A little over a month ago, Al-Talib Newsmagazine published my opinion article “The Muslim American Imperative to Study and Oppose US Intervention in Syria.” Since its publishing, the reaction to the article has included Facebook comments, public and private meetings between various members of the MSA-UCLA and Al-Talib, and official statements made by the MSA-UCLA board and Al-Talib’s editorial board.
The Al-Talib editorial board and I have agreed to retract the opening paragraph of the article, which has been its most often quoted and criticised part. It describes a general situation whereby a khateeb may make du’a, subtle or explicit, against Bashar al-Assad and for the insurgents in Syria, and my reaction to it. Many took this to mean that I accuse any khateeb that makes du’a against Assad to be affiliated with or a partisan of Al-Qaeda or ISIS. I do not think this of any khateeb, and I acknowledge the unclear and misleading wording (especially with my use of the word “intentionally”) of the paragraph is at fault for giving readers this impression. I also understand the inherent danger involved in providing Islamic services such as khutbahs, given the US government’s widespread surveillance apparatus. Accusing khateebs who make du’a against Assad of being Al-Qaeda or ISIS supporters would further compromise their safety from this apparatus, which I want to avoid at all costs. I hope, then, that the removal of this paragraph can help give American Muslims at UCLA and elsewhere the security to continue practicing Islam freely.
I absolutely acknowledge as legitimate the suffering that our community members, their friends, and their family went through at the hands of the Syrian government, and it saddens me to know that this kind of discussion of the conflict has caused such pain. I apologize for the inappropriate way in which I have initiated this discussion, and I hope that henceforth we can further this discussion with respect and careful study.