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Neocons / Ziocons / Israeli Far-Right Attack Obama’s Intel (NIC) Pick, Chas Freeman


chasfreemanwebThe neocons (see this interesting, though unrelated piece on neocons) and their friends from AIPAC and other Israeli-supporters and right-wing vultures smell blood and have launched a full frontal attack on Obama’s Intelligence Pick, Charles (“Chas”) Freeman. Freeman is the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, former top Defense Department official during the Reagan administration, and president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), whose wide-ranging experience stretches from the Middle East to China.

Online Israeli foot-soldiers and mercenaries are on high-alert, as the usual suspects write alarmist pieces on blogs and newspapers, and of course FAUX joins in (picking for their “expert” Frank Gaffney, an extremist, right-wing Zionist who leads the Center for Security Policy). Consider the logic of their “alarm” based on the general sense that NIC really has any significant influence in the Middle-East.

Of course the WSJ had its nonsensical piece, where the author (who works at some unknown “Witherspoon Institute”)  highlights MEPC’s publishing of the unabridged version of the Israel Lobby by the two distinguished Professors, as being evidence that he is anti-Israel:

Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper’s thesis and boasted of MEPC’s intrepid stance: “No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it.”

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Other usual suspects include  Steve Rosen, the former official of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee who’s been indicted for pro-Israeli espionage in a long-running AIPAC scandal, and whose blog is published by a rabid, right-wing Zionist outlet led by Daniel Pipes (who is one of the “dirty dozen” smearcasters).

You could also safely rely on Weekly Standard to give their usual support to anything pro-Israel, and they simply take out quotes by Freeman on a variety of subjects with the citation listed to the fair and balanced, Israel National News!  Even these, if true, are actually pretty factual and a positive reflection that this guy (Freeman) has a good head on his shoulders. Here are the “inflammatory” and “dangerous” quotes of Freeman:

“American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans…This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.”

And the issue with the quote is? Does it take a rocket-science to see the direct correlation between American favoritism of Israel and anti-Americanism, which directly feeds terrorism?

“Very early on, the notion of achieving some sort of victory [in Iraq] didn’t take. So if victory is not possible and not feasible, even if you could define it, then what you’re left with is to find some way to mitigate defeat.”

Still in the “Mission Accomplished” mode guys? And so now recognition of the Iraqi problem is an issue for a candidate??

“It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think that is the case.”

It is also widely charged and known that the Israeli education teaches hateful things about Arabs… how about taking that up too??

“I’m a very practical man, and my concern is simply this: that there are movements, like Hamas, like Hezbollah, that in recent decades have not done anything against the United States or Americans, even though the United States supports their enemy, Israel. By openly stating and taking action to make them–to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad.”

This is by far the best quote, and cannot be more accurate. Has Hamas and Hezbollah ever attacked US interests or asserted that they are at war directly with USA? The answer is no, that is a fact. Does USA not openly and directly support Israel comprehensively? The answer is yes, that is a fact. Couldn’t the friend of your enemy, especially one that directly supports it, ultimately become an enemy too? That’s kindergarten logic and it still works. So, Freeman is warning of a dangerous escalation. America doesn’t need more enemies… it already has enough. Pointing out simple facts and logic is the sign of honesty and practicality. The longer we keep shoving obvious facts under the rug, the further we will be away from any REAL and LASTING solution.

The point is clear: these neocons/ziocons/right-wing Israeli pimps don’t want ANY fairminded, non-Israeli-lover in the White House, at ANY level in the Administration.

As Robert Dreyfuss writes in the Nation (I borrowed many of the facts from this great article too):

If the campaign by the neocons, friends of the Israeli far right, and their allies against Freeman succeeds, it will have enormous repercussions. If the White House caves in to their pressure, it will signal that President Obama’s even-handedness in the Arab-Israeli dispute can’t be trusted. Because if Obama can’t defend his own appointee against criticism from a discredited, fringe movement like the neoconservatives, how can the Arabs expect Obama to be able to stand up to Israel’s next prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu?

For the defense (of Chas), writer Jim Lobe praising the pick, as well as  Dan Froomkin at Nieman Watchdog. Thinkprogress has a column that is more of a report than a defense<– they could have done better.

What can you do?

E-mail others about this story and cross-post on your blogs. As individuals, please write to the President, commending him on his decision to choose Chas Freeman, and asking him to stay strong against hawkish, right-wing pressure, otherwise there is no hope for peace (if he succumbs to these discredited hate-mongers):

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").



  1. MUA

    February 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    “Has Hamas and Hezbollah ever attacked US interests or asserted that they are at war directly with USA? The answer is no, that is a fact.” Ya Amad, your assessment is incorrect here. The1983 bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut by members of Hezbollah (at least this is what US intel community continues to maintain) proves otherwise. And notice this is not what Freeman said. He qualified his statement by saying “in recent decades.” So it’s been a couple of decades since that attack. I also disagree with this statement “Does USA not openly and directly support Israel comprehensively? The answer is yes, that is a fact.”

    I think this is an important topic and the dynamic between the US and Israel really needs to be studied in depth, it is much more complex than believing that the US comprehensively supports Israel, or as others believe that Israel controls US foreign policy. I would recommend reading Undersecretary of State during LBJ’s time, George Ball’s book “The Passionate Attachement.” He connects many of the pieces of the puzzle. There is more literature coming out now, so that’s a good thing. And before there is a call to action to support Chas Freeman, I suggest we really understand the situation lest we do something out of ignorance. I know it’s tempting to support a person who seems to be evenhanded with Israel, but this shouldn’t be our stimulus.

    • Amad

      February 25, 2009 at 1:51 PM

      MUA, I guess I should have qualified the Hezbollah/Hamas comment too… even though Hezbollah attacked the barracks, it was still in Lebanon with the motive of war against Israel, not against USA. I don’t know enough about it, but I think the main point is that either of these groups have never declared “war on USA”, like Al-Qaeda for instance. So, that is the key difference that Chas was trying to make.

      As for supporting Chas, it is based on the two media outlets that are generally reliable (the Nation and antiwar). So, if you have more to share on this issue, please feel free to add more comments… because you bring a valid point but it is not sufficient… we need to either show valid concerns against him, or in the absence of such, support him. You seem quite knowledgeable in this area, so I hope you will bring out anything we need to know.


  2. MUA

    February 25, 2009 at 5:45 PM

    Firstly, I forgot to mention this earlier, put I wanted to commend your choice (and Muslim Matters generally) to address issues like this which many people would simply refuse to entertain. Thank you.

    Amad, a declaration of war is not necessary to designate an actor/nation as an enemy. It’s all about national interests. The US does not take action against an actor only if they have declared war, and Freeman knows statecraft very well, in fact I have his book, “Diplomat’s Dictionary” – although it’s just a compilation of apothegms, it provides some insight on how statesman and leaders have defined political concepts. Freeman’s point is that Israeli actions at least in part have contributed to problems for the US, not that the other Arab groups or countries are absolved from anywrondoing and that they harbor no ill intent.

    As for the issue concerning supporting Freeman, you’re right my comment was not meant to present a sufficiently compelling reason not to call. I am familiar with Freeman’s works especially on Saudi Arabia since in my graduate studies I worked on a mock NIE with a mock NIC on an issue where I was required to read his works. I can’t say that he’s said anything against Muslims, and frankly I don’t think that should be the standard. But what I can say is that he’s an American statesman, he looks after the interest of the US, and he (like many in the intel community & state dept.), believes that US support for Israel has prevented the US from achieving its interests in that region (in fact, SAMS-School of Advanced Military Studies published a report stating that Israel has no problem killing americans and makign it seem like some radical Muslim group was behind it), likewise he has made several statements about what should be done in Saudi that any thinking Muslim would find to be hugely problematic – again he’s looking at American national interests. Moreover, your standard of supporting him in absence of valid concerns is not adequate here. We need to look at this from a broader, beaurucratic-systemic approach, not on the level of whether an individual is good or not. There are plenty of people high up in the state dept. and the intel community including the CIA who support him whole heartedly, he is objective in their assessment, and will not cower to pressure or cook the books. This is their fight, it is best to let those guys handle this against the zionist lobby and supporters within the intel community. If Muslims think they can just enter and make calls or send emails showing support, in my estimation it’s naive and can potentioanlly backfire. This is a national security post, an intel post, the ones who can really pressure the Pres. are in teh inside, the laypeople don’t matter here. And the zionists have direct connections as do all the supporters of Freeman, let them handle it. No need to give anyone fodder. I have my opinion as to why we all feel so compelled to “act” when we get info. or knowledge, which i find hugely problematic, but that would make this unduly long post longer.

    • Amad

      February 25, 2009 at 6:44 PM

      Thanks MUA. So, what is your suggestion on Muslim action/inaction on such issues, i.e. if we shouldn’t write/call about this, then is there any benefit of even posting this, in your opinion?

  3. MUA

    February 25, 2009 at 8:20 PM

    Apathy and inertia have plagued Muslims for a very long time. I think that is why the call to implement what we learn resonates with our generation. We want to pull ourselves out of this self-oppression. But I think the call (hammered during khutub especially) to implement what we learn is bereft of a context and an approach that makes going from cognition to volition truly meaningful to our deen and our environment. The pendulum swings one way, but then it swings hard the other way!

    There is definitely value in discourse on the type of issues that you write on. Learning and understanding is a cumulative process, some aspects can lead immediately to action, some however become part of an outlook and knowledge-base, which inshallah through commitment and critical analysis and desire for haq may very well have a synergistic effect.

    Some people think that if I can’t practice what I learn, or if something is too theoretical it is of no value. That is certainly not how it works, nor did the aimma of the past look to knowledge in that way. They even engaged in hypotheticals (caution: strictly in the sentient realm, not something so out there that it can never have a practical effect – this they censured) and found it to be necessary to build a person up to eventually carry a bigger burden.

    We have many big burdens to carry, and in order to effectively respond, we need to build our thinking up. Maybe one day when situation permits (people like saying “when the stars are aligned just right” – maybe this smacks of too much shirk though, but you get the concept), there will be capable people ready to take the burden. Another possibility – I may never truly be able to use my knowledge in what it was meant for in real terms, but humans are innately creative they find expressions to one degree or another to manifest their knowledge for the benefit of mankind – IF they are honestly committed to advancing themselves in that area (as opposed to a dabbler).

    When it comes to politics especially international relations, this process of building oneself up is even more important. No one becomes someone important without having the requisite knowledge and skill set. Lastly, I want to emphasize the importance of Muslims thinking about their own interests. As a famous late professor at Univ. of Chicago (whom I disagree with considerably), but nonetheless correctly stated, that we can always hire non-Muslims to do work in the technical areas (e.g. sciences, engineering), but we cannot hire non-Muslims to do the thinking of Muslims.

    Again, I apologize for the length.

    • Amad

      February 25, 2009 at 9:05 PM

      much appreciated thoughts MUA… please keep them coming.

  4. Mohamed Ali

    February 26, 2009 at 8:35 PM

    I believe the only viable option by Muslims living in the West is to make hijrah to the lands of the Muslims and free themselves from the disbelievers and their beliefs since we will slowly be assimilated into their culture and lifestyles whether we like it or not. See below for ibn Kathir’s explanation on surah Mumtahinah:

    “Allah says to His believing slaves ‐ whom He has ordered to be harsh against the disbelievers and to have enmity towards them, and to avoid them, and to disassociate themselves from them

    {قد كانت لكم أسوة حسنة في إبراهيم والذين معه}

    – {that there was a great example for you in Ibrahim and those with him}

    أي وأتباعه الذين آمنوا معه

    – his followers who believed with him – when they said to their people:

    {إذ قالوا لقومهم إنا برآء منكم}

    {“…We are free from you…”}

    أي تبرأنا منكم ومما تعبدون من دون الله

    meaning: we have disassociated ourselves from you and what you worship besides Allah;

    {كفرنا بكم}

    {“…and we have disbelieved in you…”}

    أي بدينكم وطريقكم

    meaning: in your religion and your ways;

    {وبدا بيننا وبينكم العداوة والبغضاء أبدا}

    {“…and there has emerged between us and you enmity and hatred forever…”}

    يعني وقد شُرعت العداوة، والبغضاء من الآن بيننا، ما دمتم على كفركم فنحن أبدا نتبرأ منكم ونبغضكم

    meaning: enmity and hatred has been legislated from now between us, and as long as you remain upon your disbelief, then we will disassociate ourselves from you and hate you

    {حتى تؤمنوا بالله وحده}

    {until you believe in Allah, alone}

    أي إلى أن توحدوا الله فتعبدوه وحده لا شريك له وتخلعوا ما تعبدون معه من الأوثان والأنداد

    – single Him out to worship Him, without any partners, and to abandon what you worship along with Him of idols and gods.”

    [Tafsir Ibn Kathir fi Surah al-Mumtahinah]

    • Amad

      February 26, 2009 at 8:53 PM

      Br. Mohamed, please arrange the visas for 6 million Muslims and safe and secure living and livelihood in any Muslim country… once you have that down, then let’s chat :)

      If not, then let’s stick to the topic :) Perhaps emigration is a good option for some Muslims, but for the majority of Muslims living in the West, there really is not a PRACTICAL option for going to Muslim lands for many reasons.

  5. Mohamed Ali

    February 26, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    I don’t see why I should organize the visas for 6 million Muslims since I am only responsible for myself and will not be held accountable for anyone else. Could you imagine some of the companions saying to the Prophet after the command of Hijrah : Please arrange the financial and social accomadations for 40+ Muslims so we can properly merge with the Madinan society?

    • Amad

      February 26, 2009 at 9:19 PM

      In fact, these muhajiroon’s visas into Madinah were pre-arranged, and when the Prophet (S) entered with them, he helped each muhajir with an ansaar. They were more secure in their new residence than they were previously, free to practice their faith, unlike their persecution in Makkah. Today, its turned on its head. You can practice better in America than you can practice in most Muslim countries. That is a fact, not an opinion.

      And you still haven’t told me what this has to do with Chas Freeman?

  6. Qas

    February 26, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    “don’t see why I should organize the visas for 6 million Muslims ”

    Than pipe down please :)

  7. Mohamed Ali

    February 26, 2009 at 9:36 PM

    “They were more secure in their new residence than they were previously, free to practice their faith, unlike their persecution in Makkah.”

    Really? What about the people of Suffah? Were they also secure in their new residence? And how were they prearranged? The brotherhood established by the Prophet came after, not on their way out to Madinah.

    These “practising” Muslims pay tax that goes towards killing Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as funding intelligence agencies like the CIA. And they also swear allegiance by the oath of citizenship that directly contradicts Islam, how Is that “practising” one’s faith? (See below)

    “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law…”

    As for Chass Freeman, I was commenting on what the Muslims should do instead of idling taking note of the increasingly dangerous environment they are in.

    • Amad

      February 26, 2009 at 10:17 PM

      I am glad that you have the oath down mashallah :) Now we should also review the oaths of the “Muslim” countries. In a similar vein, I also guess that we should also ask all Pakistanis to emigrate from the “Muslim” country of Pakistan, because Pakistan is certainly not ruled by the shariah, and because the taxes of Pakistanis (the few that pay it) are also supporting the killing of the Muslims in the frontier region? As they say, “People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones”

      I would ask you, that in lieu of focusing on the Muslims in the West, that you instead focus on helping your fellow Muslims in the “Muslim countries”: so that they may practice their deen better, and fixing their societies. I think we all need to put the effort where we live, into dawah and actions of faith, rather than idealistic discussions that are not grounded in the reality of the world we are living in. I hope you would let us decide what is important to us in the land where we live in, based on the advice of our elders and scholars who live in this land, and you can decide what is important to you where you live, based on the advice of your elders. This attitude, which resembles patronizing of Muslims in the West (though you may not have meant it that way) doesn’t help your cause or ours.

      And in conclusion, unless you have something specific to say about the ACTUAL post, this will be my last reply on this irrelevant topic. I am not going to go in circles, nitpicking remarks and bypassing their substance, esp. on an issue that has nothing to do with my friend Freeman :) Perhaps if we have a topic on hijrah one day, I am sure we can engage more. For now, 6 million of us are staying put, most of us having no choice, but we appreciate your concern.


  8. MUA

    February 26, 2009 at 9:57 PM

    Assimilation and syncretism is undoubtedly a problem, and Ibn Kathir’s comments can be taken in that regard, but the solution of “hijrah” is lacking in so many ways, and the comments by Ibn Kathir do not provide any evidence for this modern notion of “hijrah.” For the bros. who advocate “hijrah,” you really need to offer a lot more than playing a broken record. As an individual if my family is loosing their Islam, it becomes incumbent on me to give them an atmosphere to ensure or at least increase the probability that they will remain Muslim. For some, migrating to the Muslim world may work, but to use the concept of “hijrah” in an ideological sense, and in the realm of fiqh that applies as a general rule is extremely problematic and fraught with inconsistencies. The Muslim wolrd today is certainly no safe haven for Iman in any general sense, and for many it may even make things worse, just ask those who have lived in the Muslim world. Mohammad, akhi karim, Amad has a point when he says that the muhajiroon’s visas into Medina were pre-arranged, this aspect of the seerah really needs to be understood clearly. The work that Musab bin Umayr (ra) did with Aus and Khazraj, and the compact and understanding that was forged really needs to eb understood if we are to understand what hijrah truly means. To make an analogy between our current situation and the hijrah of the Prophet is a gross violation and misapplication of qiyas. Muslims are facing an unprecedented time in our history, let us really think things through. One more thing, Amad is right to point out what does this have to do with the article? My comments above were not only in reference to Muslims in the West, but all over.

    • Amad

      February 26, 2009 at 10:28 PM

      jazakAllahkhair MUA, your style and tone of response was much better than mine… good learning for me.

  9. AnonyMuslim

    February 26, 2009 at 10:18 PM

    Remember taxes paid in “Muslim” countries all go to noble causes that don’t harm other Muslims in any way shape or form whatsoever.

  10. Samiyah

    February 27, 2009 at 1:48 AM

    Jewish Leaders Blast Clinton Over Israel Criticism

  11. J

    February 28, 2009 at 2:51 AM

    We should be spreading Islam far and wide, to every corner of the globe. Islam is (peacefully) growing at an unprecedented rate in America. And yet some Muslims want us to make hijrah! As Imam Mawardi [r] said: “He who can establish his Deen in the lands of the non-Muslim ought not leave, for it may be the case that abiding therein he may aid Islam and others become Muslim.”

  12. J

    February 28, 2009 at 3:01 AM

    Brother Mohamed Ali — you have quoted Chapter 60 of the Quran, and Ibn Katheer [ra] who said that we must be harsh to kufaar..but he also said:

    “God’s statement…refers to the idolators and the disbelievers who are combatants against God, His Messenger and the believers. It is they whom Allah has decided should be our enemies and should be fought. God has forbidden the believers to take them as friends, supporters or companions.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)

    Also, you have truncated the passage. Let me reproduce the whole thing for you, insha-Allah :

    O you who believe! Take not my enemies and yours as protectors, offering them your love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have on the contrary driven out the Prophet and yourselves from your homes, simply because you believe in God your Lord!

    If you have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure, take them not as protectors, do not show love to them in secret: for I know full well all that you conceal and all that you reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight Path.

    If they have the upper hand of you, they will be your foes, and will stretch out their hands and their tongues toward you with evil intent, and they long for you to disbelieve. Your ties of kindred and your children will avail you naught upon the Day of Resurrection. He will judge between you, for God sees all that you do!

    There is for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘We are clear of you and of whatever you worship besides God: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever, unless you believe in God and Him alone.’

    Save that which Abraham said to his father: ‘I would certainly ask forgiveness for you, and I do not control for you aught from God, Our Lord! On You do we rely, and to You do we turn, and to You is the eventual coming. Make us not a trial for the disbelievers, but forgive us, our Lord! for You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.’

    There was indeed in them an excellent example for you to follow,- for those whose hope is in God and in the Last Day. But if any turn away, truly God is Free of all Wants, Worthy of all Praise.

    It may be that God will grant love and friendship between you and those whom you now hold as enemies. For God has power over all things; And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    God forbids you not–with regard to those who do not fight you for your Faith nor drive you out of your homes–from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just.

    God only forbids you with regard to those who fight you for your Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support others in driving you out, from turning to them for protection. It is such as turn to them that do wrong!

    (Quran, 60:1-9)

    You could obviously argue that this applies to America (and I think you’d have a valid argument there), but I just wanted to clarify that we are not told to be harsh to all kufaar; rather, we are to treat them kindly and justly…being harsh only with those who fight us for our faith, drive us out of our homes, etc.

    Fi Aman Allah

  13. MUA

    March 1, 2009 at 4:09 AM

    Although the discussion seems to have veered from the topic of the article, I just want to add one more point. Although I have also posted a comment critical of Br. Mohammed’s insistence on Hijrah, I think we shouldn’t deride that message all together.

    He is alerting us to a valid and very important point. Many times, if a person mentions hijrah there is a barrage of comments ridiculing the idea and sometimes even the person. One of our central points of discourse, unfortunately, in the US is between these poles: hijrah vs. integration/assimilation.

    We need to transcend this construct, and deriding the former doesn’t do it. Rather, I believe we should earnestly listen to the bros. who advocate hijrah and although I too am not convinced of the idea in a general sense especially how it’s advocated, understand that at the least those bros. are alerting us to an important fact: our existence here is problematic (We must acknowledge that paying taxes in which a substantial percentage goes to the budgets of defense is problematic, and actually devastating on our conscience and legal code of sharia. Deflecting this point by re-directing the conversation to other problematic uses of money and taxes in Muslim countries, although valid and true, in no way invalidates the former criticism. And this is only one of many very problematic aspects of our existence here!).

    Because all too often the people who deride the proponents of making hijrah think that our existence here is either 1) great – all types of opportunities we’ve never had before (they usually assimilate very quickly), 2) needs improvement – we just have to work hard like the Jews and we’ll be ok (they usually fail to place Muslims in our larger context and history and thus are ill-equipped to provide the type of answers needed today which [re-?]constructs that comprehensive system of belief and practice that generates an immediate connection between Muslims and our Lord.) Obviously both positions are unsuitable to say the least.

    The problem with the hijrah argument however is that it implies Muslim existence outside of the West is not problematic. I think a more correct assessment is that Muslim existence all over the world in contemporary times is problematic. We are collectively experiencing an identity crisis of unprecedented proportions. Our worldview (Weltanschauung) is no longer in tact and has been effectively displaced and to a very large extent decimated. For a much more substantive analysis of this problem please read “Muslim Rage and Islamic Law” by Wael Hallaq (his analysis is great his conclusion is ill-formed).

    Given the depth of our malaise we need to truly spend time understanding the gravity of our situation (this is no easy task by any means, a lot of scholarship is needed in this area), be true to our deen and meaningful to our environment. If we take this approach I believe we can hold very respectful discussions with the type of adab and critical thinking needed to break the debilitating constructs we are in and effect productive change, and make more of an attempt to understand each other. These will be the first steps and certainly not the last in the quest to provide answers to our problems.

    I want to apologize to Amad for indulging in a discussion that has veered from the topic, but thought I should be more clear on my end.

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