In the wake of 9/11, some of us Muslims hoped to set aside all ethnic, cultural, sectarian, and ideological differences in order to become a unified voice. Though interfaith activity has gained prominence, it is apparent that disparate American Muslim organizations have yet to unify in order to formulate policy that can be effective at the national level. A quote from Aga Khan says it all: “Too often, the various actors go about their business without enough reference to one another. The result often reminds me of an orchestra made up of talented and dedicated artists – but playing from different scores. The result is not harmony but cacophony – and an unevenness of public impact which is inherently unfair.”
It is imperative that all American Muslims – African American, immigrant, second–generation, and third–generation Muslims – become active participants in the civic process to serve our collective needs, for the present and for future generations. Immigrant Muslims must learn important lessons from the African American, Chinese and Jewish experiences in the USA. Muslim immigrants have a distinct advantage. Firstly, they have the advantage of the civil rights movement and subsequently implemented laws. Secondly, they are generally not an economically or educationally disadvantaged community. Most importantly, they were not labeled or discriminated on arrival in the USA.
The immigrant Muslim experience of Islam in America is complicated by factors of country of origin, language, and culture – besides racial, ethnic, sectarian and ideological differences. Thus there has been fragmentation in the society and assumed leadership –– quite understandable, as human beings tend to seek common ground in society. This is also understandable, if we consider that most come at a relatively young age and survive the shock of a totally alien culture as well as the lack of any support system. The degree and rapidity to which immigrants “melt” in the pot depends largely on their lifestyle, outlook, and educational experience within their native countries. By and large, the Muslims in America have been – and are – God–fearing, law–abiding, tax–paying citizens.
The failed foreign policies of the Republican government over the last eight years, in response to 9/11, demands that the entire Muslim community in the USA overlook its differences and present a united front if it wishes to safeguard its civil rights and interests as citizens of the USA.
Just recently, NPR hosted the Director of Al–Jazeera in Quwait and Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni. The gist of both interviews was the need for American leadership to correct mistakes in policy. This is indeed an opportune moment for us American Muslims, under the leadership of MPJP, to become an instrument for peaceful resolution of conflict.
The new administration, under the visionary leadership of President Barack Obama offers a unique window of opportunity for American Muslims. Under the visionary leadership of Ms. Ruby Amatulla, Muslims for Peace, Justice and Progress (MPJP) was founded with a core group composed of 1) Dr. Edip Yuksel (Turkish) Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, 2) Fereydoun Taslimi (Iranian) Businessman and Philanthropist; 3) 3) Matthew Cappiello (American), UC Berkeley graduate and political activist, and 4) Casey Ohanaja (African) Notre Dame graduate and religious scholar.
MPJP is a civic organization in the making, and it aims to be the voice that will bridge the United States and conflict–torn Muslim nations through formulation of appropriate policy, as well as service through citizen ambassadors and mediators within conflict resolution. MPJP is in a position to provide effective leadership, as it draws on the knowledge and expertise of individuals from various Muslim nations – individuals who are familiar with the political and religious process of several countries.
Please go to amipi.org to get an idea of Ruby Amatulla’s involvement with the government.
The organization seeks seed money in the amount of $50,000. Please visit MPJP.org and support this urgently needed vision, so that we do not lose this great opportunity provided by the Obama administration.
Iffat Z. Khan, MD