Mohamed Khodr’s Column
As a Muslim, I ask your indulgence if my version of history and understanding of human nature is viewed from my belief, Islam. I ask those of other faiths and of no faith to understand that I cannot disassociate myself from God, my Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and from the my scripture, the Holy Qur’an, and the Hadiths (the teachings and practices of the Prophet) in my very existence and outlook at life. I am grateful for your such indulgence and understanding.
From the beginning of humanity’s journey on earth with the creation of Adam and Eve there was love, peace, and eternal happiness in God’s paradise. Our most merciful God created humanity and provided us with the bounties and blessings of heaven and earth to sustain us. But God also blessed us with intelligence, a thinking, analytical and curious mind, but more importantly He endowed us with free will and the freedom to make choices. God did not want robotic slaves but sought humanity’s intelligence and thirst for knowledge and answers to lead mankind to make the right and righteous path that leads to peace and salvation on this earth and in the afterlife. He repeatedly sent His prophets, messengers and scriptures to provide the guidance of light, love, mercy, and salvation toward the straight path to His eternal love and compassion to his created beings. Yet, from the beginning of time, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, taught us that we as a race are capable of evil, capable of wrong choices, capable of turning our backs to God’s mercy, capable of hate and prejudice, capable of abandoning eternal life for the immediacy of worldly gains and pleasures, capable of inhumanity toward humanity. Yet from the beginning of time till the end of time, God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness was always present and given through the acts of prayer, repentance, and the simple act of asking.
In Genesis we find the profound question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Different civilizations, races, and individuals have by omission or commission answered this historical question affirmatively or negatively reaping blessings or consequences respectively. . Islam emphatically answers this question with YES, we are all responsible for each other: we are responsible for ourselves as individuals in the sight of God, we are responsible for our families, our neighbors, our community, our country, and our world. As creations of the One God, as descendents from the same parents, Adam and Eve, we are genetically 99.9% similar in our characteristics endowed with the will and power to make choices, thus it’s only logical that human nature throughout history, in time and space, is similar regardless of race, ethnicity, location, wealth, education, or faith and no faith. Denying our origin, our historical heredity, our brief journey in life and equality in death, allows the ignorance of thought and emotion to surface that somehow one person or group is superior to the “other”. We superficially elevate our worth by stepping on the humanity of the “other”. Such has been history, such has been racism, such has been prejudice and inequality of human worth prevalent in every nation, every race, every faith throughout time, and such will remain to the end of time. Why? In my opinion because humanity decides on the greed of life and not the afterlife. Every Prophet, Messenger, human and peace activist abandoned the greed of the world and sought the substance and worth of life through a higher calling. Tragically these are singular voices in their time who suffered for their purpose and usually loved after their death.
I write this as an introduction to recent events and in our too human search for cause, effect, and blame. In these times the questions of “hate”, “why”, “finger pointing”, “clash of religions/civilizations” abound. Let me begin by asking this question: Which civilization or region of the world suffers from the following political, economic, social, educational, mental, military, environmental drawbacks, Religious Fundamentalism and Terrorism?
1. Political Drawback: People in this region are apathetic and disinterested in political affairs feeling a sense of helplessness to affect political change. Politically this region is not responsive to its population but to the few, rich, powerful individuals and groups who through money, power, and propaganda affect domestic and foreign policy. Those who own the media exert an enormous impact on public opinion and policy. The vast majority of the people in this region are not only unaware of policies but usually can’t even name their political leaders. However, in this region, people do become involved when politics affect them directly such as increases in taxes and commodity prices.
2. Economic Drawback: In this region, wealth is concentrated in a few hands while the majority of the population struggles to make ends meet. The population’s main focus is income, economic gain, purchase power, especially of the latest fashions, gadgets. They will buy the latest expensive sneakers and cell phones before they consider saving money for their children’s health and education.
3. Social Drawback: In this region social dynamism is changing rapidly whereby television, movies, music, satellites, and pop culture are displacing the authority and respect of religion, parents, morality, schools, and governmental authority. Rebellion against any form of authority is the mantra of young people and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex is becoming the norm. Moral norms are weakening rapidly. Violence is becoming the norm to settle disputes such as wearing the wrong colors of gangs and tribes, being of the wrong color, race, or religion, need to steal “things”, settling accounts, revenge, marital disputes, blackmail or extortion or due to drug and alcohol related violence. Ownership of weapons is rapidly spreading across this region.
4. Educational Drawback: In this region despite the political rhetoric education is being undermined due to lack of funding, availability and training of teachers, outdated books, crowded classrooms and decrepit schools, lack of parental involvement, weapons and violence in schools, teachers fearing students, poor or no curricula on world affairs, religions, and cultures, lack of art, music, and good physical education and health programs, lack of teaching on painful historical truths such as ethnic cleansing, slavery, holocausts, world conflicts, and media awareness; children in the afternoon lacking parental supervision due to work or parental disinterest and social gatherings.
5. Mental Breakdown: In this region, mental health is not a policy priority that is still under–funded, misunderstood and stigmatized. Due to breakdown in families, religious affiliation and attendance at places of worship especially by young people, with a concomitant increase and devotion to television and self entertainment programs there is a large prevalence of isolation, loneliness, fear, depression, and decreasing social contact. People are suffering mentally in self imposed exile while working in enclosed niches such as cubicles in buildings without windows, in cars, locked in their homes with only television, computers, phones, and emails becoming the major source of social communication. Such isolation, lack of interaction, and limited information exposure leads to “Fear and Prejudice” toward the “other”. “Fear of Strangers” is quickly becoming the safe haven and comfort for our psyches.
6. Military Breakdown: In this region the highest political priority and greatest budgetary expenditure is on the military. Accumulating weapons is now the sole path to peace, security, deterrence, and intimidation of the “other” when in fact it historically weapons and large armies have never protected any nation, civilization or empire from collapsing. Money for guns means less money for education, health, and economic development and jobs.
7. Environmental Breakdown: In this region economic development supersedes environmental protection. More bombs, more factories, more cars, mean environmental degradation to water, air, food, and the ozone layer. As individuals in homes and as consumers we pollute with ignorance and arrogance. NOT IN MY BACKYARD is an international crusade against the environment. Someone else now or in the future will deal with this problem. Leaders of this region give lip service to the environment but don’t sign international agreements if it affects their own nations, economies, companies and rich donors. The ozone layer depletion is a myth of “liberal anti-growth leftists”. Scientific study of the environmental impact of chemicals, new factories, homes etc. is spotty or totally lacking.
8. Religious Fundamentalism and Terrorism: This region has several millions who consider themselves Religious Fundamentalists. This region has committed several acts of terrorism and has been the recipient of acts of terrorism domestically and from abroad.
Is this region the United States? Europe? Asia? Africa? Latin America? China? India? Pakistan? Australia? Yemen? Ethiopia? Afghanistan? Israel? Muslim world?
The answer: IT’S ALL OF THEM, IT’S ALL OF US, IT’S THE MAJORITY OF HUMANITY. The greatest irony and danger in our present world is that despite our claim that we are living in the Information Age, the Superhighway, the alleged age of “Globalization” (which basically means the rich west wants to infiltrate, dominate, and sell to the poor south while simultaneously hiring its poor dark youths for pennies with careless disregard to their health, economy, education, and environment), Instant Messaging, Satellites, Cell phones, and all the modern modems of communication, nations and peoples are more ignorant of each other than at any time in our modern history.
There is the rub that can lead to the “clash of religion/civilizations”. Americans and Muslims are unaware of each other’s cultures, politics, and faiths. While Americans are unaware of world events (even domestic issues), the American government has become the new “colonial” superpower that dominates world opinion and institutions not by military occupation but by economic blackmail and intimidation with total disregard to the poor billions living in the third world. As long as our government can ensure the support of a puppet dictatorship, damn the masses. With such corrupt dictatorships the Muslim world is denied democracy, freedom of speech and travel, a decent education and housing, and the minimum of health care. Religious fervor to the only institution remaining to these masses, Islam, becomes the safe haven, but it is a devotion without guidance, education, and understanding to the faith, thus the susceptibility to religious inspired political agendas.
Our government’s, not the American people (despite polls showing their support due to media indoctrination and lies), singular devotion to Israel, one nation, a nation that is militarily occupying and killing Palestinians for the past 34 years in arrogant defiance of the world and 90 U.N. Resolutions using American tax dollars and weapons at the expense of 56 Muslim nations with 1.4 billion people thirsting for freedom and liberty to join the economic benefits of the modern world is an affront to humanity, morality, and fairness of doctrine. Ironically, if America ever develops the political will to bring a just peace to Israel and the Palestinians, Israel, America, and the Muslim world, in fact all of humanity wins.
Terrorism and Religious Fundamentalism is a worldwide phenomena. Not even America is immune to such modern shackles. The first acts of terrorism from car bombs, airplane hijackings and shooting down of a civilian airline were committed by Israel.
The single barrier to both America and the Muslim world to reach out to each other with respect, dignity, peace, and understanding is their mutual media, domestic politics in both regions from our bought and paid for politicians to their dictators, to the military industrial complex that makes billions from selling weapons of mass destruction. America should be in the business of selling “weapons of mass hope and help” to the world as that is our blessed destiny.
Will Americans educate themselves about American politics, foreign policy, media bias, and the Muslim world taking advantage of the freedoms we enjoy that Muslims around the world don’t have? Will we then become activists for humanity and call, write, and lobby our Congress, our media, and Hollywood to respect world faiths, cultures, and religions and to reach out in peace to the Muslim world that honors and reveres Moses and Jesus?
I pray we do before the few powerful lobbies in both our world and theirs push us into a wider catastrophic war beyond Afghanistan and we truly end our world. Muslims want peace and security just as much as the Americans and Israeli’s, but we’ve got to overcomes the obstacles of ignorance, arrogance, self anointed superiority, and the Jewish American lobby and dominated media. As Americans we must never forget the terrorism of September 11 and we must prosecute the perpetrators, but we also must think about our future at home and abroad and do everything possible to prevent future acts of terrorism here or abroad. Thus the need to know the factors that led suicide bombers to kill themselves and 6000 Americans. Why didn’t they attack Australia, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Chile, South Africa; why just America? It’s time to abandon our parroting trust and phrases of the media and Congress and do our own thinking. For God’s sake American lives died and we will be at continued risk. The truth about our government and media’s role in all of this will set us free.
God bless the world and each of you who will pick up a phone or a pen.
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.