SHAFAQNA – We had the pleasure of interviewing brother Ali Salaam who has a background in independent journalism, regarding his documentary series American Hussaini. Below he shares his wonderful thoughts on what led him to create the series and the impact he hopes it has on people, including a little bit about his journey to Shia Islam. Check it out:
What thoughts did you have that led you to create the American Hussaini series and what are the ideas behind what you have called it?
Ali: When I went on my voyage to Karbala for Arbaeen in 2015, I brought my camera with me. You can only have your first visit to Iraq once. I kept a video diary of the entire thing. I ended up forgetting the battery for my Canon DSLR in my luggage on the first of the 3-day walk from Najaf to Karbala, my stuff was on a bus headed out to the hotel in Karbala so I had to rely on my cell phone for the walk footage.
I didn’t intend to turn it into a documentary until I got back from Karbala – which by the way is an eye-opening experience for someone of my background. For those reading and you want to see my background, click here to watch the first few segments of the American Hussaini documentary that have already been released where I go over my early life and then my growth period which would eventually lead me to Islam.
Yaqdha, or awakening, is a never ending process. It encompasses everything in the world: spiritual, physical, political, social. Visiting Karbala was a refresher that gave me an even more profound perspective. So as the world’s events were unfolding, my understanding of politics and society increased. Also at the same time, I was undergoing personal trials on how to be a better person, husband, Muslim, and human being. I’m nowhere near the great mystics of Islam, but we each can experience some level of irfan that’ll help us develop a deep inward understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Politically speaking we had so much going on: Sheikh Zakzaky and the Zaria massacre; execution of Sheikh Nimr; Israel supporting Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists; the two-party charade of the US elections between the Zionist and corporate establishment’s Queen Hillary Clinton and the controlled opposition fall guy Donald Trump; the disinformation campaign meant to justify toppling Syria for the sake of Israel’s Oded Yinon plan; Obama betraying Iran on the nuclear accords; the continued US-backed Saudi slaughter of Yemen, and much, much more. I noticed that many Muslims were misguided, partially-informed, or otherwise duped by the two-party system, the ‘humanitarian’ propaganda on Syria, and more. Unfortunately, due to hidden sectarian hatred, many Muslims are silent on Yemen and Nigeria. We also have a situation where many Islamic communities, especially Shi’a ones, are silent politically due to fear, the same fear that the people of Kufa had when they betrayed Imam Hussain (as) out of fear of Ibn Marjanah. We have so many solutions that would better humanity, such as interest-free credit unions or standing up for the rights of the oppressed in general, that we do not utilize, which is to our own detriment. Many Americans think non-Muslims are anti-American. If Muslims started to stand up for the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than work with traitors like Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, then Americans would respect us for standing up for the rights of all Americans.
After some nudges from a few close friends, I decided to make a documentary to not only show the beauty of my journey, but really create a treatise on the state of humanity, face the truth about our reality, and then humbly suggest a few ways we can move forward to make the world a better place. It is a holistic documentary. It turned out to be so long that I had to break it up into 14 chapters and make it a documentary series.
I dubbed it American Hussaini as a wordplay on the movie American Sniper. Unlike Chris Kyle, I went to Iraq as an equal in humanity and a brother in faith. I have never experienced such hospitality in my life, especially given the abject poverty. Because a large portion of the film is involved in exposing the traitors in the American government who serve the interests of world Zionism – from the 9/11 false flag to the Federal Reserve system to the mainstream media to the endless wars against sovereign nations – it shows that indeed I am a patriotic American, but I am not one of those whitewashed, mentally colonized “moderate” Muslims. I don’t have to apologize for my faith. Wahabbism is the ideology of ISIS and al-Qaeda, Islam is not their ideology. So I don’t have to moderate anything. True Islam is moderate and for the most part rejects the extremes on the polar ends of any particular issue. I picked Hussaini because it is my journey visiting Hussain and my journey to do my best to walk in his path. I’m not arrogant to claim that I 100% for sure would have been on his side on the Day of Ashura, but I am constantly striving to make sure I am good enough. I grew up in a life of ease at the expense of the oppressed (moustadhafeen), especially given my upbringing in a non-religious Zionist Jewish household. I cannot afford to take it easy and safeguard my comfort and my dunyawi (worldly) life, because I will have to answer to Allah for my complacency. Tactically, I am trying to not be suicidal like the Tawabeen who just aimlessly tried to sacrifice their lives to take revenge for the killing of Imam Hussain (as). I like to think I’m smarter than that. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very warm and want what is best for humanity, and that I’m all about educating people and trying to awaken people out of their sleep. An awakened people cannot be put back to sleep and that is a much more strategic long-term policy than just doing crazy things based on irrational emotions. But I have no fear in being bold in a smart way. I want to try my best to walk the Hussaini path because I didn’t convert to Islam to remain in my complacent, materialistic ways of my days of ignorance (ghaflah). Islam is not a passive religion, but an active one. We are supposed to be Khalifat al-ardh, or guardians of the earth, spreading Allah’s mercy and justice in every action that we take, being aware of its ripple effect on humans and non-humans alike.
I hope this documentary can serve as part of that educational effort. It gets very controversial at many points and I fully expect to be called all kinds of names by Wahabbis, Zionists/Talmudic Jewish supremacists, neocons, neoliberals, liberals, pseudo-leftists, mentally colonized ‘Shias,’ pro-Shahi Iranians from Los Angeles, and others. Psychologically, it is natural to get angry at something that challenges one’s worldview when it comes to the average person who holds the various belief systems mentioned above. But as far as the power elites who represent said factions go, their hearts are blackened and they know the truth, but reject it anyway and will probably smear me if my film takes off. I imagine it will, if it is accepted into this years Ammar Popular Film Festival in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
I don’t have all the answers, I’m just a human being and I’m always learning. I don’t pretend to be an Islamic scholar like Yasir Habib, Allah Yari, or “Shaikh Imam” Tawhidi. I encourage the viewers to do their research on anything I say and I try my best to make sure anything I say in regards to Islamic rulings or references is accurate. However, I do smash the cultural baggage that holds pure Muhammadin Islam down, so if viewers blur the line between their culture and religion, which is often at odds with one another, I hope they do not react negatively to new ideas and are willing to analyze the message of the film with a clear eye.
What do you think are the major challenges we face as an Ummah and particularly as followers of the Ahlul Bayt, that have led to a lot of us preferring to sit on the fence with regards to many important social and political matters?
Ali: There are many parts to the answer to this question. I’m not an oracle and don’t have all the answers, but hope that I can offer some insight as I have personally broken the many barriers that face our community. People always ask me how or why I do it. I always respond with the notion that I am not special. Anyone can do what I do. It is part of our Islamic and humanistic duty to do what we can to leave this earth better than how we found it. Our children have a right on us, and if we do nothing to stop the tidal wave of tyranny and oppression (which we are already in the midst of anyway), they will complain against us on the Day of Judgment, asking us what did we do to prevent the wars, pollution, economic exploitation, etc.
A lot of people think that by being silent they are guaranteeing their safety. American Muslims have been pretty much silent and politically invisible since we have existed in America, with the exception of a few, such as Malcolm X. Yet, America has systematically eroded rights and freedoms domestically and militarily raped and pillaged the entire world, going after every single remaining independent and dignified sovereign nation on the planet, killing millions of people in the process in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. We’ve been silent, yet the world has become less safe and more tyrannical. Clearly, there is no safety. There’s no safety if you speak out, and there’s no safety if you stay silent. However, there is less safety on the Day of Judgement if you are silent, because you will gain a certain degree of complicity with the acts of tyranny if you don’t do anything against it. The commands from the Prophet and Imams, peace be upon them, is to stand up to injustice in any way you can. No, I’m not talking about protesting. While it has its place, it is not the most effective way of achieving change. We have an unfortunate status quo of being silent on political issues at the masjid. It is 100% legal to speak on the issues of the day from the pulpit so long as you do not endorse any political candidates or parties – it does not violate non-profit status to do so. Aside from the legality of it, it is our Islamic duty to do so. Many of our community members do not have a deep understanding of the issues of the day and are duped by the propaganda about Syria, Russian “hacking,” etc. We need to educate our community. That is the most peaceful, civil, and effective way of creating change is by awakening the minds of the masses. The problem I have with Western leftists (I love the leftists of the Global South, i.e. Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, etc.) is that they think just causing chaos on the streets, rioting and smashing windows will achieve something. So let’s say they overthrow the system, how do we know they won’t revert to a similar form of tyranny? Many of them are secular, many of them are ‘liberal’ Jewish supremacists. Can we really have a revolution if people still drink alcohol, objectify women, are dishonest in business, do not treat their families good, and otherwise are tied to this worldly life and would sell out their fellow human beings in order to hang on to life just a little longer? I don’t think so. We need spiritual reformation at the same time that we pursue political reformation. So, since we’re not going to be rioting along side many of these pseudo-leftists whose top echelon of leadership is mostly bankrolled by George Soros, simply sitting at the pulpit and educating our community from the mimbar is a pretty mild tactic, yet it is quite effective. From there, we can work on implementing solutions that serve as a means of counter economics, or resistance economics which I will touch up on at the end of this question.
Getting back to the point I made about imagining if everyone disobeyed Ibn Marjanah – that same paradigm applies to today. Imagine if everyone was outspoken like I am. They don’t have to be as bold or go into many of these controversial deep truths like I do, such as 9/11 or the Bilderberg Group, as any form of activism is a step above the utter silence we have in our communities. They cannot target everyone, and certainly they cannot kill an idea whose time has come. I believe that there is a slight possibility that Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X, might have avoided CoIntelPro assassination if many of his closest supporters didn’t run away when the FBI knocked at his door; he only had a few close people in the community after that, and while those are quality people mashaAllah, imagine if he had a lot more people like that. It’s not hard to guess why the Ikhwani/Salafi segment of Muslim activists don’t say a peep about Malcolm before or after his death – if they put their sectarianism aside, maybe they could have doubled his number of supporters. It’s the same idea – if all of us refused to cower in fear to the threats of the Emperor With No Clothes, then they can’t harm us. There are more of us than there are of them, we are complicit in our own oppression by blindly believing in the illegitimate authority of tyrannical rule.
If we do not want to betray the Imam of our time, we have to stop fearing death or loss of wealth. If we think the threats are bad now, just wait until Imam (aj) returns. It will be most difficult then. I personally must try my best to remove all nifaq (hypocrisy) from my heart, because I didn’t become a Muslim only to betray the Prophet Jesus (as), who will return with the Mahdi, just like the Jews betrayed him before. I removed myself from my non-practicing Jewish upbringing, I don’t want to revert to that out of my own worldly desires. Believe me, sharing a meme on Facebook or discussing with a friend about the starving babies in Yemen or Gaza or Africa is not going to get you killed. Of course, let’s not forget that Allah is the best protectors. As Imam Abdul Alim Musa said, we should not fear man in the way we should be fearing Allah.
The second issue is basirat – or deep, profound, multi-layered insight. We have to have basirat when looking at the outside world, as well as when looking into our own souls to achieve higher levels of spiritual growth. Imam Khamenei always stresses basirat, and I can see why. How many of us know about the Project for the New American Century and their white paper, written a year before 9/11, that called for a “new Pearl Harbor” in order to justify America’s increased military presence in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea? How many people know that PNAC’s co-signers were mostly Jewish Israeli-American dual citizens who slid into the Bush administration a year later, only to oversee the cover up of 9/11 after it happened, such as Michael Chertoff deporting the Israeli Mossad agents who were arrested on 9/11 filming the burning Twin Towers while high fiving each other, as well as directing the occupation of Iraq that killed over 1 million innocent people? How many people know that the neoconservative movement that PNAC spearheaded would also be key in influencing the Obama administrations actions in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, with PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan serving in the US State Department, engineering the US funding of al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria, which would lead to the rise of Daesh, and that Kagan’s wife Victoria Nuland was the US Ambassador to NATO who helped to ignite the color revolution and coup in Ukraine? How many people know that PNAC’s co-founder William Kristol is the mentor of Michael Weiss, the senior editor of the Daily Beast, a website read by liberal millenials that is pushing the propaganda against Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah? How many people know that PNAC changed their name to the Foreign Policy Initiative? How many people know that FPI (formerly PNAC) fellow Jamie Kirchick helped to stage-manage the walkout of Liz Wahl from RT America, and that Kirchick is friends with Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed, Eli Lake of Bloomberg, all of whom push imperialist propaganda against the Axis of Resistance under the guise of humanitarianism? How many people know that the CIA is running heroin out of Afghanistan, flooding the world with cheap heroin? How many people know that Israel attacked America in 1967 intentionally, and the US government covered it up for them since? How many people know that Israel has hundreds of semi-secret nuclear weapons and has a strategy called the “Samson Option”? How many people know that Israel has the Oded Yinon strategy for a “Greater Israel” which extends from the Nile to the Euphrates, and to take over those lands they need to break up the Arab nations in to weaker states along ethnic/sectarian lines? How many people know that the only reason they are going after Bashar al-Assad in Syria is to protect Israel from the Axis of Resistance by cutting off arms to Hezbollah as well as creating sectarianism in the Ummah to stave off Sunni solidarity with the mostly Shiite resistance group, as a divided Ummah makes the Zionist entity safe from retribution? How many people know that the Free Syrian Army was started by the US, France, UK, Saudi, and Qatar, and off the bat the FSA was aligned with Jabhat al-Nusra? How many people know that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a one-man operation based out of the UK (not Syria), where the man in charge gets anonymous sources from al-Qaeda-held territories and doesn’t record the names of his sources, making them completely unverifiable? How many people know that Amnesty International served as a front for the Israeli Foreign Ministry on an official basis in the 70s, and their reporting since has benefited Israel unofficially? How many people know that BuzzFeed openly served as a mouthpiece for the Zionist entity during the 2014 slaughter of Gaza? How many people know that one of the main organizers of the Womens March, Gloria Steinem, is a CIA agent? How many people know that Hillary Clinton is close friends with the Rothschild family, and that the Clintons and the Trumps are close friends too? How many people know that Israel supports Jabhat al-Nusra with hospital care – meaning that a takfiri terrorist could get stiched up in a Zionist entity hospital, only to go and blow themselves up in front of the shrine of Sayyida Zainab? How many people know that Hillary Clinton, who supported arming rebels in Syria, was bankrolled by both the Zionists and the Saudi royals, making her complicit in the bombing of the graves of Ahlul Bayt (as) and making her an enemy of the lovers of Ahlul Bayt (as)? I could go on and on and on and on. But this lack of detailed understanding of the true details of the American/Israeli system, who are agents of the Dajjal system, leads us to be easily fooled by wolves in sheep’s clothing like Hillary Clinton or those cute BuzzFeed videos that pretend to care about Muslims. We’ll be duped into supporting Hillary Clinton in October of 2016, which coincided with the month of Muharram that year, while we also say [about Imam Hussain in Ziyarat Ashura] “I am at war with those who are at war with you.” Aren’t Zionist agents like Hillary Clinton at war with the family of Hussain (as) through her takfiri proxies? If we don’t have a deep understanding about America, then we will be under the impression that the US government wants peace with the world. Many of the US people do, but not our corrupt, banker-owned, Zionist-occupied government.
So even if we get over the fear of activism, we are misguided by controlled opposition agents who rely on our lack of basirat in order to get us to waste our energy on dead-end movements like Clinton, Sanders, or even for the small amount of Muslims who put their faith in Trump because he promised not to bomb Syria, which I never believed him to be true because he was also pro-Israel and anti-Iran. Now, before we get too hard on ourselves, this is not our fault. We are always on a constant state of growth, learning and understanding. It’s not our fault that we didn’t know. But it is our duty now to increase our basirat and look deep into the political reality of the U.S. and see the players behind the scenes. Learn the names of those who represent the shadow government and you will see the same key players behind the presidents, Congressmembers, think-tanks, lobby groups, media outlets, etc. Once we see them behind the scenes, we’ll know that something is fishy. CNN referred to the intentional mass murder of the Shi’a civilian evacuees in Kafariya and Fu’a, Syria as a ‘hiccup.’ If that’s what they say about us now, imagine what they will say about Imam Zaman (aj).
We need to know how to get involved in politics in a way that does not drain our valuable time and energy. As I mentioned, unlike the amicable Bolivarian leftists of Venezuela, the left in America is largely dominated by liberal Zionism. That is why you see publications like Socialist Worker supporting the so-called Syrian “revolution,” to the point of even referring to al-Nusra as “decent revolutionaries.” It is the same scenario as the infiltration of the Afro-American civil rights movement of the 60s, when Jewish Zionists started putting aside Afro-American human rights and started to interject their non-issues of this fake, so-called “feminism,” sexual “liberation,” homosexuality, and more. It destroyed the foundation of black America, which relied on the family. Why? Because Jewish supremacists hate black people. This also helped to take away the militant mindedness of black civil rights – because those who were militant-minded did not support the Zionist cancer occupying Palestine. Their infiltration caused silence on Palestine. The same thing has happened with leftist discourse on Palestine and Syria. On Palestine, these ‘liberal’ Jews act as thought police, illegally occupying the indigenous thoughts of the resistance to Zionism. They use slander, smears, and name-calling to discredit anyone who talks about 9/11 being a Mossad operation or the discussion about the Rothschild banking family. They also insist that all activism must be non-violent. Non-violent activism has its place, of course, but when you are being murdered you have every right to use force to defend yourself. Islam does not condone violence or murder, but it does permit self-defense and the use of arms to defend oneself against persecution. This ties into their support for the coup in Syria. Jewish Voice for Peace comes to mind as one of these deceptive liberal Zionist groups – they support the existence of a Zionist entity, just with a smiley face on it and that it “co-exists” next to a Palestinian state, stripped of its dignity, kicked to the reservations like the Native Americans. JVP’s media director Naomi Dann calls for the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. Why? Because more than likely she has some family that is illegally squatting on stolen Palestinian land and she doesn’t want to see Hezbollah return the land of Palestine to its rightful owners. Aside from hating black people, many of these ‘liberal’ Jewish supremacists also hate Jesus and Mary, peace be upon them. That is why they pretend to be friends with Muslims, but then decry about how evil and restrictive religion is when it comes to their bashing of Christians, which further divides America and forces Christians to join movements like the alt-right, neoconservatism, and Christian Zionism. They also help to perpetuate the Sunni-Shia divide by siding with the Salafis (who have hijacked authentic, true Sunni Islam) in Syria. In the Middle East, Christians and Muslims get along fine. Christians fight alongside Hezbollah against the terrorism of both ISIS and Israel. Why can’t we have that here? Thanks to the hatred of religion of liberals in America, Muslims are becoming more accepting of homosexuality, abortion, and more. To the point where in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, the Salafi/Ikhwani activists rushed to hold candlelight vigils, jamaat prayers, and speeches in favor and support of homosexuals, to the point of even endorsing homosexuality. Imagine that! They will stand with homosexuals. They are even standing with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League. But they will not ever show any amount of love or solidarity with the Shi’a victims of Yemen or Nigeria, which just goes to show that Ibn Tamiyyah’s axiom of “Shi’as are worse than Jews” has permeated many parts of the Ummah. Of course, Islam is a semi-libertarian religion. We don’t advocate murdering homosexuals. We view it as a sin, but we are not murderers. Islamic rulings only apply in countries where the majority of people are Muslim and they have voted to establish Islamic rule (i.e. Iran) and the act of sex is performed in public where innocent children can see it. Outside of such a context, people are free to do what they want in the privacy of their own homes so long as no one knows about it – it is between them and God on their decision to oppress their own soul. All intimate acts should be private, regardless of the nature.
So when it comes to the Muslim-liberal alliance, we should be cautious. We shouldn’t alienate ourselves from them, but we shouldn’t compromise our values just because they happen to be our only political ally at the time being, even though a lot of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Malcolm X said that liberals were just as dangerous as conservatives, except that liberals are more deceptive. With any group, liberal or otherwise, we must show the best of akhlaq (morality, kindness, and general behavior, demeanor, and manners) towards all people, but work with others on the basis of common ground between our differing worldviews. Unfortunately, liberals, and especially liberal Zionists, want us to become secularized and lose our militant-mindedness. They want to destroy the Muslim family in the same way they destroyed the black family through sexual liberation and encouraging single parenting through the welfare program. We don’t want to go through such intense lengths in order to change their worldviews, although it would be nice if they became Muslim, but they won’t show us the same mutual respect so that we can coexist so long as we don’t interfere in the privacy of each other’s lives. As the Qur’an says – lakum deenukum wa leeya deen – to you your way, and to me mine. Live and let live, but will they let us live? Or, like the Zionist neoconservatives, will these liberals push for “reforming” and revising Islam as well?
That is why we have to craft our own political movements where we can work with liberals and conservatives based on common ground, on our own terms. After all, we are all human beings, and aside from our differences we have many things in common. We all drink water, eat food, and have to pay the bills. Certainly we can unite against the banking system, against Monsanto, against wars, etc. But like Imam Khomeini said, the Islamic revolution is neither East nor West, not capitalist and not socialist. Our Islam, originating from a divine source, has the best of all worlds and then some, transcending the materialistic ideologies of old. Similarly, we need to trailblaze our own foothold in the political sphere in America, both inside the current system and outside it as well. We need to create our own movements, rather than riding the tailcoats of Black Lives Matter, as an example.
Whether you are in the process of overcoming fear or increasing your basirat, here are a few ways we can achieve change. First, let me address the immigrants and non-citizens of America. I can fully understand why you are silent. You do not have the same rights as an American citizen. Even though you do care, you do have basirat, you don’t want to get kicked out of America. That is fine, do not feel that your silence is equal to complicity with oppression. The good news is that there are many non-verbal and silent forms of protest. The greatest of which is becoming a conscious consumer. Instead of keeping your money in a bank account, switch to a credit union – if you keep $1,000 in your savings account, both banks and credit unions can loan out $10,000 due to fractional reserve banking. They charge an interest on the customer, and the difference lies with who the interest goes to when the loaner pays back his interest payments. In a bank, the interest payments (which are profits for the bank) flow right up to the top of the pyramids into the coffers of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. In a credit union, the profits are shared locally with a community-based board of directors that are elected by the credit union’s members. So you can stave the parasitic banking system just by doing that. Additionally, you can avoid products associated with profiting off of stolen Palestinian land, such as HP (Hewlitt-Packard), Coca-Cola, Levi’s, L’Oreal, Revlon, Sabra Hummus, Motorola, and more brands identified by the BDS movement. We live in a capitalist economy of diversity and fierce brand competition. There are alternatives to every brand. Simply buy the alternative to the brand (I personally don’t drink soda so I don’t have to worry about Coke products) and you are helping to stave the Zionist entity. Also look into buying more ethical clothing – we live in an economy of lesser evils, so for example, Target is less evil than Wal Mart when it comes to clothing, Target signed on to a labor rights pact for Bangladesh and has taken out many toxic chemicals from the clothing dying process. They have many problems such as underpaying their US-based workers, but as with everything, we cannot be perfect when it comes to conscious consumerism, but we can make our intention pure and try our best. We should also take part in recycling programs and buy household items that are more natural and not made out of petro-chemicals which harm the endocrine system of human beings. Try to buy organic foods, not from overpriced stores like Whole Foods, but from relatively cheaper sources like Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target, and the growing organic sections of mainstream grocers.
If you are a US citizen, you have no excuse for being silent. You have full free speech rights. Run for local office, such as city council or school board. Our kids go to public schools and it’s like sending them into the jungle. There is no morality and all types of evil temptations awaiting them. In a school board, you can help to shape the structure of schooling so that the secular kids get to do what they want, but that the religious kids are protected. That way, everyone is happy. Of course, peer pressure always works in the negative direction, pulling good kids into doing bad things, but that doesn’t mean that our kids can’t engage in positive peer pressure, pulling bad kids towards good things. On a city council, you can use the 10th amendment power of the US Constitution to nullify federal laws such as the Patriot Act, NDAA, legal tender laws (which prop up the Federal Reserve’s stranglehold on American economics), and bust up local cable company monopolies.
For citizens and immigrants alike, we can do many things outside the political system to help to better our lives. Aside from being an ethical shopper to the best of our abilities and switching to credit unions, we must become economically autonomous. Malcolm X pushed this idea hard. We should own our own businesses, instead of taking our talents (mashaAllah we have lots of PhDs among us) to put it to use for companies not owned by our community. There’s nothing stopping us from opening up an interest-free credit union like the Jafari Credit Union in Texas. The sky is the limit. We should start community gardens and grow healthy, organic food for the community, using drip-irrigation technology to save water, and have a pay-what-you-can system so that low income Muslims and non-Muslims alike can afford wholesome foods, while also teaching youngsters a valuable skill of being able to grow food.
We should also work on forming alliances with Christians, and not just for superficial photo ops, but involve them in our community gardens and interest-free credit unions. After all, didn’t Jesus whip the bankers in the temple?
Additionally, we must get to the hearts and minds of the US military. When the US was first trying to illegally invade Syria over the first chemical weapons false flag in Ghouta in 2013, there were anonymous pictures of US servicemembers holding up signs that read “I did not sign up to fight alongside al-Qaeda in Syria.” We need to reach out to the military and make sure they know that we are on their side. We are not on the side of imperialism, Zionism, war crimes, and mass murder, and certainly there are many members of the military who join to be able to rape and pillage, otherwise there would be no war crimes, but many do not. We need to let them know that we do not want them to die for Israeli wars, when they signed up to serve America, not Israel. We need to let them know that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel created ISIS, and that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Iraqi resistance militias are all fighting ISIS more effectively than the US and their takfiri proxy army. Once they realize the true nature of US foreign policy and how it is steered by Zionists, in addition to awakening them to 9/11 truth, they will disobey the orders to attack Syria and Iran.
Lastly, we must ditch any media source which perpetuates global suffering. Not just Fox News, but the wolf in sheep’s clothing liberal outlets like CNN, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, Vox, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Daily News, Vice News, AJ+, the Daily Beast, and Voice of America.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to pitch our 2 cents towards a better world. We may not be able to individually save the world, that is up to the Imam of our time, but collectively we can make an impact. And the Imam won’t come unless we lay the groundwork for him.
If we think being passive will bring back the Mahdi (aj), then we better bust out the popcorn because it will be a long wait. Allah does not change a society until they change themselves.
How would you recommend we remind ourselves that the values that Imam Hussain (a.s)’s stood up for are timeless?
How drastically would you say your worldview and lifestyle has changed since your reversion to the Islam?
Ali: I was already pretty politically awake before I became a Muslim. I was aware of Zionism, 9/11 truth, the Federal Reserve, etc. beforehand. I wasn’t shy about my beliefs either, since I was an independent journalist with a radio show at the time, my parents knew what I believed. A lot of the heated and contentious discussions and arguments happened early on before I became Muslim. When I accepted Islam, it wasn’t easy with my parents either. Alhamdulillah, now things are much better, especially when I got married. It really is a blessing from Allah because the relationship with my family could have ended very tumultuously.
The thing with all Islamic values, such as treating your parents mercifully even if they are non-believers, is that I grasped and internalized and truly valued and loved these principles in stages. I may have made mistakes in the way I treated my parents. I could have told the truth about Zionism and the Talmud in a better way. But as I learned more about Islamic akhlaq, I tried my best to embody it in my actions. It really took a revolution of consciousness for me to get where I am. I grew up in a world of materialism, hedonism, lust, gluttony, and disrespect/objectification of women. Adopting the Islamic value of the high status of women divinely sanctioned by Allah was a huge feat for me to accomplish. Alhamdulillah, I was never one of those crazy college frat boys that does despicable and devilish acts when it comes to taking advantage of women. So while I wasn’t bad, I also wasn’t good either. That’s the thing about spirituality, is that Allah placed within each of us the ability to put our hearts and souls under big microscopes so that we can sink deep into ourselves and analyze even the smallest amount of impurities within our spiritual selves. But when you are stuck in a materialistic maze, you don’t have the need for self-reflection, because as long as I [arrogantly] think that I’m a good person, I must be, right? That was the folly of my secularism. I was never brought up religiously, my parents identified with Judaism as an ethnic thing, my dad used to be very Zionist. I heard every line in the book about how evil Islam, Iran, Hezbollah, and Palestine were.
All these aspects of Islam that I had to internalize in a big spiritual evolution was in stages, like climbing a mountain. It is a struggle to get to the top, but when you get there, you can see the beautiful view from above. Life is a never ending mountain to climb, with death at the end. We go through so many struggles on a day to day basis, where we are tested on our ability to overcome these various sub-peaks of the greater mountain of life. It took me several months to wake up on time for fajr. I would pray fajr whenever I woke up, I didn’t know about qadha (make-up) prayers then but it felt right to just do it rather than skip it altogether, even if the time is not honored. But I started waking up for fajr when I internalized the deep meaning and beauty of doing so. It clicked in my heart and mind. Once you get to that point, then you are obliged to keep to that practice. We cannot expect converts to adapt the whole gauntlet overnight. It is a big learning process and Allah is the most merciful.
The other obstacle was getting acquainted with the community. Though I internally wanted to avoid Wahabbism, as I knew it was antithetical to the beautiful noor (light) of Islam that I had fell in love with, I didn’t know how to identify it, and I didn’t know that it had hijacked authentic Sunni Islam, which I didn’t even know the difference between madhabs (schools of Islamic thought) at the time. I just thought I was Muslim. I would later realize that some, though not all, of the people assisting me in my religious growth were Salafis and Wahabbis. They were way too rigid about things and didn’t show rahma (mercy) in their approach. Of course religion should have rules and they should be followed, they just seemed to be going overboard. When I first became Muslim, I had shaved my beard for a job interview and also public appearances since I was doing activism and running for office at the time. I came back for jummah (Friday prayers) the same week and they freaked out. “It’s okay brother, you didn’t know, but next time if you shave your beard, it means you’re a kafir.” Something was wrong. Also, I would talk often about false flags and the US government’s creation of al-Qaeda. One brother got offended when I said that Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent. Some Wahabbis unfortunately respect this despicable agent of world Zionism. I mean, these Wahabbis are literally justifying the stereotype that Zionist Jews who fund the Islamophobia industry create. No wonder Prince Waleed bin Talal supports Fox News along with Zionist Jew Rupert Murdoch. The Zio-Wahabbi alliance was becoming clearer to me.
I was dissatisfied with the rigid nature of the Salafis. Also, outside the masjid, people congregated based on ethnicity or perceived religious ‘superiority’ (aka beard size and thobe epicness), and that didn’t seem like brotherhood to me. So I spent most of my first Ramadan alone, dealing with the struggles of a new convert, the struggles I was having with my family. Alhamdulillah though, I fasted every day.
Alhamdulillah that I became disillusioned with the Salafis, and not with Islam itself. I can see how some people become converts and leave, not because of Islam, but because of the bad actions of some Muslims. I was also told that it would probably be very difficult to get married. What a relief, eh? Throwing me into the pit of temptation and putting me at risk for haraam.
After about 6-8 months, I was waiting for a sign from Allah to reinvigorate my faith and find me a good community of fellow believers that weren’t brainwashed by Zio-Wahabbism. SubhanAllah, that du’a was answered in a bigger way than I can probably ever comprehend and am still comprehending.
Allah’s answer to my du’a was the Ahlul Bayt (as).
I met a brother online, also a convert. We didn’t know that we were both Muslim until it came up in conversation. He then sent me this quote by Imam Ali (as) that was very beautiful and profound. I had never heard of this man nor his significance in Islamic history. I looked him up and I was blown away! His proximity to the Prophet (saww), the Prophet’s praise for him, the fact that he is high enough caliber to marry the Prophet’s daughter Fatima (sa), his justice, his akhlaq, his wisdom, his deep spirituality and eloquent descriptions of God and Islam, and the event of Ghadeer Khum. Like so many of our modern justice leaders, like Malcolm X, he was killed by the powers that be because his divine system of justice threatens the materialistic powers that be. How come I never heard of this man? Then I looked into his progeny. They were also similar in high stature, as well as also similar in being systematically and brutally suppressed and oppressed at every corner by the tyrants who had usurped Islam, whom I also didn’t know of. As far as I knew, Islamic history was mostly sunshine and lollipops at least for the early era, that it took a decent amount of time for power and money to corrupt things. I was so wrong. I smelled a cover up. Since I knew the Prophet (saww) had appointed these people to succeed him, I knew that the Ahlul Bayt (as) were the divinely stationed leaders of the believers.
For the sake of Islamic unity, let’s put aside the first 3 caliphs. Leave that to our scholars of both schools of thought to discuss on an academic, civil, and respectful manner with each other in open forums and debates. No sense in Muslims fighting over it when we should be united. But let me be clear, I have no mercy for Muawiya and all that follow him. He committed high treason against the rightfully selected caliph and the brother of the Prophet (saww), the same crime that Muawiya falsely accused Imam Ali (as) of when it came to the murder of Othman, whom Hasan and Hussain (as) actually helped to protect when the people swarmed his palace seeking his blood. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali (as), there is no one more qualified – divinely as well as practically – to have political and spiritual leadership over the Muslim world than the Imams of Ahlul Bayt (as). Certainly we can agree on that, especially since a lot of authentic Sunnis unscathed by Zio-Wahabbi influence have as much disdain for Muawiya and Yazid as do Shias.
The Ahlul Bayt (as) are role models for how to live as decent human beings, as deeply spiritual and transcendent Muslims, and as well as political revolutionaries. They are role models not just for Muslims, but for all of humanity.
Once I accepted the Wilayah of Ahlul Bayt (as), my spiritual growth started to increase at a much higher rate than before. I was in a much better place. Before that, I had also met some great Sunni brothers who I still keep contact with today. They are very awake about the Zionist plot to divide us and the strength of their iman protects them from the fitna that is plaguing our Ummah.
I noticed a great difference among the authentic Sunnis, and especially the Shias that I was now spending time with. There was no separation based on race or religious “superiority.” Everyone is very warm and welcoming. Of course, as I would later learn, the Shia community around the country is far from perfect. We still have trivial and needless ethnic division – masjids for Iranians, Lebanese, Iraqi, Khoja, Pakistani, Indian, etc. But my experience is that even with all that, it is still much better than the racism and unfriendliness of the Salafis. Additionally, I didn’t view the Salafis who [mis]guided me as friends, they didn’t treat me as such. Alhamdulillah in my almost 4 years of being a Muslim I have established lasting friendships across the world with great brothers and sisters.
I even met a brother from the UK randomly at a celebration of the Prophet’s (saww) birthday – which is shirk according to Wahabbis. I told him my convert story and he flat out offered to pay for my trip to Karbala. I hadn’t thought about going to the Global South (aka the third world), but the Ahlul Bayt (as) inspired me not to fear death, so I accepted the offer. I didn’t want to assume the worst about a fellow Shi’a brother and think it was some kind of a hoax, but I also wanted to be realistic. Plus, I needed to go on an English-speaking tour. I cannot go alone to a foreign country. I don’t even know about the visa process and all. So I had him pay for a tour group and alhamdulillah it came through.
Also, I got married to a wonderful immigrant from Iran shortly before my first Muharram and my trip to Karbala. I met her father in person for the first time in Iraq, we only communicated on Skype since.
After my trip, I noticed that a lot of the English-speaking Muslim crowd, young and older, were starting to try and demand reforms when it comes to English programming, charity work, being active and present in the greater society we live in, bringing Ahlul Bayt (as) to the public instead of being isolated, as well as working slowly to get people acclimated to political activism.
Are there any personal experiences/thoughts you’d like to share that could be of help/inspiration?
Ali: Don’t view converts as special people with spiritual gifts. To an extent, yes we have a real interest in the deen and spirituality, but that doesn’t mean that we are perfect. I suffer from imperfections that only Allah knows about. However, anyone can attain my level. There are born Muslims who are more spiritually elevated and better people than I could ever be. We’re all on different levels, so its not a bad thing. These are the journeys and difficulties that we all must go through and Allah understands our circumstances and knows best what is in our hearts. As long as our intention is genuine, better to be lesser on the spiritual ladder and be truthful, than to be higher on it and be arrogant and boastful.
The other thing I can say is be patient. Be proud of who you are and always, always respect yourself. Don’t sell away your dignity as a Muslim in order to please others. We all go through trials and difficulties according to our individual circumstances. This life is temporary and our actions will be judged. Better to die with dignity than to live in humiliation, as Imam Hussain (as) said. The road may be tough, but you survived holding on to your authentic self, the authenticity that Allah placed within you that makes each one of us different from another, with a unique potential that we can make shine bright by persevering through life’s challenges.
I don’t have all the answers for life, so rely on Allah and turn to the Ahlul Bayt (as) for inspiration in dealing with hardships. No one has suffered like they have. And certainly many of us are not suffering on the astronomical level like the moustadhafeen of Yemen and Gaza. Put things into perspective and appreciate what we have on this earth. Often times we get worked up over things that don’t matter – needlessly adding stress on our own shoulders that we can just let go. Say alhamdulillah for a roof over your head, clean water, the fact that there is a choice to get natural food untouched by Monsanto, family, and the guidance of Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt (as).