Arab, Muslim-American comedian Dean Obeidallah thinks Muslims “worship” Jesus and Mary.
This statement conveys an appalling ignorance of Islam’s most basic teachings. It’s even worse than Hussein Ibish’s definition of Sufism as “squishy.”
Ignorance per se isn’t the problem here. Everyone learns at their own pace. What’s objectionable is these types’ latching on to just causes without qualification and engaging in questionable activities in our name. They use their Arab and Muslim identities to promote themselves while their expertise in the areas they claim to serve is embarrassingly shallow. They undermine our causes by working within the structures of oppression and calling that “activism.” They think their collaboration somehow constitutes service to the Arab and Muslim communities. They make US empire appear palatable to Arabs and Muslims by giving it an Arab and Muslim appearance.
Irshad Manji doesn’t know Arabic but has somehow written an entire book about Islam, which is akin to writing a book about Judaism without knowing Hebrew. Jim Zogby wrote a book about Arabs’ opinions but doesn’t know much more Arabic than Irshad Manji.
While their gaffes are inadvertent, the house Arabs and house Muslims’ political moves are calculated and deliberate. Their cynical opportunism exploits the suffering of the empire’s subjects.
Incidentally, Obeidallah’s tweet indicates that the Department of State doesn’t select Arabs and Muslims to work with based on their knowledge of Arab and Islamic affairs. It works with whomever is willing to compromise him or herself politically by joining hands with the empire’s diplomatic department in its perpetual, futile effort to win hearts and minds.
We don’t ask Dean Obeidallah to enroll in Islam 101. We just ask him to ikhras.
Hat tip: Tammy Obeidallah