Updated#2 (Nadim's input)- The following is the MM's team thoughts and views on the Elections. After my intro, don't miss the pieces by Yasir Qadhi, Yaser Birjas, Navaid Aziz, Abdul Nasir, others – Amad
Comments CLOSED. Time to focus on what the Shayookh said, instead of arguing.
My fellow Muslims, especially my fellow American Muslims, Assalam Alaikum.
We are now passing from election hype to a surreal sense of what just happened in American history– a black man with none of the “required pedigree” taking over the leadership for the most powerful nation in the world. We all know that Obama really had no “business” running for the Presidency as a viable candidate, let alone winning it. But he did, and he nailed a slogan that will go down in history as one of the most genius political creations ever, “Yes, we can”.
What happened on November 4, 2008 will be discussed, argued, and deciphered for ages. The pundits and academics will make a living out of this election for decades to come. So, this “citizen-journalist” won't bore you much more with more of the same. Rather, I want to take you through a quick journey of politics on MM:
Political discussions on MM have brought out the worst and best among us. We saw the entire spectrum of Muslims commenting on these grounds, from those who wanted Muslims in the West to live as if they were really not living here (i.e. completely divorcing themselves from society), to those who cannot have enough of the American dream, soaking it up as if they were given the keys to Jerusalem.
After we got past the voting-blocK, we heard from both sides of the McCain and Obama camps, truly an opportunity for Muslims to grow beyond sloganeering, and looking at the issues.
I know there are many of you who would prefer an apolitical Islam-only MM, and I respect your desire for that. At the same time, there are many others, including me, who have found this political awakening of sort quite rewarding; what we believe is our own little way of contributing to the Ummah in the West. So, I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the first group for the high-dose of politics over the last few weeks, and want to thank the second group for the encouragement and the support for MM-politics.
A few final thoughts before I leave you with the words of those whose opinions far outweigh mine, in both value and quality.
As I left for work in the morning, my feelings of happiness were all relative: relative to what could have been had it not been Obama. I know that the “Muslim” mistake with Bush in 2000 has been rubbed in at every opportunity. But as Muslims, we learn from our mistakes; we don't stop trying. And perhaps this is a mistake again, wallahu 'alam, but I would rather try and make a mistake, than not try at all.
And so, I leave you with two words regarding Obama: cautious optimism. Obama's choice for Chief of Staff has served well to emphasize the need for caution, and for tempered expectations. Studies in human psychology have shown that a sense of loss is much harder to take than a sense of gain, e.g. losing money that you possessed feels much worse than not gaining the same amount that you were expecting to receive.
I urge you to not put political participation behind you, not to leave it for a short sprint every 4 years. If we continue to depend on political chicken-feed every presidential elections, then we will never get to a point where the politicians will actually start paying attention to us. I cannot but emphasize the importance of involvement in local politics, the city councils, the civic clubs, the school boards, and so on. This is where things happen, and where we can make a difference, and where we can go in with the motto:
“Yes, we can inshā'Allāh (God-willing)”
And then perhaps by the next election, we will also be able to say,
“Yes, we did mash'Allāh (God willed it)”
May Allāh forgive me for all my errors.
Your brother, Amad S.
Enough of me, time for the REAL deal…
Yasir Qadhi tells us not to be guilty of hope [Jump to his piece]:
How much more so, then, are we deserving of feeling hope and optimism, when a candidate who WILL directly affect our lives and the lives of millions of people across the world has been elected.
Navaid Aziz, watching from up above (Canada that is), is pleasantly surprised [Jump to his piece]:
Besides all of the hype involved, it was nice to see that American Muslims seem to have a genuine concern for their country and its well being
Yaser Birjas shares a short, but deep thought [Jump to his piece]:
Many people such as Martin Luther King died dreaming for something even less than that, and now here I am living to see some history in the making.
Abdul Nasir Jangda is relieved [Jump to his piece]:
NO MORE SARAH PALIN! Well at least not for a couple of years.
IbnAbeeOmar shares a more interesting story, his struggles between a mother's order to vote, and a desire not to [Jump to his piece]:
She [mom] said go, the lines are short. I said ok, I'll see, I have some work to do. A few minutes later she called again.
SaqibSaab, a true Chicagoan at heart, revels in Obama's ascension, though he treads with caution [Jump to his piece]:
For one, they should've had the starting lineup intro for the Chicago Bulls play, with an all-star Chicago “starting lineup”. Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kanye West, Michael Jordan, and finally, the man of the hour, Barack Obama.
Abu Bakr doesn't buy the hype [Jump to his piece]:
I believe in the principle of voting in order to avert the greater of two evils, however I chose not to vote in this election.
Neither does Ahmad Al-Farsi [Jump to his piece]:
I was more afraid of, if I voted for him, thereby endorsing him, and he went off and killed many more Muslims in Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere, that I would feel quite accountable for having voted for him. So, alḥamdulillāh, I decided to protest the election by not voting.
Tariq Ahmed (AbuAbdullah-the Houstonian) takes a more philosophical approach [Jump to his piece]:
Take note of the moment in history. As Rome turned the tide against Persia, so America has reached a milestone in its continuing epilogue to the end of slavery in these lands.
Haytham Soliman amuses himself before returning to the pretension of studying Haytham Soliman [Jump to his piece]:
“Finally, now I can say it, we don't have to hide it any more…. Assalamu Alaykom Br. Barak Hussein Abdul-Qadir Al-Jilani Chisti Obama”.
Siraaj Muḥammad mixes up the optimism and the caution perfectly [Jump to his piece]:
Obama's victory over McCain last night was an emotional one on many levels. There is now hope at the end of the dark tunnel that was George Bush's presidency these past eight years
Nadim reminds us to be realistic [Jump to his piece]:
Let's be realistic, in politics, nothing is what it seems. America has a new leader, but can the winner change the rules of the game?
And finally, here's a special short one-liner from the other Canadian, AnonyMouse (who also tells us that she checked the news on Obama after brushing her teeth and before breakfast, which is a big deal) :
My summary: Everyone is way too excited, and we're all going to be disappointed no matter who's elected… The End :D
signed Zainab bint Younus
Yes, “AnonyMouse” is anonymous no longer. Is this bigger news than Obama winning or what??
Indeed, all praise is due to Allāh, and may peace and salutations be upon the prophets of Allāh.
When the Muslims were in Mecca, there was a major war raging in a nearby land; a war that was, relative to its time, of cataclysmic proportion. It was being fought out between the only two super-powers of the era. And even though the Muslims themselves had nothing at stake in that war, even though any win or loss to either side would cause no immediate change in their lives, the Muslims were emotionally attached to one side against the other. Their spirits, their hopes, their optimism, all centered on the army of Heraclius, the emperor of Rome, as he fought against Khusrau Parvez, the King of Sassanid Persia. These early Muslims felt an affinity for the Christian Heraclius as he fought against the fire-worshiping Zoroastrians. So, when the news came that Heraclius had been defeated, the Muslims were in fact dejected, and the pagans of Mecca boasted to the Muslims that their 'team' had lost. It was at this occasion that Allāh revealed the first few verses of Surah al-Rum, which gave them the optimistic prophecy that even though Heraclius had lost this battle, he would win a future one, in a few years. Many years later, the Prophet wrote a letter to Heraclius, and Heraclius heard the message of Islam. While respectful of it, he did not convert. Throughout this entire time, the Muslims were not reproached or reprimanded for their feelings of hope towards Heraclius and the Roman Empire.
How much more so, then, are we deserving of feeling hope and optimism, when a candidate who WILL directly affect our lives and the lives of millions of people across the world has been elected. For those who wish to make Muslims even feel guilty for this hope, I say that our religion is a religion of optimism and a religion of reality. We should feel optimistic, at all times, and take the best from every situation. And between the two candidates that were running for the highest office in the most powerful country in the world today, it was clear in the eyes of many, which of these two was more inclined to peace, and which was more inclined to war. It was clear who was able to inspire with hope and optimism, and who was more inclined to inspire through fear and hatred of 'the other'. It was clear who had more intelligence and common sense, and who could not even think clearly enough to choose a qualified running mate.
Make no mistake about it, though. Barack Obama is no messiah, and, as an American political leader, he will inevitably do things that will enrage people around the world, and yes, sometimes even us. But looking at the alternative, in my opinion and the opinion of many in the know, the message was clear: he was the better candidate overall, at this time and place, for Muslims, for America, for the world. And if it so turns out that those who voted for Barack Obama were wrong, well, they can say, in full conscience and with no fear of reprimand, 'O Allāh, this is what was apparent to us when we chose, and only You knew the future and what it held.'
Indeed, we thank Allāh who will judge us for the sincerity of our intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions.
It is indeed an historic moment for this country, when a black leader, with the middle name of Hussein, the son of an African visitor to this land, raised far away from the bastions of political power, can actually win the highest office. It is an historic moment, and I am proud to have witnessed it. But the election yesterday was not about supporting the persona of Barack Obama as much as it was about the scathing indictment of the previous administration. When people voted yesterday, they voted not for Barack, but against the current administration. Obama did not win because he was Obama, but rather because he was for change. And to me, that is huge reason to be optimistic about this country.
There is much good in America, and we need to channel that good and help it overcome the bad. Keep in mind that while Obama won a resounding victory in the electoral votes, he only had a slight lead in the popular vote (52% to Obama, 46 % to McCain). And while it is overly simplistic and wrong to claim that all those who voted for McCain were supportive of the current administration's policies, it is not an exaggeration to state that a fairly large percentage of them would be averse to the positive vision of change that Obama claims to want. And that is a scary thought, one that sobers us up the reality, and shows us that there is a lot of work to do ahead.
As an American, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy, a sense of optimism for the future, and the work ahead for all of us. And as a Muslim, I sincerely pray that Allāh wants good for this country, and that He places people in power that will bring about that good through them, and through all of us. The Obama campaign might have stopped now, but our campaign as Muslims, in spreading the truth and calling for justice, never stops as long as we remain in this world.
In this moment of elated happiness, when the nation itself seems swept away with the raw emotion of victory, let us remember that true victory is one's spiritual victory in winning the pleasure of Allāh. Let us keep in mind that leaders come and go, nations rise and fall, and one day, after having witnessed much happiness and sorrow, we too shall depart, leaving this world with only our deeds to show.
May Allāh make us all beacons of light, calling people to the truth, and being a shining example for others to follow.
New Haven, CT
Nov 5th, 2008
One of the more appealing Muslim authored articles I stumbled upon during the whole election fiasco was the article written by Br. Zaid Shakir entitled: “Vote for me and I'll set you free“. Not wanting to focus so much on the content of the article, it basically summarized all the things that the up and coming president would need to say, and more importantly do, to get the affairs of the country in order. What I would like to focus on is the title of the article itself, and how it relates the mindset of the average Muslim American voter.
Now, Br. Shakir may have not necessarily been thinking about the frame of mind of the average Muslim American voter when he wrote the article, but I believe the title is nonetheless very applicable. After having observed all the debates and discussion surrounding the two respective candidates one thing that definitely stuck out, like a sore thumb, was how Muslims actually believed that it was this up and coming president that would change their lives, and basically “set them free.” Now such sentiments are not only understandable, but perhaps also expected after GW Bush's eight years in power that have left the country in shambles. Amongst all of those sentiments the greater picture faded away and perhaps was even lost. What is that greater picture? You need not look further than the American dollar bill: “In God we trust”. Yes, with a new president comes great hope and possibly great change, but at the end of the day nothing happens except by the will and power of the almighty. So why is it we witnessed debates about which candidate we should vote for, and heard khutbahs about why we need to be more politically aware, yet nowhere in those lengthy sermons and debates did anyone mention putting our trust in Allāh and supplicating that He grant victory to the one that will be the most beneficial for Islam and the Muslims in America. The president is just a means. God is the one that controls your fate.
“Over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing” (12:76)
Not wanting to be a total cynic, I was pleasantly surprised at the interest that Muslim Americans showed during these elections. Besides all of the hype involved, it was nice to see that American Muslims seem to have a genuine concern for their country and its well being. It is such glimpses of hope that allow me to believe that American Muslims will one day unite under a centralized opinion and use that united voice to fight for justice, human rights, and a rectification of domestic and foreign policy. When one is living in a land of democracy, it is only foolish not to make the best of it when one can, while never forgetting that there is no replacement or second to the sharee'ah of Allāh.
“And who is better in judgment than Allāh for a people who have firm Faith.” (5:50)
May Allāh rectify the affairs of Muslims in America and everywhere else, and return this Ummah to the honor and respect it once had.
I truly felt more republican on some issues than democrat but couldn't imagine McCain-Palin in the White House. The only thing that struck me while I was watching both McCain and Obama's speeches, that I was watching a truly historical event. Many people such as Martin Luther King died dreaming for something even less than that, and now here I am living to see some history in the making.
How positive or negative the impact of this in the future was not really an issue to me at that moment. The issue was to believe that with hard and sensible work, with enduring prejudice and all kind of stereotypes things by the will of Allāh can happen. Silence or negativity during those difficult moments of our time were definitely not an option.
This was a very interesting and important election for many reasons that have been elaborated upon. I found this election to be of special interest to me, primarily due to the thumping the republican party received both locally here in North Texas and of course nationally. We have been suffering locally, nationally, and even worldwide on the republican watch. So it was nice to see them deal with the consequences of their actions and policies.
NO MORE SARAH PALIN! Well at least not for a couple of years. She's saying she wants to run for president. Looks like Tina Fey doesn't have to worry about a job. :)
Another point that struck me was how far the African American community has been able to come in half a century, despite all the challenges and adversity they faced. It was fascinating to see how things have developed.
Lastly in deciding whether or not to participate in the voting process, we should remember to be respectful towards each other and treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Allāh knows best.
I have perhaps one of the most interesting journeys of the 2008 election (of the MM staff maybe anyways). I have struggled to some extent with where I stand on voting, ultimately deciding that I was not going to partake in the election. My only reason for participating would be with the premise of choosing which candidate would be better for the Muslim Ummah – if such a conclusion could be reached. While debating the issue of who was really the lesser evil, I could not decide. I feel Obama is better for America, but I don't know that it translates into who is necessarily best for Muslims everywhere. And while I understand the arguments of those opposing voting on Islamic grounds, I also personally feel that those allowing it in our situation – using the tools available to you to better your situation until you have a better alternative – have the more compelling argument.
While trying to come to grips with who was better for the Muslims, my gut told me Obama was. I could not help shake my guilty conscience though, that still gnaws at me from 8 years ago. If you recall, back then the “Muslim thing to do” was to vote for Bush. I did my civic duty as a Muslim and made sure I voted for him. I have regretted it every day since.
I learned that while it's important to be involved in society, I concluded that voting didn't need to be one of the ways – legitimate an option for us it may be. I realized that I simply could not identify the lesser of two evils simply based on campaigning and empty stances on canned issues, especially when despite Obama's anti-war stance he is still anti-Palestine. Therefore, I decided to abstain from voting in this election, as I did in the previous election.
Then, in the span of 30 minutes, everything got turned upside down. Parents have a tendency to do that. My mom, of all people, called me while I was working asking me if I had voted. I said no. She said go, the lines are short. I said ok, I'll see, I have some work to do. A few minutes later she called again. I again made some excuse. Then she called a third time, and I said I would see about it after going to the masjid – except this time she got frustrated and said to go ahead and go now and not to miss out.
I am now in what you might call a predicament, a conundrum of sorts. She's not ordering me with something I consider to be blatantly haram, and having an argument with my parents about voting is not my idea of a nice evening at home. So I said khayr, I will obey my mother and go out and vote. Birr al-walidayn overrides an issue of ijtihad such as this in my mind (I have a tendency to create fatwa situations in real life that others would never even think of hypothetically).
The story doesn't end there. I walk in and feel uncomfortable just being there. I made a quick du‘ā’, something along the lines of being guided to whatever was going to be best for me in my affairs. I go to the table, whip out my registration card, and hand it to them. My registration card is from around 1999-2000 (wow I feel old). My name is not in their list. The address on my card was from when I lived at home and was going to college. No problem they said, they'd find where I could go vote and started checking my previous address. That didn't help much because in the last 5 years I have moved probably 4 times, including a 2 year stint in another state. And that's what got me. My registration expired while I was in the other state, and the post office is not allowed to forward mail for voter registration, so I never received my renewal notice. My 'civic duty' when I moved back to my present state would have been to re-register as a resident of the state and be eligible to vote. So I re-registered, but I was not allowed to vote today. So alḥamdulillāh, I made my mom happy, and I feel at ease for not voting for someone that I might regret later.
As I write this, Obama looks like a run-away winner. I'm happy that he won as opposed to McCain, but what I have learned from 2000 is not to get too excited. Make du‘ā’' for the Ummah, it's much more important. I pray that Allāh (swt) makes our affairs easy here, puts barakah in our da‘wah efforts, makes it easy for us to combat the negativity spread about us here, and saves the Muslims from the disasters we have seen abroad in the past 8 years.
As a Chicagoan, it was something else to see Obama take the victory right in my own home city. I knew people who went to Grant Park for his victory speech and even saw some Muslims I knew on TV. This election and the events that led up to it were truly something else. On a humorous note, my wife and I jokingly kinda wished they would've increased the “Chicagoness” of the celebration. How so? For one, they should've had the starting lineup intro for the Chicago Bulls play, with an all-star Chicago “starting lineup”. Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kanye West, Michael Jordan, and finally, the man of the hour, Barack Obama. The bench would consist of Common, Derick Rose, Roger Ebert, Mike Ditka, Al Bundy, Bill Murray, Lupe Fiasco, the Perfect Strangers, Steve Urkel, Christian Bale as Batman from The Dark Knight, okay now I'm just getting carried away.
As a recent college graduate looking for a job in a recession, I'm both relieved the republican party of McCain lost and the democratic Obama team took the stage. As imām Suhaib said, Obama's more about socializing the benefits for the masses, not privatizing them. I personally like Obama's constant focus on the middle to lower class of America and not on supposed plumbers making $250,000+ a year.
As a Muslim, I have two feelings. Firstly, I'm relieved McCain and Sarah Palin weren't elected. Besides the fact that Palin is a walking embodiment of epic fail, their campaign carried a lot of blatant much anti-Muslim baggage. I'm glad the likes of Gayle Quinnell, the McCain supporter that didn't trust Obama because he was “an Arab,” won't have any more say in things than they deserve.
The other feeling I have is of concern for all Muslims in their support for Barack Obama. Most Muslims I know voted and supported Obama, either on the basis of his superior domestic policies or the negative characteristics of McCain and his ilk. Obama's the candidate who explicitly stated supporting the closing of Guantanamo Bay. That, amongst other reasons, is why we can consider him a lesser of two evils. However, I really advise us Muslims to take Obama's victory with a grain of salt.
Obama has stated he wants to send forces into Pakistan, as well as increase focus in Afghanistan. This is very worrisome for me as a Muslim, because with the way US Foreign policy goes, invading primarily Muslim lands has been nothing short of disastrous.
So while we may get excited and get somewhat emotional of having the candidate we voted for win, I want to remind everyone that Barack Obama is not perfect. He is not a savior or Mehdi for us, and he is not our avenue for sole trust in all affairs. He's a human being, and a politician at that. Therefore, he is going to make mistakes. Better to believe this now, and remember it when conflicts between the US' interests come between ours, especially on a foreign level.
We ask Allāh protect us and bring us justice.
I believe in the principle of voting in order to avert the greater of two evils, however I chose not to vote in this election. The following are my concerns about Obama:
- It seems he will be continuing the war in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
- He is pro-Israel.
- He is indicated his readiness to expand the Afghanistan war into Pakistan.
- On the domestic front, he approved the Patriot Act.
I would honestly like to believe that with a Democratic Congress and President, there will be an improvement on the civil rights front, but the Democratic Party has been complicit in the gross civil rights violations of the Bush Administration.
I hope I am wrong and that the two wars come to an end soon, but I think that the ongoing economic troubles in the US and the tenacity of the military insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq will have more to do with it than the election of Obama.
I think if the economic troubles continue to grow, the government will be under more and more pressure from the public to end the war. This would be a dilemma however for Muslims in America because the public will also be more receptive to anti-Muslim demagoguery of the sort that has already been seen in many European countries.
For a while before the election, I was seriously contemplating voting for Obama, simply because I was quite scared of what McCain would do to the Muslim world, were he to be elected. However, as days got closer to the election, I began to think to myself that, in spite of his rhetoric, Obama probably would not be that different from the status quo. Sure, he said he wants to end the war in Iraq (and I'm not sure if I even trusted him on this one), but he said that in conjunction with saying that he will re-double the military effort in Afghanistan, which implies North Pakistan as well. In addition, hearing Joe Biden's excessive drooling over Israel, and Obama's approval (and many times outright praise himself), made me think that basically, although we might see SOME slight improvements under Obama, things would basically stay the same.
At the end of the day, I was not really 100% convinced that Obama would be the lesser evil… maybe 50% sure, but not sure enough to give my endorsement… and I was more afraid of, if I voted for him, thereby endorsing him, and he went off and killed many more Muslims in Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere, that I would feel quite accountable for having voted for him. So, alḥamdulillāh, I decided to protest the election by not voting. To those who would criticize my action as “inaction,” I remind that in many countries, people purposely do not vote as a way of voicing their disapproval of the system, and as a way of showing that whoever is elected does not hold the support of the people. Sure, that lack of support did not occur from Americans this election cycle (as people came out in record numbers), but it occurs from the individual, Ahmad AlFarsi, who refused to show his support for either candidate. I think if Ron Paul, or someone who held his non-interventionist views on foreign policy, were running, I would have voted for that candidate.
Although I did not vote, as I did not wish to give my official endorsement, I was closely following the results of the election, still hoping that McCain would lose. I don't have a TV, so I followed on CNN.com. I saw Pennsylvania go Obama, then Ohio, and saw that he had 207 votes without counting any of the west coast states, so at that point I knew he had it in the bag. When CNN officially announced that Obama won, despite my serious doubts about him, I couldn't help but feel happy… if for no other reason, then simply because a presidency by a man named Barack Hussein Obama, who has three very foreign sounding, and two Arabic names, would mean that no matter how racist or prejudiced other Americans wanted to be, they would have to swallow the fact that their president has the middle name Hussein and has close family ties to Muslims, and that his name doesn't sound white or European in the least bit. That in and of itself, is seen by me as form of progress in this country, and it's a true, “in your face” to all the racist rednecks that still live here. Of course, I'm still hoping that the ultra-right wingers were correct, and that Obama has been a closet Muslim this whole time… who knows, inshā'Allāh, on inauguration day, maybe he will pick up the mic, and begin his speech with “Inna al-hamdalillaah, nahmaduhu wa nasta'eenuhu wa nastaghfiruh…” :) too bad that's not happening … unless we start giving him some serious da‘wah starting now… get his half-brother Malik Obama in on this, inshā'Allāh :)
As a side note, I do have one criticism of Muslim groups that have been advocating Muslim voting. I believe that at times it is being done in such a way that an average Muslim who knows little about his religion will be misled into thinking that secular democracy is legitimate from an Islamic point of view. We should be able to advocate voting, while still mentioning the disclaimer that we do not believe that secular democracy is Islamically-legitimate form of government for Muslims; rather, we are only picking the lesser evil. wa Allahu a'lam.
Innalhamdolillah. There is no deity worthy of worship other than Allāh. The Lord of Abraham and Isaac. The Lord of Moses and Jesus. The Lord of Muḥammad and of every human being. May prayers and blessing be on all the Prophets of Allāh.
Indeed Allāh is the One Who Rewards, and He is the One Who Advances and the One Who Delays. And Allāh does no injustice, ever, to anyone. Allāh has taught us in the Qur'an that the wakeels of those who defy Him, the ones in whom the ingrates place their trust, are false idols. While Allāh is the One on Whom believers rely. But more than that, Allāh is our Mawla, the One Who Can Act on our behalf, while the disbelievers who call on other than Him, have no one to answer them. Yet Allāh answers the prayers of anyone who calls on the Lord alone.
The Prophet salallahu alahi wasalam taught us that no one knows what future Allāh has Decreed for him until he witnesses it, so a person must strive all the time for what is good and place his trust in Allāh. That is tawakkul, that is reliance on Allāh: striving combined with trust. Verily, the Prophet taught the truth, alḥamdulillāh.
So there is no people on earth who should believe more than Muslims that righteous works will be rewarded. And there is no people on earth who should be more steadfast in good works than the Muslims. So how is it that we are a people who constantly say what cannot be done? We have become a people in need of a reminder.
Allāh does not disdain to use even a mosquito as an example. And He has used mighty nations who were in Kufr as examples to all the Muslims, and I remind you now of the Surah revealed about the Romans. How Allāh told of the loss that Byzantine Rome was suffering against the armies of the Persian Empire. The example is important for us for many reasons: the Muslims were disheartened at the plight of the Romans because the Muslims loved the Christians who also worshipped Allāh. And the idolaters of Mecca who persecuted the Muslims were glad for the Persians who were also engaged in shirk, taking false deities besides Allāh.
And in that surah, Allāh uplifted the Muslims with the foretelling of a Roman victory in the years to come. That bears highlighting, too, Allāh uplifted the Muslims with a Promise of victory for the Christian empire.
So, I pray that Allāh will accept my joy for America on the occasion of the outcome of its Presidential Election.
In electing a black man, the son of a black Kenyan Muslim and a white Kansan Christian, America has done something good. Something on the scale of the defeat of Persia by Rome. And all Muslims should take note, and take heart.
Take note of the accomplishment. A man whom other black politicians had judged as brash for wanting to seek the office he has now won, did not constantly seek out reasons for failure. He sought out the means to succeed. Did he call out to Allāh, perhaps by other names such as “God”? I do not know, and only Allāh Knows. And I do not want any of the rights of Allāh, among them Allāh's Sovereign Right as Lord of All Creation to dispense sustenance, victory, and acclaim to Whomever He Wills. Verily Allāh Does as He Pleases, and for me is only to accept His Will with humility.
Take note of the moment in history. As Rome turned the tide against Persia, so America has reached a milestone in its continuing epilogue to the end of slavery in these lands. America was torn apart by a Civil War largely over chattel slavery, which in America had become the most vile incarnation of slavery in history. Before the Civil War, the Supreme Court of the United States in Dred Scott v. Sanford would declare that slaves were not people. And a president from Illinois would emancipate all the slaves. And one hundred years after that president was assassinated, an iconic black preacher would be assassinated for continuing to dream of racial equality in America. We are now some 400 years after the first Africans were brought to Colonial America, and a descendant of their free cousins in Kenya has been elected President of the United States because he and millions of Americans never gave up hope.
Take heart. For Allāh has given us an example of His willingness to reward the persistence of hope, and our hope is in Allāh. As Muslims, we must never forget the lessons of our Lord. And we must always strive to do what is good. Take heart from the victory of this nation over its own worst demons, and commit yourselves as I do myself to increasing justice for Muslims and all peoples in every corner of the world.
And always, always remember, with the Mercy of Allāh, yes, we can.
The American people have voted in a one-of-a-kind election on Tuesday. Americans were not the only ones waiting for the results of these elections, rather the whole world was. Zooming in to the Muslim community in America, one will still see us divided as ever. Not only on the choice of McCain vs. Obama, but on even a more serious and ruthless argument around the issue of the permissibility of voting itself.
Anyway, as I was walking back home yesterday, I received a phone call from a friend of mine screaming, “Obama won Obama won”. I said “congratulations” and hung up the phone with a question spinning in my head, “will we regret this day like we regretted voting Bush into the White House 8 years ago?” Then I thought about writing a letter to Barak saying, Mr. Obama, even though you dissociated yourself from the Muslims, we voted for you and I pray and hope that you don't screw us like Bush did.
Then I thought that I should sign the letter with the following: “Finally, now I can say it, we don't have to hide it any more…. Assalamu Alaykom Br. Barak Hussein Abdul-Qadir Al-Jilani Chisti Obama”. I laughed out loud , and went back to pretend-studying
When I began watching the primary debates what seems like ages ago, I made two picks, one for the Democrats and one for the Republicans – I believed this race would be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the two most telegenic and oratorically formidable candidates in the race, not to mention strongly competent on the issues facing the nation.
What I did not anticipate were the obstacles both candidates would face about their backgrounds and positions, nor did I properly estimate John McCain's resilience and wider appeal to moderates as I had thrown him in with the rest of the neo-cons due to his position on the Iraq War. Obama persevered and Romney fell, while McCain found new life away from what is often called “The Base”.
Obama's victory over McCain last night was an emotional one on many levels. There is now hope at the end of the dark tunnel that was George Bush's presidency these past eight years. A non-caucasion was finally president, and one could not help but feel emotional watching so many black americans in tears.
Listening to McCain's concession speech, I thought to myself, had this man speaking now been the one running the race throughout, respectfully and dignified, rather than the gnashing at the teeth campaign reminiscient of George Bush's Rove run campaigns, he most likely would have faired better and perhaps even won.
And Obama's speech…that was one for the books (and youtube replays). It struck the right chord at a time when people are so desparately in need to believe that whatever challenges they face now, they have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and do and be better than they had been these past 40 odd years.
One final note of caution – though I'm sure you'll have read many posts already on being wary of Obama, I would additionally add that Muslims now more than ever have to be vigilant of their interests domestically and globally. The Muslim community supported Bush precisely because it viewed Clinton and his actions in the way we are now viewing Bush (Iraq sanctions, Afghanistan sanctions, etc). The democrats are now the majority in the House, the Senate, and of course, they run the White House as well. My experience has been thus far that it is always good to have a balance between the two parties rather than an imbalance, otherwise, the government abuse runs rampant, and we do not want Muslims to be one of the casualties as a result of that.
Obama has turned a page in the American history. He was able to get people united around a central simple idea: yes, we can change the world, if we want to. Above all the debates of ideas and political readiness, Obama has embodied the power of the will. However, let's not fool ourselves by the euphory of the moment. The first Afro-American President in the history must also have taken some positions against his owns, change some of his ideals, work with the dark side to be where he is today. Let's be realistic, in politics, nothing is what it seems. America has a new leader, but can the winner change the rules of the game? I doubt…