I think we are way past discussing efficacy of lockdown. Every day, more and more have realized that it was and continues to be an insane, disastrous policy. And those who haven’t realized it yet, will soon enough, though they won’t admit it.
So let’s just put that issue aside and take stock of where we are.
Prior to today’s hysteria, the most consequential global event in my lifetime thus far was 9/11. The pre-9/11 world was nothing like the post-9/11 version.
At the time, the average person had no clue how significantly the world was going to change. It only became apparent 1 or 2 years after the fact. At that point, people started to recognize that the wool had been pulled over their eyes by a government that quickly acted to institute wide-ranging policies giving themselves and their corporate partners more power, more money, and more control. Everything from the Patriot Act to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq on completely fabricated pretenses, to a media industry that pumped out anti-Islam, anti-Muslim propaganda 24/7.
The Muslim community in the West was immediately hit even before the invasions began. The FBI and other agencies in the US, for example, began rounding up imams, deporting some, detaining others, and prosecuting others on bogus terrorism charges. Sadly, the response from many in the community was to look away and disassociate. Better to stay quiet and not risk putting one’s neck on the line. A small group actually joined those agencies and their proxies and were deputized to police the community and/or spread “moderate Islam.” Some of those figures are still operating today in prominent positions in celebrity Muslim orgs, their shameful history and associations carefully hidden, as they continue peddling “moderate Islam,” “compassionate Islam,” etc.
Young Muslims nowadays find it hard to understand why a scholar or imam would “sell out.” The reality is, this post 9/11 onslaught on the community by Western governments was extremely traumatizing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am the last person to justify selling out. But that has been our situation. A more extreme version of this happens in most Muslim countries. If you are going to stand for haqq and you have any sort of following, expect harassment from government agencies. And this is the kind of harassment that not only threatens you, but also your whole family. This is extreme pressure.
Sadly, we didn’t really see much vocal Muslim organizing on the communal level against the US government until around 2006 or 2007, about 5 years after the fact. And even then, it wasn’t Muslims leading the outcry against the Bush government. Rather, the liberal establishment at that time began to increasingly question the “Global War on Terror” (though they were fully onboard just a few years prior and had been instrumental in creating complete political consensus on all Bush’s “anti-terror” policies). So many Muslims who were afraid to speak out before found an opportunity to be brave activists once the liberal mainstream gave them the cushioning to comfortably do so.
Arguably, it wasn’t until liberal academics started using the term “islamophobia” that that concept was adopted by Muslim activists. It’s hard to imagine now, but today’s hyperfocus on islamophobia was no where to be found10 to 15 years ago. Outside a handful of notable exceptions, there were virtually no masjid events protesting the “islamophobic media” or khutbahs on the Patriot Act. To speak out on these things meant going against the establishment and was seen as everything from low brow to baseless conspiracy theorizing to “being an extremist” sympathetic to terrorists. So many just kept their mouths shut and focused on teaching peace, tolerance, mercy, and coexistence. That was the birth of the “compassionate,” watered down version of Islam being peddled to this day. Once the left wing began fighting against the establishment on the “War on Terror” and some Muslims figured out that such activism could be quite lucrative, then and only then did they start marching and protesting, etc. And the mark of their insincerity was the fact that the left wing also marched for LGBT rights, so of course the brave Muslim activists made it a part of their cause too, calling it an “ijtihadi issue,” or at the very least, stayed silent lest they run afoul of the establishment narrative and lose money, popularity, or both.
So all that was with 9/11. But this so-called pandemic is shaping up to be far more consequential. What governments are trying to do now in the name of “public health” makes the excesses of post-9/11 government crackdown look like child’s play.
Health administrators and government officials talking to mainstream media are openly suggesting complete population surveillance. Already, tech giants like Google have been sharing all of our movement/location data with the government. It’s not even a secret. They are open about doing so because they know most people have completely lost any sense of the right to privacy and won’t protest. They are proposing mandatory vaccination of whatever vaccine is developed. They are proposing limiting our movement based on vaccination. Just watch any of the mainstream news outlets and these measures are being openly discussed. Tech giants are also censoring and shutting down any online content that questions this pro-control narrative. The Atlantic even put out an essay recently arguing that the world needs to adopt China’s surveillance and population control strategies.
Everything is justified on the basis of “public health,” and sadly, too many uncritically accept this obvious manipulation.
And the effect on Muslims is just beginning. You think that masjids being closed, umrah shut down, tarawih and eid salat cancelled, etc., are bad? What if this becomes the new normal?
Ultimately, what will all this mean? Allah knows best. But we have seen all of this before. The same script. Are we going to repeat the same mistakes?