That’s “illions” with a “b”

Here’s an interesting thought. During the Islam in America Conference Muqtedar Khan made an interesting observation. Let’s say there are six million Muslims in the US (I think the number is closer to 7 million, but let’s be conservative). The average income of Muslims is $50,000/year. That means the Muslim American economy is $30 billion dollars.

Now, I grant you, not all those 6 million are working, or of working age. Let’s say only 1/3 of Muslim Americans are earning, so that’s a $10 billion economy. Not all of that is disposable income. I’m going to say only 1/5 of that number is discretionary, which means the Muslim American community has $2 billion floating around waiting to be used. According to Khan, Muslim Americans gave $5 million to Muslim American political groups (MPAC, MAS, etc.), but $200 million build a masjid in Toledo. I recognize the spiritual benefit in building a mosque (although oddly, none of them are endowed. What happened to the waqf system?), but $5 million to political groups is pathetic.

Amaney Jamal, on the same panel, indicated that very few Muslims in the masjids she went to felt any trust in the national Muslim organizations, a sentiment I can sympathize with. However, $2 billion says to me that we should be able to set-up alternate power structures that represent the plurality of voices in the Muslim American community without fracturing it.

How much more power would we have as a community if, when we had access to the first ring of power, instead of saying what ties the Muslim American community is the desire to bring back prohibition or to encourage extra-marital sex by blocking gay marriages, we speak with diverse voices and with diverse groups of people. I want to say what ties the Muslim American community together is a desire for social justice, an ideal embedded in Islam and the American conception of self. I want to help the poor and the needy; to bring the marginalized to the center; to educate; to fight for freedom from hate and ignorance. If someone else says the most important thing in Islam is to be dry, that’s her right, but she can’t impose it on me.

$2 billion. Where is that money?