The need for Muslim solidarity

 Jonathan AC Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and he is the Associate Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. He is also a scholar at the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. On 8 January 2017 he addressed the Cambridge Muslim College,  Engaging with Sira and Hadith: Criteria for Scholarly, Academic & Everyday Engagement.

Extracts below from his recent blog in almadinainstitute.org, “Moderate Islam” and Muslim American Leadership: Reflections before the Deluge

. . .   So, on the point of ‘establishment Islam,’ I am actually optimistic for the next four years!  A Clinton administration would most likely have meant a continuation of the same atmosphere that prevailed under President Obama: Muslims could achieve proximity to power if they dropped their objections to US foreign policy and embraced a Progressive social agenda. But there will be no such temptation under a Trump administration. His ambassador to Israel compares Jews who are moderate Zionists to those who collaborated with the Nazis. And Trump’s national security advisor doesn’t even consider Islam a religion (it’s a ‘political ideology,’ Michael Flynn has said). It’s not even clear if some Muslims publically announcing they voted for Trump would make the grade for the Trump administration. Like Mr. Burns’ requirement for Don Mattingly’s sideburns, establishment Islam for the Trump administration would be so truncated and stripped of any identifying markers that it would be nothing at all. Free of the temptation to ‘have a seat at the table’ (which for Muslims often means ‘being table decoration’) in the Trump administration, Muslims can chart a more principled course in both our practice and political engagement.

Since 9/11, Muslim leadership (especially within the Beltway) has often fragmented when shows of solidarity would have been much more beneficial to their constituents. Abdullah Al-Arian was a college student and Hill staffer in the summer of 2001, but the Muslim leaders present in that White House meeting immediately understood that they had to stand besides this young man against groundless discrimination. Their solidarity brought results. Not a decade later, when Dr. Barzinji, one of the most senior and accomplished leaders of the American Muslim community, was treated similarly, his fellow Muslim leaders abandoned him. It goes without saying that no apology was issued.

Solidarity will very much be needed in the Trump era, not just within the Muslim community but also with other community advocacy groups and rights organizations that ally with Muslim organizations to defend the rights of those under attack from the forces that Trump represents. A simple case is the repeated, stated intention of several of Trump’s closest advisors that the US government will designate ‘the Muslim Brotherhood’ (whatever that means) as a terrorist organization. Although the government, either the State Department or the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) in the Treasury Department, would almost certainly have to specify which national manifestation of ‘the Muslim Brotherhood’ it was designating, this initially limited designation would probably just be the first in a long series. And, most crucially for US Muslims, it would be accompanied by allegations that some Muslim organizations in the US were ‘fronts’ for the newly designated foreign terrorist organizations. Now, this would all be total nonsense . . . click here.