By Sulayman “Saul” Saidykhan
Please indulge me the opportunity to add to the current debate regarding Mr. Trump and his ideas about Muslims because 1. I’m American by choice and 2. am a Muslim.
Without going any further, let me state here that what happened in San Bernardino some weeks ago is horrible and sickening especially considering the conscious role of a lactating mother in the crime. How a woman with a six-months old child could do what is being alleged to have been done by the deceased woman in CA is beyond me. But if we are to be honest with ourselves, that crime was just the latest in a seemingly endless string of senseless cases of mass murder committed in this country in the past several years alone -partly because of an insane gun culture enabled by a contrived interpretation of our constitutional rights that the originators of the document would no doubt have a hard time recognizing if they were to visit us again from the great beyond. What makes the San Bernardino case stand-out and therefore ‘red meat’ for opportunist politicians like Mr. Trump is that the alleged perpetrators are Muslims.
For 99% of these mass murder cases where the accused or perpetrators are non-Muslim, the shooters are referred to (in the media) as “vigilantes,” “mentally unstable”, “socially-awkward, “misfit”, “depressed,” “stressed” “drug-induced,” or with some other extenuating psychological term as if to provide some rationale for, or ameliorate what they did. In short, when the non-Muslim mass murders, it’s because of some unbearable personal circumstances. But for the Muslim, it’s a different story altogether. Yet Muslims are like any other human beings.
In the common Narrative, with the Muslim, there is never or can never be any extenuating circumstances, rationale, or other motive for mass murder other than religiously-inspired terrorism! And we know this how? Because once the alleged perpetrator’s Muslim identity is established, all efforts are dedicated towards concluding that terrorism is the sole motive. There is no amount of stress or psychological disorder that could possibly explain the person’s behavior. Alternate explanations, or leads seem to be quickly shut down or discounted, while only clues that are consistent with the terror angle seem to be pursued. The textbook Bias Confirmation scenario seems to be followed to the letter. This is precisely why it is common to hear through various TV networks from “un-authorized sources” -agents of federal, state and local authorities multiple and contradictory versions of the same case. We see this play out often in these cases. And it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Regardless, my point is, Muslims have the same rate of psycho killers as others eliminating any religious factor.
Generally, when it comes to mass murder, there are individuals with serious mental, personality social, or psychological issues that need help but don’t get it in time, and end up committing horrible crimes. And then there are individuals who are for whatever reason bent on inflicting evil, pain and suffering, or other horror on others under all sort of guises or excuses. Both type of murderers come in all colors, shades and religions. The responsible thing is to work diligently to distinguish one from the other.
What should bug any thoughtful and fair-minded person is the knee-jerk assumption that says: ‘every Muslim mass murderer is a religiously-inspired terrorist.’ It’s convenient for Mr. Trump and his lazy supporters in the immediate term to use this innuendo to the max, but ultimately, it’s not a winning strategy simply because it is dangerous and counterproductive. It shuts the door in the face of well-meaning Muslims whose help the US need to overcome those operating on the lunatic fringe of Islam. This is key.
There is a serious crisis of leadership in much of the Muslim world at spiritual, scholar, and governmental levels. There’s no doubt about that. Fixing that issue requires deeper insights. The fact that so many young Muslims are so frustrated that they’re willing to die needlessly and kill so many others they don’t even know with them speaks to this fact. But blaming this bizarre phenomenon on Islam is just as ignorant as the perpetrators of these crimes. Because of the sensational nature of their crimes, one could be forgiven for thinking these “Muslim radicals” or “extremists” or “terrorists” are very large in number and are ready to take over the world. In reality, they are a tiny minority among Muslims. In Nigeria, some of the Boko Haram frontline fighters captured by government forces are found to be ignorant about the basics of the cardinal pillars of Islam! How can someone willing to blow himself up not be able to recite simple Quran verses to pray? Doubters can watch the videos on YouTube for themselves.
Anyhow, if one dares to look deeper into the issues that drive the mania -often categorized as “Muslim terrorism,” one may find that the motivations are more political or nationalistic than religious.
But it takes a serious mind to tackle serious issues because of the inherent implications: – to US Foreign Policy (think Mid-East politics, the control of Nuclear technology); Financial Security (think the$8 Trillion of Muslim money that props up the US economy); and so on. The US has to make tough choices like Obama did in Libya and Egypt. That sort of disengagement from unions with corrupt dynasties need to continue in the years to come.
Now I can’t help but pause at the thought of Donald Trump as a serious presidential contender. Perhaps it is a sign of the times. More troubling is the fact that Trump, whose several failed marriages would normally have kept the party of Family Values running away from him have bizarrely endeared them to him instead! He went after immigrants, war heroes, now Muslims. And they love him even more. Image that! Islamophobia is going through the roof. Attacks have been reported in the media. Muslims are now scared for their children. Some are circulating Safety tips. All because of Donald Trump? This is ridiculous. Donald Trump is a clown, a dangerous clown, but a clown nonetheless. If he Trump doesn’t want Muslims here, let him pack up and go back to his origins! What a character.
Donald Trump’s entire campaign for the Republican Presidential Nomination is one huge farce. His party, despite its attempts at fooling the feeble-minded with a sprinkling of a few colored faces in its ranks remain a party of privileged White men who have managed to remain in power for decades by conning working class whites and others with the fear of Others’ otherness. The problem for Trump is that the terrain has changed. The US of 2015 is not the US of 1950 or 1980. If whipping up fear of Others’ otherness to optimize euro-centric White American votes in a presidential election is enough to win, both John McCain and Mitt Romney would have defeated Barack Obama
Watching and listening to several video clips of Mr. Trump’s over the past couple of weeks, it’s obvious to me that his concept of the Muslim is akin to that of the typical American: An Arab from the middle-east. This is simply wrong. In reality, the Muslim world extends way beyond the geographical realm and boundary of the middle east It’s true that prophet Mohamed is from Arabia and that most Arabs are Muslims, but most Muslims are non-Arab. Using 2010 figures, there are 1.6B Muslims, but only 345M (20%)are Arab. In fact, only three Arab countries are among the top ten most populous Muslim countries: Egypt, Algeria, Morocco. So, contrary to widespread perception, Arab is not synonymous with Islam. The lesson here for Trump is: if you want to be prejudiced, go ahead. But stop being a drum major for ignorance.
Anyhow, getting to the cause of the restlessness among young Muslims mostly in the middle east will require closer assessments of ties to Muslim regimes especially the open-ended monarchical-cum pseudo-tyrannical ones that we love so much. We want to get rid of all the horrible and corrupt Muslim rulers except for the ones that actually never get elected and reign over the countries whose citizens actually either train, sponsor, or carry out the attacks on Americans.
I started life in a Muslim family in West Africa. My people have been Muslims for close to seven hundred years now. But I went to Catholic schools for my post-elementary education. I’ve had and I cherish the secular education I had. It has help broaden my world view. Today, many of my friends are non-Muslims. When I had a series of brain operations in November 2011 due to aneurysms I suffered, I had many Christian friends and colleagues organize prayers for me in their various churches. Not to forget a Hindu neighbor who always prays for me during my Home Therapy period. I feel blessed to have so many people of different faiths root for me. I am comfortable in mine. My view on life and people is simple: I’ve never seen or heard of a people I’m not curious about. The initial rejection has to come from their end.
My grandpa, who lived a very austere life was my Islamic tutor and ideal Muslim. Though he passed on in 1981, he remains my compass. He always had a heart to share whatever little he had with anyone who stopped by his place– which wasn’t much at all in material terms. but he had a prayer for whoever he believed was going or had gone astray. And I’m certain about what grandpa would say today if he were around about all the murders being committed in Allah’s name. When I close my eyes, I can visualize the old man’s face, -the unique twitch he does around his eyes when he hears something that surprises him, the double-take on hearing the question and the clarifier: you mean human beings are now fighting Allah’s battles for him?”
Which is why I’ve been telling friends and I repeat here: The Quran is revealed through a totally illiterate young Arab man Mohamed (PBUH). And for over 1,400 years, it has never been revised or updated. The two original divisions (Shia and Sunni) sects are the results of disagreements between followers of different disciples of the Mohamed man! All the other sects of Islam that exist today are completely manufactured by various people in different parts of the world including colonial agents in the last century. Anyhow, it is imperative that those that care refuse to allow anyone to use them in the name of Islam: read the original text yourself. More important, don’t give anyone the license to murder in your name!
I rest my case.
This article was written at the behest of my local Imam for distribution to different Muslim groups, their non-Muslim Muslim allies, and other affiliates around the United States in response to the Donald trump threat.