ali. We're talking about people like Bill Russell, we're talking about people like Jim Brown, we're talking about accomplished athletes, accomplished entertainers, people who saw Muhammad Ali as one of their own, and who were therefore willing to come to his defense as one of their own, that I happened in 1967. All right, fast forward, just about 30 years. In 1996, everybody's talking about the San Francisco quarterback, refusing to stand up for the anthem today. He wasn't the first one.

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And 9096 Mark was

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the basketball player for the Colorado nugget for the Denver Nuggets. He was used to stand up for the national anthem, and what happened to him, he was virtually drummed out of an NBA career. And what I want to convey to you now, however, is that in his case, the black community did not come forward as they came for, for Muhammad Ali. And we here sitting in this hall have to ask ourselves why? And one of the reasons why is that the image of Islam in America

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had evolved from the point that the black community no longer identified with it, it had become an emergent phenomena, and

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was no longer looked upon primarily as one of their own, but as one of them.

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This is what we have to be careful about allowing to happen. And again, and again, the Prophet Mohammed recognize themselves as belonging to a people.

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And that then natural bond among people

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is a bond that should be invested in is a bond that shouldn't be in the developed embrace. And now this not only the profit and the people,

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benefit from the

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people, who were so many people who somebody, they also benefited from the protection of any asset. So one of my concerns now today is that the Muslim community is being very, very remiss in the way in which it is on about dealing with the black community. The black community is not stupid.

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And you cannot fool them. And we cannot pretend to care. We cannot talk about we want to stand shoulder to shoulder with Black Lives Matter. And yet we're not even willing to come into our own masajid and deal with the anti black racism in our own masajid

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We cannot do this, this is not sustainable. And the very people, the very people who will expose us in this regard of black American Muslims in our own communities, this is something to which we must pay attention. We cannot be a community of hypocrisy. We have to be a community of principle. And we have to be a community who understands the Sunnah of Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and who follows the Sunnah Muhammad,

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and who seeks to translate that into the context of our own reality today. The last point that I want to move to is really a point that My dear sister, Dr. Manson brought up as well, I just wanted to frame it in perhaps a slightly different frame.

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But I think that it's really important for us as Muslims, especially as we move ahead, in the social political arena, that we reconnect to a civics, a pilaf

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to a civics, that accommodates disagreement, not any disagreement, principle disagreement, but yet a civics that accommodates

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a disagreement, we have to understand a problem in our Muslim community and Dr. Mattson we prior to it, and

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we want to turn every issue into a religious issue and a religious issue. That's a litmus test issue.

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Not every issue. And then we want to turn our position on the issue, and to the Islamic position on the issue, to a point that if you don't agree with me, you're not agreeing with Islam. And I'm therefore justified in freezing you out. We have to understand that not every issue in the political arena is an issue that yields a hookup that reveals every religious ruling,

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voting for this candidate of voting for this issue, it may be stupid, it may be ineffective, it may not promote our interest in the way that I think that they should be promoted. But that does not mean that is strong. That does not mean that people who vote that way, are bad Muslims, it simply means that they have a perspective that is different from my own. And we as a Muslim community, we have to learn to to develop a civics that will enable us to accommodate that. Because as we move forward, we're not going to all agree on the issues. And I don't mean, the technicalities of the issues. What do we do when there is a candidate who votes the way or a senator or a congressman who

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votes the way we would like to see them vote on Palestine,

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but has a negative position on affirmative action,

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or who votes the way we would like them to vote on affirmative action, but has a bad position on Palestine, these issues may divide the Muslim community,

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between those

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who prefer the issue of God aside on the one hand, and those who privilege the issue of affirmative action on the other, as a community, we have to learn how to manage these kinds of disagreements.

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And this is the cities that I'm talking about. And if there's any community on the planet, that should be at home, at home, with a citizen of disagreement is this Muslim community. And that is one of the miracles of Islam in the world, and religious community, and religious community that has been able to accommodate difference virtually from day one.

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We must get back to this brothers and sisters, because if we don't, what's going to happen is we're going to have a lot of these guerrilla wars underneath the surface, and we're going to be alienated from each other. We're going to inflict internal bleeding on each other. All because we're incapable of seeing that we're not always disagree, and that all our disagreements are not failed disagreements. We can disagree and yet still recognize ourselves as Muslims who are bound together in a common cause. I really pray and hope that Allah will guide us, give us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to make our way back to a cynics. A sense of disagreement.

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A disagreement is principle

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little disagreement, and I'll say this and stop.

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We are not a community of undesirable passions. After che Paul in the Quran, there is no more there's no greater enemy to human beings than their own undesirable passions.

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Hamas is what takes us to the alpha. We don't want to be a community of hola of undisciplined passion disguised in the guise of political expediency. We must be a community of principle. We must be a community have more identity, and we must be a community that embraces a civics of political disagreement.