It was, as historians will undoubtedly claim, a historic event, a time when democracy prevailed and the demarcation of race and colour in the US officially began to wane. They will argue that it had been a long time coming, a manifestation of America’s liberal predisposition and a triumph of good over evil. The world looked on as Bush declared war on Afghanistan and soon thereafter Iraq. The world waited uneasily as George W. Bush Junior was re-elected for a second term. And of course more recently, all eyes were on America with a hope of change, that is Barrack Obama – the great black hope. Now that the dust has settled, not only from the hype surrounding Obama’s election victory but also from the post-election parties and gatherings, the beer-goggles are slowly being replaced with a pervading clarity. It was, after all, the hatred of Bush and colour of Obama that blinded the world, almost all assuming that a black presidency without Bush would not only mean an end to terrorism (American or otherwise), but also a positive change; that is to say that if a black man in office is possible, what isn’t? But that was the first in a long line of mistakes.
The first (almost amusing) fallacy was that Obama is black. But in fact he’s not, he’s mixed-raced, born to a black Kenyan father and White American mother, yet the White half is something which almost all commentators have either failed to realise or have seriously forgotten, although Obama himself did re-iterate the point (as if to drive it home) during his election campaign. So, the symbol of change (his blackness) is really half a symbol, and consequently, the change that will follow will inevitably not be as great as we first would have predicted. That is, of course, the logical result if our premise is that change is characterised by Obama’s racial background.
Returning to the point, why has the fact that he’s half White been excluded from all of the racial commentary given over the past couple of weeks? Is it because America once again doesn’t want to accept the reality that although they seek change, a fully black president is still a bit out there? Furthermore, the fact that his colour has played such prominence amongst Americans demotes a sense of merit, the best man for the job regardless of class or race being irrelevant. As much as America claims a new culture of change, recent events have only served to portray an inherent ideology and belief that still revolves around ethnic discrimination and America’s obsession with colour and race. So blinded are they by their deprived standards of judgement that a black man in office has played more prominence than a just or righteous leader.
Although many black people in America have considered Obama’s election victory magnanimous, that is to say that a man of (some) colour not only being the president but also the Commander-in-Chief of the US army, it should never have been an issue in the first place. Yet the implicit racism and classism demonstrated by Bush during the New Orleans crises (hurricane Katrina) somehow showed the world that in ‘civilised’ America poor black folk just aren’t that important. It may be argued that the election win served to empower minorities in the US, where the ‘oppressed black man’ became able to remove that oppression. Unfortunately, similar hopes were felt by Muslims across the globe in anticipation of Obama’s victory. Many felt that Obama’s victory was also theirs, and ostensibly, Obama was for them as much as they were for him.
However, many factors should have been considered before such premature approval. For example, a mere 24 hours after claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama was in Israel condemning Palestinians with grand promises of Jerusalem as a capital for the Zionist nation. Not only did he depict himself as a Zionist sympathiser all the while derogatorily talking about Palestinians, but re-iterated America’s support for Israel stating ‘We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defence relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defence programs’. Similarly, his pledge to lessen military personnel in Iraq was only in order to increase a military presence in Afghanistan, and thus, to have a sustained military campaign in the Middle East where the number of soldiers actually remains the same.
Obama’s views and policies were, in fact, not very different to John McCain’s, to the effect that even McCain was willing to entertain the idea of negotiating with Iran. The fact is that Obama, from the very beginning, made clear that he would pursue a neo-con agenda, an agenda that once again promotes blind and fanatical nationalism. Such nationalism afforded Bush carte blanche, with which he exploited the US army and economy to massacre thousands of innocent civilians simply because he claimed it was for America. In the same way, Obama, having distastefully defended his Pastor’s (Jeremiah Wright) racist remarks about White people which were made earlier on in the year, hastily disassociated himself with Wright because of anti-American statements such as “God damn America!”
That was, of course, all before his election win, but what now? Many claim that he will have to hit the ground running in an attempt to seek a way out of the quagmire America and the world finds itself in, yet his inauguration is more than two months away which hinders his ability to reign in the iniquity of Bush and replace it with his own form. Of course, the damage has begun most evidently with his appointment of Rahm Israel Emanuel as Chief of Staff, a fundamentalist Zionist who holds dual citizenship with Israel and having served as a civilian volunteer in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) now seeks to exploit his position as head of the American army to suppress any anti-Israel sentiment. In the pipeline are other key Zionists who will likely occupy the position of Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State. Given his previous speech to AIPAC and appointment of key Zionists, it is probable that Palestine will find itself remaining subjected to American aided oppression.
Obama has continued to show his lack of concern for those who kill and oppress Muslims further by appointing Sonal Shah as an advisor for his transition team. Shah has been the national coordinator for VHP (Vishwa Hari Parishad) in America, the group and its student wing Bajrang Dal “are believed to have been involved in the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat and for the last three months have been carrying out a sustained campaign against Indian Christians in Orissa.” However, it’s not only her association that has been exposed, but “her organisation IndiCorps works with a VHP-sponsored initiative called the Ekal Vidyalayas – or single-teacher schools with a curriculum steeped in instilling hatred against non-Hindu religious minorities. Ekal Vidyalayas have played a key role in anti-minority violence in the states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.” Moreover, Shah “was an active member of the VHPA, the US branch of the most virulently fascistic outfit within India. The VHP’s head, Ashok Singhal, believes that his organisation should ‘inculcate a fear psychosis among (India’s) Muslim community.’ This was Shah’s boss.””
Obama is now playing the political game just as all those who came before him did. He will now join the ranks of other world leaders with an inclination to injustice and self-preservation. Many world leaders congratulated Obama on his ‘historic victory’, yet the same leaders such as Sarkozy continues to exhibit racist rhetoric throughout his policies of assimilation towards Muslims by banning the hijab (in schools and public buildings) and refusing French citizens of Moroccan and Algerian descent the right to recognise their religion and ethnic background. Shimon Perescalled Obama’selection “an end to racism“ yet continues to support the Zionist fascist ideology which was formed through the same type of racist rhetoric that encouraged the European enslavement of black people, but in the case of Israeli racism the casualties are Arab Palestinians. In similar fashion to his Zionist comrade, Mubarak congratulated Obama stating “I look forward to your contribution in solving the Palestinian issue and achieving a just and comprehensive peace as a main requirement for the security and stability in the Middle East”, yet Mubarak has, through his oppressive regime that has usurped power for more than twenty years, given free reins to the secret police to imprison, torture, and many times kill innocent civilians who protest against Mubarak and his regime’s injustices. His understanding of justice is the indefinite detention of critics, not to mention his terror tactics which aim to dissolutely silence all. And so, in light of these leaders and many others, it is evident that such warm but yet empty remarks only highlight the fake support Obama’s ethnicity affords him, and should stand as testament to the stark reality of dealing with insincere and iniquitous leaders, French, Israeli, Egyptian, American or otherwise.
And that is, all in all, what Muslims around the world should have known from the beginning of the presidential campaign, that no world leader is interested in the plight of the Muslims, black or otherwise. It was sheer naivety to assume that Obama, having indicated in no certain terms his allegiance to Muslims, would have stood against the injustices and oppression facing Muslims worldwide. It was their gullibility that led them to presume that his being the ‘other’ (because of his race) would lead him to identify with Muslims, they too being considered the ‘other’, and as a logical result would unite in their common struggle.
In retrospect, it was at the first hurdle where many Muslims fell. In their assumption that his race or colour would aid them they disregarded Allah’s uppermost measure in judging an individual,
“And the most noble in the sight of God are the most pious”
Additionally, Islam resolved ethnic issues revolving around leadership 1400 years ago, and Obama’s being black and leader of the US should never have been a matter discussed, especially in the light of the prophetic saying,
“Obey your leader even if he be an Abyssinian slave”
The Prophet’s mention of the Abyssinian is no doubt an emphasis on his race, but only to demonstrate its lack of significance. But what is of importance is what a leader does and how he conducts himself. Obama’s conduct has been in keeping with the American way, but many Muslims have palpably lost theirs.
Millions of Muslims worldwide heavily invested their hope and confidence in the president-elect, ““A new dawn of American leadership is at hand,” he said, and a world long disenchanted with American leadership ached to believe him.” This unholy reliance and trust on the next president of America is a prime example of why the international Muslim community finds itself subjugated and oppressed. How can we, who have been given the word and promise of God, yearn to find the solution for peace with those who neither claim to be concerned, nor do in reality, but instead identify with those who oppress us?
Our reliance on Obama should serve as testimony to the reasons of our own downfall, as well as our very distant relationship with God. He is the only One who can, and does, provide solutions to the problems we face daily, through means of his communiqué. Accordingly, we are called to abide by the message, a message which in its essence understands the reality of man,
“And follow that which is inspired to you from your Lord. Verily, Allah is Well Acquainted with what you do. And put your trust in Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as a Wakeel (Trustee, or Disposer of affairs).” 
However, instead of abiding by the holy guidance of God, Muslims have sought recognition from the US by turning to them in times of desperation willing to even turn on themselves, as we saw with Fatah who, after being backed by the US and supplied with their arms, swiftly reneged on any former agreements in an attempt to overthrow Hamas, an act for which Allah exposed their vile plans.
“And obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and harm them not”
“And put your trust in Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as a Wakeel (Trustee, or Disposer of affairs).”
Yet Hamas, having been prey to the malevolent plans of the Whitehouse, have themselves welcomed Obama falling prey to the same American rhetoric as Fatah did previously. It is a shame that in desperation and hardship many Muslims overlook the verse,
“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things…”
The major theme in the aforementioned verses is tawakkul (trust and reliance) in the Most High, and with that reliance to abide by His most perfect word as opposed to the words of the disbelievers, especially in times of difficulty. It is such verses which effectively establish the believers as the upright and resolute, staunch in the face of hardship and able to weather any difficulty. Such verses came alive during the subjugation of the early Makkan Muslims, the boycott they faced, and the battle of Badr when the believers were vastly outnumbered. Tawakkul was the stones tied around the bellies of the believers due to severe hunger, it was the long journey through the desert from Makkah to Madinah during the period of Hijrah, and it was the prophetic message re-enacted by the righteous Caliphs.
“Verily, God does not change the state of a people unless they change their inner selves.”
But with a shift in priorities came a shift of reliance. Man, being forever an ingrate, chose to recognise creation instead of the Creator and subsequently spiralled into the degradation we now find ourselves in. As such, we have slowly awoken to our deprived state, realising that we are not what we once were, and that the realisation of our lofty goals necessitates change.
However, our focus for change should neither be on Obama nor the United States, but on the Most Supreme who creates and sustains; who manages and maintains; who preserves and destroys. Islam is the most fundamental form of change causing the wicked and iniquitous to become the most pious and just, and the most debased and lowly to become the most honourable. The deen, in being holistically applicable, not only defines the vehicle of change but also the means by which positive change may occur. We, as Muslims who implement our religion, are the greatest vehicle of that change in that we have been commanded,
“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.”
Any form of change should be in keeping with the spirit of Islam and its principles, with any deviation from Islam or reliance on Allah leading, once again, to our downfall. Similarly, even though we may consider ourselves vehicles, our primary means of change is reliance on Allah and closeness with Him.
In order to encourage change, we must constantly maintain a clear sight of the reasons behind striving for righteousness, the most significant one being closeness with Allah in this life and the hereafter. Such a relationship with the Most High is also reflected in the notion that although it is our obligation to call, guidance is only from God. It is in knowing our limitations and accepting them, all the while accepting and submitting to His supreme abilities which aids us in our tasks, and subsequently affords us (through God) the change we desire.
“I desire not to do behind your backs that which I ask you not to do. I only desire reform so far as I am able, to the best of my power. And guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent.”
It is through relying upon Allah and turning to Him that strengthens our connection with God, and through which all goals are accomplished since they have been divinely assisted. To look to any other with such distinction is to assume that others have such a divine ability, which is in effect, a depraved association of man with God.
“Verily, my Walee (Protector, Supporter, and Helper, etc.) is Allah who has revealed the Book, and He protects the righteous. And those whom you call upon besides Him (Allah) cannot help you nor can they help themselves.”
Reliance upon God and trust in His divine abilities leads to His pleasure which in turn leads to goodness for the believer. It is narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful it is for a believer that he always ends up with goodness: If he suffers and remains steadfast, it is rewarding; if good things happen and he thanks Allah, that is also rewarding,“ It is truly a shame that Muslims are left with a loser mentality completely disregarding the benefits their faith affords them. It is the Muslim’s ability to deal with any matter and finding recourse with God that allows him/her to have a strengthened spirit and resolute countenance. It is these things which consequently lead to the honour and dignity Muslims are so desperately searching for, unbeknown to them that they have already acquired it (through Islam), although, it is yet to be realised in spirit and action. It is reported that Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) once, while travelling, came across a muddy track. Due to excessive mud, the camel was unable to follow the path and so Umar descended from the camel removing his shoes and ready to walk. Observing this, Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al Jarrah (may Allah be pleased with him) commented: “O Commander of the Faithful, your act in the eyes of the kuffaar is indeed despicable and vile”. Umar retorted angrily, “Abu Ubaidah! Would that someone other than you had made this comment. You were lowly and Allah bestowed honour upon you through Islam. If you seek honour from other than it, Allah will disgrace you.” And thus, it is this disgrace that we have inflicted upon ourselves and continue to do so until our tawakkul is returned to Allah, as opposed to the American president-elect.
The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.