The long, taxing, and often uncomfortable 2016 Presidential race has finally concluded. And although the majority of voters (52.5%) did not get the result they wanted, we now have a President-elect in Donald J. Trump who will be sworn into the office of the Presidency in just two months. The aggressive and divisive nature of this election cycle demonstrates that political discourse has grown increasingly polarized. And as the dust settles, while some Americans celebrate a victory, others feel unhappiness and some even grapple with considerable fear.
For American Muslims, being a group that has been specifically targeted and vilified by the winning party’s candidate for over a year, Muslims have expressed fear that their antagonist will gain authority and power over this nation. Some Muslims have joined the thousands of diverse Americans who have taken to the streets protesting the election results, chanting “Not my President.” Others have expressed a confrontational willingness to stand up to the new President with the message that “American Muslims are here to stay.”
As a devout Muslim born and raised here in the U.S., I would like to address my fellow Muslim sisters and brothers on paving a path forward with strength and dignity – one deep-rooted in pride of our identity as Muslims and grounded in the teachings of our Islamic faith. Do not worry about the result of this election or about a Trump presidency. Our job in a democracy is to give our support to the candidate we believe will do the best job. After doing our part as civic minded citizens, we put our trust in God, who is the greatest of protectors.
God tells us in the Quran: “put thy trust in Allah. Surely, Allah loves those who put their trust in Him. If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; but if He forsakes you, then who is there that can help you beside Him? In Allah, then, let the believers put their trust” (Quran, 3:160). Of course, putting our trust in God does not mean to disregard the material or physical means of making an effort. Instead, Islam teaches that trust means to first use all our resources to make our best efforts and then to place our trust in God to bless those efforts with the right or best outcome.
Since Islam requires its believers to be loyal and law abiding citizens in whichever country they reside, it is incumbent for us to be the ones who respect and promote orderliness and unity. It’s no mystery that Muslims are targeted, as we even learned of the attack on a Muslim woman in San Jose. But there is no room in our faith to create unrest or disturbance in society. We are peaceful and law-abiding Muslims, which is why I will not take to the streets or protest against this election in any way. Confronting law enforcement, blocking streets for average Americans, or refusing to accept election results does not promote unity and orderliness.
Certainly I, too, have spoken out many times against Donald Trump’s horrible comments about Muslims throughout this campaign – from suggestions of having a database where all Muslims should be registered to banning Muslim entry into the country. And I will continue to voice disagreement when anyone proposes to take away people’s rights. But with the nation (and the world) already in a state of perpetual chaos, disturbance and even uprisings, a sitting president of the United States could not implement such ideas as it would certainly lead to chaos and even a civil war. The likelihood is very slim that the president attempts to put into practice what he said in his campaign. And even if some vain efforts are made to usurp our rights, remember God’s words in the Quran that with His help, nobody can overcome you.
Islam commands Muslims to “obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you” (Quran, 4:60). Obedience to the authority of our nation as constituted by our law is, in reality, an extension of obedience to God and His messenger. According to the Prophet Muhammad, “A Muslim has to listen to and obey (the order of his ruler) whether he likes it or not, as long as his orders involve not one in disobedience (to Allah).” Thus, anything short of being forced to sin should be met with civil obedience. The Prophet went so far as commanding his followers to listen to and obey their ruler, even if they may despise him. Of course this does not prohibit us from expressing dissent or disagreement, but we are expected to do so peacefully, without compromising peace and orderliness of society.
The best course of action is to wait and see what President Trump’s policies actually turn out to be and what he actively seeks to implement. We should support any good policies and work with our elected leaders. If there are any policies in which he seems to discriminate against any group (whether Muslims or others), that is when we work within the lawful procedures to push back and protect the rights of all people. Instead of giving up or resigning to despair, we will remain loyal and active members of the American society and will continue to pray for this country.
Ultimately our goal is peace and justice. As Americans, we can all work collectively across the religious, social, political and economic divides to get there together. If our new President commits to that idea, I’m ready to support my country.