"If they incline to peace, you also incline
to it, and put your trust in Allah."
-Surat-an-Nisaa (4), ayah 94
|Can Muslims be Good Americans?|
Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina
I will endeavor to respond to the questions below, as briefly and succinctly as possible. Some issues are polemical in intent and are simply to provoke rather than seek clarification. And, yet, I have not shied away from responding to these baseless attributions to Muslims.
Can a devout Muslim be an American patriot and a loyal citizen? Consider this:
Theologically, no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia.
In the Qur'an, we read that the earth in its entirety belongs to God, and humans can settle anywhere as long as they do not encroach on the rights of others to that piece of land where they will settle. As such, wherever Muslims live, they have the responsibility to defend the community and take care of the environment and other related matters for the good of all. "Patriotism", in the sense of "love for a place where one lives and has a home and family" is part of one's faith in Islam. Hence, "loyalty" and "patriotism" to one's country of residence is an obligation that stems from one's faith commitment. "Allegiance" to God means allegiance to the betterment of this earth and its inhabitants without the extremes of negative nationalism and patriotisms.
Scripturally, no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran). Geographically, no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
In Islam there is no concept of Promised Land to which one day all Muslims must return before the Final Days. There is no allegiance to any part of the earth, not even to Mecca. Allegiance is only to God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. No Muslim has "allegiance" to the Five Pillars. The Five Pillars are nothing more than the means to show one's obedience to God. Mecca is important simply because it has one of the holiest places of worship - mosques - built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismael. No Muslim ever dreams of returning to Mecca for permanent residence. There is always a desire to visit and to worship God in the sanctuary.
Socially, no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.
Again, there is no "allegiance" to Islam. There is faith in God and "Islam" is an act of submission to God's will that requires Muslims to live in peace with all communities on earth, including the Jews and the Christians. However, if any group of humanity engages in hostility against Muslims then they are required to defend themselves. There is no blind friendship or loyalty in Islam. If friendship to any human being, regardless whether that person is a Muslim, Jew, or Christian leads to corruption in society, then Muslims are to shun such company and loyalty.
Politically, no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, the great Satan.
In Islam there is neither "church" nor "priesthood." No Muslim has an obligation to follow a scholar (Mullah) who teaches hatred and harm to others. To the contrary, it is the duty of Muslims to follow the leaders who represent the moral and spiritual values of Islam. No one can stand indifferent to injustice in the world and regard himself or herself as a member of the human community, let alone of the Muslim community. At the same time, Muslims must always be alert and prepared to face the hostility and irrational attitude of other peoples. It is Satanic to demonize other human beings - whether it is done religiously or politically; whether it comes in the form of religious bigotry, or social and political discrimination.
Domestically, no, because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34).
There is no such blanket obligation in the Qur'an to marry four wives. The quoted verse occurs in the context of orphan girls under the custody of a guardian who, in the interest of preserving the property of the orphan girls, is instructed to marry one, two, three or four, provided he can treat them justly. Islam did not invent polygamy. It existed before it in every religion and civilization, and Islam is the first religion to actually limit the number of wives to four. The Qur'an also underscores the reality in spousal relationship that treating with justice among multiple wives is impossible, and, therefore, a Muslim is advised to stick to one wife. The question of honor of the home is extremely central to the Qur'an and therefore, whether it is a woman who is unfaithful to her husband or a husband who is unfaithful to his wife (Q. 4:128), the matter deserves to be resolved quickly to preserve the sanctity of the family.
Religiously, no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Quran, 2:256)
Quite to the contrary, of all the three Abrahamic scriptures, it is only in the Qur'an that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are treated as equally capable of guiding and saving their own flocks. God has no problem with any religion because there is only true faith that leads different peoples of the world to their Creator. It is a problem when different faith communities teach discrimination against others. In the record of the world history, one needs to examine whether it was Islam or any other religion that had problem with coexistence with other communities. The record of Islamic civilization is clear and open for anyone needing evidence of tolerance and acceptance of other faiths and peoples.
Intellectually, no, because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
The Constitution of the United States of America is based on universal values taught by all Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam. All religions, at one time or another, have suffered distortions in the hands of their own followers. No religious tradition is immune from such corruptive influences of some in their midst. It is self-righteous to point fingers at others while forgetting the ugliest anti-Semitic images that have haunted Western societies in the last century in the heart of Europe and other regions of the world. The American constitution is as much Islamic, as it is Christian, and Muslim Americans are proud of our constitution and our democracy.
Philosophically, no, because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and _expression.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, the Qur'an declares in no uncertain terms: "There shall be no compulsion in religion" (Q. 2:256). Philosophically, the Qur'an laid down the foundation of "natural religion" (fitrat) with which God has created all human beings. It also made sure that complete freedom existed for all humans to choose their faith and spiritual destiny. The Prophet set examples for his community to handle the fact of diversity of faiths, requiring Muslims to recognize and respect God's decision in the matter of allowing various faith communities to exist with each other and even with those who choose not to believe in God at all.
Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
The correct statement would read like this: Islam and democracy are compatible and can coexist because Islam organizes humanity on the basis of the rule of law and human dignity. But contemporary Muslim governments, in order to remain in power and exercise absolute control over the financial and other resources of their respective countries, have abandoned these teachings of democratic governance and accountability to law. These oppressive and tyrannical regimes are not Islamic, but usually driven by secular and even anti-Islamic ideologies.
Spiritually, no, because when we declare "one nation under God," the Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as our heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in the Quran's 99 excellent names.
One of the most beautiful names of God is "the Compassionate, the Merciful", which Muslims repeat at least 17 times a day. If Love cannot translate into "compassion or mercy," then it is an abstraction without meaning or application. In the Qur'an God has prescribed mercy for Himself (Q. 6:54), and that means that in dealing with humanity God will always show consideration as it improves itself to establish justice on earth. Muslims believe that they live under the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. That God is Trustworthy, Merciful, Compassionate and Loving God who cares for all human beings more than their own mother. Islam does not encourage turning God into a political statement since humans cannot possess God. They can simply relate themselves to God by emulating God's compassion and forgiveness.
Therefore after much study and deliberation....perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both good Muslims and good Americans. Call it what you wish...it's still the truth. If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country.
No honest study about any faith on earth can lead to such distortions about the religious and cultural "other." Muslims like any other peoples who inhabit the USA can love this country or any other country where they settle, without hating others.