​American Muslims: a potential catalyst of change.

​by Ruby Amatalla, ​Executive Director, Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress​, Huffington Post​

In spite of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and, subsequently, his victory, Muslims in America should remain optimistic. His use of the growing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States of America (America) were for a political gain during the election is reminiscent of vicious McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, Senator McCarthy’s ruthless drive in hate and fear mongering against the Communists for political purposes was brought to an end by the discourse with the American public initiated by courageous people like Edward R. Murrow, a broadcast journalist. His words were simple and straight forward: he said “We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine….” He reminded people that fear and prejudice rob the nation of its founding values.

People like Murrow could make such an impact in America because, deep down, the people are tuned to this ‘voice of reason’.

The struggles this nation has gone through during the last 240 years to comply with the ideals that ‘all men are created equal’ with inalienable rights have made this nation enormously successful, resilient and equipped to fight prejudice and bigotry. These struggles — such as the Civil Rights movement, and others— and their successes influenced the world and caused paradigm shifts in our time.

Muslims should remain optimistic in this land. It is expected that this nation would overcome Islamophobia the same way it overcame prejudices against Jews, Chinese, Blacks, and others in the past. Those victims in the past, by remaining constructive players in this society, not only gained their rights and dignity, but also strengthened America along the way, notch by notch.

At this time the challenge is for American Muslims. They need to engage with the society constructively, face difficulties graciously and not let the bigots and hate mongers win. American Muslims should remain calm and feel confident that time is on their side. Their fight is on a higher plane and their weapons are the moral law and the due process of law. If the past is any reference, these are the most effective tools that help transform America.

Even though Muslims are a meager 1% of America (according to the PEW’s estimate) they are the common denominators between this superpower and the Muslim world – 23% of humanity controlling 75% of the oil reserves of the planet — the two interdependent segments of the world that still remain confrontational and engage with each other in counterproductive ways. American Muslims have a historic responsibility.

In America, the overwhelming majority (78%) is Christian and 77% are white. American mainstream people are the movers and shakers in the world if they choose to act. The Donald Trump’s victory is a testament to that fact. The people voted for him mainly to change the status quo in Washington.

It is, therefore, imperative that American Muslims earn the trust and confidence of the American public. The former should go an extra mile to demonstrate their determination to make America safer and better.

A heavy dose of empathy on the part of the American Muslims towards the American people is imperative. Empathy is a powerful moral force, it replaces antagonism and prejudices with understanding and respect. It is counterproductive to complain always about Islamophobia, downplaying the insecurity, uncertainty, and anguish of the American public.

At the same time, a forceful discourse with the American people is long overdue to bring to light the detrimental effects of a long trail of unethical, unjust and counterproductive Western policies towards many Muslim-majority societies. The long-term effects of these counterproductive policies have been enormously costly to the American taxpayers and extremely detrimental and painful in the Muslim world.

The young generation of the Muslim world - 70% is 35 years or younger – are frustrated about the way their rulers and elites collude with that of the Western powers to dominate, oppress and exploit their societies. Their dismay over their bleak future and the disenfranchisement of their people is creating an inferno of anger that is nourishing the breeding grounds of radicalism.

Still, there are reasons to be optimistic in America. The society through its long struggles has demonstrated resiliency, capacity, and collective will to come back on track. The agents of change understanding the underlying force of this great society remained tenaciously engaged with the people to remind them of the founding values and principles of America. The American public, if wisdom prevails, can help bring about a win-win state of affairs in this global society.

Therefore, American Muslims are at the right place to be a catalyst of change in modern time if they play their role effectively as the BRIDGE-BUILDER

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