Once a woman, very talented in her chosen profession, asked me to imagine what I would need to have just a single day of perfection.
I imagined waking at dawn, with just a single thread of sunlight to far over the horizon to provide light in my bedroom. I went into the room we had designed for prayer, and loudly, but politely called the Athan for Fajr. There I stood, in my prayer room, in my four-bedroom townhouse in Princeton, New Jersey on Governors Lane. My wife-my dearest sister in Islam, a queen of Islam, princess of North Africa, or Bangladesh or of the lower castes in India or Pakistan; with long, locks of dark chocolate brown hair walks into the prayer room in her hijab and jilbab. I turned to her, watching her struggle to find the motivation to fight her exhaustion. My look at her beautiful face reveals the tenderness, devotion, fondness, respect, and most passionate love I have for her. She notices, and says with a smile, ‘Salaam alaikum wa rahmatallah, habibi Isma’il’ I reply as the Sunnah dictates, and begin the two ra’kas prior to Fajr. As I pray, my heart and soul screams ‘Alhamdulillahi Rabil ‘Alameen’ for allowing me, a relatively attractive brother, to be loved and married to a woman like her-a superbly gorgeous woman with the cerebral and academic prowess of a scholar, who cares almost nothing for politics. I praise The Lord of Majesty and Bounty for a such fine home; my Citizen Eco Drive; my wife’s diamonds; my relationship with Mazen, Mama Swails, Mama Jeannie, and even my in-laws ; my favorite white and blue checked button down shirt; and the 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid in the garage. I call on the Names of the One True Living God, Alone and without partner, The Inspirer of Faith, The Guardian, The Creator, and The Maker of Order for Guiding me to Islam. I glorify The Shaper of Beauty for Radiyah, Aliyah, Hana binti Isma’il, products of my first and failed marriage, and I thank The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful, The All Powerful for creating a path of peace and faithful, friendly reconciliation between my ex-wife and myself. Alhamdulillah to The One, The Satisfier of All Needs, The Praised One for this reconciliation is truly, what is best for the girls, whose beauty is due to The First and The Last and their mother Abir. It is time for Fard prayer and after the Mother of the Holy Qur’an, I recite the eighty-seventh Surah-I finally learned it in Arabic: Glorify the name of thy Guardian Lord, Most High, who hath created, and further, given order and proportion, who hath measured and granted guidance, and who bringeth out the (green and luscious) pasture; and doth make it (but) swarthy stubble; by degrees shall We teach thee (The Message) so thou shalt not forget, except as Allah Wills: for He Knoweth what is manifest and what is hidden, and We will make it easy for thee (to follow) the simple (Path), therefore give admonition in case the admonition profits (the hearer), he will heed who fears, but it will be avoided by the most unfortunate one, who will enter The Great Fire, in which he will neither die nor live, but he will prosper who purifies himself, and remembers the name of his Guardian Lord, and prays; Nay (behold), ye prefer the life of this world, but the Hereafter is better and more enduring, and this is in the Books of the earliest Revelations; The Books of Abraham and Moses. We finished the prayer with Al-Fatihah and Al-Nas in the second ra’ka and returned to bed. As I lay next to my wife, her sleeping in my embrace, I thought of Allah’s Blessings, for I lived in a land of true liberty where I could exercise and practice my Universal Right of Conscience openly and free from the fear of suspicion, oppression, and government intrusion; a land of economic security where the government initiated policies that sought to improve the lives of the many, while respecting the minority of the few. After all, a kid born to a fifteen year old mother, who knew the taste of poverty, trouble, and chaos, was able to rise to the point where he had a nice truck, a really nice watch, a wife, children, and a fine home. I was not rich or wealthy, but just middle class. I thanked The One True and Living God, The Lord of Majesty and Bounty, for allowing me to live in such a nation, where not only was the pursuit of happiness guaranteed, but its path to achievement was available and contingent upon the capacity and diligence of every man and woman.
As I imagined, I smiled. Yet, as I compared my imagined life and the political-economic reality in which, I and millions of my fellow Americans currently live, I was faced with the sobering truth that the American Empire destroyed not only the path to happiness, but its pursuit as well. The voice of the citizen has been ‘drowned out’ by the call for arms and expansion of conflict. The current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has proposed that the United States spend $654 billion dollars in fiscal year 2009, which represents an $175 billion dollar increase, as our domestic economy flounders and an all-time record of 17 million Americans are draining state unemployment insurance programs. It has long been stated by very reputable elected officials that the U.S. invasion and capture of Iraq has cost $12 billion dollars a month. This poorly planned and executed excursion, Operation Iraqi Freedom, began in March of 2003, some six years ago; and to date at a rate of $12 billion dollars a month, the Second Iraq War has cost the American taxpayer over $878 billion dollars, with another promised and projected sixteen months of large numbers of American military forces to remain in country. As I read the words of Secretary Gates, Schurz and Bryan echoed in the mind:
The defining principle of the Pentagon’s New National Defense Strategy is balance. The United States cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything…The strategy strives for balance in three areas:  between trying to prevail in current conflicts and preparing for other contingencies;  between institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and foreign military assistance;  and maintaining the United States’ existing conventional and strategic technological edge against other military forces…The United States’ ability to deal with future threats will depend on its performance in current conflicts. To be blunt, to fail-or to be seen to fail-in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to U.S. credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries…there will continue to be some kind of U.S. advisory and counterterrorism effort in Iraq for years to come. In Afghanistan, as [former] President George W. Bush announced last September [of 2008]; U.S. troop levels are rising, with the likelihood of more increases in the year ahead. Given its terrain, poverty, neighborhood, and tragic history, Afghanistan in many ways poses an even more complex and difficult long-term challenge than Iraq-one that, despite a large international effort, will require a significant U.S. military and economic commitment for some time…What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign-a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and those of moderation. Direct military force will continue to play a role in the long-term effort against terrorists and other extremists. But over the long-term, the United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory. Where possible, what the military calls kinetic operations should be subordinated to measures aimed at promoting better governance, economic programs that spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented, from whom the terrorists recruit…The United States is unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan-that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire-anytime soon. But that does not mean it may not face similar challenges in a variety of locales. Where possible, U.S. strategy is to employ indirect approaches-primarily through building the capacity of partner nations and their security forces-to prevent festering problems from turning into crises that require costly and controversial direct military intervention…The United States is the strongest and greatest nation on earth, but there are still limits on what it can do. The power and global reach of its military have been an indispensable contributor to world peace and must remain so.
The words of Secretary Gates accurately describe the latest strategic method by which the United States hopes to remain the strongest and greatest nation on earth. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on improving an already technologically advanced military; investment in foreign nations and their respective military forces under the caveat that said nations fulfill the wishes and protect the interests, of Washington; and that despite the promises of change and a wiser, more diplomatic approach to dealings with allies and adversaries alike, the major tenets of the War on Terror, and indeed the battlefields themselves, identified by the Bush Administration remain a strategic long-term policy of the Obama Administration. Are we a nation operating under the precepts of democratic-republicanism, when a citizen whose family and bloodlines have invested themselves repeatedly, for more than four centuries on these shores has the legitimate right to ask a set of simple and profound question: Has American Imperialism reached such heights that it is impossible for the American people to elect a Chief Executive with the mandate and expectation of deconstructing empire? Has the actions, since 1898, so altered the reading of the U.S. Constitution that The Office of the Presidency been made imperial or is merely clerical? Moreover, for those of us that have the true misfortune of being defined with the oxymoron, American Muslim, we are left with a very desperate choice to ponder. From Mexico to Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii; the Imperial America Ethos has now culminated to an American presence in historically Muslim homelands, thereby making Secretary Gates’ prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign and battlefields wherever we reside. Just in 2009, there have been a number of incidents within the United States of America that provide evidence to this truth.
On the twenty-ninth of July, 2009, the Council on American-Islamic Relations questioned the constitutionality of a tactic used by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the arrest of the wife of terror suspect in North Carolina. The FBI sent an informant in the case to the home of the terror suspect, who had been arrested earlier in the week. The Raleigh News & Observer reported:
[The wife of the suspect] described a harrowing experience Monday afternoon when she answered the door to find a man she thought was a family friend wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodied. He told her that [her husband] and their three sons…were in a serious car crash. He asked her to get into a Highway Patrol cruiser that would take her to Duke Hospital, where they were being treated…When they arrived at Duke Hospital, the cruiser took them to a construction site at the rear of the facility. A man dressed as a doctor came out and asked whether she was the wife. When she said yes, he extended his hand. She told him she does not shake men’s hands. He then grabbed her wrist and handcuffed her. ‘I am not a doctor. I’m an agent and your family is not in the hospital’, he told her. ‘You’re being detained and you need to cooperate with us.’
In another example, reported by the Dayton Daily News on the twenty-second of July, 2009:
Federal transportation security officers subjected a Muslim woman to a humiliating search as she was traveling through Dayton International airport…The woman wore a full-length dress and an Islamic head scarf when she was stopped and pulled out of line on June 2 for a ‘pat down’ search at an airport security checkpoint…She agreed to undergo the search in a private room, where she was taken by three female TSA employees…she was forced to lift her dress to expose her entire body and that one of the TSA employees searched under the woman’s undergarment with her hand. The woman alleged that she was ordered to lift her legs for examination with a security wand, even though she told the TSA she was physically unable to comply because of her disability from a car accident. She was released after 70 minutes to complete her trip to New York.
Oregon has enacted a state law barring teachers from wearing ‘religious dress’ in public schools. This allows and enables those of the Judeo-Christian tradition to become public school teachers, but bars those qualified individuals of the Sikh and Islamic traditions, specifically the Muslim woman. These and a host of other violations, just in 2009 alone, represent a breach of constitutional rights and civil liberties inflicted upon the American Muslim citizen by his own government. It has created a climate, now nine years old that has compelled the Council of American-Islamic Relations to call on American leaders to address:
‘A growing level of anti-Muslim prejudice and stereotyping’ in American society…opinion leaders, policymakers, and law enforcement authorities should speak out against the type of Islamophobic rhetoric on Internet hate sites and on talk radio programs to bias-motivated attacks. In making its appeal to local and national leaders, CAIR cited recent incidents targeting American Muslim individuals and institutions, including a bias-motivated attack on a Muslim woman and child in Seattle by a self-proclaimed white supremacists, vandalism of mosques in Florida and California, an anti-Islam sign outside a Florida church, racist fireworks sold in Wisconsin, the beating of a Muslim student in New York, and the death of a California Muslim leader in a ‘suspicious’ fire…The Washington-based council also noted American Muslim concerns that government actions, such as sending agent provocateurs into mosques or targeting Muslims for deportation even after they are acquitted of criminal charges, can add to the growing level of anti-Muslim views by stereotyping Muslims predisposed to terrorism.
I, and a great many American Muslims, who are targeted firmly believe that these governmental agent provocateurs are not as interested in preventing attacks as they are in applying the label ‘terrorist’ to Muslims who exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech in criticizing their Government’s policies as it relates to Muslims. Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, and my most beloved brother in Islam, Mazen Mokhtar, are not remotely interested in the indiscriminate violent deaths of innocent American civilians. Nonetheless, all have been labeled ‘terrorists’ because they have spoken about the dichotomy of the creed and the actions of the United States of America. The warnings of Bryan and Schurz have been ignored, and in a sense, confirmed by every secretary of defense, every Presidential administration, and the American apparatus since 1945. It is only the moral coward that asks the question: why; without asking the question of courage, action, and wisdom: what shall be done? There comes a time when silence is betrayal. For the moderate, Islamic Nationalist, the time to utilize the voice of the citizen of the Ummah has come. For the Islamic Nationalist, to remain silent, inactive, passive in the realm of politics, both in the West and in historically Muslim homelands, is to betray Islam, the Sunna of the prophet Muhammad (SAAW), and ultimately our individual and collective duty to Allah, The Most High, The Most Exalted Himself. Islam knows no separation between the spiritual life and the temporal realm. Islam is Deen wa Dawlat, which means Islam is a state as well as a religion, with no separation between the religious and secular activities.Moreover, Islam being Deen wa Dawlat is the best definition for what the Islamic Nationalist movement truly is. All Muslims know and should adhere to the Laws, Rules, Regulations, Decrees, and Injunctions Commanded by Allah(SWT) which relate to what we eat, what we shave and let grow, how we use the bathroom, what hand we are to eat with, etc. Islam is The Governing Principle of the Muslim Ummah, and this includes our political and socio/economic ideology and practices.
It is simply astounding that the large and great majority of so-called Muslim scholars lack either the vision, the capacity for critical thought, or mere extrapolation of the Islamic theory into a practical, contemporary framework. Thus, when they speak about Islam, these so-called scholars and imams sound like the most sophomoric of political idiot savants. Consider the words of Imam Anwar Al Awlaki:
The promoters of change by participation in democratic elections started out by stating that democracy is kufr and we do not believe in it but we are using it as a vehicle to reach to power and after we reach to power we will implement Islam. This is what I heard from every single leading member of Ikhwaan in the late eighties and early nineties. I clearly remember the public discussions that were held on this issue because the Salafi’s back then were very much against Ikhwaan on this point. I also remember clearly the private discussion I had with some of the shuyukh of ikhwaan who would reiterate the same point again and again: Democracy is un-Islamic and we are participating in elections but our intentions are to change the system from within… The next problem is that when you repeat a lie long enough you end up believing it. For those who knew these groups from the eighties it is strange for them to see how much they have changed over time. Now they are saying and I have heard this more than once from their prominent members that now we genuinely do believe in the democratic system. We believe in the ballot not bullet. And if the ballot decides that a secular or disbelieving party wins we will accept that. As Muslims we should not subject Islam to the whims of the people, if they chose it we implement it, if they don’t we accept the choice of the masses. Our position is that we will implement the rule of Allah on earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not. We will not subject sharia rule to popularity contests. Rasulullah says: I was sent with the sword until Allah alone is worshiped… The final problem is that the Muslims’ method is not a method of infiltration. Muslims do not try to infiltrate the system and work from within. It is just not our way. It is the way of the Jews and the munafiqeen but not the way of the Muslims. We are honest and straightforward with friend and foe. We make our intentions open and we declare our dawah publicly, “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” We do not want to infiltrate the system whether in America or in a Muslim country. The Jews are the ones who have infiltrated every government they lived under whether it was al-Andalus and the Ottoman khilafah or the Western governments of today. They have a hidden agenda, we don’t. The Jews and their brethren, the hypocrites, tried to infiltrate the government of Rasulullah and were exposed by Quran… This leads me to the forth method of re-establishing khilafa and that is through Jihad fi sabilillah. The argument that you presented against this is that the only similar situation to our situation now is that of Rasulullah establishing an Islamic state first and then fighting Jihad. You are neglecting a serious difference and that is when Rasulullah established Madina there was no Islamic land that was invaded… The two most successful examples, even though far from perfect, of Islamic rule in this past decade were the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic courts in Somalia. In both countries only these Muslim fighters brought peace, security and rule of law in both countries. Both movements reached to power not through elections or debates but through war. They did not fall because they were failures but they fell because the ummah failed them. However, even though a battle here and there were lost but the war is not over. If you follow the current events and look at them with an attentive eye you would realize that it is the enemy who is bleeding to death not the Muslim fighters. Pretty soon the scales will tip.
Muslims living with no true purpose, calling upon others to join them in the deluded reasons of death and destruction, absent a clear plan of action that will facilitate the manifestation of my perfect day, and that of my brothers and sisters, are Muslims unworthy of our focus and attention. They must be shunned for they know less than nothing about the necessary effort, maintenance, or acquisition of a well functioning, established, and viable Government. Al Awlaki, as with nearly all jihadists, are nothing more than misguided, misinformed, political fools utilizing Islam to solve the existential catastrophe of their being irrelevant.
Al Awlaki calls for something that all Islamic Nationalists, or Islamists, wish to foster: restoration of Caliphate. Yet, like all political idiot savants, he has no idea what this means. It is easy to say: Caliphate means to govern according to the Laws of Allah. Indeed, this is true, but again sophomoric. How does the Caliph in the 21st century address the needs and concerns of some two billion people, while providing the necessary remedies for the social, political, economic diseases that exist in their hearts, minds, and methods of conducting life? It is also Immutable Truth, that Allah is Sovereign. Yet, I challenge any Muslim to find a hadith that deals with law enforcement ensuring public safety in relation to driving a car. What is the system by which taxes will be collected? How will Zakat be distributed and to whom? How will women be Guaranteed their Rights Derived from The Sovereign, which are so often violated within the cultures of the Middle East and India Proper? Inshallah, once Dar al Salaam is restored, will I need to worry that my daughters will be allowed to die in their school engulfed in flames, while the fire department stands at the gate at the order agents of the Islamic government. Will the Islamic Government, having submitted to The Sovereignity of Allah(SWT), be administered by men of reason or by men like al Awlaki? The Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) said: For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward) for the one who establishes justice among people; thus who will rule and how will they rule are the questions that must be answered within the framework of the restoration of caliphate. Justice in itself is a theory that has been examined by the greatest of minds outside the Islamic perspective. The entire Socratic tradition, Plato’s Republic, the works of Aristotle, Cicero, and all the antecedent texts, essays, treatises are inquiries into a definition of precisely what justice is. For the Muslim, this definition is Answered, indeed, Commanded by Allah and His messenger(SAAW). And yet, there remains the requirement of the contemporary Ummah of the prophet Muhammad(SAAW) to think, to reason, to believe, and to act appropriately in relation to the political and social situation in which we exist. Allahu Akbar, and it is with Allah(SWT) that we can alter our reality. Islam is our Deen wa Dawlat. The Muslim who truly framed our political philosophy, a foundation in modernity from which the edifice of an Islamic State can be constructed, was Abu Nasr Muhammad al Farabi. For our purposes here, and in response to the idiocy of al Awlaki, consider these lines:
The soul has health and sickness just as the body has health and sickness. The health of the soul is for its traits and the traits of its parts to be traits by which it can always do good things, fine things, and noble actions. Its sickness is for its traits and the traits of its parts to be traits by which it always does evil things, wicked things, and base actions. The health of the body is for its traits and the traits of its parts to be traits by which the soul does its actions in the most complete and perfect way, whether those actions that come about by means of the body or its parts are good ones or evil ones…The traits of the soul by which a human being does good things and noble actions are virtues. Those by which he does evil things and base actions are vices, defects, and villainies…Just as the health of the body is an equilibrium of its temperament and its sickness is a deviation from equilibrium, so, too are the health of the city[i.e., the polis, the State] and its uprightness an equilibrium of the moral habits of its inhabitants and its sickness a disparity found in their moral habits…The one who cures bodies is the physician; and the one who cures souls is the statesman, and he is also called king…Indeed, the statesman by means of the political art and the king by means of the art of kingship determine where it ought to be done, with respect to whom it ought to be done and with respect to whom not done, and what sort of health bodies ought to be provided with and what sort they ought not to be provided with. Therefore, the case of the kingly and the political art with respect to the rest of the arts in cities is that of the master builder with respect to the builders…the physician who cures bodies needs to be cognizant of the body in its entirety and of the parts of the body, of wht sicknesses occur to the whole of the body and to each one of its parts, from what they occur, from how much of a thing, of the way to make them cease, and of the traits that when attained by the body and its parts make the actions coming about in the body perfect and complete. Likewise, the statesman and the king who cure souls need to be cognizant of the soul in its entirety and of its parts, from what they occur, from how much of a thing, of the traits of the soul by which a human does good things and how many they are, of the way to make the vices of the inhabitants of cities cease, of the devices to establish these traits in the souls of citizens, and of the way of governing so as to preserve these traits among them so that they do not cease.
Some six hundred years prior to Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, al Farabi essentially described how the politc was one body composed of citizens, led by a single statesman whose function was to ensure the health and welfare of all in common. One of our greatest and unknown contemporary Muslim scholars Abdul Malik al Sayed wrote of al Farabi:
He devoted his thoughts and his life entirely to contemplation and speculation. He indicated the beginning of the amalgamation of Greek Hellenistic philosophy in all its ramification within Islamic foundations and became recognized within the Muslim world as the second teacher…Muslim philosophers referred to Aristotle as the first teacher…without discussing the major aspects of al Farabi’s philosophical opinions, briefly, his political thinking was that man needs society for mutual help and cooperation by uniting their individual efforts. In this mutual effort every individual will contribute his particular and distinctive share in order to achieve the objectives that human society is striving to achieve. Individuals and groups in their mutual effort may, and do, seek different and conflicting aims or objectives. Groups as well as individuals will organize themselves into different communities. These organized societies will be either perfect or imperfect. The degree of their perfection will depend on their size. The smallest, perfect political unit can be found in the cities, which are part of a middle-size association which in the nation’s Ummah. The greatest and most perfect association or organization will cover the entire earth under cultivation, al ma’mura. The greater the society, the better are the facilities its activates for its individuals. The most perfect society is that which consists of several nations united for the purpose of mutual help. To achieve perfection in a perfect society, the efforts of individuals must come of their own volition. This volition poses a danger for the community in that the city-state can go both ways. It can achieve evil purposes or the outcome may be moral aims. The city-state in which members of the society cooperate to reach happiness is in reality the ideal state and this ideal state will be known as the al Madina al Fadhila [the virtuous city].
Al Sayed, via al Farabi, has knowningly or unwittingly defined Islamic Nationalism. To al Awlaki and Muslim political-idiot savants he represents, the key to Islam, to one’s intention towards Allah and His messenger(SAAW), and our salvation as a Ummah is CHOICE! To achieve perfection in a perfect society, the efforts of individuals must come of their own volition. This volition poses a danger for the community in that the city-state can go both ways. There is no compulsion in religion and there can be no virtuous political association which is achieved by the use of force. The use of force to compel others to do that what we wish, never including their concerns, interests, or divergent aims and objectives is tyranny; the antithesis of Allah’s Justice. It is oppression for which The Lord of the Worlds Has Forbidden for Himself(SWT). It is easy, defective, and evil to pull the trigger. It is easy and evil to cut the fingers off the Afghani woman who wears nail polish. It is hard to make a sound rhetorical, reasoned argument as to how a servant of Allah wishes to provide mutual aid and assistance. Change cannot come to the Ummah from the point of a sword nor the barrel of the rifle. Change comes from choice, and a reason must be given to the Muslim as to how we, the Islamic Nationalist, intend on aiding and assisting him in achieving his dreams-success in this world and the Hereafter.
Inshallah, to be continued…
Isma'il ibn Bilal
 Carl Schurz, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior in the Hayes Administration speech at the Twenty-Seventh Convocation of the University of Chicago on January 4, 1899; William Jennings Bryan, a Congressman, three-time Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Secretary of State in the Wilson Administration, concurred with Schurz’s conclusions. Speaking at the 1900 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism
 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 Dr. Abdul Malik A. Al-Sayed, Social Ethics of Islam: Classical Islamic-Arabic Political Theory and Practice pg. 9
 Sina’at al-malik wa al-madaniyya
 Al Farabi, Selected Aphorisms, translated and annotated by Charles E. Butterworth, pg 10-13
 Social Ethics of Islam: Classical Islamic-Arabic Political Theory and Practice