I am not a Muslim
, but I am an American who understands the incredibly promising and exciting future that is possible for American Muslims. Many of my fellow Americans probably consider the mosque like the one in this story to be an aberration
in American Islam. Based on the reading I've managed to do1
, it is far more typical than not. These mosques consider themselves to be firmly in the mainstream of American Islam; notables from mosques like these have been invited by President Bush to the White House
. They are American Islam's fastest growing segment
. Mosques like these consider themselves moderate compared to the rest of Islam, apparently because they've condescend
ed to use the pulpit or the ballot box, rather than the sword, to spread these practices in America. Quite simply, they have no problem with the Constitution
, provided it is ammeded to conform to Islam
Excommunication From the Mosque?
They want to ban my daughter from the Islamic center I helped found 23 years ago.
By Zafar Nomani
"I am the patriarchy that feminists discuss in women’s studies courses. I am the status quo. I am the old guard...But now I stand strong beside my daughter as the leaders of our mosque put her on trial to ban her from the mosque. The mosque management committee has informed my daughter that 35 members of the congregation have signed a petition to “expel” her from the mosque for “actions and practices that are disruptive to prayer, worship and attendance” at the Islamic Center of Morgantown and “actions and practices that were harmful to the members of our community.” Her crime: speaking out against gender inequity, hate and intolerance at our mosque. This kind of retribution is unprecedented in my lifetime of working within the Muslim community, but it is emblematic of the way that extremists and traditionalists try to squash dissent within the Muslim world."
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/148/story_14849_1.html. Accessed July 24, 2004.
The woman's father shares his mingled awe and love of a daughter he'd come to see with new eyes, and his grief that he'd been so long in recognizing the wrongs he'd permitted her to suffer. At one point, the father tells of breaking into tears in front of his longtime colleagues on the mosque's Board of Trustees.
“Have mercy on me,” I pleaded. “My daughter has returned to Islam. Welcome her.”
They were untouched. “Everything will be okay for you,” they tried to reassure me. Ibid.
You see, his daughter had traveled to all the major centers of religion in the world in search of herself. Finally, she'd followed the Haj to Mecca, and come to understand that Islam is her spiritual home. Yet to his colleagues, she was simply not an issue. I wonder if she might not have been invisible to them, or a object in the shape of a woman so broken as to be thrown away without thought. They seem more concerned about the mental health of the father, particularly why he was becoming so agitated at what ought to be a non-event, the excommunication of his daughter for her dangerous, Western ideas.
The next time you read a college textbook or newspaper article's poignant morality tale of, say, an American Christian fundamentalist church that clings to outdated doctrines or practices, just to spite (or so the standard script seems to imply) our brave, new, secular society that but for "them" would already have ended the dominant patriarchy, remember this story.
This woman's struggle is, literally and figuratively, the struggle we all must face in the worldwide war of ideas which we must win, but in which we still haven't fully acknowledged. It is the struggle in which all of us, of all major American religions or political persuasions, are on the same side. The differences in our customs, mores, and conduct of our everyday lives as Americans are as nothing compared to the differences between Islam and the Islamists.
This simple story of a father's love for his independent, educated daughter, is far more real and meaningful that all the rallies, protests, policies, campaigns, laws, and court decisions we pretend to care so much about in this most political of seasons.
Take a moment. Help this woman. Help her father. Help find a way for Islam to defeat the Islamists.
1. Where do I get my information? Why do I assert all this? For starters, try http://www.danielpipes.com/
and go from there. No, Pipes
is not a hatemonger; his enemies seem willing to do and say anything to avoid genuine debate with him; his honest opponents find him engaging, if a bit stark in tone and stubborn in his conclusions. I disagree with some of his positions, but as far as I can tell his research is excellent and his commitment to ethical scholarship is strong.
And let the downvoting begin.