The United States of America was founded by immigrants. The founders viewed
the country as a safe haven for those fleeing Western European religious and
political oppression. Over time it became viewed as a land where all peoples
could come in order to become something else, something ?better?, i.e.,
Americans. Due to this view, the American system was established and designed
to integrate and assimilate every group that was to have under it. Even terms
like ?melting pot? became synonymous to it. One can now find many groups
integrated into the American way of life. These ethnic groups have melted away
their beliefs and customs and way of thinking that were determined as un-
American. They became Irish-American, Jewish-American, and even Polish-
American, and Chinese-American.
The first Muslims to come to the republic did so as slaves, and were ruthlessly made to discard their identity. Since then, each succeeding wave of Muslim immigrants has been, by and large, integrated into the society. However, since the 1960's, with the increased momentum in the Muslim World toward the resumption of Islam, and toward the political unity of Muslims, the waves of Muslim immigrants to America became affected by this momentum. This momentum for the resumption of Islam in turn affected Muslims born in America, and now presents itself as a barrier and an obstacle toward the integration of Muslims into the American way of life. The barrier lies in Islam itself, as a dynamic ideology, with its own unique system and method of change. When carried as an deology, Islam's dynamism pushes the Muslim to implement and operate its method of change, targeted at each and every idea and system that runs contrary and opposed to it. This means that the ideas upon which the American republic was built is also targeted by Islam for structural change. Herein lies the obstacles toward integration.
The American society is based on the notion that religion must be separated from state and politics. Religion is something personal and individualistic, and not collective or societal. Consequently, it is not the Creator who makes the laws, it is the ?people? via the ?democratic .Way.? Therefore, for the process of assimilation to be able to take place, Muslims would have to adopt a belief that is not comprehensive or be willing to give up part or all of their beliefs and laws. They must also view themselves as part of the American society, thereby intellectually detaching themselves from the Ummah, maintaining only a sentimental attachment.
The obstacle that Islam erects in the face of assimilation stems from a variety of factors, two of which will be presented. The first is that the Islamic Aqeedah is a political-spiritual one. In other words, it is Aqeedah Siyasiyah Ruhiyah. A Ruhiyah Aqeedah (spiritual) focuses solely on the hereafter, i.e., it addresses the belief in the unseen, heaven and hell, the Day of Reckoning, etc. An example is the Christian belief where it addresses the belief in Jesus as a saviour, heaven, and hell.
The actions that are given priority only revolve around achieving ?spiritual? benefits. On the other extreme lies the 'Aqeedah Siyasiyah (Political). This type of belief abandoned the issue of the after life and placed it in the hand of the individual, and focused exclusively on this material, temporal life, i.e., how to buy and sell, how to rule and govern, what relationship to have with foreign lands, etc. An example is Capitalism, and the actions that are given priority revolve only around achieving material benefits. Islam is neither the former nor the latter. In the Islamic Aqeedah, the ?spiritual? belief is embodied in the set up of the ?temporal? life system.
Therefore, it is unique in that it tolerates no separation or split between a spiritual and temporal life. Meaning, it's Aqeedah addresses the unsensed, i.e., Allah and his attributes, the Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell, which serves as the basis upon which the affairs of this world are built, be they related to the individual, the society, or the world at large. Islam has provided rules to govern the relationship of the individual with his Creator: it commanded the Muslim to maintain certain beliefs, such as believing in Allah (SWT), Muhammad being the last Messenger, the angels, the Day of judgement, the validity of Islam for all times and places, etc.
It also obligated the Muslim to pray, fast, give Zakah, etc. Islam also organised the relationship with one's self via rules that pertain to ethics, food stuffs, and clothing. Thus, we find rules that command the Muslim to tell the truth, be honest, humble, etc. And rules that tell the Muslim that he is not to eat pork, or carrion meat or to drink blood, that the meat must be slaughtered properly etc.
Other rules tell him that he is to cover his private parts (awrah), not to wear clothes that symbolise the belief and creed of the Kuffar. Also, there are an enormous number of rules that organise the relationships among people: Islam specifies the type of contracts to exist in the society, the ruling system that Muslims are to erect, the educational system and it's foundation, the judiciary system and the type of evidences admissible in court, penal codes etc. In addition, Islam has detailed laws pertaining the relationship with the other nations. So it details the types of treaties that are allowed to be signed with other people, be they emergency treaties, commercial, or cultural. It further specifies the rules of military engagement, when to initiate it, the allowable types of military assets, the extent and types of deterrence and collateral damage, the laws pertaining POW?s, etc.
With such a comprehensive belief system and life system organisation, it is impossible that Muslims with this understanding can live in a secular society and feel content with its chaotic, man-made system. They realise that the permission to live under such a system includes the rejection of its ideas, culture, and way of thinking, since it is Taghoot, and they can never ?fit in.? They are either searching for, or vigorously working to implant Islam amongst Muslims, and to carry it to non-Muslims.
The second reason that makes the assimilation of Muslims impossible is the Islamic bond that Muslims share with the Muslims throughout the world. The Islamic belief mandates that all Muslims are brothers. Allah says, ?Surely only the believers are brothers.? (TMQ 49.. 10). Also Islam mandates that Muslims must view themselves as one Ummah. Allah says, ?You are indeed the best Nation ever raised up from mankind.? (TMQ 3. 1 10). Moreover, Allah commanded them not to divide. He (SWT), says, ?And hold fast to the rope of Allah and divide not.? (TMQ 3..103)
So the Muslim views himself as part of an Ummah that must not be or remain divided on any bases, be they ethnic, geographic or political. This erects an obstacle in the way of assimilation of the Muslims, because the first step to assimilating any group is to have them think as a minority. Meaning, for Muslims to be integrated into the American. society, they will have to view themselves as eight million American-Muslims who together make up one patch on the American mosaic of 255 million, rather than viewing themselves an integral part of the more than 1.3 billion Muslim Ummah in the world. Only then can they be assimilated. But how could Muslims view themselves as such with the presence of all the Islamic texts that order them to be part of the Ummah and not to separate themselves from the body of Muslims?
And how can they be made to leave a Divine, dynamic, and comprehensive ideology for one that is chaotic and man-made? There are two ways to deal with Muslims. The first is a path of confrontation with Muslims, to forcefully remove any trace of Islam, as done with the first Muslims to arrive here. The second is to introduce a reshaped and remodelled Western/American Islam. The first option is not suitable since America brags about its pluralistic society, democratic values and tolerance. For them, the second is cleaner, softer, and more effective. Islam is now being reinterpreted, reshaped and remodelled in such a way that is compatible with the western thought and the Western way of thinking. The most apparent cases can be seen through many organisations and institutions. On the Board of Directors of the IIIT (International Institutefor Islamic Thought), are the Christian, Yvonne Haddad, and the Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest, John Esposito. Esposito also serves as director of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Understanding, a Georgetown University think tank.
In a lecture given by Haddad, and moderated by Esposito, she explained the nature of their work and, consequently the nature of the institutes upon whose board they sit. She states ?...There are several ways of looking at what the agenda of 'pushing the boundaries' is... We have not had a new Qur?anic exegesis for a long time ... New ideas seem to come up when people look back. For example, I just did a paper on pluralism in Islam, and I was amazed at how the same verses that meant something totally different in the last century, have [sic] been utilised in order to defend the idea of pluralism for the present and the future. I think what we also need is an objective and comprehensive look at the sharia ... We need a more comprehensive and objective look at the Sunna ... And these are areas that the American government have put in declaration of what its foreign policy is about ... And one of the things that I have noticed recently that there is an effort to start a seminary here in the United States, right across the river [meaning the Potomac River in Virginia]. In where people can be trained in both the sciences of Islam, the historical traditional sciences of the past but also be trained in the new efforts of Islamising knowledge and therefore dealing with the future.
Esposito echoed Haddad's statements in a conference held last year by his Centre. In a session entitled 'Pushing the Boundaries: Reforming Islam for the 21st Century,' he resulted with: ?the need to revise the Sharee'ah, devising a comprehensive revision' of Tafseer. ?In a paper titled ?Democratisation and Islam,? by John Esposito and James P. Piscatori, which appeared in The Middle East journal, Vol. 45, 1991, pp. 47-440, it is evident that Esposito and his partner are advising U.S. officials on how to better use and manipulate Muslim activists and Islamic movements to further the goals of U.S. foreign policy.
If we carefully study the meanings behind Haddad's and Esposito's statements, a few points are perfectly clear. First all the ideas of ?pushing the boundaries,? ?comprehensive revision of Tafseer,? or ?objective and comprehensive look at Sharee'ah? are user friendly code words that share one central aim. That aim is to make the concept of destroying Islam appear to the Muslims as mere innocent and objective attempts at Ijtihad. It is now common to hear Muslim Imams and scholars referring to and quoting from these two non- Muslim ?Islamic? thinkers. All this while their aim is to destroy Islam.
Secondly, the first point cannot be disconnected from the American policy for Muslims in America. As a point of fact Haddad and Esposito do not attempt to hide or conceal their connection to American policy makers. Additionally, even the Muslims from among their circles brag about consulting with the U.S. Congress or the White House regarding the setting of policy for Muslims in America.
Regarding the attempts at destroying the Islamic bond, the previously cited organisations, institutes and personalities also play instrumental role. They call to focus on ?ourselves here? and to leave Kashmir for the Kashmiris, Palestine for the Palestinians, and Bosnia for the Bosnians, and to only give some spare change to send them food out of mere sentimental attachments. Warith D Mohammed?s call for a new American, Islamic mathhab; The National Fiqhi Council's promotion of a ?national-local? moon sighting for Ramadhan and Al-Eid; as well as the call by many to vote registration and political participation are other examples.
Adding to this is the media's terrorism frenzy, such as Steve Emerson's Jihad in America, which seeks to b blame Muslims for everything under the sun, even while there are clear cut proofs and evidences showing otherwise. The Anti- Terrorism bill, which was initiated after the Oklahoma bombing by White American separatists, also includes Muslims and Muslim organisations. The impact of all of this is that Muslims become reactionary, isolated, abrogated and removed from much of Islam, as well as reoriented in their allegiance away from ?fundamentalist? Muslims. The aim behind all of this is to keep Muslims identified by the American borders and not by the ideology that they believe in.
In light of all of this, Muslims are today at the cross-roads. They can choose the road of Haddad, Esposito, the AMC, and American integrationism -a road leading to humiliation and destruction in this life, and Allah's wrath in the next. Or they can erect a barrier in front of this integrationism, choosing the road of Islam, its belief system, its life system organisation, and the work to implant this Islam in the American/Western societies. It is only this uphill road that will lead to dignity and honour in this life and Allah's pleasure in the next. Which road will you choose?