Back during the presidential campaign last fall, the wingnuts on the right were ridiculed — sometimes by Republicans or conservatives — for harping on Barack Hussein Obama’s supposed Muslim religion, and for making a point of using his middle name.
I maintained then — and still maintain — that what was significant was not whether Barack Obama is really a Muslim, but the fact that the Muslims of the world seem to think he is.
And now comes confirmation of that assumption from an op-ed in Forbes by a woman named Asma Gull Hasan:
My Muslim President Obama
by Asma Gull Hasan
Why members of the Islamic faith see him as one of the flock.
I know President Obama is not Muslim, but I am tempted nevertheless to think that he is, as are most Muslims I know. In a very unscientific oral poll, ranging from family members to Muslim acquaintances, many of us feel, just as African-Americans did for the non-black but culturally leaning African-American President Bill Clinton, that we have our first American Muslim president in Barack Hussein Obama.
I know it’s odd to say this. At first, I thought I was the only Muslim engaging in this folly, and I am reluctant to express it lest right-wing zealots try to use “Muslim” as a smear and cite my theory as proof of an Islamic traitor in the White House or some such nonsense. But, since Election Day, I have been part of more and more conversations with Muslims in which it was either offhandedly agreed that Obama is Muslim or enthusiastically blurted out. In commenting on our new president, “I have to support my fellow Muslim brother,” would slip out of my mouth before I had a chance to think twice.
“Well, I know he’s not really Muslim,” I would quickly add. But if the person I was talking to was Muslim, they would say, “yes he is.” They would cite his open nature and habit of reaching out to critics, reminiscent of the Prophet Muhammad’s own approach, and also Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Most of the Muslims I know (me included) can’t seem to accept that Obama is not Muslim.
The rationalistic, Western side of me knows that Obama has denied being Muslim, that his father was non-practicing, that he doesn’t attend a mosque. Many Muslims simply say back, “my father’s not a strict Muslim either, and I haven’t been to a mosque in years.” Obama even told The New York Times he could recite the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, which the vast majority of Muslims, I would guess, do not know well enough to recite.
I think many of us Muslims see Obama as Muslim, or at least of Muslim heritage, because his background epitomizes one of the major Muslim experiences — a diverse upbringing that eludes any easy classification as specifically one religion or one culture. So many of us Muslims around the world have Islam in common, but an altogether different culture from one another. Many Muslims share a culture with a Christian, Hindu or Buddhist community but not the same religion. When faced with such diversity, there are no hard and fast rules for Muslim identity.
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The Qur’an speaks often of the umma, or the worldwide community of Muslims. In the early days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad led the small umma. Every decision, every effort, everything was for the umma — people who were often unrelated by blood but had become related by choice as Muslims. In those early days, many Muslims had gone against the wishes of their own families in converting to Islam, pitting brother against sister, father against child. Perhaps that’s why the concept of umma became so dear and is still echoed today — in my opinion, echoed more than that Western favorite jihad — in Muslim homes, whether those homes are in the United States or in Palestine.
And now comes the key point: Barack Hussein Obama is part of the Umma, whether he acknowledges it or not:
Perhaps it is my — and most Muslims’ — loyalty to the umma that is behind our insistence on seeing Obama as Muslim. Islam survived and continues to survive because Muslims believe we have to respect and take care of each other, as members of the umma. If we were to start excluding members, or revising our broad guidelines for admittance, the very essence of the community feeling that is important in Islam, that gives me and other Muslims comfort everyday, would be undercut. So when Obama says he’s not Muslim, my umma mentality says I know better. Once you have a Muslim parent, especially a dad, you’re in. Whether you like it or not, Muslims all over the world see you as one of them.
Muslims all over the world see him as one of them.
This means that they have great expectations of him, and so far he has not let them down.
But he has some very high hurdles to jump. When the next hot war breaks out between Israel and the terrorist proxies of Iran and Syria, President Obama will be expected to act in a certain way. He will have to disavow Israel overtly, at the very least withhold further military aid, and preferably back some sort of retaliatory action specified by the UN.
This will be a tough expectation for the new president to meet. It would be a complete departure from our past behavior towards Israel, and would not be in our strategic interests. There will be strong opposition to such a change, even from within his own (unprecendentedly leftist) administration.
So how will President Obama handle this difficult dilemma?
As reported several days ago, Iran is now a “regional partner” in discussions about Afghanistan, and the ascendancy of the Iran lobby in Washington is a strong indicator that Israel will soon be thrown under the bus.
Who better to do the job than our first Muslim president?
Hat tip: JW.