[News] How does it feel to be a Muslim?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 27 11:00:32 EDT 2022

How does it feel to be a Muslim?
Prof. Hatem Bazian - April 26, 2022

Image from iStock <https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/muslim-family>

Events in the Arab and Muslim world direct me back again to W.E.B. Du Bois
and the pressing question in his book, *The Souls of Black Folk*– how does
it feel to be a problem? The question posed by Du Bois in relations to
Black Americans and the problem of race in America and around the world has
not ended and is as intense today as it was at the time he wrote the book.
The problem of race is ever present but constantly ignored or brushed aside
for other more pressing issues. “Why are you so hung-up on race?” was one
comment and Islam is not race so why bring it into conversation? Race and
racism is the canopy that covers every aspect of modernity while everyone
either deny its existence or attempt to obfuscate its impact by pointing to
other factors-sociological, economic, cultural, etc.

The question and comments reflect a very rudimentary understanding of race
and the process of racilization. Yet, the more profound undertone in these
refrains is a real preoccupation with race on those complaining since the
basic contours of the argument is that the status quo is a work in progress
and Blacks (and minorities) should see the glass half-full since real
progress has been made since enslavement time.

A note of caution for those reading further: The Black question is not
similar to any other racial question and borrowing Du Bois’s framing does
not mean to create equivalency between Black experiences with racism and
Muslim predicament in the contemporary era. I do believe and hold the firm
view that the Black experience in the Americas is unique and can’t be
compared to any other group of immigrants, ethnic or religious communities
that are facing racism and discrimination at present. Enslavement, Jim Crow
laws and structural racism toward the Black subject is an class of its own
and should be approached with this lens in mind.

*How Does it Feel to Be Muslim Today?*

Inspired by Du Bois’s framing, I ask a similar question– how does it feel
to be Muslim today? To listen, watch and read news about Muslims is a daily
act bringing with it a process of self-doubt, paiful memories and
devastation. Bombings mosques in Pakistan, non-stop deaths in Iraq, Libya,
Syria, Somalia Mali, and Yemen with no one stoping for a moment of silence,
remembering their names or even counting the numbers. No flags or colors
raised to express solidarity and no sport event takes a moment of silence
for the Muslims. In addition, we are confronted with starvation in
Afghanistan, slow moving genocide, lynchings and assaults in India and
concentration camps for the Uyghur in China, settler colonialism in
Palestine and Kashmir, just to name the well-known events; but countless
others fill the daily news cycle to chip away at ones soul.

How heavy does it feel to be a Muslim today! Muslim women are targeted
daily and face verbal and physical assaults from every racist and
“civilizational” White Supremacist warriors expressing their cowardly
formed masculinity within Western societies. Replacement theorist and Clash
of Civilization “elite” circles pontificate on the threat of the Muslim
subject and the constant atmospheric Islamophobia that penetrate every
facet of the society.

I dread the morning news for it is as sure as the rising sun that the
Muslim subject is everywhere: dead, maimed, bombed and bloody. Muslims are
keeping the Military Industrial Complex, and the journalistic enterprises
afloat by the sheer madness of violence directed at them and monetizing
their collective condition to drive endless profits. No news day is a good
day but these are rare and far between for if it bleeds it leads and daily
the Muslim wound is deepening and gushing profusely. Yes, the eyes of the
world are fixed on the Ukraine but Muslim deaths is so normal that it is
used as a point of comparison: this is not Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

Image taken from TRT

How do you mourn the nameless and faceless when by the time you get to know
what happened to them another group of nameless and faceless Muslims are
killed and maimed! Who are these Muslim subjects? What crimes have they
committed? Why are they reduced to mere numbers and GPS geographic
locations? All of them are beautiful human souls with names, families,
mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters and friends who agonize over the
sudden loss, yet their collective voice is not heard beyond the confines of
the silenced self.

As the day progresses then one is daily confronted with answering questions
about the motive of the murderers and their claim of religious authority
for killing and murdering all types of Muslims. Explaining differences or
similarities between Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Wahabbi, Sufi, Ahmadi, Zaydi,
Ismaili and countless other names becomes a full time job next to ones
daily work schedule. A Muslim has no down time and even among family
members the discussion will get back to the crazy and insane death and
destruction involving distant and not so distant relatives in the Muslim

A Muslim is an injured soul walking numbed from the sheer magnitude of the
suffering and death visited upon cities, towns and places fixed into
his/her cultural and historical memory. The Muslim landscape is ablaze and
with it the collectively held meaning is reduced to ashes and often many
times over. How do you recover and heal from this non-stop and
transgenerational trauma!

Image from Middle
East Eye

Baghdad, the city of a Thousand and One Nights’ fame, has been bleeding
non-stop for forty years and no end in sight for Iraq and its ancient
people: Sunni, Shia, Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Jews and Christians. Damascus,
one of the first continuously inhabited cities of the world, sitting in
ruin and the stench of death and destruction is everywhere and likewise no
end in sight. Syria was bombed by everyone and the largest refugee
population in the world but they are not “worthy victims” to be named,
remembered and invited as “quality immigrants.” The press and political
elites framed Syrian refugees as a threat and constituting a stepping stone
into the Replacement Theory, which resulted in massive human rights
violations, death on the high seas and detention centers and barbed wire
across Europe while the US instituted extreme vetting.

Image from American Magazine

Egypt, the land of Al-Azhar, the Pyramids and papyrus narrating and
recording civilization’s long march and human ingenuity is fracturing at
the seem and its best and brightest are in graves, jails or exile. Kabul
and Afghanistan, the land of Abu Hanifa and the passageway for the Silk
Road, has been at war and focus of Great Game of powers with the dead and
dying are collateral damage to drones of unconsciousness. Libya, Tunisia,
Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali all are close to either a disaster
zone or hanging on a thread away from total collapse.

What should be the answer when the questions about Islam and Muslims are
inside each and every household– and ones own mind? Can I answer my own
questions about all these areas being put into a path of death and
destruction extending from the colonial era and all the way into the
postcolonial! A Muslim today is a problem that has no ready answers and
those coming forward attempting to solve the riddle themselves emerge from
within the same questions and not outside of it. Yes, everyone can point
and site a text to support their actions but it is a matter of
rationalizing a pre-determined course through narrow ideological selections
and readings while leaving behind mountains of evidence demonstrating the
total opposite.

Are Muslims violent, terrorist, barbaric, uncivilized, backward, despotic,
oppressive toward women, irrational, and a death culture celebrating
destruction while suffering deficiency in love, mercy and imagination! The
news and events around the world daily reinforce this lens and I find
myself often reduced to stupefying silence and an inability to explain the
inexplicable even to ones own self. More critically, a cadre of
Orientalist, Zionist and Muslim upwardly and colonially formed political,
economic and Eurocentric “elites” offer “answers” or produce research to
affix the distorted set of questions and problematic framings.

Image from Islam City

What does Islam say or not say is irrelevant when blood and death is the
language and the syntax is stitched together with mayhem, bullets and guns.
Islam is a noun that drives its meaning from an action verb but not the one
contemplated or identified daily in the news, published by Orientalist and
pushed by pro-Israel Hasbara network. The Islam of the news points only to
violent verb that attempts to create a noun without a reality, permanency
or metaphysics attached to it. I don’t know the Islam of the news: the noun
and the verb are masquerading in an Orientalist reality show producing
something akin to a non-stop running of the night of the living dead.

A Muslim today is walking in the midst and living the aftermath of a night
filled with the living dead proclaiming a defense of God while killing Him
at every corner. The names flashing daily on the news are seared into
Muslim consciousness and begin to rewire and frame ones own view of
him/herself as well as the Islam claimed to be represented in such actions.
We must kill you to save you from yourself is the Orientalist and Western
prescription for the Muslim world. We must bomb you with drones so as to
bring “democracy, open marker economy and women’s rights” even though all
will be dead but at least “we sincerely” tried.

Certainly, the need for rethinking monumental issues in Muslim societies
are paramount and will need the best and brightest in this generation and a
few others to put themselves to the task. Muslim societies can no longer
assign religious education to the current postcolonial state or those who
have the lowest achievement while the best and brightest are preoccupied
with the world and race to accumulate more wealth. Current Muslim
postcolonial states and elites are operating within the colonial
epistemological structure and view Islam and Muslimess as a negative
attribute that needs to be extracted so as to “modernize” the society.
Modernization means or is reduced to Westernization, accepting Western
domination and imperialist killing fields.

A new path must b forged by Muslims for Muslims without the West that is
living inside our collective minds. The starting point is re-examination of
our education, which has been Eurocentric, constructed to produce an
inferiority complex and posit the West as the universal norm of the ideal

Thus, an investment in educating ethicists, historians, political
philosophers, economist and religious ethicists in particular is what is
urgently needed. However, these educational enterpirses should not be
rooted in attempting to replicate or reproduce Western epistemology through
a translation or immitation project. Such an effort will make the medicine
be worst than the sickness we are attempting to address.

If ethics, politics, economics and its pursuit are made to be impoverished
then the outcome is what we are witnessing across the Muslim world. The
problem is not uniquely Muslim, rather, it is a structural outcome of
colonization, distorted ‘reform’ agendas, post-colonization, imposed and
never thought-out modernity, privatization benefiting the global north and
current elites ‘leading’ nation-states by brute force — while all along
focused on their own power and wealth over the welfare of their own
populations in partnership with the West and settler colonialism

The challenge of being a Muslim today is both a crisis and an opportunity
in the same moment. For the Muslim task is to imagine the impossible and
set out to actualize it in the eye of the most unforgiving storm — a
material world that dresses Islam, religion and human discourse in an
imperial violent garb. Our task according to the Prophet, “if the end of
the world comes upon you while planting a seed then continue planting,” a
most hopeful message in the midst of the storm. As a Muslim I feel like
planting a seed today for future generations and the best seed according to
the Qur’an is education.
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