Are Muslims Headed for A New Post-9/11 World?
by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
They say that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. I’m old enough to remember the state of the Muslim community in the US in the years leading up to 9/11. Tough talk from the pulpit challenging American and Western supremacy was par for the course. I often listened to many of my elders—former black panthers—fascinated with guns, security mindedness, and physical training, speak of the importance of being ready for “…when the Jihad starts.” Of course, the “jihad” was a carryover from their panther pre-conversion dreams of “the revolution.” “Kāfir” was default for “white man.” The common refrain among black converts and mosque-goers who immigrated from Muslim lands was that voting and political participation were haram since it would give legitimacy to a non-believing country that did not rule by the Shariah. And to legitimize a “kufr” state would be tantamount to kufr. Some spoke of the obligation of hijrah and the impermissibility of Muslims residing in the West without a proper excuse as well.
As the 2000 elections approached, a small slice of the Muslim community threw their support behind the republican candidate George W. Bush due to hopes of him taking a stronger stance against Israel as was perceived to have been the attitude of his father before him. Bush, further, courted the Muslim vote by promising to fight other forms of anti-Muslim discrimination, and after a disputed election, Bush was declared the winner and the new president of the United States.
All seemed well until that fateful day of September 11, 2001. This threw Muslims into a panic, not knowing precisely how to adjust, especially after spending so many years disparaging the West. Not long after this, the rhetoric changed to how proud we were to be Americans, that America is our home, we love America, and some even took part in CVE and regularly attended the White House iftars. Practically no more talk of hijrah nor how bad America was. Nor of the impermissibility of political participation. The new wisdom would be that Muslims living in the West “must” vote. And it became normal to hear slogans like, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” We embraced the Arab Spring because Obama made us hopeful that change was gon’ come. So, we tolerated bombings, droning, territorial incursions into Muslim lands, deportations of thousands of Latin Americans and the cages Obama built for them.
As a consequence of Conservative Christian antagonism and Republican efforts to ban the Shariah, this opened the door for Muslims to seek refuge with the democrat party, especially after Trump struck terror into Muslim hearts with threats to kill the families of “terrorists,” saying “Islam hates us,” and his stated desire to put a pause on immigration from Muslim countries “…until we know what the Hell is going on!”
Since the emergence of Trump in the political sphere, the choice for most Muslims has been both easy and fraught. Biden had to be better. He said “Insha Allah” and quoted the Prophet Muhammad—upon him Allah’s blessing and peace—on a couple of occasions. It would seem that Muslim democrats would sacrifice almost anything to feel accepted and to have someone take up the issue of Palestine, so they thought.
Unfortunately, Biden and the democrats let down Muslim hopes. And they have finally seen Biden’s true colors although they have never truly been hidden. Now, the rhetoric among Muslims has reverted back to what it was prior to 9/11: “No lesser of two evils,” “Abandon Biden,” and “Free Palestine.” We’re back to talk of American oppression and the suppression of freedoms. And even the topic of hijrah is popular once more. One difference this time around is that the non-Muslim American public is much more aware of what Islam stands for. For some it is a force of good. For others it remains a force of evil.
The important question now is whether or not Muslims will use our heads, not only our hearts this time around. Are we truly in a position of strength now? Or are we being lured to incriminate ourselves in such a way that our words and actions can be used as fuel for a new anti-Muslim crusade similar to the post 9/11 years?
Many economists and financial experts have been predicting an unprecedented crash and/or black swan event for the past 2-3 years. Some are anxious we will see something in 2024. It is an election year, and the country is more polarized politically and culturally than it has been, perhaps, since the civil war. Trust in government and other institutions is at an all-time low, and there is anxiety among the elite over who will be in power come November.
Such a situation represents a power keg whose blast can leave carnage far and wide. Will we see a black swan event in 2024? Will it be a massive cyberattack? Will it be some form of civil war? Will it be a collapse of the international financial system? Who will get the blame? Will the accused be a Muslim country like Iran or another enemy of the West? And will Muslims find themselves in a situation similar to what we saw in 9/11/01? Muslims need to be ready for anything. And preparation requires the employment of all human, mental, technological, cultural, political, and spiritual resources at our disposal. Head and heart need to come together.