Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Do it out of love" by: David C.

My old friend David C. is also a grad student, a Muslim, a historian and has interesting views on just about everything. I enjoy his writings, and wanted to respost one here. From his emailed response, I think it's okay... So, here goes...

Do it out of Love

When I was 18-21 I had a friend name Mike. Mike was what a lot of people would consider to be insane. He put out a zine called “Dixie Phoenix- Illumination in the Southern Tradition” and it tackled such diverse topics as race, religion, punk rock, politics, drug addiction, sexuality, and a whole slew of other things. Mike was about 26-29 when I knew him, and he had had a rough life.

Sometimes when I’m down, or when I find an argument to have with people whose positions I find incredibly hard to understand, it helps me to think about Mike. Mike introduced me to a Hell of a lot, from John Coltrane and Robert Johnson to Sri Ramakrishna and the Qur’an, and he was a person who was always there to listen, to debate, to understand somewhat- even when we disagreed. No doubt he had his problems, and it was precisely because he recognized them that I saw in him a rare person who I could relate to, and who I considered to be my friend.

What started me thinking about Mike was looking on myspace at the profile of a 19-year-old student at my university who is in the ROTC, and who is a history major, like I was as an undergrad (not the ROTC bit). I’ve seen this guy around campus and have often wondered why he is who he is, as I try not to mentally condemn him for the things that I know he does. I don’t even know him in all honesty, and I have to remember that ultimately it is not my right to judge, or even in my ability to condemn, others.

Still, it is a challenge because what he is learning, as a military officer in training, is about the Muslim world, and the “textbooks” that I know at least one of his professors uses are by people like Bernard Lewis- who is precisely the kind of Western non-Muslim who is currently engaged in seeking to “reform” Islam- meaning to reshape the Muslim world to fit into what Western politicians feel would be the best direction for Muslims to take. To me this is obvious, but to him it most likely isn’t, or alternately, he agrees with doing this.

What boggles me the most though, is that there are so many Muslims in the US today that agree with this program to fundamentally alter the Muslim community and shape it into a market economic, representatively democratic, federalist republican system, especially considering that the colonialist inspired and shaped nationalist program of the past has been proven time and again so often to be such a drastic failure in the Muslim world.

Either way, these decisions have been, and are being, made by outsiders- elites- not the people who live and toil, and die and suffer the worst of the effects of this imposed transition, and the warfare that it is taking to achieve such dramatic physical, mental, and spiritual alterations. What can I say, the Germans and the Japanese fought hard in WWII & it took two nukes on the brown ones before they surrendered. How is it that these elites, who would presumably not want their countries to be nuked, can continually play with this fire?

I met one of the candidates for the new Iraqi National Council last year & he told me that if the economy of Iraq is anything like that of Germany or Japan today, then he would gladly have the US military stay in Iraq for 50 years, but that of course the sooner they leave, the better. I’m just wondering how far he is willing to condemn his less fortunate countrymen (and women) to an early death so that he can make a dollar, or riyal, or shekel for that matter.

I mean, following the end of the BIG Gulf War (the one that Americans- at least the ones who think- tend to think of as the Iran-Iraq War) Iraq was on the rebound despite the immense loans they were being pressured to repay (and the theft of their oil by Kuwait). Bush senior even praised them as the “most Westernized” society in the Middle East! Now those dickheads down the street (this is DC) are fucking with the religion of these people!

Which brings me back to Mike- he was the second person I had ever met that had been “converted” to Islam (i.e., not raised Muslim). Where he really threw me for a loop though, was when he stopped talking to me because he considered me to be too full of hatred for him to be around. It was right after I had gotten back from my second trip to Europe, where I had paid a visit for a week (out of three months of travel) with a German friend of mine who had reverted (in Islam all are born Muslim, so converts technically speaking should be considered “reverts”). I remember not really understanding why it was that Mike didn’t want to talk to me, but I can imagine that he had his own struggle to get through at the time, and now I would have to say that my negativity must have been something of an unwanted challenge for him. God knows best!

Still, I also remember how important a concept that love was to him, and perhaps I have completely missed the fact that when he spoke to me, that he was trying to relate something altogether different than anything that I had previously comprehended at that time. Once again, Allahualam!

I guess that I write this now because its been about 9 years that I have been asking myself why our friendship ended, and having myself reverted to Islam, am remembering the ones who I feel helped influence that decision. Mikhail, if you ever read this, I wish the Peace and Blessings of Allah to be upon you.

And above, I express what may at fist glance appear to be hatred for a specific ideology, people, or program, but this again reminds me of something the Mike once wrote. Though maybe he was then (and I am now) paraphrasing, but I firmly believe that “Whatever you do, do it out of Love.” Which means that ultimately ONLY God knows, and that no matter what I feel about the damage that politicians or corporations, or the person next to me, does that we will all be judged by Allah one day, and I had better be sure that whatever I do is done out of Love.

I do not even know what the fruit of my actions will be- whether I sit back and watch TV, or block a bridge or street in protest, or pull the trigger on a weapon, or even just write about any of this. I do know that my heart isn’t really in to what I am studying anymore- even though I really do like what I’m learning. I guess that I don’t really like what it is that I feel like I’m becoming- an academic.

I don’t want to be an academic, but I don’t want to be broke all the time, but I don’t want to break my back 40-60 hours a week, but I don’t want to risk jail all the time to survive…among other things. If anyone knows of a job where I can make enough $ to support myself & use my brain and my back at the same time, and that doesn’t fuck over too many people (or if I must, preferably the right ones)- send a letter would ya?

Asalaamualaikum! Eid Mubarak!


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