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The Self-Ghetto-ization of Muslim Youth 10 September 2007


The great tragedy of the young Muslim descendants of immigrants is their self-ghettoization. Young Muslims across America, rather than stand up like strong fearless Muslims, have chosen to cower in their small shallow cliques. While many want to accuse the MSAs of being overrun by destructive fundamentalists, the real problem is that more and more MSAs across the country have become little more than self-constructed ghettos of low self-esteem. Events are organized around praising Islam (and by extension, praising the self) rather than calling people to God.

1- It is necessary that a few determined individuals transform this low-self-esteemed MSA culture into one founded on calling people to God. If a Muslim is seeking social justice it must be performed with the undercurrent that social justice will provide people with the freedom to seek God. If a Muslim is seeking to celebrate diversity and culture, then it must be performed with the undercurrent that such diversity will invite people to God.

If, however, the MSA Ethos ignores this mandatory calling-people-to-God as anything but a top priority, then of a necessity events will be little more than notches in a list of accomplishments for an annual speech. They will offer the feel-good sense that “we’ve done something,” and we must confirm that often they do provide important services. But these very sharp young Muslims have a deeper mission. Your goal is, by the end of the school year, to have invited (only invited) every person on campus to God. It is that simple.

2- It is necessary that a few determined individuals transform the cultural ethos of the MSA to one seeking not just spiritual development (i.e. Iman development), but excellence in such development. That drive for excellence rests in the constant pursuit of God, and the constant deepening and refining of that relationship. Again, if “spiritual” activities ignore this undercurrent, then they will offer the very important feel-good camaraderie, but will miss the precious development of young hearts.

3- Mentors. While the previous generations of MSA leaders could stretch themselves with the excuse that they lacked guidance, the onus is on them to guide their young brothers and sisters. They need to provide themselves as umbrellas underneath which the young students can learn the ropes of activism, duty, life, and love and make the necessary mistakes required for growth. It is necessary that a few determined individuals now take the reigns and mold these precious gems. The basic job of these mentors, in guiding the above two projects is social cohesion. They must bring everyone together and keep them together, like a family. All of them. Thus, in one aspect, they might have to be the most liberal or flexible members of the organization.

Let us face facts. There are individuals across this nation who are at war with you for no reason but that you call yourself Muslim. They are ready to destroy this whole country to fulfill their own power hungry agendas. It is time to raise the stakes, and show them and (more importantly) ourselves that not only are we here to stay, we are going to make this American house even stronger and better.

More importantly, we have an obligation to bring everyone, ourselves and others, closer to God. We invite others by way of calling them to God, and we bring ourselves closer by developing our Iman. And, we keep the project vibrant and robust by being a family. Three projects for every MSA, and the results will be phenomenal.

And with that, I do offer myself to you, my beloved young sisters and brothers.

And Allah knows best.



1. ABD - 10 September 2007

spot on, brother man.

any MSA has diverse constituencies with diverse needs, but they can be brought into harmony by a focus on bringing people closer to God. this is one common denominator that elevates rather than debases the entire set of MSA activities and objectives.

i’ve tried to communicate this to every MSA with which i’ve been involved, but i first understood it from you. may God protect and bless you.

2. The Turk - 14 September 2007

MSA’s sometime are too huge and understaffed. Too few people organizing and running everything. When I was out in LA in ’01. I was living off UCLA Campus and I did Juma namaz with the UCLA MSA. I also made quite a few friends. The basic problem; I saw was the 5 people running the whole thing. (And there a lot of Muslims students that were part of it and least 10-20% like me and not even attending UCLA. And after 9/11 there was surge of joining and request of help. Lots of Muslim students were facing all kinds of problems.) So 5 people were just overwhelmed and it was patch-up job at times. We have too few leaders willing to take up the aches and pains of leadership and too many followers who wait for their orders or just want reap the benefits without the work.

3. MOZAFFAR - 15 September 2007

Salams The Turk,

Yes, you are correct. We call this the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the members. In the case of large MSAs, it is probably a 95/5 rule, where 95% of the work is done by 5% of the members. But, it is that 5% percent whom I’m addressing when I keep mentioning “a few determined individuals.”

Thank you for your posts above and elsewhere.

May Allah bless you.

Omer M

4. The Turk - 15 September 2007

Salam Omer,

How can we ask these hard-working bros do more when Muslim community is under attack everyday in the states. Do you know there is a group now that wants every practicing Muslim in jail for 20 years? Every day there is story on CNN or Fox how Muslims are bad or so called bad Muslims. An Ex-alcoholic Mormon wants to be aribitater of good and bad Islam. Gtve me a break. Islam is treated like a cult religion.

I think self internalization is not bad. Just have to do it right the way. We get educated and work and live life. Just we make sure our social network is muslim. Is our family and friends and we can reconnect our bonds of islam. We make social circle muslim one.

I’m of Zuberi Clan from Subcontinent. Our family can be found in every major city in the world. When I was living LA. I lots of uncles, aunts and cousins. I had my college buddies, acquaintances etc. However, most weekends I would some at some family function. And I can tell u they were best of times…

Also I have hung out with non-muslim for work or college or just whatever but muslim brother and sisters are better. Can better form a connection with them.

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