SeekersDigest: Ask not what Obama can do for you

Sh. Faraz Rabbani at Seeker's Digest made a wonderfully thought provoking connection between President Obama's historic and courageous speech yesterday in Cairo and President John F. Kennedy's legendary Inaugural Address in 1961. 

Ask Not What Obama Can Do For You :SeekersDigest

President Obama made some very important statements in his historic speech in Cairo earlier today. Many Muslims are excited, enthused by the positive tone and attitude. Indeed, Obama’s gestures were significant; his choice of symbols and issues, careful; and his message, hopeful.
As Muslims, we shouldn’t be armchair pundits, merely wondering whether Obama will follow is great words with real actions. Rather, we have to look at ourselves. We have to consider how we can positively engage; how we can get serious about learning and living the way of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace); how we can get out of our shells and be people who spread the good not just in our communities but for humanity.

So right and so elegantly put.

Some of Obama's critics in the Blogosphere are already comparing yesterday's address to another famous JFK speech, but in a way that highlights how risky and brave this move was. Some are recalling JFK's Berlin address of 2 years later, but dubbing it "Ich bin ein Muslim." And you can be sure a flood of trite Neville Chamberlain analogies are on the way.

It's time to put up or shut up. Arab and Muslim countries need to seize the opportunity and pursue peace now that the White House is serious about peace (perhaps for the first time since Carter).

If the Arabs and Muslim leadership don't respond in kind and prove Obama's vision right, further actions by Obama will be politically impossible and the door will slam shut. Let's not prove Abba Eban's memorable (but factually quite debatable) quip about missed opportunities right.

  • Ikram Hadi

    The thing is, his speech, no matter how great, is still a speech. Naturally I don’t trust politicians, no matter how nice they are.

  • Ayman Fadel

    While there are certainly valid criticisms of the content of the speech, Akram is %100 correct in that Muslims in many countries should engage in steps of reform, not just for the benefit of the United States or for the political future of President Obama, but for their own benefit and the world’s benefit.

  • svend

    Whatever one may think of specific aspects of the speech, the fact remains that it was by American political standards very daring and visionary. If it blows up in his face, he will pay dearly for it in Washington. Also, to openly repudiate settlements is not just words–that’s a serious (albeit long long overdue) policy change, and one that gives his political opponents a lot of ammunition. If we want Washington to be a positive force in the region, we need to give this a chance. Barring a huge change in the balance of power and ideological influence in American political life, we’re not likely to see a more favorable political conjuncture for the Pals for a long time. And unlike Clinton, Obama understands that a mediator can’t be bosom buddies with one side while completely ignoring the needs of the other. It’s a limited time offer!