Friday, July 24, 2009

Views on American Racism

"Racist" and "racism" are provocative words in American society. To some, these words have reached the level of curse words in their offensiveness. Yet, "racist" and "racism" are descriptive words of a reality that cannot be denied. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans (people-of-color) live daily with the effects of both institutional and individual racism.

After the election of Barack Obama as America's first African American president there were many who asserted that racism is no longer a problem and that we are now living in a "post-racial America." However, with the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the expulsion of a group of black children from a private swimming pool apparently because of their race, the true state of America's racism emerges to the surface once again to remind us that "we ain't there yet, y'all."

It isn't necessary to sight case after case of individual racism. What is needed is the collective realization that institutional racism is embedded deep into the moral fiber of America; that there has to be a collective will to confront, engage in dialectic discussion(s) leading toward the complete and total elimination of individual and institutional racism. The process for the elimination of all forms of racism has to begin now.

It may be said that dichotomy oversimplifies the complexities of America's race problem. There are some, both black and white Americans, who believe that if we are not suffering from "overt racism" then racism has ended and therefore we need not continuously bring up the subject again and again. It is true that it is no longer fashionable to put on a hooded sheet and lynch a black man. Nor do we see the "For Whites Only" signs of overt legal segregation. However, "overt racism" has given way to a more subtle or sophisticated form, which doesn't depend on brute force to enforce laws to subjugate and control. This "subtle racism" allows some whites to vote for Obama, and to carve out exceptions for those black and brown folks who make white folks comfortable, but to maintain fundamentally hostile views towards the larger communities of color from which these exceptions come. In other words, the kind of racism that says, black folks are fine, so long as they went to Harvard Law, speak a certain way, dress a certain way, and pander to the tastes of us white folks. "If you're white you're right" as the old saying goes.

Even immigrants get caught up in this "subtle racism" when they come to America. These immigrants, whose skin may be black or brown, in their effort to imitate the white ruling class will take on the psychic and the racial biases of white Americans. They will view blacks--even children--as pathological, socially dysfunctional, likely to misbehave, and unworthy of the opportunities enjoyed by whites.

In light of the latest racially motivated incidents, let me make the following point in the clearest possible terms:
The white racial psychic must be thoroughly challenged, exploded, destroyed, eradicated, before the United States of America can ever hope to achieve racial equity, or even the most rudimentary levels of social justice.
"Institutional racism" is the structure that houses race-based discrimination in justice, housing, education, employment and health. It reflects the cultural assumptions of the dominant group, so that the practices of that group are seen as the norm to which other cultural practices should conform (Anderson and Taylor, 2006). Institutional racism is more subtle, less visible, and less identifiable than individual acts of racism, but no less destructive to human life and human dignity.

Challenging and dismantling "institutional racism" requires a sense of history -- the history of racial stereotyping in America -- and a capacity to listen and observe how frequently the present echoes the past (David Shipler, 2002). One must be aware that what seems to bother white people more than anything, whether in the case of "expelling black children from a swimming pool" or at any other time, is being confronted with the recognition that black people do not see the world like they do; that black people, by and large, do not view America as white people view it. White people are shocked that this should be so, having come to believe apparently, that the falsehoods to which they cling are not equally shared by darker-skinned compatriots. White people are shocked to learn that black people actually still perceive the U.S. as a racist nation -- they're literally stunned that people who say they experience discrimination regularly (and who have the social science research to back them up) actually think that those experiences and that data might actually say something about the nation in which they reside. Imagine.

The difficulty is that one has to perceive the problem to embrace the solutions. If you think that racism isn't harmful unless it wears hooded sheets or burns crosses or bars blacks from motels and restaurants, you will support only the crudest anti-discrimination laws and not the more refined methods such as affirmative action and diversity training. If you recognize how subtle racism can be, the subtler tools seem appropriate (David Shipler, 2002).

There has to be some acknowledgement that whites benefit from racial prejudice, even as society suffers as a whole. Few white Americans reflect on the unseen privileges they possess or the greater sense of worth they acquire from their white skin. In addition to creating the traditional alignments of power in America, negative beliefs about blacks tend to enhance whites' self-esteem.

If blacks are less intelligent, in whites' belief, then it follows that whites are more intelligent. If blacks are lazier, whites are harder working. If blacks would prefer to live on welfare, then whites would prefer to be self-supporting. If blacks are more violent, whites are less violent --- and the source of violence can be kept at a safe distance.

Many conservatives urge that an "optimistic" assessment of America's racial situation be presented. At the same time, they refuse to see the pernicious racism that persists. That blindness does not justify optimism. Legitimate optimism comes from facing the problems squarely and working to overcome the insidious subtleties of bigotry that still remain in America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July

As an Ahmadi Muslim I can say, "Happy Independence Day America" and really mean it. My patriotic realization wasn't something that happen all of a sudden, but was gradual with deliberate reservations.

We grew up celebrating the 4th of July like everyone else in the neighborhood. It was barbecue, home made ice cream, fireworks, family get-together and a day off work. If we were lucky we would go to the amusement park for rides in bumper cars, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds and the haunted-house. I vaguely remember the 4th of July as a holiday relating to America's independence. At the most, perhaps on a test in school, we had to recall "July 4, 1776" as an important date concerning the adoption of a "Declaration of Independence" document. The long and short of the 4th of July was this: fireworks yes, but singing the Star-Spangled Banner" no.

During my service in the military the 4th of July wasn't much different. Saluting the flag was a daily routine, but not associated with celebrating Independence Day...even on the 4th of July. The "4th" was a day off work and an all day round robin of Bid Whist.

After accepting Islam, as my religion and way of life, celebrating the "4th of July" became questionable: Is it Islamic? As a Muslim I'm I also an American? Is America my country? However, the most compelling question was; Can I be a Muslim and be patriotic to the United States of America?

National events brought me face to face with my own patriotism as a Muslim in 1970. I worked among an all white staff during the period when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused induction into the military because of his religious convictions. Muhammad Ali angered these white conservative patriotic World War II veterans and he had a "big mouth" too. My name was Dhul-Waqar Yaqub and I was "one of them" as far as they were concerned. I was their scapegoat.

Being "one of them" meant being a "black Moslim racist" regardless of how many times I conveyed to them that I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and I didn't hate white folks. One day a co-worker, Woody by name, started talking to me about his military service during World War II. He took this opportunity to inform me that he could think differently about me if I had served in the military.

I was shocked and stunned by his remark. Realizing I never shared the fact that military service was a part of my past I responded, "You've got me all wrong Woody. I served in the military and was honorably discharged, my father served in the military during World War II and my grandfather served in the military during World War I. Both my father and grandfather received honorable discharges."

Woody, by the look on his face, was equally stunned. He remarked, "I didn't know that." As he tried to composed himself he blurted out, "Well, why are you in that religion?" At that time the buzzer sounded off signaling clean-up time so I asked him, "Woody, can we talk about this tomorrow?" He agreed.

Subsequently, I started going through the Holy Qur'an and the writings of the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and writings of the Ahmadiyya Khulafa looking for answers about where my patriotism should be as an Ahmadi Muslim. I stumbled upon a booklet titled, "The Question of Divided Loyalty: Some Parallels From History" by Mirza Bashir Ahmad (1893-1963). In that booklet the author pointed to the relevant Qur'nic verse, which says,
"O ye who believe obey God and obey the Prophet and obey those in authority from among you." (4:60)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement (upon him be peace), writing about the above quoted verse specified very clearly what Islam commands:
"The Holy Qur'an commands, 'Obey Allah and obey His Prophet and obey those in authority among you.' Believers are to obey those in authority, besides God and His Prophets. To say that 'those in authority' does not include a non-Muslim Government would be a manifest error. For, a government or authority whose ordinances are in accordance with the Shariah (that is, they are not in conflict with it) is 'authority from among you.' Those who are not against us are among us. The Qur'an, therefore, is unequivocal on the point. Obedience to government authority is one of its imperatives." (Works and Speeches, Vol. 1, p. 261).
So also in the Hadith, the Holy Prophet (saw) is reported to have said:
"He who obeys me, obeys God; he who disobeys me disobeys God. He who obeys his authority obeys me; he who disobeys his authority disobeys me" (Muslim, Kitab al Imarah).
In this hadith the whole subject of loyalty and patriotism to one's country became illuminating. Loyalty and patriotism belong by right only to God, Creator, Master, Lord of Men and Nations. Others have authority derived from Him. This would include the United States of America, which reflect the Authority of God.
In accordance with all this (the Holy Qur'an, the Holy Prophet's Hadith, the writings of the Promised Messiah), the then Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hadrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, impress upon my mind loyalty and patriotism to one's Nation by clearly stating:
"Our belief is that Islam requires every one to be loyal to the state under which he lives...Loyalty to a Government or State, according to us, is ordained by the Holy Qur'an and the Qur'an is the Book of God...The Ahmadiyya Head or Khalifa has no right to alter an ordinance contained in the Holy Book. The Khalifa is a deputy, not a dictator. A deputy is bound to authority in the same way as are all others." (Al-Fazl, April 5, 1949)
After several months of study I felt ready for the Woody's of the world. However, more importantly I was beginning to comprehend the concepts of patriotism from an Islamic perspective. For the first time in my life I had a desire to learn about the principles my country stood on. I started studying the United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and its twenty-seven amendments. The first ten amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights and of special importance was the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery and authorizes Congress to enforce abolition. I didn't find any of these documents to be in conflict with the Holy Qur'an.

My follow up dialog concerning my new found concepts of patriotism with Woody and other co-workers brought about an inconclusive reserve on their part. I tried to make it clear to them that I am a Muslim who belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I came from a family line that had three generations of men who served in the U.S. Military and that military service invested me and my future generations with a free exercise of religion.

During the seven years of employment there and as a result of our many discussions, Woody secretly admitted that he listen to "negro" spirituals (gospel music) on Sunday morning radio. He claim that it was the only aspect of religion which gave him the "feeling". Another co-worker shared with me that in his village, an "Underground Railroad" station operated there years ago. That seemed to be a source of pride for him. Anyway, people just don't make this stuff up.

To all Americans, from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, we wish you a happy 4th of July!

The Surprising Benefits of Honey

"And thy Lord has inspired the bee saying, 'Make your hives in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which the people build. Then eat of every kind of fruit, and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.' There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect." (Holy Qur'an 16:69-70)

The verses of the Holy Qur'an quoted above introduces the subject of divine revelation. The bee has been selected as a prominent example, because its wonderful organization and work impresses even a casual observer and is discernible to the naked eye. The verses says that God inspires the bee to collect its food from different fruits and flowers and then by means of the mechanism provided in its body it converts the collected food into honey. Honey provides a cure for the physical diseases of man and the most essential quality of the Qur'anic revelation also is that it is a cure for the spirirual maladies of man.

In an article posted on June 05th, 2009 in Storage, Health the health and curative benefits of honey are confirmed.

Throughout history honey has been considered a food with unparalleled nutritional and physical benefits. Really, honey is a miracle food. For over 10,000 years (and maybe more) honey has been used as a staple food and as a medicine. Honey is one of the few foods that can actually sustain human life by itself. If you’re not storing honey, this ought to convince you to start.


Honey lasts forever; if stored properly you will never need to worry about your honey going bad, forget about FIFO with honey. There was actually edible honey discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. It is also a healthy substitute for sugar that contains no fats or cholesterol.

Honey Food Storage

My honey is hard and crystallized! Not to worry, if your honey has become crystallized all you need to do is heat it to return it back to normal. Or if you like, turn it into mead!



Honey is great for overall skin health and can even help to reduce wrinkles and nourish the skin.


Honey has been used as an antibacterial for years, it was even one of the most popular treatments for wounds in the First World War. Recent science has explained to us why honey is such an effective antibacterial agent.

"One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey may be useful in treating MRSA infections. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity."


Honey has also been shown to reduce odor, swelling and scarring when used to treat wounds, aside from its antibacterial effects.

Stomach Ache

Got a stomach ache? No problem, mix one teaspoon of honey with a hot glass of water, squeeze in about half a lemon and your stomach ache should go away.

Pink Eye

While it has only been proven in rats, honey was considered an effective treatment for conjunctivitis.


Folk medicine suggests that taking local honey will help your allergies because you gain a tolerance to local pollens. Recent studies suggest that while it doesn’t help by eliminating allergies it helps reduce allergies.

"a recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an anti allergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction."


Honey coats the throat, making it great for a sore throat. To cure your sore throat simply take about 1 teaspoon of honey and let it slowly trickle down your throat.


Honey is also great for burns since it removes the pain and helps aid in the healing process.



Some studies suggest that honey can also help with various nervous disorders such as insomnia. If you can’t sleep, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into a warm glass of water and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

**Because of the spores contained in honey, infants under the age of 1 year cannot consume it. While it’s fine for older children and adults, infants under 1 year can contract botulism from honey