Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Before Imam Siraj's lecture, Rami Nashashibi,

the executive director of IMAN and a second-generation Palestinian, made an opening speech. Rami talked about IMAN and the organization's work in the inner city, describing substandard housing and educational resources in low-income neighborhoods, African America, Latino, and Arab. Rami referred to his privilege, "having never had to live in the projects," but he focused more on the blessing "to work in an environment" with inner-city Muslims who have "suffered the legacy of racism and oppression and have risen to honorable ranks to inspire" more privileged Muslims to use Islam to transform and enhance lives.

Rami talked about immigrants and their children trying to find a place in American society, but in his terms, place did not mean finding acceptance by the white majority. Rather, it meant raising one's consciousness of poor communities and doing something about it: "We have a place in America, a place not simply black and white, cut-and-dried, but a place of active work, da'wah [outreach to non-Muslims], getting involved to do something about your environment." Rami challenged the mostly immigrant Muslim audience to do something about poverty and racism by uniting with Muslims from different race and class backgrounds: "This is your ummah. It is one ummah. Never underestimate a concept that unites beyond ethnicity, class, and race...It is a lofty ideal but Muslims have championed this concept for fourteen hundred years." American Muslims commonly refer to themselves as an ummah, he noted, but they fail to live up to the concept: "Post 9/11, we have no more time for slogans. We have to be real about this thing."

No comments:

Post a Comment