American Political Scene and Muslim Americans
by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
This is written in response to questions asked of me regarding Muslim participation in the political system of the United States. Immigrant Muslims at large remain uninformed about the political structure and mechanisms and as a result, they shy away from participation. The Muslim population in the U.S. is estimated to be between six to seven million individuals. That figure translates into approximately four million eligible voters. A recent survey published by Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), dated October 18, 2000 indicates that 40% of the Muslims are leaning towards George W. Bush, 26% towards Ralph Nader (or the fourth party candidate) and 24% towards Al Gore. In a straw poll conducted during a Muslim leadership meeting in Chicago on October 17, 2000, an audience of two-hundred persons responded as follows: 69% were for Bush, 12% for Gore and 16% for a third or fourth party candidate. This author thought that a comprehensive but brief article might contribute to the political education of the American Muslims.
Secularism: The United States of America, commonly dubbed as "America", is a secular country like most of the West. Secularism, in reality, is rooted in rejection or rather, banishment of religion from the political, economic, and social life of the country and its people. Secularism tries to minimize the impact of religion even on family life by the use of legal interference, the media, entertainment, social pressures and, if possible, the welfare system of the government. The "Great Society" program of Lyndon Johnson was a disastrous innovation that used government money to move people away from the religious dictates of morality, marriage and divorce. Bill Clinton is a big hero, worthy of the Nobel Prize, for he made adultery an acceptable triviality. He will not receive a Nobel for adultery but they may give it to him under some other pretext; but adultery, as an acceptable norm, is his greatest contribution to secularism.
Branches of Secularism: Secularism has two branches: (a) Secular Humanism, and (b) Secular Nationalism. Both types of secularism have opposite impacts on the lives of people, not just American, but worldwide.
Secular humanism appears to be concerned with the welfare of humanity at large. The policies of secular humanists are designed to benefit mankind, in general. A humanist thinks that what is good for the world is good for his people in his country. If mankind, in general, benefits, it will benefit his people eventually, directly or indirectly. Naturally, such policies dictate open trade without tariff barriers and open migration (immigration) of the people across the borders with the fewest possible restrictions on foreign import of products and services.
Secular nationalism appears to be concerned with a nation and its people - their benefit first. Policies of secular humanists are designed to benefit a people living within a political national boundary. A nationalist thinks that what is good for his people is his priority even if it is at the expense of people living in other countries. Naturally, such policies dictate closed borders with very limited and restricted migration (immigration) and high tariff barriers on imports of foreign products and services.
Muslims in America must learn to thrive under secularism, use the tools of secular democracy, but not abuse them in order to bring Allah's sovereignty in the lives of Muslims and demolish all opposition to it. This will be possible only when Muslims have a good understanding of the system and know the ways to use it. Let us examine the two major political parties in light of these two branches of secularism.
The Democratic Party has all the attributes of secular nationalists. This party always tries to put barriers on foreign imports and place as many obstacles as possible in the way of immigration. The worst immigration law amendments were passed in 1996 by the Democrats, including the Secret Evidence Law designed against the Muslims. Democrats are very protective of the American labor unions and see immigration as a threat to the power of labor unions. In addition, Democrats see foreign imports as a threat to the jobs of American labor union members. On the other hand, to further their national interest, Democrats put pressure on other countries to have open trade policies towards American products irrespective of how it may impede the progress of target countries. Democrats may grudgingly allow the immigration of the best and the brightest from foreign countries but will impede the immigration of labor possessing ordinary skill levels.
The Republican Party has all the attributes of secular humanists. This party fights to keep foreign trade open and keep borders open for immigration. It is, therefore, natural that Republicans are unpopular among organized labor. There are a few politicians on each side who do not agree on some issues and vote with the other side. This party is not anti-labor but it does not desire to give too much power to labor because it will undermine efficiency, increasing the cost of production. From the Republican point of view, as this author understands it, foreign labor brings competition and efficiency, lowering the cost of production. When the efficiency of labor increases, cost of production decreases, benefiting domestic and foreign consumers and bringing more dollars to America through increased exports. Increased export always translates into more jobs.
Policies on Select Issues. There are a variety of issues which these parties view differently and for which they put forth different solutions.
Welfare: Democrats on this issue appear to be more humanitarian than Republicans. However, this appearance is superficial. Democrats created a welfare system to use as a tool to promote atheism and agnosticism by promoting immorality and irreligious lifestyles. For example, the government is paying more money to two unmarried individuals separately under welfare than what they would receive as a family, if they were married. Then, there is the famous marriage tax as part of the Federal income tax code, which requires that a married couple pay more income tax when filing jointly than when filing separately with the same income, creating an incentive for shacking up. Single mothers who have given birth to children out of wedlock that receive welfare checks are not questioned about marriage or about the father of the child. Therefore, the government is involved in subsidizing the performance of anti-religious activity, which in this case is living in fornication and adultery, thus rewarding this behavior. Islam supports a welfare system without promoting indecency, sin, transgression, injustice, begging, laziness, and parasitism.
Republicans see all these wrongs but cannot talk of the real evils of the welfare system because it will appear that they are in support of religion and religious values - the greatest sin under secularism. Rejection of God and the divine values given by Him is a necessary condition to be a secular person. Accordingly, all Christian and Jewish clergy who support secular values or a valueless society look like hypocrites. The Republican Party, therefore, has taken a stand against all the evils created by the welfare system of the Democrats. However, the Republicans have not been able to present their ideas in a coherent way without looking hard-hearted. A good welfare system is supported by Islam but its use to promote immorality is not condoned. In this area Muslims may support the Republicans in reforming the welfare system so that it becomes a tool for bringing decency, God-consciousness and morality in the society.
Women's Rights on their own Bodies: This is the issue of abortion hotly supported by Democrats. This is the most blatant disobedience of God. All religions in the world value the sanctity of the life of the fetus. Secularists want to strike hard on that value and Democrats are the most committed Fundamentalist Secularists. Republicans have some religiosity left in them and desire to remove senseless abortion from the society. Islam teaches against abortion. Any exception may be judged on case by case basis and no generalization can be spelled out here. Women have a right to control their own bodies with regard to engaging in sexual intercourse as well as a choice to live in cohabitation or not. This lifestyle is a choice because God has given humanity free will. Once women have agreed to have intercourse they have given up their rights in favor of God and must suffer or enjoy the consequences. It is like agreeing to a surgery: when you allow the administration of anesthesia, you have given up your rights on your body in favor of the surgeon.
Homosexuality: This is another hot issue for the Democrats, another laugh at God, implying that He can keep His commandments to Himself. Republicans have been pushed into a corner to give lukewarm support to some of the homosexual (heterophobe) causes. If Republicans were assured of help in the elections, they would take a better stand against homosexuality (my term is heterophobia, a fear of the opposite gender). Heterophobes are less than 1% of the population but they enjoy wide support because of the successes gained by anti-religion forces who want to mock at religious values.
School Vouchers: Secular Fundamentalists have worked hard for decades to remove any traces of divine moral values from the public school system through one court case after another. They want to raise generations of people without any divine moral values. Religious (parochial) schools have been bringing out school graduates inculcated with some moral values and that hurts the Democrats. Now, Republicans want to give school vouchers, a return of the taxpayer's money, for the education of moral values. If Republicans succeed, secularists see their defeat because they will never be able to eliminate the teachings of divine moral values; their three hundred years of work will go down the drain (and it should). Anti-Islam forces are particularly afraid of Islamic schools, which will gain government support through school vouchers, but they cannot talk openly against Islamic schools without looking like bigots. It appears that Republicans are in support of religious schools and the teaching of divine morality; indeed therein lies the solution of crime and valueless norms in contemporary society worldwide.
School Prayer: School prayer is a wonderful thing that instills a reminder of God and accountability to Him in young people. Secular Fundamentalists, represented by Democrats, see this as a threat to their movement to get rid of religion from the society. They are out to banish God from every aspect of human life. Republicans see this as a right of the people to practice in the schools. Muslim students would not like to sing Christian hymns but they would surely like to gather in a room and recite Surat al-Fatiha before going to the classroom in the morning. This is their right and they should have it.
Entertainment Industry: Secular forces have used movies, TV, and music to the fullest extent to remove religiosity from the society. Democrats are very pleased with the results and they continue to support the entertainment industry unobtrusively. They object to violence but not when immorality, homosexuality, fornication, pornography, and adultery are promoted. In fact, Democrats are rewarded by members of the entertainment industry through generous donations to politicians who support them. The entertainment industry culture has no room for religiosity and those who may like to remain strictly religious may not get the top roles. Republicans would like to reform the industry but they also do not have an agenda. This is a weak side of the Republicans.
Taxes: Secular Fundamentalists want to control people's lives from the cradle to the grave through taxation and a huge welfare system. Democrats are standard bearers of secularism in this area. Here lies the contrast between Democrats and Republicans. Republican policy is to minimize taxation, minimize the size of the government, and let people decide for themselves. If there is a good school system where divine morality is taught whereby the people will respect themselves and other people's lives and property, then all can live happily. When people behave responsibly there is no need for a large police force or a large government. This would be compatible with Islamic teachings. A just tax system is extremely important for justice and equity in society.
The tax cutting formula of Gore is extremely complicated and impractical. The Bush formula is simple and it is fair to return the taxes to those who paid them. However, Islam teaches to take money from the rich and give it to the poor. This means that the return of taxes cannot be equal but tilted in favor of the poor members of the society. American Muslims can contribute to this country by bringing the Islamic system of taxation to light. According to Islamic teachings, the national debt must be paid and the nation must be relieved of interest payments, which is amounting to almost one-third of the national budget. The Republican side should know Muslim concerns in this area.
Environment: Democrats, being secular nationalists, desire to do what is good for America even if it is at the expense of other countries. They do not want more drilling for gas and oil in the U.S. because they want to preserve underground resources until everybody else in the world runs out. The Americans would then be able to control the world energy source by providing it at the highest prices. Republicans see the problem differently. Republicans see that in time, alternate renewable energy sources will be developed and underground oil and gas sources will be virtually worthless. Therefore, they would like to allow entrepreneurs to make some money now. Other environmental issues like saving birds, animals, and forests are not really contested issues. Air pollution is contested but there is extremism on both sides.
Racism and Bigotry: This is a very sensitive issue to many. Four hundred years of abuse cannot be eliminated easily nor treated in one or two generations in the absence of divine teachings. Islam offers total equality among all people irrespective of race, color, country of birth, gender, and religion. Racists are found in both parties but the perception is that Republicans have more racists among them than the Democrats. Thanks to the contribution of Islam, racism is on its way out. The Republican Party is feeling pressures of the race issue and is reforming itself. Some recent examples of this change in attitude have been seen in Governor Bush's public support for the revocation of the Secret Evidence Law as well as his more moderate stance in wanting to establish friendly ties to Middle Eastern countries. In addition, Bush has lined up members of the minorities for appointments should he win this election. If he wins with the help of Muslims they would surely gain some appointments and that will be a step forward.
Religious Right: This is a code word for the rise of Christian Fundamentalism in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. It appears very suspicious that the rise of Zionism coincides with the rise of Christian Fundamentalism. Is it possible that Zionism is the mother and Christianity is the father of the Christian Fundamentalist movement that made it more Zionist than the Jewish Zionists themselves? The Religious Right is led by the Zionist demagogues of "Born Again" Christians and Evangelicals like Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and his son. The Republican Party has become a hostage of the Religious Right by default. Until and unless Republicans widen their base they will remain hostages of the Religious Right. Muslims may be able to play a role in freeing the Republican Party from their clutches.
Although the Religious Right is committed to Zionism, Muslims do have a lot in common with them. On the issues of abortion, heterophobia (homosexuality), school vouchers, moral values, abortion, school prayer, pornography, and a valueless entertainment industry, Muslims can see eye to eye with them and agree on most of these issues. Using the Qur'anic teachings of cooperating in the good and God-consciousness, Muslims should develop bridges to the Religious Right. Christian Fundamentalists are some of the most self-righteous, arrogant people in the world and it is not easy to speak with them. They only want to talk you down and do not want to listen to anyone else. From their point of view, no one is right but them. Many active Muslims, including this writer, have had a lot of interaction with Christian Fundamentalists. Therefore, I speak based on experience.
Supreme Court: The President nominates and the Senate confirms appointments to the Supreme Court. These are the Grand Muftis of Secularism. If these people have some religious values, they would be expected to uphold religious values in the society. If these people are committed Secular Fundamentalists, they will throw out any vestiges of religious morality from the society. It is, therefore, necessary to nominate such people who respect religion and moral value systems. Democrats are going to nominate persons who have no respect for religion and who will disregard all divine value systems. Republicans, on the other hand, will look for persons who will respect religious values in the society. The American Constitution speaks against government sponsorship of a religion but it is not anti-religion. Secular Fundamentalist justices of the Supreme Court have interpreted a religion-neutral constitution into an anti-religion document. It is never too late to reverse interpretations of the constitution and make it again religion-neutral. The next president will play a key role in this area. Gore is expected to appoint justices who will be more anti-religion whereas Bush is expected to nominate justices who will be religion-neutral.
Israel: In the early 1970s the Israeli government passed a resolution not to allow any Arab (Muslim majority) country or their combination thereof to become stronger than Israel. This resolution was immediately adopted as drawn by the Democratic Party. A few years later the Republican Party also adopted a weaker version of the same resolution. What we learn is that both major political parties of the U.S. are not only committed to keeping Israel strong but keeping Muslim countries individually and jointly weaker than Israel. By "weaker", they mean not just militarily but also politically, economically, educationally, technologically, and every other way possible. This explains why the American CIA is very active in supporting dictatorships in the Muslim world and in preventing the formation of people-supported government, commonly known as democracy. If a people-supported government (democracy) comes into power in the Muslim countries or if there is any possibility of such a government being established, the CIA either interferes and turns the tables or attempts reverse the situation so that a dictatorship as a client or a puppet of the West comes into power. The CIA's covert policy toward Muslim-majority countries is in direct contradiction to the renowned public rhetoric spewed by the U.S. government around the world. This point is made to uncover their hypocrisy and not to state that Islam endorses Western-style democracy. The term democracy may be used in two ways: (a) Democracy as an ideology, meaning that the sovereignty belongs to man, which is rejected by Islam, and (b) Democracy as a methodology to bring a people-elected government to run the affairs of the state under the sovereignty of Allah, which in accordance with Islam.
In the current situation Al Gore is totally and very happily in the pocket of Israel; he sees nothing else. George W. Bush, under the pressure of the Religious Right, must support Israel blindly, whether he likes it or not. However, he is trying to stick his head out of the pocket of Israel and is looking around for alternatives. Here is one party: Al Gore and his father, former Senator Al Gore Sr., have lifelong histories of anti-Islam, anti-Arab activism in support of Israel. Al Gore was groomed in the pocket of Israel. The other party: George W. Bush is a businessman turned politician. He is the son of former President George H. Bush, who was hated by the Zionists due to his lukewarm support of Israel. The Zionists engineered the failure of George H. Bush's bid for the second term of the presidency in 1992. It is ironic that in 1992 Zionists and Muslims voted on the same side, that is, for Clinton. It is hard for Muslims to forget the destruction of a Muslim-majority nation, Iraq, and ruin of the economies of many others by the hand of a Bush. Muslim Americans must choose in the year 2000 the lesser of the two evils. This choice should not be based on the emotion of hate for George H. Bush, the former president, but on pragmatism. The son does not carry burdens of his father nor does the father carry the burdens of his son. In a separate article I will try to clarify the politics and economics of the Gulf war.
Foreign Policy: With respect to Muslim-majority countries both parties are evil and both candidates are evil. However, Gore is expected to rigorously implement the Israeli resolution of keeping the Muslim countries weak. We will see a lot more political instability, economic regression, and increasing backwardness through terrorism (almost all terrorism in the Muslim world is inspired, technically directed, and funded by the CIA and Israeli Mossad; sometimes joined by Indian espionage agencies). If Gore is elected President, we will see that under puppet dictators in the Muslim countries, there will be even more killing, more jailing, more torture, and more repression of Muslims. Under Gore there is no hope of forming a people-supported government in any of the Muslim countries. Whereas with Bush as President, Muslims may expect a little less of everything because he is not a hard-core, committed, anti-Islam person although he will probably do some evil to please his constituency of the Religious Right. In a tightly contested election, if Muslims support Bush and if he wins, he will have to think twice before harming Muslims at home or abroad. Muslims have a duty to come up with a vision and a long-term strategy to change the political environment in this country.
How do you make a choice? It is recommended that every Muslim American not make an individual choice but rather to leave it to politically-educated leaders. The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC) has been formed and is composed of AMC, CAIR, AMPAC, MPAC, AMA, UMAA, and other political organizations of Muslims. Dr. Agha Saeed, Professor of Political Science in Berkley, California, and Founder/President of the AMA, has been elected as its Chairman. All members of this council are mature, very well-educated, sincere Muslims. This council has surveyed Muslim opinion about the choice of a candidate and entered into negotiation with candidates for the benefit of the Muslims worldwide. On October 23, 2000, the AMPCC will announce its recommendation in a press conference in Washington, D.C.
How to vote? Muslim Americans must vote as a block following the recommendation of the AMPCC. If the Muslims cast a block vote you can be sure that two years and four years from now, candidates will seek us out and will ask us what they can do for us in order to get our vote. By this path Muslims have the potential of gaining more power than the one currently enjoyed by the Zionists. For more on this point see this author's article CAMPAIGN 2000 on www.iiie.net. This and more articles will be posted on this web site soon, Insha-Allah.
Are Muslims allowed to participate politically under secularism? The answer is a very emphatic YES. See the the article A Case For Muslim Political Participation. The Prophet (S) instructed us to help a transgressor as well the one who is transgressed. How does one help a transgressor? One helps the transgressor by holding his hand from transgression. Antagonism, war, and fighting are not always the solutions. We know that Islam means peace. If friendship and mutual understanding can solve our problems, let us try them first. Unless we are close to a transgressor, we will not be able to hold his hand from transgression. Muslims need not beg: Muslims are beginning to gain some power, which they must learn to use constructively with far-sighted vision.
It is a Sunnah of the Prophet (S) to get involved to eliminate oppression, injustice, and inequity and replace it with opportunity, justice, and equity. If we do not get involved, we will convey the message that we do not care and we are allowing the powers of oppression to be loose. Let us take the lead from the AMPAC, MPAC, AMC, CAIR, UMAA, and AMPCC and follow it for the benefit of us all. Isn't it wonderful that all these politically-oriented organizations of Muslims have united under the AMPCC? We cry out for unity but when the opportunity arises we go in different ways. Let us shed our personal emotions, our whims, and submit our wisdom to the decision of our collective leadership, at least in one area. Let it be a beginning of unity of the Ummah in U.S. Are you going to be a part of the solution or part of the problem? You, only you, must decide and seek help from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
For more information see another article related to the same theme by the same author, titled, "THE DREAM OF ANTI-ISLAM FORCES". After reading this article ask yourself:
This is not an endorsement of any candidate but a personal analysis, from one Muslim's point of view, of the philosophies of the two major political parties and their candidates in the U.S. It is recommended that all Muslims follow the recommendation of AMPCC and her component organizations.