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Ejteehad in America Abdenour Toumi

 Ejteehad in America

Abdenour Toumi

The Christmas tree lighting bombing attempt in Portland, Oregon is one act in a series of serious threats posed by homegrown radicalism from young American Muslims. A menace made the U.S.’ domestic intelligence deal with a phenomenon that needs vigilant law enforcement on one hand and a general review of the Muslim leaders in the U.S. to initiate and educate these young devoted Muslims and to inform the majority of their fellow American citizens about the virtuous values of Islam. In this case, American Muslim leaders should open the gate of Islamic jurisprudence (Beb el-Ejteehad). It is an opportunity to explore this field of Islamic doctrine, which has been abandoned for centuries. There are Muslim scholars in the U.S who have the scientific ability, the knowledge, and are not accountable to any Muslim ruler or religious hierarchy to interpret the Islamic doctrine (el-Feeqh el-Islamee) to tackle the issue of jurisprudence.

During the last months the so-called homegrown terrorism has become real; the U.S. authorities have shown themselves to be on guard, realizing that the threat of radical Muslims is on the rise in the U.S. This started with Somali-American youths traveling from Minnesota to Mogadishu in 2008 to join a radical group in Somalia (Echabab movement). Nedhal Hassan, an army major, was charged with the killing of 13 soldiers and wounding 32 at Fort Hood, TX. Then there is the failed attempted bombing in Times Square. All these elements are not isolated. Though domestic Muslim radicalism is operational and in some cases organizational, it is connected to global radicalism. It is taking a militancy evolution, launching the premises of a global operation to recruit and carry out suicidal attacks in the U.S., which is, in general, el-Qae’eda’s retaliatory blow to western targets.

The domestic Muslim radical phenomena is seriously representing a big challenge for the U.S. intelligence as well as to Muslim community leaders. How does one know whether a person is a radical or not? Recent cases have shown that these radicals are highly educated, deriving from a middle class families milieu; they live in the suburbs of American cities. Nonetheless, terrorism experts and domestic intelligence officials warned about the threat posed by homegrown, U.S. citizen, Muslim radicals; they did this using examples from Britain's experience, a combination of intelligence and cooperation from the local Muslim community in the U.K. before and after 7/7/5 London’s metro suicide bombings.

Some analysts believe that Muslims in the U.K. are better integrated, educated and wealthier than their counterparts in France for instance. Similarly, in the U.S., they believe that America’s melting pot of ethnicities and religions would protect it from internal radical strife. However, a new generation among the Muslim community in the U.S., particularly young men emerging as radicals, using a simplistic justification for their acts about current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, are learning to be indoctrinated in Islam from radical preachers on YouTube and from online chat rooms; these modern tools are the extension of the global terrorism by other means, so the so-called homegrown terrorism becomes GLOCAL (as Dr. Mathieu Guidère define it).

Recently, U.S. officials have acknowledged the need to address the radical question posed by young American Muslims. This year the White House added combating homegrown terrorism to its national security strategy, a strategy that put law enforcement and close intelligence on the suspected radicals. In this context, the local law enforcement and special agents’ outreach to the local Muslim community leaders across the country, the failure of the Portland carnage attempt, is that effort to stop Mohammed Osman Mahmoud odious act. It is vital to the Muslim community leaders to control the message and the reckless activities of these young Muslims, who are putting an end to their dreams with their own hands.

Muslim leaders should focus on their Friday’s Khotba (sermon) on the biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Esseera Enabaouia) because these kids seem lost in the message that they should carry and the faith that they believe in. The Prophet Himself, when he was persecuted by Mecca’s political and financial establishment, looked for a refuge. He sent his companions to Ethiopia for a while before he got the revelation to exile to Medina. This historical element in the foundation of the Islamic nation is very important to teach Muslim kids and youth, especially those who live in the West; let them understand that Islam in the West is still in Mecca’s stage. Therefore, the Muslim leaders in the West should introduce a sociological course of approach of the foundation of the Islamic nation that was founded by the Prophet and his companions in Medina, introducing an educational curriculum that should be adaptable with the socioculture of the Western societies that they live in. For instance, the American society is welcoming and embracing Islam such as in the latest spontaneous support of many Americans to the Somali community in the aftermath of the attempted terrorist act in Portland. I’m making an analogy to what el-Anssar (protectors) offered the Prophet Mohammed and his companions when they landed in Medina.

In sum, Muslims can worship their faith in the U.S. without any paranoia, fear or guilt because they are in a country of laws and accountability. The Muslims should request from their leaders to get united and initiate ejteehad in order to stop the sins that are committed on their behalf by self-destructive components who believe it is a sin to live in America, ignoring the big sin by hijacking a religion that prohibits any harm even to a pine tree. 

The views expressed in the articles published here are those of the authors alone. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Sociology of Islam or Portland State University.