The whole world is looking at Motown now due to the death of a local Imam, who was shot by the FBI after allegedly shooting their dog as well as the arrests of a dozen other people relating to numerous (non-terrorism) related charges.
In the mix of media hysteria, Heather Laird offers a very balanced commentary on this entire situation as of today.
We must condemn that which is condemnable
We must condemn that which is condemnable. In the Qu’ran, Allah commands Muslims to speak the truth even if it is against themselves. Today, October 28, 2009, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was fatally shot and killed during an FBI raid authorities reported. He along with 10 other men were suspected of charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods, illegal possession and sale of firearms and altering numbers on license plates. They are suspected of these acts, and in both American law and Islamic law suspicion is not enough to convict a person. Unfortunately, none will be privy to the perspective of Imam Luqman as he chose to fight against the authorities. However, these acts if true, are truly condemnable and no one would deny that truth. Over the coming days, weeks and months as the facts emerge we can try to make sense and judge best what took place today and over the previous months of the FBI’s investigation.
Over the next days maybe it will become clearer the connection that authorities are trying to make between these 11 men and terrorism. All that seems to be evident thus far is that these men were allegedly engaged in some type organized crime. Organized crime is not equal to terrorism and those guilty of it have not been broadcast in the media and identified with their religion. For example, one never saw a headline that read Catholic Gotti convicted of this and that organized crime. We do not look at John Gotti and conjure up thoughts about Catholics even though we know he is Catholic. We see him as a former boss of organized crime. Apart from the suspected charges in this case it is also condemnable that media sources are using headlines like: “Feds: Islamic Radical Killed in Mich. Raid,” and “Feds: Imam who led radical Sunni Islam group fatally shot in Detroit-area FBI raid.” Yes, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was the Imam at Masjid Al-Haqq and those that mention his title do not seem to be feeding into the usual propaganda that follows any story relating to a Muslim, but others like the ones mentioned above are starting down that all too familiar path of propaganda; repeating and repeating that these were “radical” men, that they were “Muslim” men and these “Islamic” men associating all things bad with “these people.” If it is repeated enough then the public will believe it. This is how propaganda works. And just as propaganda was condemned in Nazi Germany and during the Cold War so should it be condemned against a minority of Muslims in America.
Another piece of this story that is condemnable is that the community both the Muslim community and the broader mainstream community did not serve its members well. Muslims are to ‘know what the needs of our neighbors are before they have to tell us’. As well, Christians and Jews believe in ‘loving thy neighbor.’ The area surrounding Masjid Al-Haqq is an area known to have problems with crime, prostitution, drugs and poverty. Many of the people who live in this area are uneducated or without a lot of education, they are impoverished or close to poverty level. This Masjid seeks to counsel and rehabilitate its community members, but where was the broader community that we did not know what was happening here? Why did we not know that these men were having issues? Why did we not contribute to their education and give them opportunities to do something other than what they were alleged to be doing? Did we not care? If we do care, isn’t inaction the same as not caring? This should be condemned as well and something that as a community is examined moving forward.
What remains to be seen is how condemnable the Muslim organizations are for not vetting people better. In the days to come, surely all of who Imam Luqman Ameen Abduallah was will be forthcoming, not the least of which is that he was sitting on the Majlis Ashura (advisory board) of a national organization MANA (Muslim Alliance of North America). This young organization serves many in the American community and has even conducted groundbreaking work around social issues like marriage, divorce and domestic violence. Many people affiliated with its boards are leaders in the Muslim community across the United States and have advised people in the American government. If this organization and the others that Imam Luqman was affiliated with were to suffer because of a lack of knowing the company one keeps that is certainly condemnable as well.
I hope whatever conclusions people make, they will do so with all the facts in hand. And, if we find condemnable acts we should all condemn them. Where we find innocence we should defend it. Where we find trouble-makers we should call them out for their behavior.
Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was a Muslim. Only the people involved in today’s events know what truly happened. As far as Imam Luqman’s involvement, only he and Allah will now know the true extent to his actions. Whether a Muslim is one who is practicing or one who is astray when a Muslim dies it is said: “To Allah do we belong and to Him shall we return.” Muslims pray for forgiveness for those who have preceded them in death.