I came across a fascinating five-part series entitled The Arabization of South Asian Islam, written by the blogger Yursil. It's a wide-ranging look at how Arab Islam is assuming the leadership in Muslims communities across the U.S., especially South Asian ethnic communities, and how that is essentially overpowering the emergent unique American Islamic culture. When Muslims are complaining about Saudi/Whabai influence rolling over Muslim communities, you know it's real. He doesn't mince words, either:
"Yet the “Islamic” values that have been deemed acceptable for import (to the West) are those which are deeply rooted in academia and the heterodox. Today we find that it is those Islamic movements which existed in the vacuums of Islamic history which are being promoted most. Ideas and trends which were quickly eliminated by traditional Muslim societies are now propped up in the false garb of traditionalism, masquerading as the faces of traditional Islamic societies when in fact they are its malignant tumors which were cauterized by the scholars, saints, and Sultans of the time. How can we truly call ourselves ‘traditional’ if we simply import the discarded remnants of a past society, as opposed to those institutions and ideas which led to its glory?"
"....The issue here is the creation of a vision of an American Islamic culture before the reality has formed. And the reality has not formed because we have sought to marginalize all other Islamic cultures (except for Arab culture) in the American Islamic discourse."
Yursil asks a pointed question in Part 4:
"Why is nearly every speaker on Islam in the West a convert or a card carrying member of the Arabized Al-Madinah University ideology?"
"It is clear that American Islam, like the South Asian Muslim, is heading down a direct path of forced Arabization, and this is a tragic fate due to the irresponsibility and intellectual subordination of Muslim organizations, immigrant Muslims, and South Asian Muslims in general."
The Islamic Society of Boston gets mentioned in Part 2 of the series:
"By seeking to spend hours in small conference rooms pondering over methods through which to brilliantly create an American-Islamic culture, we do ourselves a disservice by stifling the growth of a nascent Islamic community, one that can only grow naturally. Recently, the Islamic Society of Boston erected a monumental masjid which is able to facilitate thousands of Muslims. While such a feat certainly contributes both architecturally and historically to the creation of an American Muslim culture, this project has left many small Muslim communities to the wayside. Masjid Noor, the markaz of Tablighi Jammat in New England, will now lose a great number of congregants, thus putting its already tenuous rent in more peril. The Mosque for the Praising of Allah, the oldest masjid which has a large African-American population, has also been displaced by this project. By theorizing on the topic of an American-Islamic culture in the comfort of large conference halls, we destroy the culture being created by those who live American Islam."
Sort of like when Wal-Mart comes to town, and drives out the smaller local stores. The Middle Eastern-funded ISB not only overpowers smaller communities, but it strives to replace the richly varied ethnic Muslim communities with the severe Saudi Arabian version. Music and singing are haram, you must learn Arabic, women must wear hijab!
At a Sunni Muslim woman's blog, there's more discussion on Yursil's blog and the ISB (who the blogger notes is perceived to be the Muslim American Society masjid):
"I know that if I were to live there again, I might go to ISBCC for jumu’ah or other activities, but I’ve never really felt that comfortable with the ISB community as it is in Cambridge b/c of the behavior of the women and the whole Arab / non-Arab thing. But I also do believe that the core jama’at at ISBCC will probably continue to be Arab-Americans, college students, and suburbanites."
There's something about the ISB sisters, as others have noted too:
“ 'Have you invited the sisters from the ISB?' I ask her. She looks at me sorrowfully. 'You know what?' she tells me. 'They never come. They never count us.' I think of a time in class when a visitor asked the lecturer the number of mosques in the area. 'There are nine like this one,' he said. Then he rattled off the names of the cities nearby with mosques, but he did not list Dorchester. By accident or not, he did not include the Masjid Al Quran...... 'It is like they do not want to be associated with us. They do not want to acknowledge us.' Her face is sad.”
But I digress.....
Please take some time to read Yursil's entire five-part series, it's a thoughtful and provocative look at what is happening to Islam in the U.S., and what precious cultural elements are being lost. Fascinating stuff.
Do the various interfaith supporters who give blanket support to the ISB realize that they are helping to spread of a Saudi Arab/Wahabi Islam, a version of Islam that is rejected by many Muslims and runs counter to the American Islamic experience for so many?