Thursday, September 21, 2006

the lessons of keith ellison

By working on this blog I've managed to find out about many good examples of Blackamerican Muslims who are involved in politics, activism and community service. I'm not sure if this is a growing trend but I have the impression that more and more Blackamerican Muslims are working in the mainstream and living out their values (based both on Islam and what Sherman Jackson calls "Black Religion") in the public sphere. In some ways, this process is parallel to the "third resurrection" which gives this blog its title.

A recent piece by Shahed Amanullah (editor-in-chief of alt.muslim) on the candidacy of Keith Ellison (an African-American Muslim running for the Minnesota seat in the U.S. Congress) gives a rather clear snapshot of the above trend. Amanullah ends his article by saying:

Muslims are understandably proud of Ellison's achievement, but while we celebrate, we must take another sobering look at reality. We have no more political power than we did the day before the primary, which is to say we have very little. Before we congratulate ourselves too much, we need to realize that Ellison deserves most of the credit. He worked very hard for many years to get where he is, all the while being unknown to most Muslims outside the Twin Cities. To be sure, Muslims helped in the way that any political supporters do, with donations, canvassing, and so forth. But as individuals, we helped no more so than Ellison's non-Muslim constituents did, and as a group, far less so. The more we tout him as "the Muslim congressman" or "our candidate", the more we inhibit Keith's ability to do his job effectively. And having a member of Congress - one who just happens to be Muslim - that contributes positively is the best possible outcome. As Muslims, we need to get out of Keith's way and let him do his job, and he can make our community proud in return.

(see entire article)

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