The coronavirus lockdown gives me time to reflect on the heroism of ordinary Muslim Americans and compare it with their self-proclaimed spokespersons’ actions.
Like most of us, I have been on lockdown for weeks. I’m sick and tired of staying home but I know it has to be done. For my family, we understand that our behavior can save or lose lives. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve had my ups and downs since this calamity befell the world and changed everything.
For starters, Halima and I are worried sick for our relatives back in the old countries. American Muslims not only fear for the fate of families overseas, but for relatives here. So many of us work in healthcare, more than the general American population.
Amidst the national crisis and the lockdown, I was so proud to see one of our own stepped up to help provide a critical resource: ventilators. Omar Ishrak, the Bangladeshi-American CEO of Medtronics, took two critical steps: He partnered with tech mogul Elon Musk to increase ventilators production, and more impressively, decided to give out entirely free of charge designs of ventilators.
Contrast his behavior with that of the usual suspects in groups that claim to represent our community. Early on in the pandemic I went to CAIR’s website to see what they are doing to help the community. Their first instinct was to step a “Donate” button on their website seeking to raise $250000 dollars from American Muslim. They didn’t even bother to say what the money was for. Given what we know from CAIR whistleblowers, the money may well be going to cover their overhead: the salaries of big wigs like Awad and Hooper. It’s a human impulse to be driven by fear to want to save your salary amidst a crashing economy, but it smacks of anything but civic responsibility or courage.
CAIR must have felt that if it’s asking for money, it should give something in return. So they joined the “National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19”, and in their first statement, one doesn’t learn anything different from what the CDC has been publishing. Except, they have a bunch of recommendation about how to pray and how not to go to Friday prayers. Not sure we needed their help figure that one out, especially after Muslim majority countries canceled Friday prayers without batting a lash. And many of us rely on the rulings of institutions like Al Azhar.
Hilariously, CAIR Michigan issued a statement recommending Muslim men who work in healthcare should shave their beards so masks fit. Thanks, but I don’t think medical religious healthcare professionals needed local CAIR chapters to figure this one out either. Which leads me to the larger question: Is CAIR a civil rights group or a religious group? They issue fatwas now?
Either way, the main takeaway for me during the lockdown is something that I’d always suspected and has now been revealed: the current self-proclaimed American Muslim leadership groups are useless for our community. At best they’re inward looking bubbles without much influence or impact. At worse, they’re charlatans and crooks. Mostly it’s a bit of both.
It’s people like Omar Ishrak who are the bright face of American Muslims, People like the countless Muslim doctors, nurses, scientists, and business owners who are on the front lines during this pandemic and proudly serving for everyone’s benefit. Hopefully one day the leadership of our community will rest with these people, not the opportunists.
Signing off for now. Stay home, wash your hands, and God bless you all, inshallah!