be Americans? They ask...
By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
Dr. Aslam Abdullah
is editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer and the director of the Islamic
Society of Nevada as well as the director of the Muslim Electorates Council of
Can Muslim Americans be loyal
to America? She asked. The immediate response of the person to whom the question
was addressed was a big no. It didn't surprise many who were present during the
conversation as many nodded their heads affirmatively. It was an ordinary
discussion in a home setting where friends and relatives had gathered and some
of them had raised the issue of loyalty of Muslim Americans. An elected public
official from California, who chooses to remain anonymous, was also present at
the gathering. She told the audience not to jump to conclusions and that she
would present the questions raised at the gathering, to a Muslim who she knew.
She forwarded me a list of issues that were brought up at the gathering and
asked my input.
I sent her back my response, which she found helpful and assured me that she
would do her best to promote the truth and fight ignorance. The issues raised
and my response to them are as follows:
Per our conversation I am emailing you a list of issues that were raised during
Can a devout Muslim be an
American patriot and a loyal citizen? Is 'Muslim American' really an oxymoron?
Some people who were at the gathering, presented the following points to show
why Muslim Americans cannot be both at the same time:
Theologically, No -
Because their allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia.
Religiously, No -
Because no other religion is accepted by their Allah except Islam. Their
allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Koran.
- Because their allegiance is to Mecca, to which they turn to in prayer five
times a day.
Socially, No -
Because their allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or
Jews. Plus their men are instructed to marry four women and beat his wife when
she disobeys him.
Politically, No -
Because they must follow the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teaches
annihilation of Israel and destruction of America.
- Because they cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on
Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
- Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Koran do not allow freedom of religion and
expression. Democracy and Islam cannot coexist. Every Muslim government is
either dictatorial or autocratic.
Spiritually, No -
Because where as we declare our country to be "one nation under God," and
believe God to be loving and kind, their God, Allah, does not allow allegiance
to a Christian God and does not promote love and kindness.
Based on the above the majority
of the people at the gathering were of the opinion that we should be very
suspicious of all Muslims in this country. According to them, Muslims cannot be
both 'good Muslims' and 'good Americans' at the same time.
Look forward to your response.
Dear Jane (Not the real name):
Thank you very much for your email. It is truly unfortunate that we have such
grave misconceptions about Islam in our country.
Here is what I believe Muslim Americans feel about the issues that the people
While we discuss these issues it is important to keep in mind some of our
history. Muslims have been part of America for hundreds of years. Some came with
Columbus, others came with the Chinese sailor,
Zheng He a few decades prior to Columbus. One of the earliest group of
Muslims that was introduced to the Americas were among those who were denied all
rights that a human being deserves including, freedom, liberty, justice and the
right to practice their religion. They were among the Africans who were bought
and sold as slaves in this country. Many of them were forcibly converted to
Christianity, as is recorded in several slave diaries.
Also among the early Muslims
who came to America were those who were expelled from Spain in the sixteenth
century along with Jews who found a refuge in this country.
During the later part of the
nineteenth century, Muslims came to this country as immigrants to study and
establish their professionals careers and since then their numbers have been
Since the founding of the
United States, no African American Muslim or Spanish Muslim or immigrant Muslim
was ever tried or convicted for treason or for being involved in anti-nation
activities. How can anyone claim that Muslims have not been part of this
country? They fought during the first and second world wars and they represented
the country in several crucial conferences such as the First Parliament of
Religions in which Alexander Russell Webb spoke as an American Muslim. His book,
Muslim American talks about the Muslim responsibilities in America.
As a response to the issues
raised in your private gathering please consider the following as to how the
Muslims are part of the American fabric.
- Muslims submit to God
who is the supreme creator of all that is in the heavens and earth. There is no
such concept as 'moon god' in Islam. In fact, the scriptures of Islam make it
very clear that Allah (Arabic for God in English, Dios in Spanish, Gott in
German and Dieu in French) is the same God that was reveled to Abraham, Moses,
Jesus and Muhammad (Peace be upon them). Muslims are described in the Quran as
those who are on the path of all of these prophets. God inspires Muslims to
appreciate human diversity in His creation of the multitude of tribes and
nations so that they may know and appreciate each other. He exhorts them not to
harm others. Loyalty to God does not contradict patriotic feelings. God and
nation are not synonym. One is the creator and the other created.
Here are some Quranic references about God that show how God is perceived in
God is He save whom there is no deity; the One who knows all that is beyond
the reach of a created being's perception, as well as that can be witnessed by a
creature senses or mind; He, the most Merciful and the Dispenser of love and
God is He save whom there is no deity; the Sovereign Supreme, the Holy, the One
with whom all salvation rests, the Giver of faith, the One who determines what
is true and false, the Almighty, the One who subdues wrong and restores right,
the One to whom all greatness belongs; Utterly remote is God in His limitless
Glory from anything to which men may ascribe as share in His divinity! (59:23)
He is the God, the Creator, the Maker, who shapes all forms and appearances! His
alone are the attributes of perfection. All that is in the heaven and on the
earth Extols His limitless glory; for He is almighty, truly Wise! (59:24)
Say: He is the One God, God the eternal, the uncaused cause of all being. He
begets not and neither is He begotten; There is nothing that could be compared
to Him. (112:1-4 )
Religiously, Yes - Because the Quran
states in verse 2:256 very clearly that there is no compulsion in religion. In
fact what was said in your gathering is a fabrication. Here is the verse that
you can share with the people at the gathering.
There should be no compulsion in religion. Distinct has now become the right
way from the way of error; Hence, He who rejects the power of evil and believes
in God, has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never
give way; For God is all hearing and all knowing. (2:256)
Muslims do not worship five
pillars or the Quran. They worship God, the Almighty. Following are the five
pillars of Islam that are used as guiding principals:
Testimony of Faith: There is no deity but God (Allah) and Muhammad is the
Messenger (Prophet) of God
Prayer: Daily at Dawn, Noon, Mid-Afternoon, Sunset and Night. Each prayer
takes a few minutes.
Poor Due (Zakat): An annual payment of 2.5% of a Muslim's wealth which is
distributed among the needy. Optional charity is encouraged.
Fasting: Total abstinence from food and liquid from dawn to sunset during
the month of Ramadan.
Hajj: Annual pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are physically and
financially able. (To commemorate the example of Prophet Abraham.)
The Quran identifies humanity
as a plural society, like the founding principals of this country that
guaranties religious freedom.
If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made Humankind one people: but they
will not cease to dispute. (11:118)
Geographically, Yes - Because millions
of Muslim migrated to the US of their own free will and contributed to the
welfare of this country. The designer of Sears Tower was a Muslim. The engineer
who built the New York tunnel was a Muslim. More than 70,000 Muslim doctors toil
hard to save lives of average Americans every day and more than 300,000
engineers engage in designing the construction of roads, buildings and strategic
Makkah has similar significance as the Vatican does for Catholics. Makkah is
considered a holy place where the first house of worship to God was made by
Muslims do face towards Makkah for their five daily prescribed prayers but at
the same time God reminds believers that ..
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces Towards east or west; but it
is righteousness - to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the
Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for
your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and
for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular
charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and
patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of
panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-Conscious. (Quran 2:177 )
Socially, Yes - The Quran only
discourages Muslims from befriending those who fight Muslims because of their
Can Muslims be friends with Jews and Christians?]
Muslims are allowed to marry Christians and Jews and who can be better in
friendship than a wife. In Islam God restricted polygamy to four wives and
Muslims are reminded to be respectful to women. If there are societies that
oppress women, they follow tribal customs and misuse Islam to serve their male
chauvinist interests. Verse 4:34 from the Quran reminds Muslim men to .. take
full care of women (wife) with the bounties which God has bestowed, more
abundantly and with which they spend out of their possession. The righteous
women (wife) are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has
ordained to be guarded. As for those women (Wife), whose ill will, you have
reason to fear, admonish them first and then leave them alone in bed and then
separate from them. If they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them.
Politically, Yes - Unlike a large number
of the American Jews, the allegiance to Israel is not a condition for allegiance
to the USA. Moreover, it is the Christian evangelical priests like Pat Robertson
and Jerry Falwell who go beyond the destruction of Israel to say that when Jesus
returns, 2/3 of the Jews will be killed and one-third would be converted to
Intellectually, Yes - Because
the American constitution is not based on Biblical principles. Every Muslim who
becomes a citizen of this country first takes an oath of allegiance to the
Philosophically, Yes - Because Islam
ensures that all religions are given freedom. If Democracy does not exist in 17
of 56 Muslim majority countries, that is due to historical and political
reasons. Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh are great examples. In fact unlike
in our own country that has never elected a female president many Muslim
countries have elected female heads of state.
Spiritually, Yes - "One nation
under God" resonates strongly among Muslims who consider God to be absolutely
Omnipotent and Omnipresent. Among the 99 names of God that one can find in the
Quran, several refer to His love, mercy and majesty. The chapters of the Quran
start with the phrase "In the name of God most Merciful and Most Companionate"
and is a often repeated part of a Muslims daily vocabulary.
Good Muslims and Good Americans, Yes - According to some estimates there
are about 6 to 8 million Muslims in this country. Among the list of sex
offenders released by the law enforcement recently, not a single one is a
Muslim. I went over the names of one hundred thousand sex offenders. Among the
drugs addicts who seek rehabilitation, the number of Muslims is less than 2
percent. Among those who are caught as burglars or arsonists or murderers, the
number of Muslims is less than one percent. Among those who are domestically
violent the number of Muslims is less than one percent. Among those who are
convicted of fraud the number of Muslims is less than 2 percent. Among those who
are known alcoholics, the number of Muslims is less than one percent. Among
those who are drug pushers, the number of Muslims is less than point 2 percent.
There is a rape every four minutes in our country. Among those who are convicted
of rape, the number of Muslims is less than one percent. Among those who
illegally use state welfare system, the number of Muslims is less than one
percent. Among those who are involved in Gun violence, the number of Muslims is
less than one percent. Among tax evaders, the number of Muslims is less than one
Now please tell me on the basis of this explanation who stands for America and
its values? The struggle for truth is far bigger than any other war. Perhaps it
is this struggle that must bring us more closer to all people so that we can
dispel these common misperceptions.
I appreciate the opportunity to
explain Islam and Muslims to the people at the gathering. I hope and pray that
we all can find the absolute truth.