When IANA and other such organizations dissolved after 9/11, the remaining reasonable and moderate American brothers had no place to go and for all purposes – especially with all the fitnah of brothers being arrested – and basically went into hiding and are quietly going on with their lives observing the social anarchy from afar. I have found brothers that were formerly active in the salafi movement – brothers that at the time had big untrimmed beards and exclusively wore thobes – with small trimmed beards, a suit and tie on and wanting nothing to do with the movement. Some were even very anti-salafi.
It also did not help matters when some groups that were opposed to the salafi movement as a whole took the opportunity to scapegoat them after 9/11.
As to the TROID side, they continued to shrink in influence, and have become sort of a punch line. They are the ones associated with ‘salafiyah’ when other Muslims think of salafis. Mention the word ‘Salafi’ to a Muslim what often comes to mind is a criminal who marries several times. They thought it to be “unbeneficial” to address social issues and those very issues ate away at them like acid. They thought it better to “leave these issues” but it never left them.
TROID began to lose influence as the tabloid style emails ceased and they ran out of people to character assassinate. Plus people just got tired. They can’t put together any conferences outside of Philly and Newark, where – even in those places – they are also waning in influence. There is no real solid “movement” in place.Even if one visits a lot of the old salafi websites, one will find that they haven’t been updated in months or sometimes, years. This has contributed to the end of the “cut and paste” era. And Salafis are almost nowhere to be found in the post 9/11 intellectual debate.
As to the remnants of the IANA side of things, some have retooled, run away from the old salafi movement, and have an entirely different focus. These groups do not concentrate on converts anymore and disown the title ‘salafi’ for themselves because they do not want to be associated with the legacy of TROID – for good reason.
Texas Dawah and the Al Maghrib Institute are two examples of such organizations that are pretty balanced and have run away from the salafi label like the plague. I hear that Texas Dawah puts on a pretty good program, but they – along with Al Maghrib – target the college aged (18-25) middle class, children of immigrants. We converts are largely an afterthought in their programs. Converts are welcome to come, but they are not considered in the programs. Some converts that have been around this crowd have even gotten the feeling that they are a “pet convert” and shy away.
Texas Dawah – for example – had over 3,000 attendees at their last conference, but I would be surprised if even 1% of that number were converts. Again, this is not to say that they reject converts, but it is clear that they don’t speak to our issues in their conferences. This is in contrast to the old days when you had large numbers of converts at the old salafi conferences. A crowd of 3,000 would have close to 1,000 converts and several speakers that were themselves converts. Gatherings in East Orange could draw 2,000 people in which 95% were converts. That is just not the case now. No one considers us anymore.
I attended an Al Maghrib class in New Jersey and immediately felt out of place as a convert, because I knew that this program – though very good for its audience – was not for people like me. The crowd was overwhelmingly first or second generation immigrants and middle to upper class young individuals that were either in college or just graduated. Again, nothing wrong with that, but we are left in the cold. Double weekend classes or a once a year conference does not compare to an everyday movement that was a way of life.
I spoke to Muhammad Al Shareef, and I could tell that he just couldn’t relate with a person like me. This isnot a criticism of him, as I enjoyed his class – in an abstract way – but I could tell that there was not only a convert/non-convert divide, but a class and social divide. The problems of people like me are not even conceptualized much less thought about, thus many are still in the streets with no place to go. (Another issue is that you can’t rule out the barrier that the fees for the Al Maghrib)
This is why I feel that these new organizations are too limited in their scope to be anywhere near the old days. They are concentrating on the second generation youth – nothing wrong with that – but there are many others out there.
There is little to no talk of community building, raising children, dealing with non-Muslim family and non-Muslim in-laws, cleaning up and reviving neighborhoods, or things of that sort that are of importance to converts. The converts are left with a choice of being left in the cold to observe from the outside as forgetten about relics from a past era or to assimilate completely into the immigrant world and resolve to leave their American identity behind.
If organizations such as Texas Dawah or Almaghrib ever decide that they want to deal with converts, then they will have to take on social problems in order to be affective and not declare them to be “of no benefit”
At one time, things were great, and seemed to be on the move. Then things fell apart as the over zealous element was never put into check and ultimately destroyed everything. There are still brothers floating around that seem to think that it is still 1996, but they are isolated. I feel sorry for brothers like this when I see them, because usually they were not around during the good times and do not know that what they are doing is a dead end, especially without the social support that was around in the 90’s.
As it stands, the movement is a shell of what is used to be. The Islamic Center of America in East Orange seems abandoned compared to how it used to be. In the DC area, there is no fervor amongst the handful of Salafis that are remaining. There are some who remember those days, go to the masjid and pray and do good deeds and in their homes still enjoy the knowledge. Jamatul Al Qawee was taken over by the TROID element and is barely functional via a handful of isolated, triumphalist brothers. There are a few remnants at the Dar as Salaam masjid in Maryland, who have also run away from the salafi movement. Everything else is a faded memory.
Across the country, the salafi masjids folded one by one, until they are nothing more than a handful of sad isolated brothers in a few cities that even now do not realize that the world has moved on without them. They are in for a rude awakening.
The brothers and sisters across the country are left alone… left to pick up the devastating pieces and try to carry on their lives… left to try to fill the huge void in their chests…. left try to live instead of simply exist… left to wait to wander with no place to go.
Isolationism was such a big mistake and that is why I am opposed to it. Even though I look upon those days with fondness – I am left feeling very cynical, jaded and scarred.