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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

April 14, 2004

victimhood is self-fulfilling.

It angers me that Muslim student organizations think that radical conspiracy nutjobs such as Mohamed al-Asi are worth associating with[1]. Fools such as these undermine the sincere, legitimate efforts at reaching out and building bridges that MSAs/PSAs North America-wide are making. Unfortuately, until such influences within local chapters are disavowed publicly and angrily, the guilt will indeed continue by association. Such judgements are not just nor morally defensible, but are alas the pragmatic reality. The MSA/PSA groups at the national level have a responsibility to police themselves if they want to be judged by the peak of their efforts, not their nadir.

Given that the extremist rhetoric is still a minority, there is serious denial among most American muslims of the need to confront it. In discussing the issue with some fellow muslims, one argued, "It seems that no Muslim will be free from guilt by association unti-unless he ceases to be one, and perhaps not even then."

I disagree. Victimhood is a poor foundation for self-identity.

For the Jewish community, Finkelstein argues as much in his book The Holocaust Industry. A better model however is the concept of slavery reparations. Prominent black intellectuals have spoken out against the idea, arguing solidly from the position of a moral high ground that utterly rejects the passivity of the victim in charting their own fate. However, the segment of the Black community that insists on victimization as their identity crutch continues to sacrifice their own potential on its altar - one example is the emergence of "Black Studies" programs at minority colleges.

A side note - Martin Luther King himself is often invoked by victimhood-revisionists in support of reparations, using this quote from his 1964 book, "Why We Can't Wait" :

No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries... Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. The ancient common law has always provided a remedy for the appropriation of a the labor of one human being by another. This law should be made to apply for American Negroes. The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement in accordance with the accepted practice of common law.

What King refers to here is explicitly NOT a payment but a program, to help even the imbalance suffered by the Black community due to the legacy of slavery. Affirmative action essentially answers that call, but the sense of victimhood is so powerful among certain blacks that they debase themselves in seeking money, not opportunity.

Victimhood is simply beneath a people of dignity[2]. Rather than rail uselessly at the reactions of outsiders to your community's worst excesses, it is more productive to turn inwards and root those excesses out, and let the chips of judgement fall where they may. The only judgement that matters in the end if Allah's.

[1]I would not have come across this story if not for LGF. Charles (whom I find far less objectionable than Daniel Pipes) may see little difference between me and a Hamas terrorist, but LGF provides a service to me in my jihad against the extremism which thankfully still remains a minority view in the American muslim community. Victimhood, however, remains a majority view, and there is a clear path from one to the other that I find myself struggling to obstruct.
[2]The link is to a truly great essay by Ismail Royer on victimhood, the best line of which is, "Since victims are all the rage nowadays, it's hard to blame Muslims in America for having a tendency to whine as well." The essay is an important and frank look at the destructive nature of victimhood upon a community's sense of identity, and correctly points out the trend is not unqie to Jews, muslims, or any other group. Rejecting victimhood is a responsibility of all communities - including Americans post-/11. There is a difference between being a victim and being a target. On the topic of Royer, I explicitly will state that my high regard of his writings and thoughts is is no way undermined by my personal opinion of him for being a complete and utter fool. The sheer idiocy of the man in his personal affairs is mind-boggling. Royer provides another example of an extremist action undermining important yeoman's work towards the mainstream, only this time combined in a single man.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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