Islamic Studies

Obama pledges new start with Muslims

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect”

A Question for some of our well intended brothers and sisters who say, “What’s the difference between the two?”

Would Mccain do this?

Obama acts on Guantanamo trials

Barack Obama has requested the suspension of all military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, in his first major act as the new US president.

The request would halt proceedings in 21 pending cases, including one against five men accused of plotting the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The halt would give Mr Obama time to review the tribunal process.

The new president is beginning his first working day by meeting economic advisers and top military commanders.

Most of his cabinet is in place but several key posts are still to be confirmed.

Mr Obama himself attended inaugural balls late into Tuesday night, as America marked the arrival of its 44th president and first African-American leader.

‘Ideals versus safety’

Barack Obama has repeatedly promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where some 250 inmates accused of links to terrorism remain.

Just hours after taking the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol, he moved to halt the controversial process of military tribunals.

Guantanamo Bay camp at sunrise, 19 November

The detention camp has for a long time drawn international criticism

The two-page document, ordered jointly by Mr Obama and the US Department of Defense, seeks a 120-day suspension of trials and will be heard by two tribunal judges on Wednesday.

The delay would “permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration time to review the military commission process”, the document said.

The legal process has been widely criticised because the US military acts as jailer, judge and jury, says the BBC’s Jonathan Beale in Washington.

And in his inaugural address on Tuesday, Mr Obama emphasised the idea of respect for justice and the rights of the individual, rejecting “as false the choice between our safety and our ideals”.

Cabinet hearings

On his first full day in the Oval Office, Mr Obama is due to meet top national security

It will be these tonal changes that make Obama’s America much more palatable to Europeans
Justin Webb
BBC North America editor

officials as he takes over as commander-in-chief.He was also due to conduct a video conference with US military chiefs in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

In his inaugural address, the new president spoke of his desire to usher in a new era of peace.

“We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan,” he pledged.

The US Senate has already approved six members of his Cabinet, including Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and Steven Chu as energy secretary.

However, Hillary Clinton’s approval as secretary of state was postponed after a Republican senator demanded a debate beforehand about foreign donations to a foundation headed by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

That debate is due on Wednesday and Mrs Clinton’s nomination is now expected to be confirmed in a vote immediately afterwards.

Timothy Geithner, the nominee to head the treasury department, is due to face the Senate finance committee on Wednesday to explain his initial failure to pay payroll taxes he owed while working for the International Monetary Fund.
Courtesy of BBC

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • BismillahirRahmanirRahim,

    Salam alaykum,

    How many pledges made by politicians, have you seen come to fruition?

    Perhaps you should quote what he said to us, in full:

    “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. ”

    Is the “new way forward,” to tell Muslim countries their problems are their own doing, while continuing to aid, prop-up and financially support leaders & outfits who destroy any hopes of building? There is nothing new about this hypocrisy, and time will tell how this plays out.

    You’ve made calls to the past about how Muslims should respect their imams, once when you walked on a stage and didn’t get enough applause or acknowledgement. Well, as a so-called leader, why don’t you take a stand on this doublespeak, and not be so eager to be caught up in this emotional Obama moment?

  • Salam,

    I can’t be the only on who finds the tone of the criticism offered by ‘Shakir’ rude and pejorative. Why couch one’s views in such an aggressive tone, full of sū’ al-dhann, or ‘badness of opinion’ in regard not just to a fellow Muslim (who should be safe from one’s actions or words) but an imām and scholar who strives for the betterment of the Muslim community from morn to night?

    Manners maketh the man…

    As for Obama’s intentions towards either Muslims or the non-American world in general, how can we possibly judge unless he gets a track record? His action on Guantanamo is certainly a cause for hope.

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    Shakir:

    “You’ve made calls to the past about how Muslims should respect their imams, once when you walked on a stage and didn’t get enough applause or acknowledgement. Well, as a so-called leader, why don’t you take a stand on this doublespeak, and not be so eager to be caught up in this emotional Obama moment?”

    Are you judging my intention? Did you cut my heart open? Such comments reflect a love for the religion, a concern for the umma and, unfortunatley a profound ignorance of the basic adab involved in dealing with your brother. The first two are praiseworthy, the last could, in the Hereafter, be deadly.

    SDW

  • I am reading Shakir’s response and I am appalled at the level of ignorance and rudeness of character that his comment reveals.

    The sad thing about ignorance is that the one who has it, doesn’t realize it. When he’s rude and embarrassing himself, he has no idea that everyone around him with some sense of manners, is offended by his style. To humiliate yourself and not know it, is truly a sad state, and I feel sorry for anyone who is afflicted with this.

    Aside from this, how much has Islam taught us with regards to manners, controlling the tongue, brotherhood, and dealing with differences.

    Br. Shakir– everyone makes mistakes. The difference between a good person and a bad person, is a good person can come back and say sorry.

    Imam Suhaib, may Allah reward you for what you constantly have to deal with.

  • Assalamu alaikum

    Shakir: i found your comment rather rude and embarrassing. You cannot speak to people in that way. Brother Suahib has done much for his community, may Allah reward him and give him tawfeeq. Even if you don’t agree, you should still observe the ettiquetes of discussion.

    I have seen some positives in Obama’s campaign (and a negative when he addressed the Israeli lobby) but we should try to focus on the positive for now- as he has only been in office for 1 day. We pray that he will live up to his promises and that he was will operate a fairer and more Just system both in USA and accross the world.

    May Allah unite the Ummah and bring victory to the oppressed in Palestine and around the world. I also pray that Allah guides Obama to what is good and just, and also guide him to Islam (you never know) 🙂

    Jazak Allah khayr Shayk Suhaib- may Allah bless you and your family (and guide those of them that are yet to accept Islam)

    Fi amanillah

  • Salam,

    Fozia:
    No you are not the only one who finds that tone of criticism offensive.

    Brother Suhaib:
    Being in the position you’re in and advocating what you advocate should thicken your skin! Sorry to say brother, but you are going to have to get used to emotional outbursts of Inshallah well intentioned people.

    Brother Shakir,
    I see the emotion through your lines and your energy is one to be appreciated although, from one brother to another, it is misplaced. If I may, and Allah knows my intention, I would like to point out two alarming things about your comment that Inshallah will give you something to think about.
    One, as alluded to by Bro Suhaib, is assuming ill intention of others. I am with you that the track record of politicians is concerning when it comes to dealing with the Muslim and Arab world but you, me and any of God’s creation can not know and judge “intention”. We can form opinions based on actions and Barack should be at least given the benefit of the doubt prior to forming any opinion about his actions.
    Two, and perhaps most alarming, is the denial about the situation of the Muslim/Arab world. I appreciated the president’s comment “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” The most glowing example leaders of the Arab/Muslim world is the most recent events of Gaza. Embarrassing to say the least if not worthy of an uproar that would wake their sleeping hearts.
    Brother Shakir, channel your energy into something more productive. You will accomplish more if you work on yourself for remember that you are a building block in this Muslim structure.
    My two cents!
    Nomad78

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    Nomad78:

    May Allah thicken our skin with thick emaan. Also, let’s not turn this into an attack on Us. Shakir. I have nothing against him and know that his concern comes from the love of our faith, connection with the Prophet [sa] and his noble feelings for our community.

    SDW

  • Salaamaat,

    My feelings on Obama are quite mixed and the reaction from many in the community is quite strange, it is something for sociologists to research and comment on.

    I have been hearing a lot of brothers at least around me and in my area who are expressing their beliefe that Obama is going to be worse than Bush! That his tenure is going to be bad for the Muslims and in the same breathe they comment saying I think America is going down, its going to get worse for Muslims etc and then they quote Sh.Awlaki and say “The American Muslim honeymoon is over”. I find this amazing when none of us know what the future has in store for us or what Obama is going to end up doing during his turn in office.

    Then there are others who have an almost messianic fervor for Obama that lacks the critical distance and realization that he is not going to solve all the worlds and the Muslims’ ills. There is a concept that Dr.Cornel West speaks about, and it is in fact something he is attempting to ‘revive’ and that is paidea or the active, engaged, literate and cultured citizenry and really this means being critical while being engaged.

    I appreciate this post because it shows how our participation did in fact secure something: the lesser of the evils which has basis in our tradition. Yet if we truly understand what Dr.West is speaking about and we conceptualize it into our own context then we can move to making alternative solutions to the status quo manifest and not just be content with a choice between an Obama or an McCain, this would require a lot of maturity on our part.

  • I think we should ignore the pestilence of this person! Its very clear that he has no fear of Allah and no knowledge of the shariah. If he wants to discuss the issues of voting, democracy ect, let him do it with appropriate adab and the correct décor of a student of knowledge.

    Wassalam

  • Assalaamu alaykum wa raHmatullai wa barakatuh,

    I am not an Imam or a scholor nor would I consider myself a wise person. If I am wrong please do not hesitate to correct me.

    I think that although we should be aware of the things going on around us, we should be more focused on our own personal jihad against ourselves. That being said, I do not think that we should be commenting on the post of someone that may have very well had a pure intention. Especially since the person that the post was directed to has already responded in a manner that he saw as sufficient. I’m sure that others may disagree, but this is my perspective on that matter. Alhamdullillah that Allah has blessed us with community gems like Sheikh Suhaib Webb.

    On a more relevant note, I recognize that we will not see a more perfect form of government than what Allah (SWT) has provided for us through the Qur’an and sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). With that in mind, there is hope that the situation of muslims in America, but we should not fool ourselves into thinking that Obama is our hope. I am not saying that Obama won’t do us any good, but rather that we should not be passive and think that Obama is the only one that can do our community good.

    “For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.” – Surat Ar-Ra’d (13-11) [Sahih International translation]

    My main intention for this post is to direct peoples attention to what they can be doing to help change the condition of our Ummah.

    May Allah grant for us what is best although we may not see it as so.

    jazakum Allahu khayran for your patience and please forgive me if I have wronged you as it was nowhere in my intention to do so.

    ~Brother R

  • Assalamualakum,

    The Muslim community should support and back the decision of Barack Obama, especially for his first day in office. He has just signed an executive order to close Guantanomo within one year! Read this article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_guantanamo

    And he did this just hours after he came into office. This should be a historic day for Muslims.

  • To “Bismillah”.

    You, whoever you are, are either some liar who loves fitna or someone who fits the description of khawarij and actually even characteristics of the extreme shia’s. The khawarij killed Ali r because according to them he was ruling against the Quran and sought human means, ‘arbitration,’ thereby making his blood halal. According to your thought the incorporation of the system of Devan from the Persians into the Khalipha of Umar r, making it Dewan would make him a kafir because he was seeking another system or way of administration.

  • ‘I think we should ignore the pestilence of this person! Its very clear that he has no fear of Allah and no knowledge of the shariah. If he wants to discuss the issues of voting, democracy ect, let him do it with appropriate adab and the correct décor of a student of knowledge’.

    By the way the above comment was intended for the person who made takfir of S.Suhaib. I see his comment has been deleted, walhamdulillah.

    Wassalam

  • AAWRWB,

    Mashaa’allah! I agree with Brother R completely.
    Imam Suhaib, I know as a brother such as yourself who came from the hood that there was an initial urge to respond in like manner, but just remember to ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ.

    I’m sure you’ll hear more where that came from as you will be one of the future leaders of our community here in the U.S.

    In regards to the discussion, I think there are some very important points that we should bear in mind.

    1. As political commentator Frank Scott put it, President Obama’s inauguration was “historically symbolic”. And I would like to add “purely” symbolic in regards to the historical nature of race relations in America. Was it powerful to see 1 to 2 million people in D.C? Indeed it was. As an African-American, I believe that his presidency is indicative of how much we have progressed as a nation in regards to race relations. As Muslims, I think this is one of the most poignant lessons that we can take in regards to our own dealings with one another.

    2. In regards to foreign policy, I’m afraid that what we will witness is a similar approach to the Middle East and Muslims as we had seen with Obama’s predecessor Bill Clinton. A number of commentators and or scholars (among them Norman Finkelstein) in the field of political science have stated that Obama’s foreign policy will continue to favor Israel. We really don’t have to look far. All we have to do is look at his silence over the “SLAUGHTER” in Palestine. He has recently placed a man George Mitchell as an envoy to the Middle East. This is a man who was personally received praise from one AIPAC’s top officials. President Obama is the same man who disassociated himself from his former minister whom he is quoted to have said “…a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.”

    I think these issues ring problematic and substantial for brothers like Shakir. I think when we try to compare President Obama (in regards to his Middle East/Muslim policies) to Bush or McCain he would as Frank Scott says, “Perhaps,(stand) slightly to the left of Bush, who was slightly to the left of fascism, according to many liberals.”

    3. Now I don’t want to paint a negative picture of Obama, but I do think we need to be a bit realistic about who and what we’re dealing with. I do believe that Obama’s relationship with the Muslim community will better, but probably no different than in Clinton’s. His gifted speech and eloquence will probably sway us. Unfortunately, that has been a trend in our community. It is important that we hold him accountable.

    4. That leads to my last point or rather issue. This is something that I would like to pose to Imam Suhaib. Does it not appear that our inability to affect change in American politics is a direct reflection of our inability to direct change in our own community? Do you not think that before we urge others to vote we should have a strategy? The Jews are (to say the least) ten times more organized and 1,000 times more efficient than us. Even though they are as much divided as we are, they have two goals in common and that is “ISRAEL” and “Self-Survival”. We still can’t seem to agree on a common agenda. ISNA is in this direction. MAS and ICNA are in the other. The AFrican-Americans are doing there own thing and well the neo-salafi brothers don’t even want to hear it. It appears that we’re pulling the carriage before the horse without any real operational unity. Not engaging with the political system, just reacting to it.

    May Allah help and strengthen our hearts.

    وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الاٍّمُورُ

    Bro. Kaleem

  • Islam—–> Allah and His Messenger decide what is halal and what is haram.

    Democracy—–> People-homos, jews, hindus, atheists, prostitutes, pimps, and hyprocrites-decide what is haram and what is halal.

    Obama pledges to slaughter more Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He pledges to give full-hearted support for Israel. He contends with Allah’s religion by calling people to believe in the superiority and greatness of democracy and America over everything else. And you people support him. Hence you support all the above.

    You are munafiqeen. Suhaib Webb is a Munafiq. A kafir. Allah will take me to account for what I said, and you will be held accountable for what you say. I am impatiently anxious to see how you’ll regret your lies, deception, and dishonorable undignified servitude to the kuffar/non-muslim/disbelievers who are slaughtering the men, women, and children of Islam and robbing them till they starve or live a life of hunger and thirst.
    May Allah guide you. And if you refuse guidance, may Allah destroy you. Amin. Your hearts are empty. And you have no brotherhood or sisterhood, you don’t know what it is to be a brother in faith or a sister in faith.

  • Assalamu alaikum

    Bismillah:

    I am so shocked by your comments- maybe you should reflect on your own behaviour before commenting on others. you cannot go around making takfeer on people- who gave you the authority to judge what is in people’s hearts?

    I am not putting Obama above any muslim, and certainly not above Allah and His Messenger (PBUH), I simply pray that Allah (swt) guides Obama into not making anything worse for muslims and not waging wars on us- and that we can work with eachother for the greater good for all humanity- Allah (swt) sent His Messenger (swt) as a mercy for all humanity, not just muslims.

    I was sadend to hear Obama’s address to the Israeli lobby- he let down justice and freedom, and certainly muslims too, i also don’t understand whay there is a single days delay in closing Guantanamo- he should have stopped the torture already!

    We need to expect more from our muslim leaders, hold them to account, and kick them out of office! So what Saudi is donating $1 billion to Palestine- why didn’t they come to the defence of the Palestinians, Iraqi’s, Afghanis, Lebanese etc when it mattered? Shame on our muslim leaders that we have to put our hopes in the Western Governments. But for us, we also live in the West, so it is important to us, we cannot disengage from the community and society in which we live!

    I do not support democracy and of course Islamic Law is the utmost and we should strive towards Islamic Law in our lands.

    I pray for my muslim brothers and sisters suffering all around the world. I am not Palestinian but I have family in Palestine and it was devastating for us that each time we spoke on the phone to them during the bombings that it could be the last time, and that they are living in difficulty.
    Alhamdulillah I was also able to go to Gaza, speak to many people, lend some support and taste what it is like to be there.

    You do not know me to judge me. May Allah increase us all in iman and love for Him, His Messenger (PBUH), Islam, and our muslim brothers and sisters.

    You have no right at all to call Shayk Suhaib those things- you are not his judge, Allah is! and you do not know what his intentions are or what he is doing with his time.

    Shame on you. May Allah increase us all in good character too.

    Fi amanillah

  • When on earth are people goin to learn that judgement is for Allah alone. How can a person just conclude dat the other is a “kafir” based on an article. We don’t seem to realize the gravity of that word. Alhamdulilah! that Allah judges us based on our intentions & not simply by the contents of the article we write.

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    The sad thing here is that Br. Bismillah, with all his hard talk, doesn’t have the kufis to post his name and contact information. Don’t worry akhi, no one here holds anything against you. I’m sure that your comments are generated by a love for the faith and sincere concern for the ummah at large. Drop me an email akhi, see contact Suhaib above, and let’s talk. Charges of kufur and nifaq are not easily made and should be backed up by the ruling of the qualified. I was once very similar to you and held very similar contentions. However, the source of the problem wasn’t the scholars or people like Obama. The main component that lead me, in those days, to such conclusions was ignorance. Please, drop me a line, let’s talk look at your points in a brotherly fashion and engage each other.

    Suhaib

  • Salam,

    I actually respect the fact that Bro Suhaib and the good people working on this website have posted that comment from “Bismillah”. It shows maturity and brings to light the fact that not everyone is appreciative and euphoric about what is posted by any and all Shaykhs.
    Bismillah is, unfortunately, an example of people whose passion and energy is misdirected but it does not take away from the fact that it is passion and energy. I really do hope that broth Bismillah would call Bro Suhaib and Inshallah his energy will be channeled to the betterment of our muslim community at large.
    To everyone, and beginning with myself, this post reminds me of an incident where the prophet, and I am paraphrasing, was told ever so rudely that he did not give a man what he thought would be his fair share. The companions heard the man say that to the prophet and they wanted to “jump him”. The prophet said, let him be. The next day the prophet went to him and gave him more and asked him again if he received his fair share and the man then said Yes. The prophet asked the man then to share with the companions his feeling of satisfaction so that there are no hard feelings amongst them all.
    Then the prophet told his companions “You are like the people trying to help a man whose camel is running away from him. You try and reign in the camel but instead you scare him away. The camel owner would say to people leave it alone, it is my camel and I know how to get it back. So, he calms his camel down and treats it well and it gets back to him.” the prophet said “If I let you have your way with that man yesterday he would have died a Kafir, but today Alhadmullilah he is a muslim”
    Bismillah was wrong in what he said, and the lash back at his comments show our love to our religion and a good brother from amongst us. But let us all remember that this person, Bismillah, is lost and we won’t get him back by yelling at him. Let’s all pray for him and for those like him and approach them with an open mind and “thick skin” and remember always “Innak La Tahdi man ahbabt, wa lakinna Allah yahdi mayshaa”
    I pray for guidance.

    Nomad78

  • Assalamu alaykum

    To Bismillah:

    If you are a true believer in Allah (SWT), in his absolute power and authority, then why did you just take away his authority by calling Sheikh Suhaib Webb a Munafiq?

    “Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgment as to those matters in which they set up differences.” (45:17)

    Allah (SWT) never said “Bismillah, you can call Sheih Suhaib a Munafiq.”

    Allah (SWT) is Al-Hakam, The Judge. Only he has the right, the authority, to decide whether someone is a kafir, a munafiq, or a Mu’min. Not us. Why?

    Because we are nothing.

    Assalamu alaykum
    A Lowly Servant

  • AS

    I am sincerely shocked at some of the comments that are to be found here. These comments demonstrate the insanity of the Ummah and are not befitting of Muslims. This new hijri year I find that we need to challenge ourselves and not others. How can we expect others to respect us when we have less than respect for each other. The Muslim world is a mess and anyone who has been there is clear on that point. Reform will begin when we have acquired the tools for reform mostly: education and manners and then learn how to work together or at least in coalitions.

    Many of us are glad Obama came because Bush manifested some of the worse policies against Muslims that we have seen in our life time. On the other hand, At least he left office in the Muslim world we have those who inflict torture on their people and rule with an iron fist but somehow we seem to neglect to bring those matters up and just blame the West. At the end if we want change let us change the way we treat each other then we can talk about political change until that time we are passing time with empty talk backed with no action. Exactly, what took place here by way of some of the comments is exactly what happens in our masjids and in Muslim countries we deny each other courtesy and rights any people that exists like that will only be trampled upon by others because they have no dignity.

  • Br. Bismillah,

    Your statements and the fact that you are genuinely convinced of them are the reason Islam and the Muslims are in the situation they are today. Read the seerah of the Prophet (pbuh). Didn’t he make pacts with the Jews and the Mushrikeen? Was his style in accordance with the way you are acting? Do you suppose he would be acting the way you are? To narrow the place of knowledge that you should be studying I would reccomend the many books which have been written by the Ulema of ahle Sunnah wal-Jama’ah on seerah. If you do not even read Arabic then I suggest (as the Prophet did more than one companion) to hold your tongue until you have the proper tools to make such a decision or accusation. The ironic thing is that when you reach the point in knowedge in which you can correctly judge someone as such then you would most definitely not do so because of the wisdom you would have gained.

    akhooka fillah

  • abu graib is suppose to reopen next month with a new name and facelift cause of its reputation not because of what they do there

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