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August 19, 2004

“…verily, for God is all pride”

In the wake of the first few days of the Olympics and the U.S Intelligence spoiling an international sting due to their ineptness, the past few days have borne witness to a humbling of the United States in the eyes of the global community.  It’s been universal knowledge that after receiving the world’s support and sympathy after 9/11, the America has managed to not only lose this support, but has succeeded in becoming the most hated nation in the world. All of this is common knowledge, but what I find quite interesting is that all this animosity that the rest of the world has for America is beginning to catch up in small doses that are steadily increasing.

 As an American, what is horrific about all this is the continued display of unbridled arrogance and pride displayed by this country in the face of the rest of the world.  Even worse is despite these setbacks–and in certain cases, utter humiliations–in the eyes of the world, Americans are still gung-ho about their superiority as a nation and culture.  The exploits of the USA men’s basketball team are perhaps an excellent example: after getting humiliated by teams like Puerto Rico and Italy, they’re still continuing to display this “we’re still the champs” attitude.  If anyone has seen these games lately, the rest of the world has not only begun to catch up the US in basketball, but in many cases, has mastered the art of playing team basketball. The US men’s team is just full of prima donnas who can’t pass, shoot the outside jumper, and lack an all-around game; all these guys want to do is dunk from the free throw line, be on Sportcenter, and sign $100 million contracts without even deserving them. And rather than admit they have these problems, they’ve either denied such problems exist or continue to claim they can work around (rather than working through) said problems and still win. Hmm, isn’t that like the US military, Dept of Homeland Security, the President, and hell, the whole damn Republican party? The same attitudes displayed by the leaders of not bothering to even admit their flaws and mistakes (let alone correcting them) and considering the world as second-tier human beings (ever notice how Americans refer to other places as “third world”) has trickled down to the rest of the population, and the rest of the world is only rejoicing and laughing at how this national hubris is preventing us from seeing the big picture–that we’re not the only nation in the world, and we need to conduct our affairs as part of the global community, rather than its sole contributor, founder, benefactor, and member.

Another example, and perhaps even more humiliating, is the recent bungling of the US Intelligence by leaking information about the capture of a double agent, some Muhammad Khan, AQ guy and whatnot (though I think there’s probably at least 5,000 Muhammad Khans in Chicago alone), who was actually a Donnie Brasco-like double agent.  What’s the big deal? This guy was on surveillance in a joint investigation by the US, British, and Pakistani intelligence forces who were on the verge of a “big AQ sting” (as reported in one of the papers I read). And instead of waiting for the right moment to make this sting, some fool in the White House leaks to the press that they caught this guy, throwing his name out to the public, and effectively undermining and undoing months/years of intelligence work done by the three nations.  It’s pretty sad when both the British and Pakistani (haha, consider that this is the PAKISTANI intelligence speaking now) intelligences tell the US that you guys messed up. Pakistan! Pakistani Intelligence is an oxymoron of the highest order, and these guys are calling out the US on messing up. If that isn’t humbling, I dont know what is, but the US still continues to have this arrogance.

This is why the Prophet said that, “Nothing is elevated except that God lowers it.” He said this when his camel, which used to win all the races against other camels was once defeated in a race.  The problem with perpetual and unabated national arrogance and hubris is that it becomes like the Oedipal hamartia, a tragic flaw that leads to one’s demise due to one’s overweening pride that becomes like a blindness to stark reality.  For too long has America gotten away with an unforgiveable moral crime of having this hubris on its achivements and capabilities to the extent that she has forgotten that she is merely a part of the human community; she has forgotten that the rest of the world is just as intelligent, just as strong, and just as capable of achieving whatever American can and will achieve.  Rather than resting on its laurels and straining its proverbial arm by patting itself on the back, America needs to return to its original views that the Founding Fathers had of America being a part of the world, rather than the world itself. In wallowing in this arrogance, Americans have only hurt themselves; as American Muslims, we need to see this blindness of theirs and help to right this ship that is sinking fast. Pride is something that Allah has reserved for Himself, and the Qur’an tells us that all of this pride/respect (`izzah) belongs to God and God alone, and whoever wishes to have a portion of it must seek it from its Possessor. And I guess therein lies the paradox of humility and pride: when one humbles himself for the sake of God, God will actually elevate him in His eyes such that he can have a sense of pride on the Day that it really matters. The original Americans understood this and urged those who truly loved their country to intercede when things were headed for disaster. Thomas Paine wrote, “It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.” Right now, this government has been the quintessential hallmark of arrogance that has affected the rest of the nation on epidemic levels.

I think Shaykh Zaid Shakir said it beautifully when he said that Americans love firefighters because they’re heroic individuals who are willing to sacrifice their lives to put out fires and save other people’s lives. If Americans love those firefighters that fight physical fires so much, they should in fact love those firefighters that fight their spiritual fires even more. And I guess that’s what American Muslims are, we’re spiritual firefighters, literally fighting the fires of Hell that threaten to consume these people in this world and in the next. And unless we take this task seriously, unless we understand this role completely and strive to be such spiritual firefighters who put out the fires of national arrogance and ignorance of God, then this nation, along with ourselves, will go up in smoke, in one way or the other.



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One Comment
  1. Hey there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to
    correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share.

    Thank you!

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