By Mohamedarif M Suleman BSc(Hons) – (Nairobi, Kenya)
Any Swahili speakers out there? Aplenty, I am sure. And so the residue of the popular adage needs little help to complete – Nikipata Siachi”. In English this means, “It’s not that I really want it, but if I get it, I won’t leave it” Now what on earth does this have to do with a column on The Community on Friday? Read on.
Each year, thousands of people submit an application for the prized DV-Immigration Visas to the US. Remember the email you have received asking you to be one of every 700 people to successfully live and work in the terrain of immense opportunities? Those 55,000 give aways by the US Department of Immigration, or the lotto that you know of? Well, out of these multitude of people, there are tens of our own brethren who consistently apply for this “mother of all migrations”, and why not? After all, migration when conditions satisfy is a good thing indeed. We must also recognize the relative opulence that has greeted many of the individuals who have made it to the US after a lull in economics back home (wherever that be).
A paradox that Muslims live throughout their lives is that of bashing anything Western yet contending to be one of the 250-million plus social security number holders, and law abiding tax paying citizens of the Satanic regime. This is a big paradox, especially when people residing in the West, would send out emails inviting others to boycott all Jewish products, whereas their own earnings go towards fuelling the very evil of the Superpower nation in supporting the anti-Palestinian movement. Now, this commentary is not even going to attempt to rationalize or justify either sides of the story – for that would amount to leading you to believe that either our support for Palestinians is wrong, or that we should prolong consuming as much of Coke as possible. Either way, a no-win situation for Muslims.
The heart of the matter, however, is not this – rather the feverish aptitude with which we so fluently pummel the United States while still harbouring the desire to posses some sort of landing rights there. For a great number of valid raison d’être, and in my view, the most prominent is the level of social justice and “welfare society” attributes of this large bureaucracy. It was, for instance, refreshing to hear from an old acquaintance, who had lived in East Africa for many years, and had now migrated to the US, how meticulously the state cared for the invalids, or how easy it is to continue seeking knowledge while in the States, at no matter what stage in your life. Inadvertently, the gentleman was praising affectionately the very Islamic principles of caring for others and seeking knowledge – traits that were now part of an “infidel” regime’s hallmarks.
Then of course, there is that age-old argument about how some of your youths have succumbed to vices while residing in the “East”, whereas some of their counterparts in the West have actually become improved Muslims. All in all, so many arguments for and against this favourite subject for many with stashed laurels who can afford to dream of owning or mortgaging a house in the US. For the others, it is more of a dream, fuelled by their unfortunate state in their primary homes and the exhibition of so much wealth and glossy cars and economic sway that is characteristic of any nation in the developed world.
The significant thing to understand is that whereas slandering America is in no way going to elucidate the Muslims’ problems, it also seeks to undermine the many positive attributes that it has built over the years within its social and economic fabric. On the other hand, if you ever hear bashing of the US, you should grasp that a leader of any sort – good or evil, is always subject to microscopic scrutiny by any number of individuals. In our time, the US has had a hand in dominating the entire world as well as the forced export of its culture and lifestyle – both of which are sufficient reasons for people to hate them and their ways.
But what should Muslims do? Muslims, as always must learn to harvest what is good and discard what is not. Therefore, it is neither criminal to aspire migration to the West nor is it blasphemous to name-call the superpower, what is more crucial is the retention of a Muslim’s identity at such a time of increasing penetration of global openness in culture.
When parents from other parts of the world send their children to the US, tied with the hope of disposition of opportunity and economic success is the equal fear of loss of religious, cultural and social stability for while the whole world is full of sunlight and you could even get burnt by it on earth, going to the core of the burning ball of gas, in any parent’s mind is another thing altogether. That is why we must now salute those of our children who did go to this inferno of social anarchy but emerged as practicing Muslims in the midst of universal atheist practices and godless philosophies. We must salute those of our boys who have preserved religion and silently laid the musalla in their dorms when the entire halls were ablaze with music, sexual profanity and filth, while focusing solely on their aspiration to acquire knowledge. We must as well salute some of our girls who, it has been reported, have maintained their hijab while on campus, tolerating, enduring and surviving the shameful gaze of others, the humiliation attached to being a Muslim in schools in the US where teachers cannot even talk about religion and ethics and have upheld their values at all times.
Side by side, we must remind those of our young who have easily succumbed to Western ways where some of our own boys as well as girls are even now engaging in haraam behaviour, some of our girls in fact are also known to have gotten “rid” of the veil for which we annually cry in solemnity.
And of course, now that there is nothing like the US culture anymore. This has already changed into a global culture, whereby young people will have their own sets of rules of life and will thwart any attempts by elders to enforce Islamic discipline; the problem is now all over the world.
Tuning in to an FM station this morning, I happened to hear to this bizarre fact: that sometime in the 1970s, a person in the US sued God for negligence over the accident of one of his employees in which she was paralyzed. The case came up for mention, it was heard and ruled – God was ordered to pay a hefty fine in green backs! As an afterthought, the newscaster remarked, that while the employer triumphed in the case, it is still a mystery whether he ever got the claim! This episode merely serves to remind us that America, despite its Christian roots at the time of Revolution, has officially been a godless state for well over three decades now, and so if we must migrate, our preparedness should be of a higher level. And because America may still come to your own little city, with its baggage of culture that is unIslamic, remember to keep your sentry and keep Islamic values over and above all other mundane needs –whether social, economic or any other.
In this case, it is all right for you to be a mswahili who says he does not want it, but will not let go if he gets it!