Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and executive director of the school's Islamic Center.
By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN
My wife and I were on our way into Bed, Bath and Beyond in late August when I decided to check my office voicemail from my cell phone. I told her I'd meet her inside. When I did, she asked whether I had any messages.
"Just one,” I told her. “I was asked to deliver an invocation at this year's Republican National Convention." She responded with a smile on her face, "Of course you were," and then showed me the pillows she’d selected.
I didn't get a chance to decide whether I would accept the invitation, as Hurricane Isaac changed the RNC schedule and made the decision for me. But before the impending storm blew me off the schedule, I sought advice from friends and colleagues. What were the implications of my participating at the RNC? Would it make sense?
One conservative, evangelical Republican friend told me that it would have been a great way to start a conversation with members of his party who are fed up with the current platform and, amongst other things, the party’s highly anti-Muslim and Islamophobic rhetoric. Now, it seemed, that conversation wouldn't happen.
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But I couldn't understand why it must take a Muslim standing on an RNC stage to get people talking. Is that really the only way a Muslim voice can be heard in the political arena? Realistically, it's not. The other options just require more time, strategy and patience.
Like all other citizens, American Muslims can be heard through our right to vote. We, as a community, can amplify our voice by building coalitions more broadly with other groups. And we can speak the loudest by encouraging our best and brightest to be a part of the system.
Most American Muslims aren't hearing a discourse that tells them to be civically engaged on a local or grassroots level, which is a huge problem. The presidential election is not the only election that takes place in our country; the impact that one can have on local communities is just as important.
We are starting to get this. In comparison to 10 years ago, today we see more Muslim mayors, city council members and commissioners, law enforcement agents, policymakers and others. But there is still a long way to go. Refraining from being part of the process really isn't an option anymore.
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In deciding who to work with or which candidate to support on any level, be it local or national, it's important to be informed beyond one's own needs. Most Muslims keep from building relationships with other groups unless there is some direct impact on us.
We don't stand up for others’ rights as well as we should. Then, when we want others to be there for us and validate our community, we don't get what we need so readily because we weren’t there for their communities or still don’t understand issues beyond our own.
Do you know what conversations are taking place in your local government? Decisions are being made that will affect people who live in your town, your city, your state, your entire country.
If the Muslim community wants people to stand with us when a hateful person protests the building of our mosques, we need to stand with them at their time of need, or even at times when there is no pressing need at all. The myopic perspective that keeps us from thinking strategically and, more importantly, humanely, needs to go.
I watched the presidential debates at the Islamic Center at New York University, where I was joined by my students and community members. I watched so that I could be better informed of the candidates' stances on all issues - including the ones that affect me directly and those that touch people around me.
I will keep telling my students, whom I encouraged to register to vote, that they must think beyond the presidential election and get involved locally. New York City will elect a new mayor next year, along with many other officials, and they should be a part of that process, too.
And I will keep telling them that civic engagement is not just about having your voice heard. It's also about having confidence that you have something to offer that will make society better.
My students, like many other American Muslims, can and should help the growth and development of our country. The time is here for them to see not only how their being Muslim benefits them individually but also how their being Muslim benefits the world around them.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif.
The sad thing is that Israel-Firsters will accuse people of anti-semitism every time precious Israel is criticized so I say screw you. You swear more allegiance to Israel than you do to America, and then have the gall to demand America continue giving billions of tax dollars of hardworking Americans to Israel so that it can build luxurious homes for Israeli settlers with swimming pools on illegally stolen Palestinian lands while millions of Afro-American children live off of food stamps, millions more are homeless, and American inner cities, schools, and highways decay. It's time America says no to parasitic foreign powers and to American politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties who care more for Israel than for Americans as witnessed by their ready give-away of billions of our tax dollars for over fifty years without ever hardly any Congressional oversight.
“Muslim Extremists can’t be bargained with, they can’t be reasoned with, they don’t feel pity, or remorse, or regret, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until all infidels are dead”.
....do you hear the little green men from Mars every night? You can converse with them easily in your mother tongue called kookoo, heh,heh,heh.....remember the USS Liberty!
Bigamy is nothing but infidelity, hindu's commit against truth absolute GOD, justifying by hindu Judaism, filthy secularism to commit hind crime hinduism, racism against humanity, and cause of mayhem among humanity, deserving nothing less than elimination for peace, Islam among humanity in life and hear after.
The writer of this article asks how can Muslim voices be heard in the American political arena. I have to wonder, why does it matter that they be Muslim voices? I keep getting the feeling from articles like this one that somehow it's America that has to change to accommodate Muslim customs, sensibilities and values and not the other way around. Muslims need to put the shoe on the other foot and accept American values to heart before they "step up" and start demanding everyone else change and accept the oppressive and retrograde values of Islam. It is important for both Muslims and everyone else to realize that islam's culture, values, history, customs, traditions, scripture, and religious beliefs are violently hostile to and anathema to the western tradition and American values and law. This isn't something that can just be swept under the rug of political correctness and naive hope that we can all just get along. Islam doesn't want to just get along, it wants and demands that it crush and destroy everything else and dominate the world and human rights, rule of law and brotherly love be damned. Sorry, but that's what Islam itself says, you only have to read it for yourself. This article refuses to address this serious issue so this article should not be taken seriously at all. Muslims need to first step up and deal with islam's inherent inhumanity and hate before they start "stepping up" and telling other Americans how to accept Muslims.
no one is putting a gun on your head to "accept the oppressive and retrograde values of Islam."
the only ones that ignore logic and have to engage in smears and namecalling are Israel supporters who are incapable of having a discussion without calling someone an anti-Semite, or a hate monger, or something because they are unable to refute the truth that Israel is leeching American taxapyers and is a racist apartheid state in occupation over Palestinian lands for the purpose of stealing these lands. You can make all the accusations that you want, Ruffneck, but every accusation that you make is one that applies to Israel supporters and you well know it. The reality is that Israel supporters use rhetoric and the shroud of victimization to try mask Israel's murderous occupation over the Palestinians even if you fulminate and rant otherwise because you can't refute the facts that "it's the occupation.....".
How can Muslims be recognized as civilized unless they actively attack, words are fine, the Islamic Extremists that preach hate and kill fellow Muslims? Islam looks like a barbaric, inhuman existence! Women are treated like dirt! Gays are beheaded! And there is nothing in the US news suggesting that US resident Muslims don't like uncivilized behavior.
Americans, despite the efforts of many Israel-Firsters who desire to see Americans die in needless wars for the benefit of their PRECIOUS (said like Golem in the Lord of the Rings ), IsraHell, are tired of squandering national resources.
Already PRECIOUS has leeched far too much off of the American taxpayer!! Enough is enough as Americans remember how Israel murdered 34 American sailors on the USS Liberty without a peep from representatives in Congress who to this day have not done a Congressional Inquiry nor taken the testimony of the survivors under oath unlike any other incident where American personnel were attacked by a foreign power. Americans can see the official memorial website of survivors for themselves and listen to their taped testimonies if they google the USS Liberty!
Demand that your representative initiate an official congressional inquiry into the USS Liberty that will take the testimonies of the survivors under oath and at the same time, demand that these so-called representatives of WE, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE stop acting like lapdogs swearing allegiance to Israel and the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Also demand that they boycott AIPAC's meeting next week where they are again expected to grovel and swear obeisance to the point that their tonguues turn blue like the Israeli flag!!!
Remember the LIBERTY!!
separation of church, synagogue, mosque and State please. NO MORE PATRIARCHY! It's not healthy for men or women.
Know what the difference is between the mindset, ideology, level of awareness, intellect and evolution of these Muslims Extremists today vs. Muslims of 1,000 years ago?
Neither do I.
Does "As it was in the beginning" come to mind,,,,,,,, what's that?
Hey Mike, I do ....it is that traitorous Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard. Remember the USS Liberty!
The Muslim Caliphate that is developing in the Middle East is a serious long term threat to the West. You simply cannot ignore Fundamentalist Islam’s primary goal of spreading Islam globally and converting or killing all infidels. As these people start controlling more and more of the Middle East we are going down a very dangerous path.
Watch out hindu criminal rats,
Israel-Firsters and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC), corruption of America's body politic into a Rabbinate that will leech American taxpayers forever for the benefit of Israhell is a direct threat to the well being of all Americans. Israelis live well while American inner cities look like war zones and American children live off of food stamps. And all for the Israeli rabbinate and its traitorous stooges in America ready to sell out the USA like Jonathon Pollard did!
If you actually knew anything about the Moddle East, you would know that they couldn't unite for the life of them. THey have always been a deeply divided chaos of fiefs, clans, sects, and other various subsections that are doomed to bicker and battle and divide for the rest of time.
Ain't gonna be no caliphate.
you are talking another 600 years, you will be long gone.
Knowing not personally any Muslim, I am at a loss for understanding them or their faith(s). If it is a Muslim way to do what many American folks are scared of, then you tell me or I you that for many centuries, Christiandom acted like azzholes and their 'religious leaders' clung when needed to the shoelaces of the governments in charge. Is this what 'Americans' really think?
Lost in the crowd,
I am wearing an Obama Biden T-shirt today and along with my hijab, I must say that I got a lot of stares. Some pleasant ones but most surprised ones as if it was unexpected for a Muslim to make a public political statement. I wanted to shout out: "Hey! Muslims are politically engaged too!" ;)
Thanks for writing this great op-ed Imam!
You must be on Mitt Romney payroll? Let your opponents be supported by hijab wearing people - this is a really nasty trick to make Obama lose this election.
I'm wearing my ROMNEY DOESN'T SUCK AS BAD AS YOU MIGHT THINK, SO VOTE FOR HIM INSTEAD OF THE NIG . . . I can't say the rest because CNN would ban me again, but then again, I am wearing my full-body aluminum foil anti-libtard-ray suit with my foil receiver helmet that lets me receive Rush Limbaugh even when he isn't broadcasting, so maybe it will protect me from their censorship.
"Broadcasting" is a funny word. When I was a kid, I though it meant throwing the woman. Daddy always called women "broads" and liked to toss them around, so it's just natural to think that's what "broadcasting" is.
Anyway, you libtards keep yourselves outta Missississississississippippippi or I will broadcast you.
Ummm- media – lol – what's next.... where's that trayvon story- that should be headlines again lol
Until Muslims stand up and denounce violence, loud, long and with conviction. I will never trust them.
Who cares about opinion of a hindu ignorant, brother of a owl of hindu darkened cave.
why should they, if they never committed violence themselves? Are you going to denounce for all people commit petty crimes?
Americans do not trust Israel-Firsters constantly demanding obeisance to the Holocaust which was initiated by a person Jewish heritage, namely, Adolph Hitler and the imposition of a guilt trip on us to leech our tax dollars. Until I hear Israel-Firster denounce AIPAC in loud voices for corrupting America's body politic, the loyalty of certain people who claim to be of a certain religion to America and not to Israhell will always be questioned. America and not Israel-Firsters. Our slogan is Remember the USS Liberty!
Ask the French how they are liking Muslims progress assimilating in France...not!
A better question is to ask Americans "how they like AIPAC dictating how American tax dollars get leeched by Israhell and how Israhell and AIPAC have corrupted America's body politic?"
Incidentally, Israel-Firsters seem totally screwed up in constantly raising up Mr. Gunther Grass's conscripting into the Waffen SS as a young teenager of only 17 years of age. But it justifies me pointing out Hitler's origins given that the issue of Hitler's Jewish ancestry is often ignored. It should be pointed that Jewish lineage is passed on from the mother's side. Given that Hitler's mother's father, namely, Hitler's grandfather was Jewish, this would technically make Hitler of Jewish origin also. Furthermore, the author of Nazi ideology was none other than Alfred Rosenberg – people are free to make a judgement as to what his religious background was. This nonsense rant about Israel being the "Chosen" of G-d and Israel's enemies being consumed is getting boring and tiresome. Last that anyone of us heard, Egypt is still there and doing quite well given that the population of Egyptians has grown multi-fold, Iran is still there and doing quite well given that the population of Iranians has grown multi-fold, Germany is still there and doing quite well given that the population of Germans has grown multi-fold, Russia is still there and doing quite well given that the population of Russians has grown multi-fold, Poland is still there and doing quite well given that the population of Poles has grown multi-fold, all the countries of Europe (who all participated in WW2 and in the Holocaust), are still there and doing quite well given that the population of Europeans has grown multi-fold. Now Israel-Firsters are welcome to bring on their next useless sound-bites given that the first soliloquoy has proven completely laughable...
Points taken under advisarial augments' appraisals while freedom loving beneficiaries turn away their cheeks,,,,,,,
Muslim community need to stop importing Imams, Mullahs for their mosques from Islamic countries with radical views.
Hey eliminate hindu – You have a difficult time tonight? You need a hug??
no thanks, I don't need your hug.
and fyi I am not your Eliminate guy.
Jew's, self centered, secular s are none other than hindu's, pagans of Egypt and Persia, claiming to be Israelite to rob and steal from humanity.
Hey Eliminate, no one cares about your political or religious views, get lost.
Lost from face of earth will be hindu's, deniers of truth absolute and their hinduism, racism, do it your self hindu, ignorant, or A Muslim need to help you out of your hinduism, misery.
Your English teacher just called, you failed the class again.
He did not learn my English, but I developed my English from his English class, I love free English and hell with his gentile, slave English. I have graduated my self, let him know.
Have you been Americanized? That sounds like the first rational and civil thing I've heard from a Muslim? Well done.
Don't turn your back on him
Badly-bent, you need to get out more.
One reason why we, Muslims, are not involved (as part of an Islamic community) is that we are not too proud of this outdated version of Islam. Until filtered from violence, it will continue to be avoided by American Muslims.
It would be nice to read one article written by a Muslim that doesn't begin by whining about "Islamophobia." You know, that phantom "anti-Muslim backlash" about which we're incessantly warned but which stubbornly fails to materialize despite the latest Islamic atrocity du jour.
Despite what such made-up, pseudo-diagnostic language would suggest, it is entirely possible to direct legitimate criticisms as Islam and its demonstrable record of spreading misogyny, oppression, and ruin wherever it is allowed to gain political power, which its adherents inevitably seek to do. Islam's latest attempts at "strategic" "civic engagement" have come in the form of attempting to criminalize free expression and place itself beyond the bounds of criticism. Those are the "conversations" Islam has brought to the table recently.
If you want to have a different conversation, though, then how about focusing a topic of some substance that doesn't begin with you crying about your oh-so-persecuted victim status.
Punishment always seems to be atrocity to a hindu, criminal, cry to hind, fool does not absolve a hindu criminal from his punishment.
Were Jews ever really slaves in Egypt, or is Passover a myth?
Where is the real proof – archeological evidence, state records and primary sources?
Here's a question for you: what do actor Charlton Heston, DreamWorks animation studios and Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin all have in common? Well, they've all, at one time or another, perpetuated the myth that the Jews built the pyramids. And it is a myth, make no mistake. Even if we take the earliest possible date for Jewish slavery that the Bible suggests, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt a good three hundred years after the 1750 B.C. completion date of the pyramids. That is, of course, if they were ever slaves in Egypt at all.
We are so quick to point out the obvious lies about Jews and Israel that come out in Egypt – the Sinai Governors claims that the Mossad released a shark into the Red Sea to kill Egyptians, or, as I once read in a newspaper whilst on holiday in Cairo, the tale of the magnetic belt buckles that Jews were selling cheap in Egypt that would sterilize men on contact – yet we so rarely examine our own misconceptions about the nature of our history with the Egyptian nation.
We tend, in the midst of our disdain for Egyptian, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, to overlook the fact that one of the biggest events of the Jewish calendar is predicated upon reminding the next generation every year of how the Egyptians were our cruel slave-masters, in a bondage that likely never happened. Is this really so different from Jaws the Mossad agent?
The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there's the story contained within the bible itself, but that's not a remotely historically admissible source. I'm talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery (the archeologist's best friend) with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population, nor has any evidence been found for any of the expected effects of such an exodus; such as economic downturn or labor shortages. Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time. No rapid departure from traditional pottery has been seen, no record or story of a surge in population.In fact, there's absolutely no more evidence to suggest that the story is true than there is in support of any of the Arab world's conspiracy theories and tall tales about Jews.So, as we come to Passover 2012 when, thanks to the “Arab Spring,” our relations with Egypt are at a nearly 40 year low, let us enjoy our Seder and read the story by all means, but also remind those at the table who may forget that it is just a metaphor, and that there is no ancient animosity between Israelites and Egyptians. Because, if we want to re-establish that elusive peace with Egypt that so many worked so hard to build, we're all going to have to let go of our prejudices.
What's your point?
Smaller bytes please for my short attention span is really short just like my tallywhacker! LoL
Hey Nate, inure out the point for yourself. Israel- Firsters are gonna get exposed to the light of day no matter what they do as Americans are on to their tactics!
Jews were also killed by fellow Jews in World War II which many people do not know.
The fact is that Adolph Hitler was of Jewish origin as DNA analysis of his living relatives including a nephew shows and which has conveniently been ignored or hidden by Israel-Firsters for far too long!
Additionally there were tens of thousands of Germans of Jewish origin that served in the German Army at all levels including at the staff level re. Colonels and generals.
These Germans of Jewish origin were specifically defined as meschlinges by Germany. Many of these Germans of Jewish origin also participated in the murder of fellow Jews in the Holocaust or ignored that it was happening thereby making these Germans of Jewish origin equally complicit in the murder of fellow Jews.
These German soldiers of Jewish origin of the Nazi war machine were also referred to meschlinges in the German army definition manuals.
Israel-Firsters will either try to hide this fact or deny it or try to obfuscate this but it is a fact of history and readers can google the information or themselves by googling a variation of "Jewish soldiers of the German army in world war II".
Israel-Firsters can run but they cain't hide no more notwithstanding all their whines that "We are the only victims".
It is sad that so many millions of Jewish people were murdered by their own. It is equally sad that Israel-Firsters demean the memories of the victims of these Jewish Nazi soldiers by ohhhhh so conveniently ignoring the fact that millions of Jewish people have been cannibalized figuratively speaking by other people with Jewish origins including Adolph Hitler himself (DNA analysis of Hitler's currently living descendants including a nephew conclusively proves this – readers can google this information also if they google a variation of "Hitler's Jewish origins and DNA analysis". ' Nuff said!!!!!
Are you anti Semitic or just anti?
Uhh Nate, false slurs of anti-Semitism won't cut it no more so try another new slur to use against anyone exposes Israhell for the pathetic welfare leech that it is. For the record, I have no hesitation in saying what a noble religion that Judaism is and how disgusting it is that Israel-Firsters have corrupted its beautiful messages and teachings
Hitler was a Jew? That's your premise?? Considering how thoroughly the Nazis went through someone's lineage to rout out the "nasty jewish blood" I'm pretty sure that would have come to light a long time ago!
We're loyal to the countries we're born in, and we prove it over and over again. How?? By being good citizens, paying taxes, defending it (my father served in our army in WWII) and contributing to its welfare. Your rant isn't about our interest in Israel's welfare, you're just an anti-semitic whack job using the internet as a place to shoot off your hate.
it sure is time for MOOOOslims to step up. Step up, step out and go back to your towelhead countries! Trust us-nobody wants your flearidden population here in the U.S.
uhhhh it dorsn't matter where Muslims come from.....the fact is that we all know where European Jews and Sephardim come from and it is clearly not from the ancient Hebrews of the Bible, heh,heh,heh....it is hilarious that all you Israel-Firsters are now realizing that you are not even of the line of David and all the prophets of the Bible but are simply making the motions of being the Chosen Ones. Feel free to attack me all that you want but it doesn't change the fact that all your cherished myths about yourself are exactly that – myths, heh,heh,heh...welcome to your Khazar and Slavic origins, mate, hehe,heh,heh.....
Wish of a hindu, denire of truth absolute, never to be fulfilled, America belongs to Muslims, follower and owner of consti tution of USA, Do not worry, soon Muslims will give hindu's, deniers of truth absolute, rock of America, a free ship ticket to their hinduered gutter of hinduism, illegality called india.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.