Donald Trump’s winning the presidency has put a lot of people into discomfort, including Muslims, who now wonder as to how to respond.
Yes, Clinton won the popular vote. Yes, if Gary Johnson and Jill Stein hadn’t been on the ballot and split the 1 to 3 percent of the vote that naturally belongs to the Democrats, that would have put Hillary over the 270 Electoral College count required to win the election. Yes, if Bernie Sanders was the vice presidential nominee; or if Russia hadn’t hacked her emails; or if FBI Director Comey hadn’t done his last minute thing; we would be celebrating Hillary as our next president.
It all doesn’t matter. The formula by which an American president is selected is what counts, and by those rules, we will have a President Trump!
Plus, our Prophet advised us not to engage in too much “if-thinking;” for that lets Satan in to play with our hearts and minds.
If Quranic history and the Prophet Muhammad’s example is our guide, our response now is not to flee to Canada, but to take example from the Quranic verse that God created us in various nationalities to get to know one another [li-ta’aarafu], which means to deliberatively engage with one another. This is what Obama did by inviting Trump to meet with him, the result being that Trump “felt honored,” and admitted that he would be needing his advice moving forward! If Obama can transform Trump, why shouldn’t we take a lesson from Obama and do the same to his followers? They’ll surely need our advice on how to engage successfully with the quarter of the world’s population that’s Muslim!
Our duty now is to understand the forces that swept Trump into power, and step up to the plate in addressing those components that intersect the genuine fears his followers have regarding Islam and Muslims.
Apart from the economic factors, an Election Day poll of voters, quoted in the New York Times, revealed that 57 percent agreed that “more and more, I don’t identify with what America has become.” Nearly 9 out of 10 Trump supporters agreed that “people living in the USA should follow American customs and learn English,” the strongest predictor of Trump support. One out of four Clinton supporters shared this view. An even larger 97 percent of Trump voters agreed that “patriotism and protecting our national identity is important,” compared with 55 percent of Clinton backers. Clearly, a majority of the American electorate agrees to these principles.
And so do we!
The fear of Islam is from two things: terrorism done in Islam’s name, and from Muslim immigration ― now aggravated by the fear of a large influx of Syrian immigrants ― who will dilute the American identity. Many Americans have been brainwashed by Fox News into believing the trope that we wish to “force Shari’ah law upon America.”
We American Muslims are duty-bound to inform our American friends that we hate terrorism done in Islam’s name far more than they do, and suffer from it more. Our duty is to ensure that future generations of American Muslims will be patriotic to America, fluent in English, and practice Islam in a way that accords with American customs and laws. For this is not only the concern of a majority of Americans, it is also our historical tradition and heritage.
When Islam spread from Arabia to the current Muslim World, it made itself “look and feel” local, in laws, culture, architecture, music, and ethical dress codes. Islam in West Africa looks and feels West African; in South Asia, it looks and feels South Asian; in Turkey, it looks and feels Turkish, and the same in Egypt, Iran, Malaysia. Even in China mosques look Chinese! How many Muslims know that the Prophet’s original mosque in Medina had neither dome nor minaret, and that these were copied from pre-Islamic Orthodox Christian church architecture?
This is what our Cordoba House projects are all about, from establishing a Sunday school for our children, training imams and community leaders on how to help their congregations, and in general, evolving American expressions of Islam based on our Prophet’s powerful spirituality and compassion. It is to make Islam look and feel American while abiding by our Quranic moral imperative and that of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, for then Islam will be as natural to America as Christianity and Judaism. Americans love spirituality and are basically generous and compassionate. These are all Divine attributes that God wants us to emulate.
There is much else to admire in American culture. Let us thank our American friends for reminding us to celebrate and give thanks to God for His countless blessings this Thanksgiving Day, and remember that God laments in the Quran, “how little are you thankful” [23:78].
Let us assure our fellow Americans that we have no intention of forcing any 7th-century penal codes in America, which is how many of them think of Shari’ah, but rather wish to give back to America for its generosity towards us. Yes, we want to freely practice our faith without fear, gather to pray in our mosques on Fridays, marry our children in accordance with our faith, bequeath our wealth to our children in accordance with our faith’s inheritance laws, but all that is legal under U.S. law. Americans don’t have any issues with that.
Shari’ah determines our dietary laws, and Americans really enjoy our delicious halal foods, so let’s up the calendar of engaging with them and invite them over. I’m pretty sure that when Jesus, a Palestinian, broke bread with his Apostles, it wasn’t a loaf of sliced Wonderbread, a French baguette, or a ciabatta. They had to break bread because it couldn’t be sliced. Jesus’ bread most probably looked like our pita, flat naan, or chapatti, which has to broken; it’s not normative to slice them. So just as Trump made a big deal of eating a bowl of tacos and chili to show that he wasn’t racist against Mexicans, let’s treat him and his followers for a pita falafel sandwich with hummus and fresh grape tomatoes, or a great chicken biriyani, or goat curry. You might even be able to order that from one of those Halal Food carts near the corner of the Trump Tower and have it delivered to him!
And since socializing over a drink of beer is a widely practiced American cultural activity, send him a six pack. But do remember that Trump is bigly averse to consuming alcohol; so Shari’ah compliant of him! So, offer him your favorite non-alcoholic beer. My favorite has been Clausthaler, but I just noticed a Google site that rated Erdinger Weissbier as number one in taste. What kind of person of German ancestry would Trump be if he doesn’t like beer?
But when drinking with your alcohol-drinking friends, do offer to be your American drinking friends’ designated driver to ensure they get home safely. Let them feel safe in your compassionate Muslim hands.