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Shape Up or Perish

I am not going to start by saying: I told you so, although I am tempted. Mr. Donald Trump is the president elect and the world will now be a different place. How different? Only time will tell but if the world changes, what will happen to those who are ill-prepared, unable or unwilling to change? The answer is in the title.

There is a shift in the outlook and attitudes of people world over. The working class in the industrialized world is seeing itself as a victim of globalization, of indiscreet immigration policies of governments, terrorism and its perceived causes, jobs redistribution --- disappearance of manufacturing jobs and their replacement with technology jobs which the locals cannot fill. Globalization requires capital as well as population redistribution. The introduction of ethnic diversity in a socially tranquil society creates strong undercurrents of unease, which are easily exploitable by fear mongers.

Muslims on the planet are caught in a vortex of chaos, victims of their own failures. The world body is treating them as a painful appendix and is seeking remedies. The most powerful of their critics are coalescing in opposition: Trump, Putin and Modi. Even powerful China is ill-disposed towards them owing to the Uyghur insurgency on its eastern frontier. Vultures are descending on circumcised carcasses everywhere, from around Euphrates and Oxus to the Indus.

When the television screens are flashing pictures of throat-cutting in the Middle East, seeing on the streets brown people with beards and kufis and women with hijab, some hiding their faces behind black veils, is making people feel that terror has arrived at their doorstep. Who can question that it did arrive in London, Paris, New York and San Bernardino, not to mention the historic and monumental attack of nine-eleven. People are not philosophers; they read the news and take them at their face value. They do not analyze them to arrive at their root causes so as to surmise that the Syrian refugees are arriving in their countries because Syria is being systematically demolished by powers which include their own government. This is not what ordinary people spend their time on. It is mainly Noam Chomsky’s job. Obama will not tell them that this is a legacy he is leaving behind. By the end of the day the whole Middle East will look like Petra. It is anybody’s guess where its people will go then and what they will do to the European civilization.
Today however, I am not addressing the people of the world, nor the Muslims all over but the Muslim community members living in the west with particular reference to the inhabitants of America. You must realize that you can only be silent observers of what is happening in the Muslim World. You have no power over events there. You are not in Egypt and are therefore not responsible for consistent treachery and the metamorphosis of Arab nationalism. You are not in Iraq and therefore cannot be blamed for its balkanization. You are not in Palestine and cannot remedy the hopeless situation. You are not in Syria and thus do not have to find shelter for your children from the bombs falling from the skies. You are not in Pakistan to worry about the Shariah law or secular law or the day and night violence, the grand larceny committed by the ruling clique and the systematic degeneration of institutions. You are not in Iran and cannot be asked the meaning of the “Islamic Revolution” and to explain the ramifications of the Shia Crescent. You are not in Saudi Arabia and thus do not owe any apologies for parasitism and unearned luxuries. No! But you are in America, responsible every bit for what happens now and to the future generations. You will be asked: “Granddad, what is it that you did or did not do that has caused our misery?” How come, the Jews, the Hindus, the Chinese and others have overtaken us in every respect? Did you steal time from us, our math’s time, our science time and our sports time? Did you induct us into unproductive, unreal, inconsequential and sectarian petty arguments? The Quran advocates moderation in everything including religiosity and ritualism. Did you spend time in excessive religiosity and destructive discourses with your peers causing neglect that had pushed us into this predicament? The Quran exhorts us above all to ponder and reflect over all physical phenomena, thus triggering scientific enquiry in many fields. It had made us a scientific nation in the Middle Ages but now due to the lack of rationalism and reasoning, we are rendered intellectually sterile and uncompetitive vis-a-vis other peoples. Did you let go of common sense to bring this catastrophe upon us? Granddad, we are sorry but you have turned out to be our worst enemy.

So what do we do to extricate ourselves from the present predicament? Consider the following:
  • ·         Reorient your attention from foreign issues to domestic issues.
  • ·         Launch a massive social welfare program directed towards Muslim as well as non-Muslim populace.
  • ·         Immediately and forcefully end the social and cultural isolation. Form a “rainbow coalition” with all likeminded individuals and organizations – religious as well as secular. Such programs need not be masjid based.
  • ·         Arab and Asian businesses in the inner cities of America must change their value-neutral attitudes and reorient their sympathies away from foreign lands to the local populations.

  • ·         Insulate the young minds, especially the American born children from the destructive influences of sectarianism, parochialism and merciless doctrinal disputations. (The seniors who have brought this culture from back home are uncompromising and should be allowed to fade away.)
  • ·         It is necessary that we avoid being stereotyped. Clothing has nothing to do with the belief system; it is the manifestation of a mind set. In a hostile political environment, it is imperative that we be flexible and not perceived as hostile.
  • ·         Hate speech, for or against must be strictly prohibited.
  • ·         Emphasize the learning of science and math and other “secular” subjects in full time and weekend schools. Give our children a head start. Let education be oriented towards exploration, not memorization.

·        Last but not least: President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric heavily exploited the terrorism committed by individuals born in the West or admitted as immigrants. The main causes of this are indoctrination of youth who are vulnerable, by the internet or by unscrupulous preachers. This phenomenon is more a factor in Europe than in America. Nevertheless, we need to be very vigilant and if we see any signs of this anywhere, we must act appropriately.

In closing, let me turn to the mainstream media and all decent Americans. Muslim citizens of America are in a state of a shock as a result of the campaign rhetoric and the media description of the team picked by the President-elect. Young children, born and bred in America are asking: “Daddy, what is going to happen to us?” This question mark on the horizon across the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans would put many a tyrants like Hitler into shame and should never have arisen in America.

Waheeduddin Ahmed
November 2016


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