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A Letter to American Muslim Leaders, Thinkers, Scholars, and Activists

It is imperative to have a collective American Muslim voice on the international affairs and relations particularly with respect to those Muslim majority societies with which America is intensely engaged today.

In our time in order to confront barriers placed by formidable transnational alliances of elites and vested interests there must be direct people-to-people dialogue and engagements. Citizens’ transnational alliances and activism is a must if we need to fight against the forces of injustices and wrong. Wealth and power gravitate towards each other but that concentration in our time is alarming placing formidable road blocks towards justice and common welfare.

Currently there are many non-governmental transnational or international activism but their focus is specific and narrow such as human rights, charity, environment, etc.

However, there is an absolute vacuum of a collective front of such citizens’ and civil societies’ transnational alliances in the following areas:

  1. Intermediaries towards conflict resolution and promoting constructive government-to-government engagements,
  2. Effective and credible watchdogs of government-to-government engagements in general and military engagements in particular those could help raise national and international presence and awareness through their activism.
  3. Powerful alliances of citizens and civil societies to PREEMPT diplomatic moves to contain, marginalize and eventually help stop emerging international conflicts and crises.
  4. Effective alliances to promote diplomacy and dialogue in the international affairs.

This responsibility falls heavily now on the shoulder of American Muslims: they are at a critical place in a critical time in history to help spearhead an international movement promoting constructive engagements, people-to-people alliances, dialogue, diplomacy, mediation, etc. in the affairs involving the Muslim world and the West.

A great failure of our time is the confrontational state between these two most vital camps of humanity who are indispensable to each other. The consequent unfolding events for the last several decades are the tragedy and liabilities of our world victimizing not only the people of these vast segments of humanity but also entire humanity…

God willing this unfortunate state would change and the American Muslims could be instrumental towards that win-win outcome in our time and beyond.

The Western Muslims are the common denominators and who could be better bridge-builders and mediators between these two camps?

This responsibility rests heavily on the shoulder of the American Muslims because they are not only the citizens of the superpower of our time but also the members of the greater Muslim world [“umma”]. They are an extraordinary minority of this most influential nation which offers a powerful due process and a conducive social environment for raising a civil discourse of change from within. If the mindset and the modus operandi of America changes the Muslim world would also change.

As the PEW survey established that 65% of American Muslims were born in foreign lands and therefore they have close ties and better understanding about these societies. They came from more than fifty countries around the world and many of them are the cream of the crop of those lands. As the Pew exposes that they are well-educated and well-established in America. The rest 35% who were born and brought up here in America have deep connections with the society and its modus operandi, many of this group are African Americans who are experienced with another struggle—the Civil Rights movement—here in America to establish their own rights and dignity in this country and this also is a vital group in this cause. This extraordinary combination of predispositions and characteristics make this group a vital group from where a powerful leadership could be propelled up to be a catalyst of change in our time.

America is not only the most influential nation but also the most open and pluralistic society in the world. Moreover it is governed by a self-rule. It is the moral responsibility of the American Muslims to remind this nation to apply the same standard of human rights and dignity to others beyond its borders as it has so struggled so long to uphold for its own people. Otherwise it would lose its true leadership in this intensely interdependent interactive global society.

The amazing course of changes this nation has charted in pursuing the principles and values—equality, liberty and dignity of all people—on which this nation was founded over 200 years ago makes this nation versatile and strong. This nation has increasingly been becoming the most self-reflective, self-critical and self-correcting nation in the world. The true strength of America is its capacity to change, adjust and move ahead.

The problem is this side of America is completely lost and not known in the Muslim world. The vast young generation and the fastest growing segment of the Muslim world—comprising as mush as 70% of it—judges America by its failed policies and involvements mostly under the influences of the vested interests and ignorance.

Even though many Muslim majority societies were victims of such policies particularly during the Cold War, if Muslims fail to understand America better, know its potential for good, and to assess this nation’s true strength—which does not rest on its military power or wealth but its commitments to these ideals—Muslims would do terrible disservice to their own interest, welfare and causes around the world

Without this understanding a constructive engagements and a win-win outcome is not possible.

If the Muslims do not know that at any given time on any given issue neither the American people not its government is monolithic. This is the most open and pluralistic society in the world. Profound changes are possible by working positively through its rule of law. Confrontations help this potential powerful ally drifted apart towards counterproductive behaviors.

This is a moral responsibility of the American Muslims to help promote a better understanding about America among the Muslims of the world to help bring about a win-win outcome. This is the moral calling for the American Muslims to work collectively in this powerful context they are brought to deal with in our time.

American Muslims have a powerful backdrop to initiate this visionary undertaking for peace, justice and progress and a win-win situation for our time and beyond.

To help raise the empowerment and momentum of this movement to be effective it necessitates the legitimacy of a collective voice. Unity does not mean resolving all issues and dissolving all differences of our diverse community. It requires to work together on the basis of commonality and common interests. And we do have serious common interests: the Muslim world desperately needs this voice of vision and this constructive engagement to help raise the speed of economic and social development to overcome its desperate situation and the threatening tendencies of volatility and disintegration. It is our common interest and duty to invalidate extremism, counterproductive activities, terrorism etc. that hold societies hostages and do terrible disservice to their own people by making instability, fear and incessant conflicts formidable barriers towards progress and prosperity. It is our common goal to invalidate the negative stereotypes and ‘Islamophobia’ in the West that are doing terrible disservice to our own standing and causes in the West. It is our moral imperative to invalidate and dissolve these fears and stereotypes against Muslims by becoming a catalyst for peace and progress.

Recently, General Jim Jones has declared that al-Qaeda is defeated and Taliban can be defeated as well. That is well and good. But the main issue is what happens next? Can military build a nation or bring about a long term solution? All prominent US and European generals commented otherwise: they said—one time or another—that it requires diplomatic solution to bring about long term solutions.

A military engagement or war has limited capacity to help stop something but it takes constructive engagements to help build infrastructures, to develop social and economic systems, to promote transformations and to help create a win-win situation.

Is there any American Muslim voice to promote these in the Muslim world?  Have they forgotten that what President Eisenhower warned this nation and the world about the ‘military–industrial complex’? Do they ponder that US military is one thing and this complex is another: it consists of some formidable alliances of powerful elites and vested interests. Do they know how powerful this complex has become since Eisenhower’s time and thanks to the US Congress and Senate for that?

Do they also know that there is even more potential power that exists in America to confront and combat this formidable roadblocks and that is people’s power and citizens collective will? American Muslims, for the sake of the Muslim world and for the sake of the nation they belong, should draw from that enormous potential through their activism and vision.

Therefore, we do need to help raise this collective voice. Let us come together to soul-search and brainstorm. We are inviting your group to have a day’s retreat with MPJP members as brother Zaid Shakir proposed. Sooner is better.

Is it not commanded in the Quran that we put our trust in God in doing difficult work? It is not assured that we make an effort to come to the door before the door opens? We pray for Allah’s Guidance and Mercy and for our wisdom and courage and we hope you all would see the vision to come together to help it succeed.

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