AB: As American Muslims look forward in 2007. What should they have at the front of their minds in terms of achievement?
ZS: I think number one thing Muslims should have at the front of their head, are the requisites of this society, and how Islam can address some of the needs of this society. For so long we have been focused on what (is) going on overseas. At the end of the day, we did not make those messes over there. At the end of the day we’re not going be able to fix it.
AB: When you say “we” you mean-
ZS: Muslims here in America. WE didn’t make those messes, we’re not going be able to fix them. If the people who are there, living that reality can’t fix it…Or, are extremely challenge to fix it…What are we going do from half way around the world?
The reason I say that though, is that our efforts to continually try and expend our resources and expend our spiritual, moral and political capital addressing those issues- we leave our own issues unresolved. By leaving our own issues unresolved, we create vulnerabilities for ourselves that impinge on our ability to do anything meaningfully for the brothers and sisters over there. So we can’t empower ourselves because we’re so busy trying to address the situation of powerless Muslims in other places.
So, I think that’s number one to put at the top of the agenda for 2007.
Secondly, I think we need to develop a moral agenda. Recently I read that you, like myself were reading Jimmy Carter’s book. Not the controversial one on the Palestine situation, but “Our Endangered Values”. I think as Muslims we need to develop a moral agenda. We need to see ourselves as apart of the moral consciousness of this country. Because we can’t constantly condemn the policies of this country, but then not bring our voice to bear in trying to direct the country on a different path in terms of its foreign and domestic policy.