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By Imam Malik Mujahid

It’s happening again. The ugly cycle of war-terror-dehumanization is strengthening. With the United States’ assassination of Iran’s army major general Qassim Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory bombing of two Iraqi military bases housing American troops, the world has entered another dangerous stage. This cycle, which includes American invasions, Iran-Saudi conflict, militias, and ISIS, have all contributed to the creation of the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

We stand with the victims of conflict around the world, not with divisive, oppressive forces who engage in war and terrorism. As the world enters this latest cycle of violence, it is important for Muslims and their neighbors to invest more of our time and money to defeat this murderous nexus of war-terrorism-dehumanization. America and the Muslim world both are losing as China, a rising superpower, continues to grow in strength.

Talking points

There are extraordinary implications for the world, and especially American Muslims, as America and Iran engage in renewed saber-rattling:

1. We cannot ignore the root cause of the 40-plus years of conflict between the U.S. and Iran: American interference in Iran’s affairs. Beginning in 1953, America has tried to control Iran, starting with its removal of power of a democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, and its installation of a king Mohammad Reza Shah. In response, Iranians began a struggle for freedom, justice, and Islam, culminating in the Iranian revolution in 1979. Most of the world, including Sunnis, supported this. However, it gradually became more of a Shia revolution in which Iranian interests were defined as theological those of all Shias.

2. Through its alliance with Russian, Iran played a critical role in brutally defeating the peaceful movement for democracy in Syria, as the Saudis did in Yemen. Iran’s Soleimani commanded the Iranian campaigns.

3. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on false information about Iraq’s nuclear capacity, and it has brought us to the quagmire we are currently in. We have burned over $1 trillion of American taxpayer money in this war and it is not ending. War is not the solution. It is killing us and other innocent people around the world.

4. The best path out of this latest crisis is the one that the United States is taking in Afghanistan right now by negotiating with the Taliban. If the Taliban, an ally-turned-enemy, and the U.S. can talk, there is hope for dialogue, peace, and a better future free of dangerous destabilization that threatens the world.

5. Iran will most likely retaliate by enhancing its support for terrorism. This will mean instigating forces that push for war, which in turn means more terrorism. Watch out. War with Iran will lead to more dehumanization of Muslims in America, and dehumanization of Americans around the world.

6. A war with Iran will provide full opportunity to China to walk more freely on the streets and capitals of the world than Americans can. And that harms our long-term interests and strengthens the interests of our competition, China, a rising economic and military superpower.

Thinking points

1. Should we let our country deepen its involvement further in never-ending wars?

2. Do we agree that the cycle of war and terror enhanced Islamophobia in the United States?

3. What is our investment in time and money to liberate our country from hate, fear, and anger?

4. American Muslims should resist becoming pawns in the hands of Iranian or Saudi governments. They operate in their national interest not in the interest of Islam. Throughout most of our history, Shias and Sunnis have lived peacefully despite major theological differences and occasional conflict. We must leave it to God to be the judge of these differences and focus on co-existence as we have called for repeatedly. In America most masjids and Islamic schools have Shias and Sunnis praying together just as it used to be in Iraq, where 30% of Shias and Sunnis were married to each other. There was no violence between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq before the U.S. Invasion and its policy of dividing and ruling over them.

5. Prepare for increased Islamophobia. Islamophobia led to the Muslim Ban. It resulted in anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies, ultimately leading to our taxpayer-paid border agents snatching babies away at our southern border.

6. The long-established Islamophobia machine is based in the U.S. and it is now funded by at least $300 million. That may sound overwhelming, but consider this: If Muslim Americans can contribute billions of dollars every year to relief operations, Masjids, and schools abroad, we can invest to fight Islamophobia at home.

7. Alhamdu lillah, Islamophobia in America does not kill American Muslims as much in the U.S. However, it is used in lawless, tyrannical countries like Burma, China, Kashmir and India. It results in crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, rape, and murder of Muslim minoritries with impunity. Unless we fight Islamophobia here in America, genocidal policies will continue.

Take Action!

1. Strengthen the Peace Movement: American Muslims must join the American peace movement. Groups like the United National Antiwar Coalition, Code Pink, and Voices for Creative NonViolence are major anti-war peace groups I have been a part of. The last one is actually led by my mentor in the peace movement, Kathy Kelly. We must lend our time, talent, and money to strengthen their work for the benefit of America and the world.

2. Fighting Islamophobia: If you are a part of a congregation or an interfaith movement, it is important that you ask about your group’s plans to fight rising hate in our country. Are they using the term “Islamophobia” along with racism and anti-semitism when confronting the uptick in intolerance? Here is what every Muslim individual, family, Masjid, Islamic center, MSA, interfaith, and Islamic organization can do to fight Islamophobia. If you need a speaker on Islamophobia or any other topics, we can help you with that. I would also encourage every Masjid and Islamic organize a thinking retreat to discuss and decide how you can allocate more resources to fight Islamophobia.

3. Election 2020: The future of our country is worth fighting for. Candidates are available to influence right now. In a few months it will be difficult to influence them. Support the candidates you find closer to advocating peace and for human rights of all now. Are you talking to them or just passively listening? So far, our team at Sound Vision’s human rights division, Justice for All, has spoken to seven top presidential candidates directly, as well as to their policy staff. We must demand that they strengthen their commitment to peace and human rights not just in America, but abroad as well.

Raising Stronger Families: The current phase of rising hate might take a generation or two to subside, according to scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who I have talked to. So raising stronger families is a must. A family which listens to each other is closer and stronger. Follow this Shura model. We need to have our next generation become better Muslims, better neighbors, and better citizens. They will be successful if we work with them to plan our 20 properly. My family and I have developed our personal plans for this year. Have you and your family? Please consider incorporating the 3 Success Strategies of the Prophet in your plan.

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