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Being American Muslims doesn’t mean we should rush to support the government and its policies

There are few times in life where one is likely to be approached by the CIA for support, but if you run a publication for Muslims, get used to the idea. 

There are few times in life where one is likely to be approached by the CIA for support, but if you run a publication for Muslims, get used to the idea.

"Islamic Insights" was told by an individual with connections that this newspaper could make money by running advertisements by the CIA.  That person would not have any problem getting those advertisements because of being connected to representatives from the CIA who have advertised in the community in the past and continue to advertise today.  We believe this individual could have made the deal happen.  The CIA, FBI and Homeland Security openly advertise in many of the local papers and even on banners put up for the recent Arab American festival, the CIA’s name was emblazoned.

If we knew a terrorist attack was going to happen in this country, there is no question we would immediately contact the authorities and let them know.  Our beliefs do not allow for terrorism or remaining quiet while such a thing happens.  We condemn it.

But even though it takes thousands of dollars to run this publication, we don’t believe we should be promoting organizations such as the CIA, FBI or the military with long histories of oppression.  Nor do we believe that the government’s repeated attempts to infiltrate organizations and institutions such as during the civil rights movement should be supported now.  We don’t agree now with the U.S. government’s repeated attempts to approach, intimidate and silence our community or any other community in the name of "national security."   We don’t believe in rewarding undemocratic and inhumane pressure on minorities or anyone and if anyone tries it with us, we are going to talk about it.

Perhaps we will pay a price for not accepting advertisements from everyone.  We will definitely make less money.  We run the risk of making enemies.  Even now, there are those who don’t like to see an independent Shia newspaper such as this one saying the sort of things that are being said here.  We have a tremendous amount of pressure on us to conform to un-Islamic concepts or shut up.  But we will never betray our consciences and principles.  We do not believe that simply because we are a Muslim publication based in America we should pander to those elements who want nothing less than the subjugation of Islam and Muslims to materialistic and inhumane policies around the world.  We do not want those kind of photo-ops.

We don’t believe that simply because we live in this place and are citizens of America that we should be selling out.  We recognize that in this time and place we have considerably more freedom to speak out about what we believe in than in many Muslim countries.  We value that just as other people in this country and we believe that alliances with like-minded people are important. 

In this country, there is a long history of oppression against fellow Americans.  "We the people," was a convenient phrase for powerful groups to invoke when it came to imposing their will on the nation, but never have we seen the kind of harmony and equality in this land that some in our community gush about.  That the African American community was oppressed for hundreds of years and is still today is a clear indictment of what this country stands for.  Katrina happened and it was as if the civil-rights movement never even occurred.  We see all these things and we deplore them.  As believers in the message of Imam Hussain, we are not going to sing a song and do a dance for oppressive interests, no matter who does it.  We do not take money from the CIA and we do not take money from any negative foreign elements either.  We are independent from all of that.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen others who believe we are being smart in not taking certain kinds of support.   We have been told directly to our faces that we shouldn’t worry about running advertisements that show women in tight or skimpy clothes and full makeup as other newspapers might because we need to survive. 

If our survival as a newspaper depends on our being against Islamic guidelines, then we don’t mind closing the whole shop right now.  There are other ways to make money in this world than by selling out.  So why is this newspaper coming out?  It’s because everyone involved recognizes the importance of staying true to our principles and what a blessing it is to be able to stand up for those principles through writing.   Everytime something has started to seemingly go wrong with this effort, Allah has helped us.  He has brought us in touch with people in far-away places, places where they don’t even have one Islamic center.  They may not have money, but their letters of encouragement mean a lot to us.  We never started this publication to be a newspaper, it quickly evolved once we saw that there was a need for it.  The editorial staff knew this would take 60-80 hours a week to put together, but it believed and still believes it is wajib kifa’i.

At this time, we stand by all the Shia communities of North America and want you to remember to not to forget your duties.  We are not perfect and have countless shortcomings, but if even we can make it this far, there is no reason to think that our vibrant, pious beautiful community should not be proud and shun the so-called "help" of the oppressors.  We as a community are much better than that and above such actions.  Of course we ask Allah to forgive us for our sins as we have the most shortcomings, but this was something that had to be said and made very clear.



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