Understanding the Americans

Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya)

How much do we really know about the Americans? While we are very quick to lambaste them for all the trickery and treachery that envelopes the Planet Earth today, few of us can really understand or justify their actions at times, and inaction at others.

But before we venture, very briefly this week, into what drives the Americans, we must first concede that, like the proverbial knife, the American bad is as crucial as its good. This Great Nation, as they have called it, is a leader not only in military warfare and political ambition, but is as well a beacon of science and learning. It is amazing, though, that the Americans themselves, despite the resources available to them, are one of the least educated lot themselves. So, while we attach a lot of negative attributes to the US of A, we may as well, momentarily though, submit to their endeavors in the wide field of education.

But the problem with all this is that the Americans control the world media today. With a new sense of rationale and logic, they bombard us with literature that justifies and at times subsidizes their stance. The American political lingo for this is National Interest. Anything that they want to interfere in is labeled “…of National Interest”. This, to the common American, is sufficient explanation to all the military madness that the politicians can hype. So what drives them after all?

Hedrick Smith’s Introduction in the book The Power Game – How Washington Works is a befitting description of the make-up of the American Nation. He says: “We Americans are a nation of game players. From Friday night poker and Sunday bingo to corporate rivalry and the nuclear arms race, Americans are preoccupied with winning and losing. Competition is our creed, it is knit into the fabric of our national life. Sports and game shows are national pastimes. Either we play games ourselves or we take part vicariously. We swim, cycle, jog or play tennis – making it a game by matching ourselves against a rival, against a par in golf, or against the stopwatch when we hike or run. Five out of six Americans spend several hours a week viewing football, baseball, boxing, bowling, or some other sport on television. One hundred million people tune into television game shows weekly – forty three million people to Wheel of Fortune. All over the world, people are playing at commerce on one hundred million sets of Monopoly. Some people treat life as a game, to be won or lost, instead of seeing it in terms of religious ethic or of some overarching system of values.”

This says it all – all you ever wanted to know about the essence of this infinite obsession with world leadership. It’s a game, don’t you see? It’s absence of any faith that drives them into mundane exhibition of strength and weakness. Turn your eyes around to the soaps you see on KTN, KBC or STV, it’s the same – it’s all a game.

Now that we have a basic understanding, we might as well profit from their educational and scientific advancement, and build our own Great Islamic Nation. Sitting back, watching someone excel, secretly admiring their forward-looking economies and lifestyles, are tantamount to hypocrisy and a flair for the very double standards that we accuse Washington of (not that they don’t hold any water!).

The problem, one may be compelled to think, with Muslims globally today is that while they chant to the tunes of anti-West, very few are in love with their own countries, their own people, their own local systems…Given half a chance, they would fly down to the West – in the name of education, in the name of security, in the name of future for children, and in the name of medical care. While there, they knowingly get woven into the American fabric. Alhamdulillah, due to the close knit nature of our community, our brothers and sisters have been able to uphold their religious and cultural values. If anything, the distance from the mosque has caused greater thirst for religion. For those of us who are here, let’s understand that it’s the American Ideology that’s a problem, and we will succeed only if we learn to analyze issues on the basis of reason and Islamic values, not on emotion or popular sentiment.

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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