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  • Writer's pictureAslam Abdullah

The US Presidential Election

Updated: May 29

By Dr. Abdullah Al Ahsan

Like every leap year, this year too, US presidential election is due this November. Although many activists are trying hard to convince the Muslim community to participate in the forthcoming election, community members do not seem to be convinced about its importance.

Muslim Civic Coalition, a Chicago-based NGO in partnership with more than twenty other US-based organizations, organized an educational symposium on April 20 and 21 to educate Muslims about potential candidates and their options for a vote. This was an important initiative in the light of involvement level of Muslims in American politics. But what can we achieve through such initiatives?

Our Current Dilemma

Although the two major parties ignored the Muslim Civic Coalition’s invitation, other presidential candidates valued this Muslim initiative. They are trying to win over Muslims, and this is our main strength.

Although Muslims are in no position to match lobby groups such as the AIPAC, nor do they have the number in the American setting, yet one must admit that they have enough to fulfill the minimum requirements to support alternative third parties participating in the elections and third-party candidates seem to understand this very well. As a Muslim, I feel that this is the opportunity Muslims to create their space in US politics.

Lessons from History

What specific lesson could we derive from our understanding of history in the current context? Historian Arnold Toynbee after evaluating most known world civilizations suggested that in the life of a given civilization, a small minority always plays the most significant role in affecting change. He called this small the creative minority.

The number of people belonging to the creative minority could be as few as only one percent of the total population. I think the third-party candidates are looking for such a tiny minority. The Muslim community may discuss whom they would choose and when they choose, what criteria they will utilize in the process of choosing, all these are matters of scrutiny and debate and the community may do so in the coming months.

What is necessary at this moment is to support most, if not all, third-party candidates to be on the ballot in November. Once they have established their space in the political arena, they will be in a better position to choose their presidential candidate.

Any survey about the subject would indicate a huge frustration, particularly among the youth, about the most suitable candidate for the November presidential election. Muslims, at this juncture, should be able to guide everyone else based on Qur’anic teachings. We shall address this question in another article.

Professor Abdullah al-Ahsan, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has dedicated nearly three and a half decades to teaching history, comparative civilization, and international relations in Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey. Currently residing in Chicago, he continues to contribute his expertise in academia.

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