President Barack Obama’s Speech to the Muslim World in Cairo (Co-Sponsored by Al-Azhar)
Regardless of our differences in politics, regardless of our belief in Obama’s sincerity, one cannot but admit that this was a brilliant speech. There is no doubt that Obama’s background empowers him and enlightens him to the spirit of diversity. Any other President in all of America’s history could not have come close to the power of the personal touches in this speech. Bravo President!
Also interesting to note is that Al-Azhar cosponsored the event, and you can see the traditional Azhari headgear in the photo. I applaud Al-Azhar for taking this approach. It is an excellent form of PR for Islamic institutions, and a way to separate such institutions from the radicals.
Some will undoubtedly resort to “we’ll see when he walks the talk”. Yes, there is room for caution. But let’s add optimism to it, and make it cautious optimism. Just consider the pressure on Israel… if that is a change of foreign policy that we cannot admit to, then we are setting ourselves for continued disappointment. Change is slow, gradual and in the case of reversing 8 disastrous Bush years, it is very difficult and dangerous ground to tread. There are many, many powerful people who are entrenched in politics that don’t want to see a change towards Muslims and Muslim issues. It takes time, knot by knot, to dis-entrench these individuals.
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Let’s pray for the best. And as Obama reminded us from our Qu’ran, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth”. Part of being truthful is being just in speech as well and just and truthful in criticism
Text of President Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University:
I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.
Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action – whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.
I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.
I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.
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June 4, 2009 at 10:20 AM
Yes, admitting to the proxy wars is an amazing recognition of America’s own past mistakes.
You never know, if America’s president can admit to so much and recognize so much (I was touched by the reference to hijab… what message does that send to the Turkish and Tunisian secularists?), perhaps the comments will be different this time ;)
June 4, 2009 at 10:51 AM
Why always cautious optimism when he says something good? Why not cautious criticism when he actually does wrong things?
No policy change whatsoever. May be he is right about colonialism effects, but growing up I never heard any muslim complain about that, rather it was Palestine and Kashmir etc.
Well then Obama should recognize Hamas government..?
One good thing is that he is addressing us as an Ummah, perhaps he is trying to unite us.
June 4, 2009 at 11:09 AM
““For 60 years, the US pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the Middle East, and we achieved neither, Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.”
This was said by BOTH George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice (in Egypt no less). Yet when the time came, U.S. interests were always first.
“The U.S. does not have permanent friends nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests”
— Henry Kissinger
June 4, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Yes now since America is trapped in financial crisis and wars, the interests dictate them to suck up to democratically elected Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah for helping them out of mess. Yet even at time of sever crisis, say nothing bad about Israel!!
June 4, 2009 at 11:25 AM
Thank you Hassan and Khalid :)
How amazing that Obama was able to come up with a brilliant speech geared at sucking up to Arab and Muslim sympathies… make them feel good so that when American policies remain utterly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, we can at least say “Hey, but he talked about how we invented algebra! And other smart things!”
I, for one, refuse to be swayed by words of any political persona. Enough talking the talk, it’s time to walk the walk!
June 4, 2009 at 12:45 PM
If you think the kuffar are going to please the Muslims then you are dreaming.
We should not be depending or waiting for Obama. We should be calling out our leaders.
June 5, 2009 at 1:22 AM
I think that was his point. Muslims need to peacefully deal with the problems in Israel and get change. Violence is not leading to anything. He’s mentioned this before that we can’t support organizations that would rather destroy buildings than build them. I do agree that Muslims need to stop whining and pull ourselves from our boot strapes. We can create change for ourselves but we need to get over these petty things…which he touched on like sectarian differences, preventing women from educational opportunities, and creating a democratic change in some countries.
Insha-Allah, this speech will revive the sensible people in these countries who are ahead of their time and get them orgainized.
June 6, 2009 at 2:16 AM
ICNA are one of the very conservative American Islamic organizations. Here is their take on it:
ICNA Welcomes President Obama’s Historical Speech
June 04, 2009
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) today welcomed the speech made by President Barack Obama in Cairo , Egypt , and issued the following statement:
“The America that was envisioned by the founding fathers was presented in reality for the first time as President Barack Obama delivered his historical speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. The President showed his respect for Islam and Muslims and presented the true picture of Islam. His speech made the American Muslim community proud of their country and their president.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America, said, “President Obama has very wisely presented his vision of this global village that we all call our world. He has touched upon the sensitive issues in a careful yet dignified manner. His speech was historical in all regards. The Muslim world has been ignored by the previous administration, causing great harm to the image of America not only in the eyes of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide but also in the eyes of all those just and peace-loving citizens of the world. President Obama’s speech presents a great shift in American foreign policy.”
In his speech, President Obama vowed not to tolerate Islamophobia of any kind when he said, “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
The president also said, “So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America . And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”
ICNA hopes that President Obama will make all efforts to bring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and will bring the American troops back home. We believe that the suffering of the Palestinian people must come to an end and President Obama has the ability, support and vision to do just that. We also hope that the American foreign policy will support and strengthen democratic Muslim countries.
– END –
Press Contact: Naeem Beig
Vice President for Public Affairs
Islamic Circle of North America
E-Mail: NaeemBaig@GMail. Com
Office: (718) 658-1199 Extension: 102
Cell: (917) 202-2118
June 4, 2009 at 11:29 AM
June 4, 2009 at 11:43 AM
This isn’t the full speech…. here‘s part one from youtube
June 4, 2009 at 11:48 AM
The whole speech is on MSNBC
June 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM
He is sweet. But this might just be to keep the Muslims waiting for something good while things get worse behind the scenes.
June 4, 2009 at 12:14 PM
You know I think Bush made few speeches like this as well, he always talked about two state solution etc. Somebody should dig up all his speeches, and should check for similarities and differences.
June 4, 2009 at 12:03 PM
If only we had Muslim leaders like Obama.
June 4, 2009 at 12:12 PM
We have better.. they are muslims..
June 4, 2009 at 12:48 PM
Hosni Mubarak is not better than Obama
King Abdallah is not better than Obama
Mouamar Qaddafi is not better than Obama.
Our leaders know the haqq but deny it publicly. And our own people back home can’t even do anything about it because we’re either sleeping, making money or in prison.
A Muslim ruler not following the Prophet (saas) is worse than a non-Muslim ruler not following the Prophet (saas).
Obama may disappear if America doesn’t like him in 4 years.
Our leaders stay in power until they die and the person who takes the throne after them is just like them.
June 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM
They are all better than Obama as they are muslims
June 4, 2009 at 2:08 PM
You know this is “easy” to say. But would you prefer to have Zardari as your boss, or Obama? You don’t have to reply. Just ponder over it.
I have heard this line before but it is just an empty slogan if you really think about how it applies to practical life. Why did you then push for Ron Paul? Was he a Muslim?
We aren’t judging akhira-status here, we are talking about being better in governance. I would take a sincere non-Muslim as my friend and leader any time compared to a deceitful and unjust Muslim.
June 4, 2009 at 2:33 PM
Hmm, is there certain limit of tree reply? I did not see reply in your reply. anyway.
I pushed for Ron Paul because there was no muslim running for president? Unless Obama is secret muslim
You are right though, I just did not like blanket statement that MR said and hence I replied with a blanket statement of myself. But this may be good aqeedah question, is good non-muslim is better than a bad muslim even on earth life?
June 4, 2009 at 4:49 PM
Hassan – Who are the first people that will enter Hell according to what Allah and his Beloved Prophet (saas) has said?
June 4, 2009 at 5:55 PM
Who will get out and who wont?
June 4, 2009 at 12:20 PM
Snapshot of Bush speeches:
George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
September 20, 2001
…We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America….
..The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics — a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children…
..I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them…
continued in next comment
June 4, 2009 at 12:23 PM
Snapshot of Bush speeches:
George W. Bush
State of the Union
January 29, 2002
..And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. So we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double its volunteers over the next five years — (applause) — and ask it to join a new effort to encourage development and education and opportunity in the Islamic world. (Applause.)..
If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic “street” greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam’s own rich history, with its centuries of learning, and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. (Applause.)
No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance. (Applause.)
America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.
June 4, 2009 at 12:25 PM
Snapshot of Bush speeches:
George W. Bush
Commencement Address at the United States Military Academy at West Point
West Point, New York
June 1, 2002
When it comes to the common rights and needs of men and women, there is no clash of civilizations. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa and Latin America and the entire Islamic world. The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation. And their governments should listen to their hopes.
Mothers and fathers and children across the Islamic world, and all the world, share the same fears and aspirations. In poverty, they struggle. In tyranny, they suffer. And as we saw in Afghanistan, in liberation they celebrate.
June 4, 2009 at 12:25 PM
I think you got the picture, I can go on with Bush good words about islam and muslims etc
June 4, 2009 at 1:04 PM
Find me some quotes where Bush attacks Israel like Obama did? or Quoting the Qur’an? or recognizing America’s way were wrong in the past? Or Bush recognizing the occupation of Palestine?
Man are you a Republican? You act like Bush is better than Obama.
Obama > Bush
any day of the week, any speech.
June 4, 2009 at 1:33 PM
With leaders like Zardari, Mubarak, Gaddafi, it takes some gall to criticize Obama…. really.
If we had one sincere leader like Obama, even if he were not a Muslim, but a just ruler, I think we would be in a far better position.
The problem with our Ummah is that we are constant whiners and constant complainers. We can’t even see good when it is presented on a platter. Criticism is fine, but how about praise sometimes for good actions? It’s not just with Obama, we do the same sort of attacks on fellow Muslims. It’s hard to find one personality or one speech or one article that we will not try to rip apart.
Obama is TRYING, and that is more than the previous four presidents. His admin is the first to tell Israel no more “natural” growth of settlements. Talk is also important. It’s a start. I promise you that much of the criticism (not all) emanates from the sour grapes over the voting issue. It’s getting harder to say no to the permissibility of voting, so the second way is to keep harping on how voting doesn’t make a difference.
If anyone, ANYONE thinks that Bush was better than Obama or even equal to Obama or that McCain would have done more outreach to Muslims than Obama, then that would be either a case of outright dishonesty, or strong delusion. As I have maintained from before the elections, we are not talking about absolute standards here, but relative standards. While people like me are willing to see Obama for his shortcomings, I see a completely uncompromising, “he didn’t do anything good” position from the other side. And I really feel that this is the fundamental voting issue coming into play. Not everyone of course (I know for instance Hassan would vote if he could ;) ), but many commentators.
My message to the President:
President Obama, your speech was a milestone in US-Muslim world relations. And I hope you will follow through with action on the ground. We know that the issues are very complicated, and the path very difficult. But peace and justice require difficult decisions.
June 4, 2009 at 1:43 PM
Alright let’s be clear.
This was a milestone speech and a lot of good can come out of it.
But I am sick and tired of this almost messiah-like view of Obama among Muslims.
Should we give our bay’ah now or later?
OMG HE QUOTED FROM THE QUR’AN!!! And now he’s sending more troops to Afghanistan..
There needs to be a balanced approach in how we view Obama and I don’t this article achieves it. Too much praise and a loss of the big picture.
June 4, 2009 at 1:47 PM
And I am sick and tired of having every justified praise being MIS-characterized as a messiah-like worship of Obama. This is UNJUST. No one on these pages had anything but cautious optimism for him. No one treated him like a prophet. This exaggeration and hyperbole is only meant to get a sensational reaction out of it. Let’s quit it. I am sorry, but we have to QUIT putting word into peoples’ mouths or making simple acknowledgment seem like worship.
This article (actually only a few lines of introduction) was simply about Obama’s speech. And even these few lines admitted the need for caution. It wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive evaluation of Obama’s performance. So, again I am sorry to say that, but it is you who are reading too much into it.
June 4, 2009 at 2:02 PM
I’m sorry akhi, I didn’t mean you specifically when I was speaking of the messiah-like praise.
I am talking about the general tone of Muslims these days.
I go to one crowd and all you hear is praise, hope and change.
I go to another crowd and it is Obama is evil incarnate.
If all you posted was negative I would have gone after you just the same.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the few lines you posted had a little too much praise for my taste. And the “as Obama reminds us in the Qur’an” line was umm uncomfortable.
June 4, 2009 at 2:09 PM
I guess you missed this one then:
Obama possibly worse than Bush
June 4, 2009 at 2:50 PM
That’s not by you and heh you already did the job for me on that one (read your comment on there).
There are few MM authors who have the same political knowledge as you do therefore what they say is not that significant.
June 5, 2009 at 11:58 AM
AsimG are you airing your honest opinion, or doing a job? Looks more like the latter.
June 5, 2009 at 3:37 PM
Who am I working for?
My honest opinion is in line with what Siraaj said earlier.
June 5, 2009 at 10:53 PM
O Muslims! What has made you to Argue about a kafir?
O Muslims! What are you trying to achive by posting on this board?
O Muslims, what do you expect from a Kafir? This does not lead us anywhere. The emotions got stronger as I was reading the comments.
O Muslims just KEEP it real.
Imagine! One day when we unite and stop crying what the Kuffar have to say about us.
Imagine! The day when we all hold hands together (of course brothers sisters separate).
Imagine! That one day we can Imagine…O Muslims!
June 6, 2009 at 1:04 AM
Najim wants to be Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef when he grows up :)
June 6, 2009 at 1:09 AM
man I’m still scared about that one day at house. It was so surreal!
June 4, 2009 at 1:33 PM
Asalaamu Alaykum MR,
I think we are forgetting our history here. Remember the 2000 election? Majority of the Muslims voted for Bush. We hated Lieberman and Bush made the right comments about Islam to make us feel good and support him.
Remember his “brilliant” comments about Islam after 9/11?
Bush supported a two state solution. Bush honored Ramadan and Eid and even have iftar in the white house!
The point is: Obama seems better than Bush right now, but will he be later?
Or is he going to be worse than Bush? Say Asalaamu alaykum and say peace be upon him after Muhammad (s) name and then go kill Pakistanis/Somalis/Afghanis/Iraqis/Iranians with?
June 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM
Asim, no one knows what Obama WILL do. We know what he is doing right now. We are acknowledging the PRESENT. Only Allah knows the future. If we start thinking like this about every issue (i.e. what will the future hold), then we will be neither here nor there.
Bush NEVER made any brilliant comments. He couldn’t even make a brilliantly coherent sentence.
Muslims are much more mature politically than we were in 2000. Honoring Ramadan and Eid is “standard” affair for a president. Trekking through the Muslim world, specifically accepting past mistakes, quoting the Quran, mentioning the hijab, taking a tougher stance on Israel, still insisting on closing Gitmo…all this is new territory.
Let’s ACCEPT the good. And CRITICIZE the bad. Let’s be just.
June 4, 2009 at 1:50 PM
Yes, let’s be just.
There are enough people who will sing the praises for Obama. Does this blog need to be another one of them?
Let’s point out the good and also be critical.
But akhi, where is your criticism?
What exactly is Obama doing right now that deserves such praise?
I’ll give him his dues for this speech, but his current actions against Muslims speaks much louder than anything he said today.
And I don’t know what a huujab is lol
June 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM
AsimG – let’s be real. Muslims voted for Bush because we just hate Jews. We saw Liberman and we went the other way. Bush could have been Robert Spencer, but a Jew is worse.
Keep it real. A lot of us just really hate Israelis and Jews.
June 4, 2009 at 7:31 PM
June 5, 2009 at 3:32 PM
^Er let’s not give non-Muslims who read this blog a wrong idea
In general we didn’t vote for Gore because of Lieberman’s ties to Israel.
Palestine has been issue #1 for a long time and insha’Allah it will remain so.
June 5, 2009 at 11:48 PM
@AsimG – Come on akh. Let’s be real seriously. Lying is haram. My father voted fore Bush because he didn’t want a pro-Israeli Jew vice-president. Seriously. That’s the only reason why so many Muslsims voted for Bush. Bush could have been (probably is) worse than Gore/Leiberman but the fact that Liebergman was a Jew and supported Israel was enough for Muslims not to vote Democratic. That’s the truth man.
June 4, 2009 at 2:13 PM
I am a muslim, and my alliances are dictated by it. I have a point of view in all sincerity, but ofcourse I can be wrong, and you may have sincere point of view for ummah, but you can be right or wrong. So bottom line is I am neither republican nor democrat. I go with whomever is closer to what I feel can be good for us in America and in world.
Obama is no doubt better speaker and more articulate, but as he is president now (its not election time), we should push for max on him. Lowering the bar is not an option. Definitely we would not achieve everything we want. but having low standards would be counter productive. And again actions are needed, not rhetoric. I mean comparing Bush and Obama, is like someone slaps u in ur face without being apologetic about it , while the other says, I am sorry sir but I have to slap you in your face and does so. At the end of day, you are slapped regardless.
Bush has definitely quoted from Quran, I can find it easily. When did Obama recognize occupation of Palestine?
June 5, 2009 at 11:50 PM
June 6, 2009 at 12:25 AM
Nice, lets wait for actual results then.. 8 years (if elected again).
June 4, 2009 at 1:24 PM
Asalaamu alaykum Amad,
Akhi, do you really think this was a brilliant speech?
His comment on colonialism is just a continuation of his comments in Kenya aka nothing new was said today.
I was a big Obama fan and supported his senate and partly presidential campaign, but I’m not going to allow my initial enthusiastic support of him overshadow what he has done.
Say what you want, but he is a man continuing a policy of killing Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and began battles in Pakistan and Somalia (killing many innocent Muslims).
The blood of a Muslim is not a small thing…
And am I the only one that feels weird for President Obama speech to be cosponsored by Azhar?
Is it appropriate for our ulema to do such things? YQ got so much flak for attending a Tony Blair class, but YQ is just one person acting as a student who went with the intention to ask the tough questions and represent the Islamic perspective.
This is an ENTIRE UNIVERSITY!
Someone mentioned advertising…this has to be the worst advertising tool ever.
June 4, 2009 at 1:44 PM
Yes, it was a brilliant speech. Even detractors would admit that.
Obama didn’t elect Zardari. Pakistanis did (or at least their corrupt leaders). Obama didn’t create the menace of extremism that is now taken the entire Pakistan into disarray… it was probably a combination of Bush and Musharraf. Let’s take responsibility first for our own mistakes. What do we want Obama to do? Leave Afghanistan/Pakistan to Al-Qaeda and gang? Think from the perspective of being a leader of Americans, not leader of the world. We aren’t going to get everything on the foreign policy front… if we get a renewed fairer effort in Israel… if we get our civil liberties back in USA… I think that will be a big step forward for Muslims.
I have hope in Obama… because he is intelligent, articulate, he has actually lived and worked with Muslims, he has Muslim heritage… there is a better chance we have with him than anyone else. Stop thinking from an absolute sense, and things will start looking much more positive.
That’s all I have to add.
June 4, 2009 at 2:13 PM
1. You are right. We need to stop thinking in an absolute sense. But if we do, then do we lose overall for something small i.e. civil liberties?
2. Am I the only one who noticed a dramatic shift in what Muslims want for the Palestinians?
It seems every year our expectations get lower and lower to the point where illegal settlements has become the main issue.
But this was never a major issue. Everyone knew it was wrong and Bush and Rice spoke against it time and time again (they just didn’t have the political power to do anything).
The Israeli politicians are smart…
June 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM
What do we want Obama to do? Leave Afghanistan/Pakistan to Al-Qaeda and gang?
Excuse me? Do u think american occupation of Afghanistan/Pakistan is vital for Pakistan/Afghanistan’s safety?
…and u say u r not working for obama. bro, r u feeling alright today?
June 5, 2009 at 6:03 PM
whooaa! where did that come from? Isn’t it the whole argument of neocons? The justified preemptive wars
June 5, 2009 at 3:10 AM
The blood of Muslims was also shed by those who blew up masajid when people were standing up for iqamah. What do you have to say about them?
I think Al-Azher and its ulema showed true scholarship by allowing the president to speak. It is the job of an educational institution to expose its scholars to different influences in order to promote critical thinking and to broaden their perspective. This was the sunnah of our predeceors when Islamic Civilization was at is zenith. Scholarship ended with slavery.
June 4, 2009 at 1:39 PM
-Edited. Sorry, but we cannot use these pages for hizb tahrir literature.
June 4, 2009 at 2:15 PM
ok now that’s funny lol
June 4, 2009 at 2:24 PM
I would expect the same policy for CAIR/Ikhwan press releases, but that might be expecting too much.
June 4, 2009 at 1:40 PM
speech wise.. he did well, although politicians will be politicians, I think essentially he raised important points, that we as Muslims can benefit from. I particularly am very motivated by the last section of his speech, with regards to development and innovation, the promise of a new friendships and connections is exciting. I would love to see how we can use technology to bring different people together.
Also, I think what’s important about this speech is how he invites Muslims, the ones interested in the real message of Islam, which is peace and tolerance to drown out the voices of blind hatred and suspicion. I think the young ones really needed to hear this, to get them to embrace the beauty of their Islamic faith and to encourage them to use it for the good of mankind. My baby sister was listening to it, and you know for far too long, young Muslims, especially the ones living in my country, are ashamed of Islam because of what it represents in the news, and the fact that young kids exposed to these are too young to understand, and are too ignorant to explain to their other non Muslim friends. It affects the confidence and identity development of a child. Worst, the louder these voices get, the more it deters the young from learning anything about Islam. They don’t want to learn Islam for the fear that they may end up associating themselves with things that they do not want to be associated with, poverty, political corruption, oppression, no tolerance, violence.
Although these are not the true messages of Islam, people outside the faith, or the young may not necessarily understand this, as easily as you can. It will take time to convince them. And if the role models do not have louder voices, and if we continue speaking as different and conflicting facets of ignorant opinions. I don’t know how else will we gain, peace. So having this very popular president speak so honestly about Islam, is refreshing. And you cannot imagine the impact, it has on the young, especially our young disillusioned Muslims.
I’m not ignorant about what’s going on in Pakistan and other parts of the Muslims world. But to place the blame squarely on US policies, is a bit much, because eventually, it is within our own effort and Allah’s will, not the US’s.
The difference between Obama and Bush is that, Obama may just have the political power to keep his word. But of course, no leader, has a magic wand. Real change takes time and real effort. He has the popularity to inspire, especially the young who aren’t that cynical yet, and have th power to change the course, that we’ve been taking for far too long. The difference between Obama and Bush is that, people believe and care about Obama, and his supporters are very well aware, that the changes he is proposing will require real work, real effort and contribution. Muslims should take advantage of this time and waste no time too.
June 4, 2009 at 1:57 PM
Please don’t change the topic. Your criticism for making obama seem messiah-like was directed to me.
You should acknowledge the mis-characterization and apologize instead of taking a different tangent.
I have already stated that this post wasn’t even a full-post, it was the speech with a short prelude. There have been other posts on MM which have been 100% criticism. Did you ask where the praise was then
June 4, 2009 at 2:41 PM
Yes I am sorry akhi, I didn’t mean you specifically in regards to messiah-like praise. This was more of a general comment (and your comparison of “muslim” leaders is what triggered it) on the nature of Muslim discourse regarding Obama.
As for the introduction, akhi let’s be fair.
Let’s count the praises given to Obama in those few lines.
1. one cannot but admit that this was a brilliant speech.
2. There is no doubt that Obama’s background empowers him and enlightens him to the spirit of diversity.
3. Any other President in all of America’s history could not have come close to the power of the personal touches in this speech.
4. Bravo President!
(I’ll leave out the Azhar praise for hosting Obama)
You then call for “caution. But let’s add optimism to it, and make it cautious optimism”
Aye caramba, this was more than just an introduction!
Am I wrong to call out for balance on this?
(and again I don’t mean any insult akhi and I’m sorry in advance if anything is perceived that way)
June 4, 2009 at 2:51 PM
Yes, you are wrong to call this out as not being balanced. Because this post was NOT meant to be an overall evaluation of Obama. That’s the point you keep missing. This was specific to the SPEECH. And what I said is true, even if I were a critic:
-Brilliant— yes as far as speeches are concerned.
-Background — absolutely… find me any president of America that had 1/4 of the diverse background that Obama has. And diverse background does open you to diversity. It’s a simple cause and effect.
-Personal touches — of course. His background allows him to talk about his childhood in a Muslim country. That is a personal touch no other President could add.
-Bravo — and your problem with commending on a brilliant speech is?
You didn’t have to be generous about leaving out the Azhar praise. It was praising Azhar for doing something remarkable in terms of PR. It wasn’t about Obama, it was about Azhar.
So, still an introduction relating to SPEECH.
June 4, 2009 at 2:55 PM
I see your point, but I’m not sure you exactly see mine?
Khalas, just a small point anyhow.
Insha’Allah if you have time I’d like to read your evaluation of the speech :)
June 4, 2009 at 1:57 PM
Everyone is pointing out that Obama is better than the so-called Muslim leaders that we have. But you know what? I honestly don’t think either is better than the other. Maybe I’m turning into a takfeer machine of some sort, but I doubt very much if those despots are even Muslim.
As for the situations of the Muslims today, in that they’re electing people like Zardari (although nobody can say, with a straight face, that anyone has elected Gaddafi or Mubarak or any of their ilk), then it does say a lot about the people of those of countries, and of the power that the West wields over those political leaders. There are so many factors at play, and to say that we have to look at “our” own leaders before criticizing Obama (btw I don’t consider any of those criminals to be ‘my’ leader because for one thing, I’m not a citizen of nor am I ethnically from any of those countries!) is really just a pathetic cop-out in my opinion. How can you criticize Egyptians for having Hosni Mubarak in power when attempts at elections are constantly thwarted and rigged?! They’re making an effort; it’s not their fault that most of the world is dead to their pleas and that the man they’re trying to get rid of is both implicitly and explicitly supported by Western (namely, AMERICAN) power and finances.
“Be just, even in criticism.”
Of course. They’re ALL evil, pathetic scumbags. Does that make it any better? Does that make it okay to criticize Obama now?
June 4, 2009 at 2:03 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAIR Calls President’s Cairo Speech ‘Comprehensive, Balanced and Forthright’
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/4/09) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group called President Obama’s historic address to the Muslim world today in Cairo “comprehensive, balanced and forthright” and said it may help reverse the deterioration in relations between the United States and Muslim-majority nations.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) hosted a live viewing this morning of the president’s speech for leaders and members of the Muslim community in the Washington, D.C., area. (CAIR chapters around the nation are holding similar viewings.)
June 4, 2009 at 2:04 PM
The Obama question is an interesting problem, especially for us as Muslims. In general, we are taught to dislike and distrust the government. whatever they promise, expect the opposite.
We also have a history with western powers that has been less than stellar, and it is continuing, and I won’t rehash all of what has happened or is still happening. So I can understand how those who are against politics can look at those who are liking obama and thinking, “This is total battered-wife syndrome.”
i’ve always been a skeptic myself, but I do have members linked in the washington community, and from what I’ve been told, the only times Obama really gets angry or his fires are stoke privately with his staff is when they mess up something with Muslims. For example, with his campaign, when those two hijaabi sisters were taken off stage, I have it on good authority that he flayed his campaign staff and threatened to fire them if they ever did something like that to Muslims again.
That doesn’t make up for innocent civilians killed in Pakistan, nor will a speech on reaching out. But, I can’t help but think that despite what is happening, he really does want to reach out, and he really does have the best interests of the Muslim world at heart, given his background (family and upbringing) and also the tension in American-Israeli relations, which is literally palpable.
So I agree with the words Amad used – cautious optimism – although I might say I’m cautious about saying this is a great guy, we can trust him, and optimistic that some good can come out of what appear to be sincere efforts on his part, keeping in mind that if a matter cannot be changed 100% for the better, then progress in a positive direction at least is desirable and we seem to have some, if not everything, that we want.
June 4, 2009 at 2:53 PM
jazakAllahkhair. solid comment.
June 4, 2009 at 2:22 PM
Ok, lets do something simple (and I am not volunteering for it). Lets analyze Obama’s 150 days. Lets bring facts. Note down all his policy decisions (and also if he changed them later), all his actions (positive and negative) and his speeches as well. Although I do not like counting speeches, as I can clearly show Bush said pretty nice things all his presidency as well, but we can nevertheless analyze them. And there does not need to be any commentary just timeline of events.
June 4, 2009 at 2:53 PM
I wish I had time, and I would. Maybe I’ll have time in 6 months and I can do one for his first year.
June 4, 2009 at 4:26 PM
The other perspective in all of this is how deep inside we are looking towards the disbelievers to say good things about us. I notice the same thing when non-Muslims say good things about the Prophet (peace be upon him) or about Quran and science. Muslims and our leaders have such low self-esteem that we feel good when Obama quotes from the Quran. US strategists know how to stroke our sentimentalities. In the end of the day, the disbelievers are seen as the ones who can bring real prosperity and justice to Muslims. Really sad.
June 4, 2009 at 5:03 PM
He points out that Israel has to STOP settlements (and he says STOP with much emphasis). He admits that Israel is an occupier (in nicer terms) and the Gaza humanitarian crisis is not helping. Tell me if any recent president has done this?
I like the honesty – what we say in public we say in private and vice versa.
June 4, 2009 at 5:07 PM
I think this is all that really needs to be said.
Let’s stop deluding ourselves: We have become the damnation of the world. We are the ones who need to be saved.
June 4, 2009 at 5:37 PM
Will you be posting the complete speech? There are some important paragraphs missing here.
June 4, 2009 at 6:06 PM
Azam, can you please point to the complete speech transcript?
I thought I had gotten the right one.
June 4, 2009 at 6:00 PM
Amad, its been so many replies already, why dont u close the comments as usual and post ur final summary.
BTW, this was really lame
June 4, 2009 at 6:05 PM
Thanks AbuMaryam, but I think I can handle the comments to my lame post myself.
June 4, 2009 at 6:26 PM
Senator Amad, here is my take on all this, elaborating on what I said before.
Feel free to critique it but I think it addresses a lot regarding Muslims and Obama, especially in lieu of the commentaries here:
Obama makes me uncomfortable…not because he could be another liar, but my fear that he may indeed be real. I think Muslims are uncomfortable he may indeed fix the world…which in turn means something hard for us to swallow: that we are not the ones who will save the world.
I think we have good reason to be jealous.
June 4, 2009 at 6:47 PM
very interesting take
June 5, 2009 at 1:40 AM
Highly unlikely. Unfortunately, only messed up leaders are Muslims these days. Obama is smart, somewhat honest, and follows up on every campaign promise. Muslims are in love with him because they are hoping he’ll bring change.
June 4, 2009 at 8:54 PM
^That only answers to those that believe we have reached the end of times and Imam Mehdi needs to come save us.
Obama makes me uncomfortable because :
1. I’ve seen these games before. Given the global awareness of Islam and the current stakes, the rhetoric hasn’t really changed much.
2. Too many Muslims are falling into love with too little done.
June 6, 2009 at 2:05 AM
‘We Muslims’ are not jealous of anyone. Just a few vociferous posters on this forum. They do not represent the general sentiment of Muslims. This world will not be saved. It is destined to be destroyed at the hands of Allah Subhanahu w taala one day. What we can do is try to save our own souls and the souls of those dear to us.
June 6, 2009 at 4:36 AM
If thats the case, you might as well…not take part in the discussion no?
June 4, 2009 at 8:50 PM
Subhanallah, the naïveté of some Muslims is really astonishing (I’m not necessarily accusing anyone here of naïveté, though). Why are we so impressed by this man? Because he visited Al-Azhar, an institution who’s Grand Mufti is an appointee of Mubarak? Because he (gasp) quoted the Qur’an? Because he finally acknowledged the obvious and admitted to a colonialist history? How many more Muslims need to die and be tortured in secret prisons before we heed the words of Allah and not take the kuffar as awliya?
The fact of the matter is that the Ummah is in the sad state that it is in not because of Western neocolonialism (that’s a symptom) but because of not holding on to the rope of Allah i.e. following the Shari’ah. If we truly want to be strong again, then we must work to reestablish the K-word in the Muslim world. We need to understand that American foreign policy is driven not be lone individuals but by institutions. Individuals like Obama come and go but these institutions remain a constant.
Unfortunately, it seems that some “moderates” believe the K-word to be a bad word.
June 4, 2009 at 10:29 PM
Salaam alaykum Zaytoon,
I agree with you, there will be some who are overly impressed and will fall head over heels with his mentioning of scientific and intellectual contributions of Muslims throughout history.
Unfortunately, he missed the greatest contribution of all – tawheed, and islam itself. I don’t totally fault him for that. His group is thorough in their work, and if you look at Muslim discourse in the West, it has been Muslims trying to prove that:
1. Islam means peace.
2. Islam has contributed greatly to society.
3. Islam does not sponsor terrorism.
So I suppose after all these years, the people who have been wanting this message acknowledged can feel vindicated for their work. The neo-cons were wrong, and they were liars, right?
The problem is that this is not a reflection of him, so much as it is a reflection of what we have emphasized over the past few decades about Islam. Naturally, that which our political organizations have been seeking to have acknowledged has been acknowledged.
June 5, 2009 at 4:11 PM
I was really optimistic about Bush when he first gave that speech about a Palestinian state. That was 7 years ago (I think). Nothing happened. Why should I get my hopes up about Shaykh Hussein?
Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, I even voted for him, my father campaigned for him and we celebrated when he won. But talk is cheap. When President Obama cuts MILITARY aid to Israel I’ll…give him bay’ah. (no, not literally)
June 4, 2009 at 9:26 PM
Sounds like a new style of disuniting Muslims through further categorizing and breaking them apart.
June 4, 2009 at 9:47 PM
Kinda makes you think how easy it is to disunite us, eh.
June 5, 2009 at 2:04 AM
Positive sound bite from yahoo…he’s doing dawah for us ;).
Said the President: “I’m also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum.”
* After the speech, searches soared on the greeting, its meaning, and translation.
June 5, 2009 at 2:45 AM
It is amazing to see so much negativity amongst Muslims. It is our duty to go half way and embrace when a positive gesture is being made. As a Muslim it is our duty to be street smart, but not to doubt too much. Let us believe the president at his word till he proves himself wrong by his actions.
It makes me wonder if we are living in a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure. We are very comfortable, quiet and complacent when abuses are hurled at us. The moment someone treats us half way decent, we start bristling, just like an animal that has learned to be beaten into submission. Problem with us is, we are so conditioned to be kicked around, we cannot believe someone is treating us with decency.
I think today Mr. Obama said all those things we Muslims have been crying ourselves hoarse saying to the world. He has used the exact same words we Muslims have been using to defend ourselves for at least the past 8 years. Now we have a problem with him saying so.
If you doubt the man, at least do not doubt the power of Allah. It His way of turning the tables. Remember, we were being hunted down like animals only a couple of years ago. It is the power of Allah that has caused the president of USA to quote the Quran in his speech, to defend the wearing of Hijab and above all, to travel all the world, seeking the friendship and support of Muslims. Is this not a sign from Allah? Is this not what we deserve?
Or are we content when we are called towel heads and ninjas?
I remember the day Diane Sawyer showed amazement at the thought of how could a doctor be expected to perform her job while wearing a hijab? Today we see the Secretary of State performing her job in a hijab:
Folks, no one is asking you to start make bayah on his hand. Just keep a positive attitude. It will, inshallah, help you in life in general
June 5, 2009 at 8:21 AM
As Salaam Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,
A few points about cautious optimism, and giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and judging him by his actions:
1. So far he has continued the Slaughter of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Increase in troop levels and the number of Muslim men, women, and children murdered in Afghanistan.
3. A massive increase in violence in Pakistan against innocent Muslims.
Thus far Obama has either perpetuated the slaughter of Muslims or increased it…how long are we going delude ourselves, and have optimism towards him.
Consider this what if Omar R.A was alive what would his reaction be towards this man?
Or making it more real:
Obama comes to your house and speaks all kinds of pleasantries, and praises…and while doing this he stabs your son…and does this with a smile, and comments on how smart you are…how would you react then?
Unfortunately, that is exactly what he just did…he spoke very well, no doubt he is a charismatic speaker, but that does not change his actions on the ground. He is the Commander-in-Chief of an army that is actively engaged in slaughtering Muslims!!!
Ask the villagers dying in Afghanistan how much optimism do they have for Obama?
And as One Umma should we not resonate with the same voice? Then how can you possible find optimism in his empty words?
As Salaam Alaikum
June 5, 2009 at 9:39 AM
Is Obama responsible for this suicide bombing in a mosque too?
Suicide blast at mosque in Pakistan kills 30
I could ask the villagers in this area about what they think of the militants responsible for this too?
June 5, 2009 at 11:25 AM
Now come on, you ask people not to change subject, and this is biggest leap in history of this post. How are two related? Why we have to pick a side? Why can not we condemn/approve both. Just treat things on merit. Are we supposed to like militants because we do not like Obama, or are we supposed to like Obama because we do not like militants? Come on
June 5, 2009 at 11:53 AM
Actually that would be our brothers and sisters killing each other also known as Killing those who take the enemies of Allah as friends, those who commit shirk, those who work with the kuffar, those who buy coca -cola, those who support the tawgoot regims and lastly the shia.
If you add up the Muslim kill Muslim deaths vs. the non-Muslim kill Muslim deaths, you’ll see a sharp difference.
So technically Muslims have killed more Muslims than Obama.
June 5, 2009 at 3:35 PM
Why is it an either or situation?
Mubarak and Zardari are bad and Obama is “not good yet”.
June 5, 2009 at 8:47 AM
As Salaam Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to reiterate what some of the brothers and sisters said earlier, that we the Muslim Umma need to take responsibility of our own actions, and gross in-actions. We need to turn back to the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet swa.
The majority of the oppression we face today, is due to our lack of Iman, the Iman of the Sahaba R.A and the Taba’in. And in Islam there is no room for cowardice, living as oppressed people in our own lands is not acceptable. Because we do not fear Allah swt, as he should be feared, we fear everything else; our respective governments, the politicians, the armies of the Kuffaar, and everything else in the middle.
Our lack of Iman, and lack fear of Allah swt, has turned us into cowards, with low self-esteem, and self worth. Until and unless everyone one of us, myself included, is willing to stand up for Islam, stand up for Justice, stand up for our brothers and our sisters, we will continue to be slaughtered, murdered and oppressed.
Life and Death is in the hands of Allah swt, the results of our actions, is in the hands of Allah swt, but we all need to make an effort to right the wrongs, to call for Shariah, to fight for the sake of Allah swt.
As Salaam Alaikum
June 5, 2009 at 9:36 AM
do you have any comments specific to the speech? Because that is what the post was about, not about world affairs.
June 5, 2009 at 11:31 AM
Something relevant, Fareed Zakaria take on speech
June 5, 2009 at 4:35 PM
Fareed doesn’t represent Muslims, he represents cultural desi Muslims.
When you write a book saying the Qur’an is a book full of poetry and inconsistencies you are not exactly of us.
June 5, 2009 at 1:36 PM
It was interesting to see the very first post and particularly this comment:
My two cents is, our comments will not make a difference what happens in the world. The only question is what are you adding to solving the problem by your own hands, what steps do you have or plan to take to reach that, and what will you have to show for that. Criticism will add nothing to the world, action will.
What we say will make no difference in global affairs, only what we do.
My response is as follows:
I agree that our words alone will not make any difference just Obama’s words alone will not make any difference. As for what we are going to do to solve the problem, then there are many things I believe we as an ummah and of course as individuals have to do:
1. Let’s look back to when Muslims suffered defeat previously (even in the time of the prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and take lesson from that. The primary reason for defeat is that we disobey Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in so many ways. Look to the ummah and you will find an extremely large portion of the ummah negligent towards basic duties such as establishing the 5 daily prayers. Look at the ummah at large (and we have examples of that on this blog) and you will see that many have no idea of what it means to show allegience to Allaah, His Messenger and the believers. Rather, we are willing to give the kaafir the benefit of the doubt and doubt the believers. Look at us and how so many are oblivious to facts found in the Quraan: “And the Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their religion.” [2:120]
and: Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. [2:217]
Allaah tells us what is in their hearts yet we don’t listen.
We are mesmerized by a few words uttered by a man who has shown no goodwill; he says what we want to hear but continues to support the killing of Muslims. Howver, so many will say he isn’t doing it and will make a million and one excuses for him. I wonder who is really deluded and deceived here!
2. Shape up! We really need to start changing our lifestyles. It’s not enough to talk about how we have to be, we have make a concerted effort to be that way.
3. Be sincere in our du’aa. Let’s be sincere and remove the obstacles that get in the way of our duáa being accepted. Remember that many continue to deal with ribaa and cut off ties with family and so forth and still expect that theur du’aa will be accepted.
4. Learn your deen and speak based on knowledge. Sadly, many who comment do so while they are quite ignorant of the deen. Just because you live in America, it doesn’t mean you practice your right to free speech. Islaamically, this has conditions and restrictions. No matter where you live, Allaah will still hold us accountable for what we say. So before expressing your thoughts and voicing your opinions, think about how you will answer to Allaah. Because you read a couple ahaadeeth and read a few books, this does not qualify you to give opinions regarding the deen. This matter at hand has much to do with deen.
Basically, I say to myself and my fellow Muslims learn Islaam and live it.
As for comments made by so many stating Obama is better than so many Muslims, remember that the worst Muslim (even one who fornicates and steals as in the hadeeth of Abu Tharr in the saheehayn) is better than the best kaafir; the Muslim will enter paradise while the kaafir will go to hell! One is a person of tawheed while the other is an enemy of Allaah. How can they be compared?
I urge my fellow Muslims to open their eyes. Read the Quraan, learn what Allaah is telling us and do not prefer your interpretations over those of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his companions. Don’t make statements without knowing all the facts and the implications of what you say. Remember that you will have to answer to Allaah.
June 5, 2009 at 3:12 PM
wasalam, I believe you may have taken the issue of Muslim vs kaafir out of context. We are talking about governance, and about leadership. And in that religion is not the only factor… in fact, the greatest world leaders today are not Muslims. That is a fact, we just have to accept it.
I don’t think the scholars of Al-Azhar are fools who don’t know what they are doing. I think we have to give people the credibility they deserve. Scholarship did not only start and end in Saudi.
June 5, 2009 at 3:32 PM
You seem to have an issue with Saudi and the scholarship there. I made no mention of it whatsoever and as a matter of fact, many of the scholars there hold views contrary to mine. I really wonder why you brought that into the picture?
In any event, if you choose to remain blind, that is really up to you. I am certain that al Azhar having co-sponsored the speech was no more than a political move not approved of by many of the great scholars there and elsewhere.
June 5, 2009 at 3:41 PM
I don’t have any issues with Saudi scholarship, but is it fair to completely preclude Al-Azhar’s co-sponsorship from the picture? How can you be certain that Al-Azhar’s Shayookh didn’t approve it?
Also, can you please outline the names of the great scholars who have condemned this speech? Most of the American Muslim organizations have praised it. That is also a fact, not a supposition.
June 6, 2009 at 1:28 PM
Wa ‘ Alaykum As-Salaam
I am “in the business” if you will and so Alhamdulillaah, I am very confident that many of the ‘ulamaa of truth (in Al-Azhar and elsewhere) were not fooled by the speech. The words may have been sweet (but Bush used the same language too) but we have yet to see any action. Quite to the contrary, look at the policies that remain in place and the support Obama continues to give to state sponsored terrorism in Palestine (I refuse to acknowledge the illegal Jewish state).
As for names of ‘ulamaa, in time we will see and hear them Inshaa Allaah. And as for the American Muslim Organizations, then CAIR and ISNA and their like cannot be trusted as I have indicated often before. They have promoted unIslaamic practices and I have written to them advising them of the same. In any event, if you think it’s a numbers game, then perhaps you ought to consider this:
Allaah says what means:
“And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allāh. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.” (al An’aam:116)
Anyhow, let’s see where this will all end up. Don’t get me wrong, I wish for positive change, but I am realistic and practical and don’t live in a dream world. I see what the criminals continue to do. These people speak of democracy, but they refuse to recognize a democratically elected government in palestine (i.e. Hamas), they claim they have no issue with Islaam, yet they have a problem with the Sharee’ah being implemented and the list goes on.
So I hope for positive change, but I do not find any hope in Obama’s speech.
On another note, you asked someone whether or not they believe in participating in American politics. My question to you is, do you believe that there is true jihaad taking place in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya (for example)? Do you believe that those who are opposing the US occupation In Afghanistan (for example) are fighting in truth or not?
June 5, 2009 at 5:17 PM
If there are any ‘real’ scholars at Al-Azher, and if they feel about it like you do, they would have resigned their positions.
June 6, 2009 at 1:29 PM
You’re living in a dream world. Unfortunately, real life works very differently from this. Politics and pressure can do starnge things to a person. May Allaah guide me and the ummah aright. (I began with me as I am most in need of hidaayah).
June 5, 2009 at 3:34 PM
in major political events like this, these major institutions are just a tool in the hands of kings/presidents, etc.
it has nothing to do with scholarship
June 5, 2009 at 3:55 PM
And I would like to also to draw attention to the following points a brother has shared with me via email:
I wasn’t going to try and play this angle, but it’s not something that should be left without mention. (Keep in mind, I’m not saying there are not great scholars in al-Azhar even today, but we shouldn’t deceive ourselves)
June 5, 2009 at 3:14 PM
Robert Fisk: Most Arabs Know This Speech Will Make Little Difference
Ali Abunimah over at the Guardian:
Rachel Maddow on Obama’s plan for indefinite “preventive detentions”:
change you can believe in
June 5, 2009 at 3:25 PM
This is some of what he said:
Listen here Barack, we don’t care if you’re the Emperor of NeverNeverLand, your rhetoric is rubbish to us
June 5, 2009 at 3:56 PM
Let’s get to the bottom of this Abu Bakr, do you even agree with the concept of Muslim participation in West’s politics, like in the presidential elections? Or other political participation in the West. Curious to know what your stance on that is? If we have a fundamental disagreement on that, I really think everything beyond that is just red herring.
From the time we started talking about the elections on MM, there is a sustained campaign from certain quarters to quash this talk and quash any semblance of Obama being better than Bush/McCain for Muslims (99% of people who understand politics would take that side)– implying that participation in elections was useless. Isn’t that what this is about? I mean Obama gives a speech which addresses so much of what Muslims in the West have been fighting for years to say, and he says it for us, acknowledging so many root causes of Islamophobia, and yet we don’t even have the courage to just admit that these were positive words? Come on, who are we fooling. This isn’t about the speech. It is about something far deeper than that. wallahualam
The right-wing is calling Obama a traitor for this speech, their boards are filled with hate for him, and here we are… joining them against words of good and peace.
Unfortunately, my message to the haters is simply this: just like my writings against the Muslim radicals, my writings for Muslim political particpation will be sustained inshallah… regardless of their campaigns against it.
May Allah forgive me for my errors and sustain my efforts where they are sincere to Him and in alignment with Islamic principles.
June 5, 2009 at 4:11 PM
No, I don’t believe in voting for criminals who will make war on Muslims. If I was really convinced that the War Party was against the wars started by the Aggression Party, it might be something to consider.
But I don’t believe that such a dichotomy exists.
You have been writing a blog for two years. Is that what makes you so politically savvy?
One of your own experts, al-Ebiary, who is a longtime political activist actually thought Muslims should vote for Mccain. I don’t know anything about him, but surely you would agree that he is more familiar with politics than you are.
As for myself, I may be no expert, but I have a Bachelor’s in Political Science, surely that means I’ve studied more of politics than you have, and I didn’t think there was any tangible advantage of Obama over
If this whole business of indefinite “preventive detention” is an example of why you worked so hard to rally people behind Obama, then I’m sorry to say it, I don’t think you’re even keeping up with politics, much less understanding.
And this is what Obama is asking of you in his speech. You are playing your role so well. Keep it up.
June 5, 2009 at 4:21 PM
this should say Obama over McCain.
June 5, 2009 at 4:39 PM
good to see your true colors in accusing me of “working for Obama”… you know exactly what you meant. I assume you must have some special powers from Allah to what is in my heart and who I am working for. Good to see you are playing your role of intention-police so well.
June 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM
What’s this got to do with intention? I don’t care what your intention is. I’m just going on what you said.
June 5, 2009 at 4:42 PM
ugh I need to stop commenting.
June 5, 2009 at 4:49 PM
me too :)
June 5, 2009 at 4:47 PM
That’s Elibiary. And I guess one can say from some of your friends’ perspective he was probably prophetic, since they actually believe Obama is worse than Bush/McCain. Do you believe that too?
June 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM
Actually, I believe it’s a toss-up.
However, I believe that Obama might indeed prove to be more harmful to Muslims than Bush was.
You should however already be aware of that, as about an hour ago or so, you received an email from me in which I said:
“The difference between Bush and Obama is that while Bush was a blithering idiot, Obama is a clever devil”.
Your inductive skills are astounding.
June 5, 2009 at 4:57 PM
I have a chemical engineering bachelors and a MBA as well… doesn’t mean that I know everything about ChemE or everything about business. IN fact, there are many people out there who know more in these fields without the degrees. I would take Elibiary’s knowledge of current politics over most degree’d political scientists anytime. That is because he has the experience in the field, not just from some books. Practical experience over theory rules… I’ll take it anytime. Have you been involved with any political effort in the US? Any other practical real-world experience? I am not discounting your degree, but all of us who went to college, and I hope you will not disagree, know that without experience, the book theories mean little… and I vouch for my own mostly useless ChemE degree.
June 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM
Right, so if I start a blog… can I be an expert like you?
June 5, 2009 at 4:18 PM
I believe in muslim participation in politics, and I do believe Obama to be lesser of “Evil” and if I could, I would have voted for him (in general election). Does this mean I have to be flattered with everything he does? Or give him 70 excuses if he screws up? I guess everybody is different, I am optimistic that good will come out of anything by Allah’s will, but I do not have to shed tears of joy if he speaks good while his actions are otherwise. (Frankly in terms of policy speech, that was not changed either, even Bush tried and told Israel to stop settlements). We should be focused on policies not personalities, no doubt Obama is likeable personality, but in the end what would matter are the results.
June 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM
i don’t disagree with you Hassan. You are playing it straight. Others are not. They want to have it both ways.
June 5, 2009 at 4:22 PM
Why is it that so many people seem to think that if you don’t believe in Muslim participation of Western politics, then 1) you have no right to comment on politics, 2) anything you say about politics is coloured by your anti-Muslims-in-politics stance, and 3) therefore anything you say doesn’t count?
That’s how I’m seeing it, anyway.
Even if someone says the above because of the saying “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem,” how do they know that their opponents aren’t trying to be a part of the solution, just in a different sphere of activism?
For example, I’m not convinced of the use of Muslim involvement in politics (insofar as openly supporting one candidate over another because they’re the lesser of the two evils, or sucking up to them as a means of getting them to pay attention to us), although I do feel that it’s important for us to state our issues of concern to political leaders and raise awareness of them as a way to possibly bring about positive change for us and our situations (domestic and foreign).
Similarly, there are those in positions of leadership in the Muslim community who do NOT participate in voting etc. but at the same time DO NOT totally isolate and estrange themselves from the political reality, and actually do meet with political personalities.
So what do you do about people who don’t fit the black-and-white categories of absolutely pro-politics and absolutely anti-politics?
June 5, 2009 at 5:43 PM
And another note, those scholars who permit participation in these sorts of elections – as far as I understand – do so on the grounds of choosing the lesser evil.
This is an important point that is too often overlooked by many from the pro-voting camp. If you really believe one’s evil is less than another, fine. I don’t have a problem with that as long as people remember the lesser of two evils is still an evil.
However, I’m a bit befuddled how you would go about determining that Obama is indeed less evil than McCain. Do we know that McCain would be pushing for indefinite preventive detentions as Obama is. Or maybe this has prevented a much greater evil that we’ll just never know.
Perhaps you can ask Br. Mohamed Elebiary what McCain’s reaction has been to this statement of Obama. (I’m not being sarcastic here btw, I would really be interested in knowing if he has made any response).
June 5, 2009 at 5:59 PM
I am sorry, am I reading this right? You claim political knowledge, yet you have forgotten that McCain had surrounded himself with advisers from the neocon camp.
I admire you for your knowledge of Tawheed and other areas of Islamic knowledge. And despite your between-the-lines accusation that I am working for Obama (as in official capacity), not befitting a “student of knowledge”, I would still take that knowledge from you. But I believe you are flat-out wrong on the current political reality, and that is probably the effect of where you live and with whom you associate. Yes, you could say the same about me. We are all creatures of our environment. Or perhaps its just your cognitive dissonance playing out that you can’t see the difference between the Bush/McCain camp and the Obama camp. While I wish Obama would do much more, I definitely believe that there is a day and night difference between the current and previous prez (McCain would be a continuation of that).
June 5, 2009 at 6:09 PM
Perhaps, they would be advising him on preventive detention? Or expanding the war in Afghanistan? Or bombing Waziristan? Or helping him destabilize Pakistan? Or reccommending that he turn over the war to the most evil scumbag in the army?
Yes, I believe Obama is worse than the neocons.
The neocons were a blustering, loud, obnoxious group of idiots, and they have proven largely a failure.
Obama is smooth, smart and cutthroat, and he makes it possible for the war machine to carry on.
And I never accused you of working for them in an official sense. They want to create a camp of moderate Muslims that will isolate the radicals for them. You are carrying the torch for them (on the internet world) very well. I don’t care what is in your heart, because we’re stuck with what comes out of your keyboard either way.
I don’t know what it is with Salafis? Why do they think everyone cares what’s in their hearts?
June 5, 2009 at 6:22 PM
Bill Kristol, Arch-Neocon, on Obama:
June 6, 2009 at 1:34 PM
Could you define who these Muslim radicals are? I think in order to be on the same page we need to clarify definitions. “Radical, extreme” and a host of other buzz words are used all the time and we often use them without defining them. Please, let us know what you mean by radical Muslims.
June 5, 2009 at 3:46 PM
Some interesting soundbites from the Obama speech:
– Obama, Cairo
June 5, 2009 at 7:47 PM
That violence needs to stop.
June 6, 2009 at 2:16 AM
Just as soon as Abbas stops being an Israeli tool
June 5, 2009 at 4:22 PM
June 5, 2009 at 4:36 PM
This Justin Raimondo sounds like another radical Muslim.
June 5, 2009 at 4:42 PM
I don’t think Osama and his friends among the Taliban talk like that… they don’t talk about speeches, they talk about killing… unless you are privy to more than the general public is.
June 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM
You are making a caricature of yourself. OBL, Zawahiri, and co. have frequently commented on Bush and now Obama’s politics and in some cases their speeches.
yes, actually, I am… I follow world news… granted, that doesn’t exactly qualify as secret information, but you wouldn’t know it juding by the average American
June 6, 2009 at 1:39 PM
The general public is privy only to what the media wants them to hear. We have a principle in islaam called giving a fellow Muslim the benefit of the doubt.
Watch your tongue! Do you know the reality of Osama ibn Laden (may Allaah guide him and preserve him)? Do you know the reality of the Taliban?
I reserve judgement because I refuse to judge based on what the media has to say. I think we need to apply our deen in all areas. What about helping our brothers, whether oppressed or oppressors?
June 5, 2009 at 6:20 PM
Assalamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah
Akhi Abu Bakr, jazakallahu khairan for your brilliant posts. It’s about time that American Muslims realized that their country is leading a war agianst Muslims, with their beloved President as the Commander in Chief. I wonder how the Afghani and Pakistani people feel about Amad and company’s unrelenting adoration and support of Obama may Allah give him what he deserves, who continues to bomb their homes, kill their families and destroy their lives.
I hope they stand in front of Amad on the Day of Judgement and ask him for answers. I will certainly be doing that inshallah.
June 6, 2009 at 1:40 AM
Subhan-Allah, You guys need to take it down a notch. I don’t think Br. Amad’s intention are that off that we need to bring in the day of Judgment into the argument. Can’t we be civil and just agree to disagree. We will all find out who was right or wrong in a few years….after seeing President Obama in action. In the mean time, chill brothers.
June 6, 2009 at 2:11 AM
Amad actually wants Obama’s army in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There’s nothing left to be civil about.
June 6, 2009 at 2:19 AM
I don’t think it becomes people to use the names of the guided Khulafa and say what they know and believe to be lies. If you cannot be civil, you cannot be Muslim.
June 6, 2009 at 10:52 PM
Actually the author is a member of MM panel of authors:
One of those here whom I respect a lot, and have learned alot from.
-Edited. Pls note that he is an inactive author, who certainly does not represent MM’s official stance or direction on this issue. He is also not part of MM’s staff.
Souleiman Ibno AlWaleed
August 18, 2012 at 4:10 AM
Who are you to say who can and can’t be muslim.. you critisize the guy for saying kuffar cannot use the quran and now you make this brand new rule masha allah! Yu have no right to say someone cannot be Muslim.. so be civil and refrain from participating in such an aggressive manner because you seem to be confused Brother
Souleiman Ibno AlWaleed
August 18, 2012 at 4:15 AM
and the definition of civil can be broad… so too the definition of muslim and some aspects of being civil may contradict some aspects of being muslim as being civil Quote on Quote “means to aggree to disagree” for example and you cannot aggree to let someone else kill your own brothers and sisters and be civil about that.
June 5, 2009 at 8:10 PM
Amad: How does Obama differ from Bush? Don’t be afraid to use as much examples as you can.
As for this: And as Obama reminded us from our Qu’ran, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth”.
Obama reminded us? Who is he in the first place for us to take heed of? It is Allah’s reminder firstly than anyone else. Obama is a kaffir and he doesn’t deserve to utter any verses from the Qur-an.
June 6, 2009 at 2:29 AM
Qudaamah wrote:”Obama is a kaffir and he doesn’t deserve to utter any verses from the Quran.”
Please give daleel this argument was based upon. Are non-Muslims forbidden from reading the Quran? Are they forbidden from quoting from it? Are we so politically motivated and fragmented now that we have forgotten the orders from our Prophet Muhammed, may he be in peace, to convey his message to others, even it were one verse.
I would strongly suggest to all the trolls on this site to fear Allah if they have Iman in their hearsts and not to fall into sin while opposing each other. As Muslims, we can always differ from each other in our opinions, but with respect and dignity, while fearing Allah in what we say.
June 6, 2009 at 12:10 AM
Amad said: Also interesting to note is that Al-Azhar cosponsored the event, and you can see the traditional Azhari headgear in the photo. I applaud Al-Azhar for taking this approach. It is an excellent form of PR for Islamic institutions, and a way to separate such institutions from the radicals.
The truth is that for years, Cairo University students have been demonstrating against the rising cost of education, demanding the university subsidize expensive text books, only to be rebuked by the authorities, who claim no funds are available. Yet the university somehow managed to find the money to polish up the building dome that will shine above Mr. Obama’s head when he delivers his address.
As for the other host of the president’s visit, Al Azhar University, one of its students, Kareem Amer, is languishing in prison after university officials reported his “infidel, un-Islamic” views to the government, earning him a four-year sentence in 2007. In advance of the visit, Egyptian security forces have rounded up hundreds of foreign students at Al Azhar.
Any comments Amad?
June 6, 2009 at 12:37 AM
ASA, I didn’t agree with everything in the speech…
But think of this fact: In the past whenever any US President has spoken of Islam in a positive light they have done so in a few brief sentences. Spending 54 minutes dedicated to speaking about this is tremendously positive for Muslims and is historic for Islam in America.
He not only spoke about Muslim contribution to Civilization historically, he also spoke of the American Muslim community and our contribution to society. Subhanallah we struggle to get this information out to Americans through various efforts and here we had a Christian, occupying one of the most powerful seats of authority a man in this world could have doing it. Given the unprecedented nature of his gesture of good will Muslims ought to be thankful and appreciative.
Now we are all intelligent enough to understand that this outreach is being done to the Muslim world, and in the Muslim world to improve America’s image. Hey when I go to the Muslim world I spend alot of my time doing the same thing! If he was projecting false information then yeah you would be right to take issue with it. But his account of Muslim freedoms to build masajid, wear hijab etc are right on.
About foreign policy… he distanced himself from the Iraq war, calling it a war of choice, but implicitly saying actions in Afghanistan/Pakistan are not something which he has a choice over. The fact that he stated he did not want permanent bases in Afghanistan is a good thing. If he is true to his word and remains in office long enough he can make strides to fulfill the vision he has laid out. About Palestine: To me stopping the settlements is not enough in terms of policy. He didn’t talk about the right of return, but he did a few times state that the condition of the Palestinians was unacceptable. He said it with strong words. You have to appreciate that. He didn’t have to do this. The far right didn’t want to do this. If Mccain were in office he would have never done this. He risked his jewish support for this. He could have waited for his second term to start taking some of these initiatives when he had guaranteed being reelected.
So those people that have issues with it, are you just mad, because you are inherently mad? Or is it because you disagreed with what he was actually saying?
June 6, 2009 at 12:39 AM
Where’s my comment
-Sorry, got stuck in the spam box! – Editor
June 6, 2009 at 1:32 AM
In my dark ages, I used to be a Hollywood fan. But today, I’ll still prefer to watch “The Illusionist” again instead of listening to him, or reading this script.
p.s. just an opinion, I ain’t replying anyone :)
June 6, 2009 at 2:25 AM
It’s sad to see a non-Muslim is more ready than some of our brothers to call Obama on his BS
June 6, 2009 at 2:31 AM
Obama, it seems called the Israelis before the speech to reassure them.
Read the whole article to see the dirty game he is playing with Muslims.
June 6, 2009 at 2:34 AM
Obama’s 100 Days – The Mad Men Did Well – John Pilger
Well, there’s one aspect of the new Obama administration I can comfortably declare I am happy with: the fraud known as the economic bailout. In sha Allah, some years more and the American economy will be completely bankrupt.
June 6, 2009 at 2:39 AM
The Politics of Bollocks – John Pilger
June 6, 2009 at 2:42 AM
Obama Praises Mubarak
Perhaps I’ve been too hasty about Obama. Like a true Salafi, he is all praises for the beloved Wali al-Amr.
June 6, 2009 at 10:31 AM
Did not Obama say he does not want to enforce democracy as it does not work everywhere. How clever it is, Bush was dumb to say I am going to spread democracy, while Obama is saying some democracy is good some not (ofcourse for US interests)
June 6, 2009 at 2:48 AM
It’s reassuring to know Obama surrounds himself with fine company:
As Br. Amad has pointed out, we are products of our environment and influenced by those with whom we associate.
June 6, 2009 at 2:49 AM
— Who do we hold responsible for this death that took place on the SAME DAY as the Cairo speech?
June 6, 2009 at 3:46 AM
This is a good article to read as well:
June 6, 2009 at 4:04 AM
As far as Al-Azhar’s “co-sponsorship” … as Younus Kathrada and Abu Bakr mentioned, it really needs to be understood that Al-Azhar is not a monolithic institution.
Jabhat ‘Ulama al-Azhar, an external organization of major scholars from Al-Azhar, tends to oppose the “official” positions of al-Azhar of recent times quite often. Regarding Obama’s visit, they released this statement.
The “official” Al-Azhar opposes the Jabhah and refuses to recognize them, even though some of the most senior scholars of Al-Azhar are members. This is because they always issue statements opposing the type of positions the “official” Al-Azhar has become known for in the past century which don’t reflect the history and heritage of it.
There is a sense of embarrassment from the direction of the “official” Al-Azhar towards the Jabhah because they have demonstrated for years and years how the “official” Al-Azhar has moved further and further away from what made this institution beloved to the Ummah.
There is a firm conflict that is well-known in Egypt within Al-Azhar. Many may think that this revolves around ‘aqeedah issues, but it is also regarding “political” issues or should I say issues involving enjoining good and forbidding evil. A clear example is when Shaykh Nasr Fareed Waasil was sacked from position of Mufti of Egypt (1996-2002). Part of what led to his removal was his dedication to fulfill the position of Mufti and enjoin good and forbid evil. The remnants of his efforts to fight smoking and tabarruj are still visible in some places. You can still find the signs he ordered to be posted with fatwas regarding smoking being haraam as well as how women should dress according to Islam… mostly still found posted on masjids.
If you take a look at the website of the Jabhah, you will find many of their statements as well as evidence regarding the ruining of the “official” Al-Azhar. And Allah knows best.
June 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM
Salaam alaykum Yusuf,
Jazakallaah khayr for sharing this, this was very useful information and brought to light information I had never heard of.
stop-the-trolls (not keyboard jihadist)
June 6, 2009 at 8:31 PM
I wouldn’t worry about negative comments. The LGF of Muslims, the pro-terrorism, “awakening” (but sleep) cult forum, has sent its critters to come swarming on MM to try to hijack the conversation.. did you not notice the cheerleading death squads, calling insults brilliant commentary? This little awakening cult calls out other “salafis” even though themselves are just a jihadi form of it, led by their belligerent leader abuzubair… they have no following except among the disaffected kids in basements… they have zero contribution to society… even their leader doesn’t involve himself in halaqaats when he comes to England and lives in the land of kuffar, the kuffar he barks about all the time. It seems that abu bakr is speaking the same language… seems that he has taken bayah to the same insulting and belligerent style of his leader…. all these awakening critters need to be put together on a boat and shipped to swat with the rest of the girls-schools-destroyers…
So, don’t worry about the comments… the vast majority of muslims… all our muslim orgs like icna, isna, cair … they agree with you. They have right to represent muslims… not these keyboard jihadist, as you named them a long time ago. And who is kathrada to disown Muslims from the organizations that helped Muslims so much… isn’t he same one who called CAIR treachorous? Maybe because they did not help him when he got into hot water with his comments on yahood?
Keep up the good work, praising the good from whoever it cometh from, and exposing these critters for what they are.
P.S. If anyone call Osama as “may Allah preserve him”, then his reality is clear. Muslims are stuck in conspiracy land, and they will not move on until we have people like this… may Allah clarify in their mind the reality of murderers… i hope their families never get affected by these terrorist… i wonder how much benefit of doubt they have then???
June 6, 2009 at 9:50 PM
You need a reality check and need to learn not to speak unless you know what you’re talking about.
Alhamdulillaah I have made more of a contribution to society than just zero!
Your tone is despicable! girls-school destroyers?! What are you talking about?!
The organizations you mention are well known to me. I grew up in Canada and know well what their contribution has been and continues to be in corrupting the youth and masses in N. America. I have been seeing it for over 35 years.
I am not a keyboard jihadist nor a coward who sits behind the keyboard. I have no axe to grind with CAIR because of what they did or did not offer to do for me with the situation with the yahood came up. As a matter of fact, I did not ask anything of them (they offered me) and would not go to them if they were the last organization around (as long as they remain upon the deviation they are upon). They are treacherous and do not represent Islaam.
My reality is known Inshaa Allaah. That I am an ally to Muslims and disavow the kuffaar as my Lord has commanded. Clearly you have an issue with the Book of Allaah!
stop-the-trolls (not keyboard jihadist)
June 6, 2009 at 10:00 PM
Mr. Kathrada, most of my comment was not aimed at you… only the part about the organizations and also the part of osama, “may allah presreve him”… the rest was to the i.awakening critters who i know well as i was part of the forum one time…
i will say ur black and white walla wal baraa remind me of others i have known fresh from school… i am sorry but you are not the only one who understands it… there are many scholars in north america… to claim that somehow u only know the reality of walla wal bara seems a little arrogant, sorry to say that. I am surprised how u would maintain ur polarizing attitude in this part of world, but it’s up to u. please don’t patronize others… we follow people of knowledge who have dont have black and white view world. This attitude of condasending others is not healthy and turns people off, as it is similar to what destroy many dawaah efforts in west.
anyway, my argument is not with you. may allah bless you for your efforts. i hope you will see others view points for their proofs.
may allah forgive me for my sins, and forgive u for ur sins.
June 6, 2009 at 11:39 PM
I see, so do you agree with Amad that Obama should keep his army in Af/Pak to cleanse them of al-Qaeda and other extremists?
June 6, 2009 at 9:57 PM
Hmm, interesting writing style, where I have seen it before…
June 6, 2009 at 11:40 PM
I liked his speech. It was very positive. A breath of fresh air from the previous Psycho administration.
June 7, 2009 at 12:08 AM
For those who are deliberately quoting me out of context, who are ready to give the murderer Osama and his gang of Al-Qaidah hundred excuses, but cannot offer the same to the people right here online (proves that this excuses thingie is just an empty slogan), read my statements again. “Leave Afghanistan to Osama”… was followed immediately with asking people to think from the perspective of American people, and how their leader will think of that situation. The line was an attempt to explain the context and background that a President of this country must reckon with.
I know it’s useless to try to explain or clarify anything, as the haters have their minds already made up. They offered almost no intelligent commentary on the speech itself, but took it in all tangents. The post was NEVER intended to be an evaluation of Obama’s performance. That will take a lot more time and thought. It was simply a quick review of a speech brilliantly done.
But I wanted to make sure I clarify this out-of-context comment for those sincere about moving the discussion forward, and those who don’t live in a paranoid world of conspiracies and conjecture.
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