The Root of Islamophobia Part 2

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Jumada' al-Akhirah 02, 1436 2015-03-22

Thank you for this opportunity once again to be with you and with those who are tuned in who are listening at this moment. The subject as all of us understand is Islamophobia. I think I mentioned earlier that the word Islamophobia itself is a word that doesn’t accurately describe the events and the developments that are happening in today’s world. The majority of those incidents, of course, come down very harshly on Muslims who are committed. Last time we spoke about some historical background to this whole issue (of) trying to identify where this who subject of anti-Islam venom is coming from.

This time I’m going to make a transition and try as much as is possible to be selective. We have to be selective because of the timeframe and move ourselves up to our contemporary context meaning our generation and maybe the generation before to cover the elements of anti-Islamic propaganda, anti-Islamic academia, anti-Islamic policies, anti-Islamic wars, etc. Now, I think anyone and everyone in their conscious self are aware that there are multiple accusations coming at Muslims from all directions practically and for the sake of convenience I tried to narrow it down to some issues or some directions in which Muslims are branded as, may be, lesser human beings and maybe in some instances enemies of humanity.

The first one (or) the first segment that I have here has to do with, (let’s) call it social issues. There’s a lot of press out there that picks on certain issues in society and then says “look at what Islam says about this? Look at what the Qur’an says about this? Look at what Muhammad says about this?”

So, the first issue that I think is brought up very frequently is the issue of women in Islam. That’s one of the issues that they point a finger of accusation against Islam and Muslims saying that Islam degrades women and basically, they hammer in two points. The first one has to do with the hijab (or) the modest dress of a woman and they say “this is backwardness and this is degrading to women and this is humiliating her etc.” Of course, there are probably some people out there who genuinely think this is the case and they ratchet up their propagandistic presentations and say “women in Islam are second class citizens or they are subservient to their husbands or they are mistreated and abused in their families, etc. etc.”

Of course, there are others who engage in this type of innuendo knowing that that’s not the truth, (i.e.), Islam does not treat women in a degrading way. It does not humiliate women. It does not give anyone the right to abuse them or to in one way or the other demean them. I think this takes us into an area that is critical and it should be a matter of much cogent thought (and) that is we, the Muslims, especially the Muslims that are in the position to think and to respond to these types of allegations coming from orientalists and coming from columnists and pundits and those who fashion themselves as experts on Islam. When you look around and say “where is the Muslim response to all of this?” And it leaves a lot to be desired.

I think, Muslims have not stepped up to the plate and been able to dissect this whole issue and present it in a way that dignifies women and places the counter-Islamics on the defensive because actually women in non-Islamic and materialistic and secular societies are the ones who are being humiliated and degraded. They’re being abused and they’re being used for commercial purposes, for pornography, for the sex-slave trade and all of these other things that are happening. There are real numbers and statistics out in the world that can be quoted by informed and enlightened Muslims to turn this whole argument around and say “ok- let’s look at these societies and the way Muslims treat women and the way non-Muslims treat women. Let’s look at where prostitution thrives, let’s look at where pedophilia takes place, let’s look at where the sex-slave trade is predominant etc. etc.” We can go on and on. I think you and I and many of us have gone to Islamic book stores and libraries and we are hard pressed to find a well written, informed and intelligent counter argument to the one that’s presented concerning women.

Then, we go on from there to what is called polygamy in some quarters and that means that a Muslim man has the right to marry four women and that’s an open license. Muslims, when it comes to this issue also seem to be on the defensive. There’s all the mental ammunition in the Qur’an and in the life of the Prophet to disprove those who say that Muslim men have an open license to marry op to four women without any conditions and without any justification for such marriages. Now, we can go into the details of this and actually I did. I’m preparing a tafseer of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an and at the beginning of Surah An Nisa’ there are those verses that have to do with multiple marriages of Muslim men but they have to do with co-marriages. I’ve been around I think quite intensively in different atmospheres among different Muslim groups who have different persuasions and backgrounds and I haven’t heard any Muslim speaker refer to the marriages that take place within the conditions of the ayah.

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً

If you as a society fear that you are not going to be able to be fair to orphans (or) if we as a society are fearful that we’re not going to be able to offer the orphans what is entitled to every other child who has a father and a mother then you marry what pleases you of women- a second or third or fourth co-wife; if you fear you are not going to do justice to the combination of women together, then you remain with one… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 3)

No one has expressed these ayaat using the term co-marriage which means to qualify for a second or third or forth marriage there has to be the approval of the previous wife or wives because it’s a co-marriage and that’s what’s included in the connotation of the words mathna wa thulatha wa ruba’ it’s not ith’natayn or thulathan wa arba’ but once again, here’s where we the Muslims give ammunition to those who are ratcheting up the propaganda machine against us. So, they take this on and they go to women’s rights, “women don’t have rights in Islam.” They say “look at what the Qur’an says- the Qur’an says it takes two women to be witnesses in a court of law.” No such thing. It doesn’t exist!

But they take one incident that has to do with financial transactions which are also within certain limitations and restrictions and definitions and circumstances that has to do with debt and all of the details that go in borrowing and lending and exchanging with time-frames and all of this has to do with the jargon and the vocabulary that (it) comes with. I’m sure that anyone who bought a home and was exposed to the language of mortgages would understand that there’s a lot of terminology in economic and financial transactions that the average person is not qualified to stand as a witness in a court of law pertaining to those matters. So even if there was a man who is not familiar with these issues he disqualifies to be a witness in a court of law because the ayah says

مِمَّن تَرْضَوْنَ مِنَ الشُّهَدَاءِ

… witnesses that satisfy the testimonial requirements… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 282)

Which means there has to be an endorsement of those witnesses in a court of law. So, (with) these types of misunderstandings the western anti-Islamic mouth pieces pick on issues like this and I don’t think that anyone should be surprised that we have counter and anti-Islamic types of academics, professors, commentators, specialists, etc. out there that give themselves their own titles and they want to make a dent to Islam if not to crash Islam altogether- that’s to be expected- but what are we, the Muslims, doing to counter all of this? You have your conferences (and) many Muslims have their conferences but have we made these the issues that we deal with in an up-to-date informed manner? Or do we prefer to dwell on issues that have to do with heightening the tension among we, the Muslims, ourselves.

This even goes further into the issue of what they call minorities, (i.e.) “look how Muslims mistreat minorities.” Once again, without going into much details here there’s nothing in Islam that says (or) that sanctions any mistreatment of minorities or majorities anywhere. Muslims take a look at human beings as human beings (or) as individuals and as collective, it doesn’t matter. The issue that defines anyone or any people is how far or how near they are from that central word, justice. This also goes into that ridiculous area such as the Muslim sacrificial preparation that they eat, (i.e.) dhabihah or animal rights, “look at the cruel manner in which Muslims slaughter their animals.

There’s once again unfortunately because this is not one of these subjects that are prime subjects in the conferences and in the annual meetings or even in the regional ones that we have that people are interested in highlighting in a very informed manner then, in the mainstream media, we, Muslims, turn out to be against animals and all of this. There’s enough information that we have that places us on the humanitarian and the passionate side of dealing with sacrificing or slaughtering the animals for human consumption. Then, we go from here to another segment that I think is a very important segment that may be called religious. (I try to avoid the word religious). This is another thing that I want everyone to listen to and to understand and rethink in their minds, and that is the choice of words.

Many of us have very clean and very solid good intentions. No one is questioning anyone else’s intention. Most of us thrive to be as precise and accurate as out knowledge span permits but even with that we still become our own adversaries in the sense that we contribute to the argument that says “Muslims are to be feared or Muslims are scary or Muslims are terror prone or Muslims are un-understandable” and these type of things. We actually contribute to that in our own choice of words. I don’t mean to be personal and I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings but in the translation that we just listened to of those five ayaat from Surah Al Qasas, the word, for example, the words li qawmin yu’minun (was translated) as people who believe. You know, the word believe is not yu’min, the word believers is not mu’minun. These are two different words. Why do we continue without any questions (and) without any thoughts to use this type of choice of words that work against us?

The words belief and believe and believers and their equivalents (and) like some translations have infidel and other translations have heathens and blasphemers and it goes on and on. All of these selection of words is taken, strictly speaking, from the Judeo-Christian context. They have nothing to do with our independent Islamic character. Iman is much more than belief but we have still not approached that point (or) area in our thinking where we can either bypass this and either use the word yu’minun or Mu’minin as it’s used in the Qur’an or use the word committed Muslim because Iman has two ingredients in it. It has the amanah (or) the trust and it has the amn (or) the security but the word belief does not contain those two connotations and we still continue to use it. (As I said, I’m not trying to pick on anyone), but the other word that’s used in the translation of the ayah was sects, shi’a; the plural of shi’ah in its linguistic meaning, of course, and this was translated as sects, once again. We have no sects. A sect is a definition that belongs and is peculiar to Judeo-Christian history. It is not peculiar to our own history. Then this ayah is in reference to the Pharoah.

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا

The Pharaoh has achieved a high status of power in the world so he has fragmented its people… (Surah Al Qasas verse 4)

So shi’a here means fragmentation. It means division- this is a political division of people, it’s an economic division of people, it’s a social division of people (and) it’s also a religious division of people. So, the word sect only zeroes-in on religion and it leaves out the economic, the political (and) the social instruments that people in power use to divide populations. This is how, (as I said in the beginning), we contribute to the argument that we are trying to arrest. So, they go into these, (what we call), religious issues and they say “look at Muslims- Muslims can’t co-exist. Muslims can’t live side by side with Christians and Jews.” This is part of what they call Islamophobia. Well, where did they get that from? They go to an ayah in Surah Al Maa’idah. (I may have mentioned this in a previous talk). They say “this is their own translation. This is Yusuf Ali or other translators of the Qur’an by Muslims themselves, and they say per this ayah that Muslims should not befriend Jews and Christians.” That is as furthest as you can be from the truth. The ayah does not say that.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ أَوْلِيَاءَ

Oh you who are firmly committed to Allah- don’t designate Al Yahud and An Nasara as your politically acclaimed, ideologically approved and militarily allied sponsors … (Surah Al Maa'idah verse 51)

Awliya’ does not mean friends and Al Yahud and An Nasara in the context here does not mean theological Christians and Jews, it means ideological or political types of Christians and Jews. But if we ourselves have put the pen to the paper and have not distinguished in our Holy Book the difference between a Zionist and a Jew and an Imperialist and a Christian- the distinction is there in the Qur’an- but we haven’t revved up our mind enough to make that distinction in out talks, in our presentations, in our writings (and) in our communications. So, we contribute to Islamophobia not knowing that we are doing that!

Then they say “Muslims are anti-social. They don’t go to clubs, they don’t go to pubs, they don’t go to bars, (etc.)” Well yes, we don’t go because we don’t drink! We are not, (you know), people who consume intoxicants of whatever variety they are. And then we come out looking bad for that?! And then we have in this world vegetarians- has anyone accused vegetarians of being anti-social because they don’t eat meat?! I haven’t come across that and if that doesn’t exist, (and I can assure you it doesn’t exist, i.e. people saying vegetarians are anti-socialist), then why is it that Muslims are (labelled anti-social) when vegetarians are avoiding the consumption of meat! In the case of vegans they go even further than that and they avoid consumption of everything that comes from animals such as eggs and milk etc. But no one ever says these are anti-social; but here we are abstaining from what harms the human body (and) what destroys the liver, which is the main organ in the human body, and then it begins to destroy several other critical areas. Were just avoiding that and then we become anti-social! Once again, we haven’t done our homework. How many doctors, how many nutritionists, how many specialists in the anatomy of the human being have we had who can present our issue in a cogent and in an intelligent way?

Then we go to the issues that are political and I think that this is the most critical one and the one that needs to be zeroed in on more than anything else. We come to the political aspect of this Islamophobia and we find (that) all hell breaks loose when Muslims seeks self-determination, self- rule (and) self-governance. Why is that? These are things that are enshrined in International Law, in the charters and in the chapters of the United Nations literature and I don’t think there’s anything in religious texts of whichever religion that argue against a people deciding to have their own self-determination. So why is it that when Muslims want to have self-determination then we have all of the mainstream media working in chorus with themselves as if it’s a grand, worldwide symphony saying “Muslims have become terrorists.”

There's nothing, not one word and not one ayah in the Book of Allah or in the verified and consensual sunnah of the Prophet that say that Muslims resort to terror or should, (you know), fight in a way that is inclusive of the definition of the word terror. Nothing whatsoever! OK- we have a serious difference with the secular and materialistic world and that is what they call “the separation of Church and State.” OK- we don’t believe in that separation but have we ever explained this to the public in a very enlightened and balanced way? Has anyone ever done that so that anyone in the public listening can say “hey look- wait a minute, we really misunderstood Islam. The way I’m hearing Islam right now, Islam is really a decision making process that has conscience in it”? When we say “we, Muslims, don’t separate Masjid from Majlis (so to speak), which means Church from State (or) the political process from the religious process that means that when we make our political decisions we make them with a moral character and with a conscientious center.”

Well, what’s wrong with that? Who’s going to argue against that? Do you mean to tell me it is possible to have politicians and decision-makers and officials and strategists planning the future of a certain society or a country without a conscience and without morality?! Whoever is going to tell me that I’m going to tell them it seems like when people right here begin that type of argument they’re going to begin legalizing lying, deceit, back-stabbing, assassinations all the way up to warfare. That’s what happens if you take your conscience out of your decision making at the state level. Everything goes and anything goes! So why should there be a world out there that takes issues with Muslims who integrate their decision making with their conscience, their strategy with their morality (and) their political thought with their ethics? But that type of presentation has not been explained very accurately. Besides that, when it comes to the political issues, this is where I think we are still like infants when it comes to this area here. We haven’t developed a thinking Muslim political mind. I know the word politics has a negative and even an abhorrent connotation when it is used in the secular and even in the European context.

(When) everyone tells you “he’s a politician” it’s almost like saying he’s dirty, he’s not to be trusted, he takes advantage of he’s own constituents, etc. etc. But that’s the polluted atmosphere of politics. That’s what happens to the word politics when it is void of its ethical and moral content. In the Islamic environment (and) in an Islamic atmosphere politics is saturated with morality and with principles so it becomes a clean word. In this regards, (and I repeat myself here), generally speaking we, the Muslims of the world have not developed a thinking Islamic political mind. You can go (and) anyone can go and recall the conferences that you’ve been in in all of these years and the presentations that you’ve listened to on the internet, social media; the word right now is so full of this exchange of information- where do you encounter those who are working on developing an Islamic thinking political and ideological mind? Where do you find them? They are very scarce indeed.

To the contrary, we have right now in some quarters a backlash when Muslims began thirty-six years ago the process of breaking new ideological and political grounds then we have right now a backlash with some people saying wait a minute; no no no no. I don’t think that was right. We should go back and wait for the right political correction when Al Imam Al Mahdi (alayhi as salaam) is going to appear.” Well, what happened? Any time you encounter or you listen to individuals like that, you will ascertain that there is a void in their political thinking. They are empty when it comes to understanding the developments of our world and when there is that void and that vacuum then you have people who rush in, who are supposed to rush in!

Germs invade a weak body. Pathogens settle in a susceptible body and this is what happens in the world of ideas when we have a weak Muslim mind. The germs and the pathogens move in and they tell us “look at Muslims- they want to apply their Shari’ah law.” That becomes an accusation and, of course, they say it in a way that makes everyone run away. “No, we don’t want that.” Then they go from there and they pick on the issue of jihad. “Look at Muslims- they are blood thirsty, they are trigger happy, they do all sorts of things that are repugnant to human nature, etc. etc.” Why do they say that? Because we ourselves have not presented the world with a book shelf, (I’m not going to speak about a library or store, just a book shelf), that speaks to these issues in a relevant and cogent way.

Then, finally, (last but not least), we have a very contentious issue and that is the economic system of Islam. The economic system of Islam is free of usury which people nowadays call interest, (a word that has been plucked out of the dictionary to make it very appealing). We have a very serious contention with a financial system in this world that is engrossed in usury, ar riba, and that’s probably the argument that has still not played out because the Islamophobes are afraid that if they bring up this issue they might be contributing to some type of common purpose between Muslims on one hand and the anti-Capitalists, (I’m using their words), in the world. So, they want to avoid that so they keep this issue on a slow burner (so to speak). They will use any issue to bring it up and say “Muslims cannot integrate into the International financial system if they were free to pursue their own financial, economic and monetary objectives.”

I hope with that I’ve contributed to some of the issues that have to do with the propaganda and the media high decibel argument against the innocence of Islam and against those who are true to their Islam and are seeking to understand it and implement it without the artificial wars and hostilities that are imposed upon us. And Allah knows best.

Wa Salaamualaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh

Q: So last time I didn’t ask my question so I have a question that I want to ask you- you talked about the way we present Islam and you said it may not be the best way but for example when they make a caricature of Prophet Muhammad or when they want to make fun of him and we have all kinds of protest and rally and we show we don’t like it and then again they point us out. How do you look at this? They are so wild, they are so aggressive, they are so savage- what should we do in this situation? You know they make fun of us and then when we want to have some sort of reaction they again say “look at them and how much they are savage, how much they are wild, how much they are aggressive.” In this case can we say we didn’t present Prophet Muhammad to them that they did these kinds of stuff. What can we do in this kind of situation?

Imam Muhammad Al Asi: Well that’s a good question. You know, I think that when they begin to draw the visual art part of this, (i.e.), these caricatures that are demeaning of our beloved Prophet, this is the final step. When we, Muslims, want to respond to this final step we are reacting. This is my interpretation of it. I hope I’m not off balance here- I’m talking about establishments, I’m talking about centuries before those caricatures were drawn- how did they feed the minds of the public? They fed the mind of the public with some of the issues that I touched on. They said, in reference to our Prophet, “this Muhammad of theirs had so many wives.” Of course, they put it in such a way as to bring down the character and the esteem and the love that we have of the Prophet. When they do this they don’t go to other Prophets that are in their own sacred texts such as Prophet Ibrahim or Prophet Nuh and other Prophets that exist (alayhim as salaam), and look at the discrepancies that exists in their holy books.

So, one of the elements that went into drawing the caricatures that they drew, (and they’ll probably continue to draw into the future), was “the Prophet was a womaniser”, nastaghfirullah. The other one was “the Prophet was a terrorist”, nastaghfirullah; “he was the one who went to war and he has a war history and there were executions during his time.” Then they throw in “the Prophet came with barbaric laws (i.e.) the severing of hands, the stoning of adulterers, and adulteresses, etc. etc.” So, when they came and they drew pictures like that, they did so because they had centuries and they had previous dynasties and governments that seeded the public mind with information and with deliberate lies about the Prophet.

On the basis of this they went ahead and drew the caricatures of theirs. Now we are presented with this fact but some of us saw the tip of the iceberg, (i.e.) we saw the caricatures (and) the pictures in certain newspapers in Scandinavia or in Europe and other places but we didn’t see the iceberg itself below the surface with all of that false information, with all of that innuendo, with all of those false stories about the Prophet. None of us wanted to deal with that. If we were to deal with this whole issue we would take it from its roots, (i.e.) from the inaccurate and deliberately distorted information about the Prophet, about the Qur’an (and) about Islam and begin to unplug that information from its roots and provide that information in a way that is communicated to the public, not in words (where) you know some speakers come and they quote some ayaat and some hadiths and they think they have wrestled the issue. No! In the public mind it’s not wrestled.

You have to go to the details of these official liars when it comes to our history. You have to go to the information that is presented to the public and then deconstruct every issue- one issue at a time and this has to be done in an intelligent way and in a way that could be understood by non-Muslims because we’re not speaking to ourselves here. We know who our Prophet is. We know his history, we know his biography, we know his seerah- we know everything about him and this is absolute lunacy when it comes to drawing pictures like that. But the average person outside of the realm of Islam in the United States, in Europe and some places in Asia and Africa, Latin America, etc. don’t know this. So, they are presented with this whole picture so when someone draws a caricature like that they say “well this is the picture that we have and there’s no objection to that basically.” I mean there are some people who have outgrown the silliness of the mainstream media and they know this is one of these political acts but one person out of one million does not a population make! So, we have to look at this issue from its roots all the way up to its summit and deal with it in that manner and not in the reactive manner that many of us do.

I mean, there was another approach that was commendable where some Muslims in some cities and some places went out and they began in the name of the Prophet passing out sweets and, you know, they began quoting some of his statements concerning your neighbour and concerning family and concerning society and concerning animals to bring out the passionate and the kindness and the love that the Prophet had. It’s alright and like a momentary type of fluid thing but it doesn’t deal with the whole issue. The whole issue is going to remain there until we begin to deal with it from beginning to end.

Q: Assalaamualaykum. Thank you very much Imam Asi. My question is kind of regarding what you pointed out at the end of the answer to the last question. What I want to know is more on the practical side of what we can do as to doing our part in making the change in people’s minds and people’s beliefs so I would like to know your advice on some practical applications on what we can do kind of like the letter that was written and sent by Imam Khamene’i that is impacting a lot of cities at getting it around to the students. It has been a good start to a movement but what is your advice on how to actually spread the letter and beyond that, (i.e.) after that what other things can we do. Thank you.

Imam Muhammad Al Asi: My response to that in the few minutes and the few sentences that I have is that we, the informed and maybe the Muslims who are in front-line of all of this have to realize that there’s a public mind out there, (you know). This is something that Muslim speakers don’t want to deal with and I go back to the original problem and that is that we contribute to our own problems. There’s a public mind out there and we have to begin to make an impact or we’re going to have to begin to penetrate that public mind. That’s what has to be done. How do you do that? Do you do it in a conversation like this? No one’s hearing us! No one cares of these types of discussions that we have. So how are you and I and those who understand where we are and where to go going to penetrate that public mind?

Well, there are instruments in this world to address that public mind. There is mass media. We need at least a beginning in the area of mass media. What is it going to take? A national radio program? I’m not going to say TV, (but) a national radio program; I mean of all the times this is one of the most critical and massive segments of time that we have in which Muslims are under a bombardment of accusations, insults, defamation- you name it and you mean to tell me, (it’s hard for me to gel this whole issue together), it’s impossible for Muslims in this country to have a radio program just like (these Islamophobes). I mean, you’re heard some of these Islamophobes. There’s Sean Hannity- Fox News, Bill O’Reilly- Fox News, there’s Michael Savage who I’m sure is in one of the major metropolitan cities in this country, there’s this Praegler guy who comes on AMN Radio in this area that I’m in and there’s a slew of others, Levine and I don’t know who and who.

(In) most of these programs- I mean we’re talking about a two to three hour segment, that’s what most of them have- they release a rant of despicable language and defamation against Muslims and it’s going on from year to year and from one incident to the next beginning in earnest with 911 and I don’t see an end to this. I’m sure we have some type of right; legally speaking, who’s going to tell you if you wanted to go and obtain some type of permit for this that you don’t have the right to rebut or debunk the accusations that are coming to you and to Muslims and to Islam from this assortment of people. If we get to that point, (and I don’t know anyone who has tried that, but let’s say there’s a serious attempt and someone tried to obtain a license for a nation-wide program that seeks to explain away the distortions that are presented to the public mind about Islam), here we put the government in a test. Either it grants us this permit and we go on air and hopefully we’ll have informed Muslims who can deal with some of the issues and much more than some of the issues that we mentioned in these two presentations in a way that can communicate with the public mind so that we can have responses from them.

There might be people who want to call in- that’s fine, let them call in and let us take them on in an intelligent way. Our Islam is an intelligent Islam. This is not an Islam that recoils into ourselves and say “wait a minute- I don’t know what the answer to that is.” That means we haven’t done our homework. If we haven’t done our homework then let us arrest this idea here and now. Let’s say we are unqualified and incapable of addressing these issues so we have to go back to the drawing board and re-educate our ownselves. Or, are we educated enough to say “yes, I can respond to these issues; sore. Give me the microphone. Let me speak to all of the people out there who have all of this dirty information about Islam and let me clean this area.” That’s what has to be done. If you didn’t understand anything from any of the points that I’ve made just plant (or) seed your mind with the words “the public mind out there.”

Back to Imam Khamene’i’s letter, the vital component in that public mind are the youth. Address them. Speak to them. These are people who are fed up with the ailments, the deception of the political system (and) with the lies that they are fed, (you know). You’re living in this country (and) you know what is happening with the duopoly of power: Republicans and Democrats. The general American public is fed up with that. Forty-one percent of those who are registered to vote in the United States have registered as independents. Not Republicans! Not Democrats! Independents! Which tells you (that) forty-one percent of those who registered to vote are fed up with this monopoly of either Democrats or Republicans.

If we haven’t developed and if we haven’t worked on our Islamic political mind, (as I said), how are we going to speak to these youth?! I mean, the issues that come up every election cycle have to deal with health care, they have to deal with addiction, they have to deal with substance abuse, they have to deal with unemployment, they have to deal with minorities or what they call illegal immigrants (or) undocumented workers in the United States- these are vital issues that are on people’s minds. What is our response to this as Muslims? (Do) we look at these issues and say “nah- they don’t concern me.” What do you mean they don’t concern you?! We live in this society. They concern us just like they concern everyone else and the youth in this society are looking at a bleak future. Their fathers and their grandparents haven’t bequeathed to them a future that will guarantee to them the same standard of living that their fathers and grandfathers had. So, these are individuals (and) a segment of the population- we’re talking about tens of millions of people here, if not well over a hundred million people who are ready to listen provided there is someone ready to speak. I think that’s the time I have for that question. Is there any other question?

Q: Assalaamualaykum Imam Asi. I have actually three questions regarding this conversation. The first one was how we can basically actively get a political voice or get into the media which was outlined by you. The other one was during the last session in the program regarding ISIS the leader pointed out that the Islamic Awakening was affected by this ISIS movement. My question was what we have to do going toward and forward supporting the Islamic Awakening?

Imam Muhammad Al Asi: Well, as is the case in the west where you have a young generation that is looking for answers to the real problems in life out there- we’re not dealing with theory here, you know- these are real issues and people want real solutions in the west. The same thing is taking place in Muslim countries. There’s a young generation there that is looking forward for solutions to their own problems. This is generally referred to as the Islamic Awakening.

Now, one may say that the Islamic Awakening occurred over thirty-six years ago and, you know, there were certain attempts at it in certain countries. Some of these attempts were not successful, some of them were aborted and some of them are still in the making and what applies here applies there. The reason why you have the Da’ish and ISIS types, i.e., these people who are going around authenticating what the mainstream media in the United States is accusing Muslims of when they say “Muslims are terrorists, look at ISIS- it presents an example!”; when they say “Muslims mistreat women- look at ISIS- it’s a testimony to the fact that Muslims mistreat women!” (is so that) when the news items come across saying “ISIS is enslaving women and it’s taking concubines and these men are having affairs (I don’t know what it’s called) with minority women and with other women of different Islamic persuasions that doesn’t happen to be their own persuasion” they (can) take a look at this and say “look- didn’t we tell you so?! Didn’t we say you Muslims do these types of things? Muslims are savages. Muslims are backwards. Look- they go to different temples, they go to different Churches, the go to different Masajid that doesn’t belong to their particular persuasion in Islam and then they begin to destroy it!”

This is caught on camera and with today’s technology whatever you have on camera makes its rounds and it goes viral on the internet (and) all the world is watching all of this. So, the people who are making decisions here- I’m talking about Zionist/Imperialist decisions- have a treasure mind in the ISIS types who are actually proving what the Islamophobes in the west are saying about Muslims; which makes you believe (or) which makes you almost certain that they are working together (despite) all of this media hype about bombing them in certain areas and giving them a bad press in the media and all of this. I don’t know who’s listening there but I’m two generations into my lifetime and I’ve listened to these things in which an enemy says about another group of people that they are their enemy but in fact they are working together.

In the middle of all of this there’s a vital component of society, whether it’s in the west or in the east, whether it’s in Muslim countries or in non-Muslim countries and that vital component is the young generation, i.e. those who are in their teens and in their twenties. This is the generation that is looking for justice. They want justice and this is our mission in life. Our mission is a mission of justice and we sabotage that mission because we side-line the issue of justice and then we begin to play up the issue of rituals. As I said, we become our worst enemies because we participate with those who are defaming us! I’m being overly and harshly self-critical but that’s what it’s going to take for us, I think, to out grow this stagnation that we’ve been in for so long.

This ISIS or Da’ish is a counter thought phenomenon. It doesn’t have an ideology, it doesn’t have a political orientation, it doesn’t have any type of strategy; it is in one sense a reaction to the circumstances they find themselves in (and) in another sense it is led on by powers which they don’t understand. They are being supported by regional governments and governments beyond the region and they are working the will of those who seek the self-destruction of the Muslims. Unfortunately, many of them are youth. Because these types of youth haven’t been presented with the area that I was speaking about, i.e. developing the ideological thinking Muslim mind there was a vacuum there and all of a sudden we had the Wahhabis/Salafis call them whatever you want- the bigots and the fanatics- go in there and fill this vacuum and now the scenario is unfolding in from of our own eyes with the atrocities and the tragedies that are being committed.

This presentation was by Imam Muhammad Asi on a conference call discussion on 22 March 2015. The Imam previously led the daily and Jum’ah prayers inside the Masjid. His speeches were revolutionary and thought provoking, and eventually irritated and threatened the Middle-East Ambassadors who control the Masjid. Finally, the Imam, his family, and other Muslims faithful to the course of Islam were forced out, into the streets. This khutbah originates from the sidewalk across the street from the Islamic Center, currently under seige.

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