ExercisesoulTravel

The Religious War Is Bigger Than We Know: Can a Good Muslim Be a Good American?

Lauren Michelle676 views

I want adults and children to understand this regarding MUSLIMS

These were the first few words I came across when opening an email sent to me. As a precursor, someone forwarded me this email in regards knowing I have graduated college focusing on the array of religions; they wanted to know what I thought about the contents of this email. Let me just say, having a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies DOES NOT mean I know all about every religion, but it helps me uncover and research the validity of certain arguments. Upon receiving this email, I do want to say that my emotional side was provoked when reading each of this man’s statements for the little amount of background information given and lack of a solid argument when trying to get people to “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. You had better believe it. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future” (the last sentence of the email). Even with an emotional side provoked, I am responding to each statement with research, first-hand experience with people associated with the Islamic religion, and knowledge from previous courses.

Every statement that is in BOLD is his statement from the email. My answers follow.

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  • “Theologically – no.  Because his allegiance is to Allah, The moon god of Arabia.”

IF America was based, founded, and solely referred to as “THE Christian nation” then this statement would be correct, but that’s not 100% historically correct. The founding fathers did NOT rely on Christian beliefs and principles when organizing the governments and creating the Constitution for America. A lot of the founders took religion into account and looked at it from a wide perspective, that is why today we have separation of church and state and Freedom of Religion. Did you know the men who signed the United States Constitution instilled the No Religious Test Clause where no one holding a federal office position has to be of a specific religion? This is Article VI, Section 3. Now if our federal office can’t hold a religious test, what holds true for an American to hold this religious test to be considered a good American? Culturally speaking, America is populated with mostly Christians, so culturally America is Christian, but the government was not established as “THE Christian Nation.”

It does me no injury for my neighbor to believe in twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg – Jefferson

In reference to “Allah, the moon god of Arabia,” there is no inscription that classifies Allah as a moon god/ pagan deity. Scholars also express that the name Allah comes from the expression ‘ilah meaning “the God,” which is sometimes noted as related to the Biblical Hebrew words ‘eloh and ‘elohim.

  • Religiously – no.  Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam.  (Quran,2:256)

This statement would be correct IF being an American specifically encompasses being a Christian.  If this statement was correct, then religiously any person of any religion, except Christians,  would not be considered a “good American.” Is a Buddhist a bad American because their central aim of religious belief and practice is to be liberated from attachment to material things? Is a Hindu a bad American because they believe in the pantheon of gods and goddesses or The Absolute being Brahman?

Again, compare this statement to a different “type” of American: let’s compare the Muslim to the American who is an Atheist. Is the Atheist not a “good American” because he does not have allegiance to God?

 

  • Scripturally – no.  Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran. 

Oddly enough, before I received this email, I spent NYE with some of my Muslim friends and they asked me what I knew about their religion. They ended up refreshing me on the Five Pillars: (1) Believing – in Allah, (2) Praying – 5 times a day, (3) Helping the Poor – donating, (4) Fasting – Ramadan, and (5) Traveling to Mecca – Hajj.

Scripturally speaking, there is not much of a difference between an “American” (since he is using Christianity in reference to an American) and a Muslim regarding his statement. Do you see the similarities between these 5 pillars and what is asked of a Christian? Let’s take a look: Christians are to be devout to God and the Bible with very close similarities to the 5 pillars, just in different contexts. They are also expected to believe and have faith in God, pray, help the poor, and sometimes fast (Catholics fast from material items or certain foods/drinks during Lent).

 

  • Geographically – no.  Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.

Because a Muslim is not near the Mecca, geographically, and prays in a certain direction, it makes them not a “good American?” Muslims are able to turn in prayer towards the Mecca because of the First Amendment explained in the first argument: Freedom of Religion. This is why in Mosques there are mihrabs (niches that distinctly indicate the direction of the Kaaba). I see no solid argument behind this statement. Any type of American can pray in any direction they please, due to our right as an American.

  • Socially – no.  Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. 

If you take a look at Quran 5:51 it says to not take the Jews and Christians as allies, but it is not a plausible answer to take one passage and create a whole statement on it. Just like the Bible, (staying consistent and relating Americans as Chrsitians like the author of the email does) there are more passages in the Quran regarding this topic. Take a look at the verse right after (5:52) and 60:8-9. These passages of the Quran make it aware to not befriend those who take the Muslim religion and use it against them for mockery or believe it to be a “game” (5:57). My friend also explained to me, when I asked him this question, that Muhammad was friends with and took care of a Jew and a Christian. Now let’s look at this from any religious point of view: how often do people befriend those who mock their religion? Or on a general note, how often do people befriend those who mock them for any reason?

Fun fact: Safiyya, a woman of Jewish origin, was a wife to Muhammad and he stood up for her Jewish heritage.

 

  • Politically – no.  Because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, the great Satan.

A Mullah is a man or a woman who has learned Islamic theology and the sacred law. I searched scholars and articles to find nothing on them teaching the “annihilation of Israel and destruction of America.” When speaking to my friend he made a connection between this stereotype and the KKK. There are extremists of every religion. People can think the same way about Christians in a similar manner that this man tries to enforce his argument. The KKK used terrorism and attacks on the groups of individuals they opposed and swore to uphold a Christian morality, but the statement of arguing that all Christians are bad because of the KKK is an invalid argument. There is no exception when comparing this to Muslims. The argument is invalid to say that every Mullah and every Muslim is learning the “annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, the great Satan” just because there are extremist Muslims in the world.

  • Domestically – no.  Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him. (Quran 4:34).

Half of this is correct and half of this is incorrect. A man IS allowed to marry up to four women, only under certain circumstances that they can treat each wife 100% equally. It was explained to me in this manner: if he buys one wife a house, he has to buy all three a house; if he can lavish one, he has to equally lavish them all. But a man is not ordered to marry more than one woman if he cannot handle it (Quran 4:3; 4:19; 4:20; 4:129; and 33:4).

Regarding the passage he states, 4:34, this is not to be taken literally. Muhammad is their prophet and they are to follow in his footsteps. To Muslims, Muhammad was a man of kindness and compassion and never did strike his wife, nor would he encourage it.

The Bible has sayings just like this actually. Matthew 5:30 says to cut off your hand if it causes you to stumble. There are dozens of brutal passages in the Bible and from one of my courses, I learned that these passages are not meant to be taken word by word. Even back then there was a thing called ‘figurative speech.’ Each passage has a meaning and interpretation. That was what we uncovered in the class – The Bible was not always a historical representation of the time period as a lot of the chronological timelines are incorrect – the importance of the Bible is for Religious reference, not just historical.

 

  • Intellectually – no.  Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.

When did an American’s intellectual capacity become judged on a person’s acceptance and understanding of the Constitution? Like I said in the first statement – the Constitution was NOT founded on Biblical principles, but there was an influence (ex: separation of church and state). If this is the argument, you cannot focus on just one religion. There are Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and Atheists that are American… What are they then?

  • Philosophically – no.  Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.

If you think deep enough about it, his statement contradicts itself. He is [still] comparing “America,” a nation, to a religion. If he is trying to say that a Muslim living in Saudi Arabia would be a bad American that is true because their culture does not allow it, but if he is saying an American Muslim is a bad American because of choosing their religion, it makes no sense. That is what America is – Freedom of Religion (First Amendment), they have chosen their freedom to be Islamic; in all actuality, they are being a “good American.” The Bible does not say “You can be a follower of God, but choose your own religion like Daoism, or Atheism.” It was a group of people who decided that Freedom of Religion is what makes America great; that is what the Muslims in America have chosen, their freedom to their religion.

Again, this argument is faulty because he is using “American” as a Christian. Let’s replace “good American” with “good Christian,” then the answer would be no because they are two separate religions. American is not a religion.

Regarding the comment: “it does not allow them the freedom of religion and freedom of expression”… Clearly, neither does he as an American, as he is doing exactly what he sees wrong with their religion.

 

  • 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 Heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in the Quran’s 99 excellent names.

This statement is saying that a good Muslim cannot be a good American, spiritually. Like many of the previous statements, when did being American come with a “spiritual” characteristic? He uses God’s different names to back up his argument but that does not seem to fully support it. I’m curious to know if he has read the 99 names of Allah? Allah may not be called the Heavenly Father but he is called: The Merciful, The Holy, The Peace, The Supreme, The Powerful, The Creator, The Just, The Judge, The Great, The Nourisher… etc.. All of these, of which the Christian God is the same. Yet again, what about those of different religions that do not believe in God and say the pledge of allegiance, are they bad Americans too?

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The common theme in the man’s statements is that he is using an American as an interchangable person who is Christian.

All in all, these statements cannot be used as an argument since a Muslim is a follower of the religion of Islam; the definition of an American is not being the follower of a specific religion. 

To properly argue the question if a good Muslim can be a good American, and all of the following statements, there has to be a definition of a “good American.” Does this mean a “good Samaritan,” a “good Christian?” There is no legitimate or logical reasoning to this man’s’ answers without a proper definition of American.  The author of this email is using a “good American” as one who is Christian, but does not precisely state his definition of a “good American.” Historically speaking, an American is a legal citizen of the United States who is protected by the constitution. Nowhere does it state an American to be categorized in a specific religion.

 

It’s unfortunate to think that the emails we are being forwarded these days include hate, discrimination, and not wanting people in our country based on their religion. As Obama states in his farewell speech (27 min-37min):

An order based … on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press… That order is now being challenged. First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam… The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently… A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right… we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are… That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans…we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one… America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service. So coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen, not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others… Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences… If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.

This is not about who you support as President; this is about holding dear to our values, working towards equality in a world that is expanding in globalization, getting to know the facts before making assumptions based off a small tab of information, and speaking to the people we share outward and inward differences with to learn what is true and what is false. There should be no persistence in trying to prove who is not a “good American” based on a religious background. The religious war is bigger than we know it because there are people out there who are weakening these ties and not indulging in religious knowledge before making their claims. 

I’m sorry to anybody who has been told that they are not a “good American,” based on their religious status. Those people are not more American than you and you are not more American than them, as all that matters is what we can gain from our inner and outer differences to grow and improve our nation and being. Thank you for embracing and contributing your differences to America, in hope that more and more people will be open to making our ties stronger.

33 Comments

  1. This post leaves me so conflicted. Any sort of discrimination saddens me, and I completely relate to your likening of Islamic extremism vs “typical” Muslim believers with KKK vs “typical” Christian. I have had Muslim friends in the past, friends who made great progress during their times in my life to give me understanding of the differences between your average everyday Muslim and the extremists who want to murder my people. My Muslim friends were dear people with humor and skill and kindness.

    But fear of danger is prevalent in this world, regardless of it’s source, and it is only human nature to scan for danger and try to avoid it. I don’t want to risk being endangered, or having my children endangered – do you?

    Put another way: I don’t walk down dark alleys. Not all of the them have murderers hiding in the shadows, and I acknowledge this – but enough of them do to keep me away.

    That being said, a person is not an alley, and as such, I tend to judge on an individual basis where possible. I still have Muslim friends in my everyday life … and in my limited experience with Muslim believers, they are fine Americans. Some might even be fine Christians, since as you have illustrated, Islam and Christianity do have their similar points.

    I don’t have a conclusion here – as I said, your post left me conflicted. Very thought-provoking. Thank you.

    1. Brandi, I’m glad to see that the post makes you think deeper about the overall meaning and leaves you conflicted. I’m not happy that you feel conflicted, but that it is a topic that provokes your emotions and personal side to make a perception of the issue. I completely agree with you that the fear of danger is increasing more and more to this day and we want to make it a safe place for all of our loved ones, and it’s best to do that when interacting and getting to know people on that one-on-one basis. I’m glad to know you take that approach, instead of judging as a whole. It’s okay to not have a conclusion, as I am so grateful for your feedback and your perspective! Thank you 🙂

  2. I LOVE this post! I am a Mormon, and a history teacher, and when I taught history in Utah, I always touched base on 9/11 about what happened because it was such an important even in recent history. I ask them who caused 9/11 and they say Muslims. and I say NO! Muslims aren’t bad people. Extremist Muslim terrorists did it. And then to prove my point, I say although some Muslims are bad people, that doesn’t make all Muslims evil. Catholics were the cause of the Inquisition….does that mean all Catholics are evil? No. Jews crucified Christ. Does that make all Jews evil? No. A small group of Mormons caused the Meadows Mountain Massacre (which they learn about in 7th grade Utah history and are typically astounded about this event in their own religious history). Does that mean all Mormons are evil (and that really hits home because they and I are Mormon) and they say no. I explain all religions have extremists but they don’t represent the entire religion. I wish more people understood this.

    1. Tayler, I LOVE your response. It makes me so happy to hear that you are expelling this information and understanding to the younger kids because they are very influential at that age. I especially love how you bring it around to almost EVERY type of religion: Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Mormons. Relating the issue back to the type of religion you are and showing the students that it could be them being stereotyped, really shows a deep understanding of how religions should be represented. I completely agree with you and wish that more people would actually take a look at the facts of religion instead of creating assumptions. Thank you for such a deep, informative, and relatable response.

  3. If I received this email, i will just ignore it, in every place there is good and bad persons, unfortunately it is how the word is.
    I had the chance to meet different people from different religions, different countries and different origins, they are my friends and they are a part of my life.
    I don’t agree with the idea that if we have another religion or culture than the country we live in we can’t be a good citizen of this country it is just insane !!
    don’t agree

  4. There is so much hate in the world. You’ve obviously given a lot of thought to your replies. This speaks a lot to the kind of person you are. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, as it’s critical to provide research and substantial answers when dealing with these topics 🙂

  5. You put everything across SO articulately.

    I love the point-counterpoint style, your evidence-based approach and subjective analysis of every statement. Plus, carefully curated memes always go down well…

    Cheers for being my Religious Studies teacher for the day Hashem.

    1. Thank you, sir! I’m always available for teaching and open-ended convos, I’ll keep my bookings open for ya 😉 Thanks for being my little grasshopper.

  6. Writing clarifies – or that is my belief – and so I hope that writing this post helped you to further clarify your understanding. Experience teaches us all and guides how we relate to each other. The current rhetoric from high platforms is scary yes but we all must choose how we will relate based on our experiences. As for me, I will err on the side of Love.

    1. I completely agree with you. No matter a person’s writing style, it can help clarify our thoughts! It puts a smile on my face to know that Love is your main source of power (:

  7. Religion should not be the issue. It is our faith and belief that matters. Religion will not save us from purgatory. As long as we abide God or Alla’s commandments as our purpose in life to Obey Him, there would never be any complications because He will not allow it.

  8. This was a very thought-provoking post. I think part of the problem is because people make assumptions based on their limited beliefs about something or someone else. And out of fear people rush to judgement.

    1. Unfortunately, our world today is where people make assumptions based on the content we see in the media. There is a lot less focus on research and more focus on personal opinion.

  9. I know in the United States that there is a division of Church and State, but I find this a little strange because human beings run both the church and state. And even if one is to separate their faith from politically governing, it might be difficult at times. Especially if your upbringing has always been religiously controlled through one religion.

    I wonder if it was made mandatory for all faiths and beliefs were addressed in school, where all children get to know about what each faith mean to a believer, and how these faiths originated, then there are no misconceptions, and people do not need to ask if a “Good Muslim is a Good American?”

    America, like any other country on this planet is after all an area of land with forests, woodlands, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and streams. It is the people who inhabit these lands that make a country what it is. And we do not inhabit the land only for a short period of time.

    1. I can only hope to think that every school system teaches the students about how there are an array of faiths, how they oriented, and how a percent of a population does not determine the whole religion. Thank you for such a solid response 😀

  10. This is absolutely a good post, I enjoy reading this and so glad you share this inspiring message to us and I love the Bible Verses too

  11. This was an interesting post. I was personally taught to respect all people. Unfortunately there are some bad ones, but I never focus on one religion, and other people shouldn’t either. There are bad seeds everywhere.

  12. This post is so well written. I do not believe that any religion should be put down because of it’s extremists. David Koresh was a ‘Christian’ extremist and people don’t fear Christians although their religion has historically killed more people than any other.
    Sorry, little rant there.
    I believe everyone can be a good American if they love and respect their country.

    1. I appreciate the compliment <3 That is a great example, as well. Don't say sorry for the rant, as discourse on a topic like this is super important!

  13. I have to admit that religion scares me as I have no clue so will not pretend that I understand any of it. I just know never to taint everyone with the same brush and never to comment on something you do not understand, this is a very thought provoking post indeed.

    1. Thank you for being so open about how much you do/do not know. But even without knowing about the religions, it is clear you have a great way of approaching these types of situations.

  14. It’s good to understand what you are talking about, before you make a statement. It’s nice to see someone has done their homework before making a post. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Rosey! I know it was a bit long of a post, but I wanted to make sure I covered all of my tracks.

  15. Such a good post! I’m so glad you posted even though you had oppositions. An eye opener for sure.

  16. I have enjoyed so much reading this. It is really sad that some people can think like this. Before identifying us as Muslims or Christians I think we should identify as human beings

  17. Its more cut and dry than a lot of the readers above. Muslim is a religion and although many Americans are Christians, we are not a Christian nation and thus there is no compromise. Th founders were fleeing the puritanical abuses in the old world and many of them had no religion at all. Danger is real, but white people fail to recognize that as a black woman, I am more afraid of Christians and the police due to our shared history.

  18. I choose to not live in fear of people because of their faith. There are bad apples in every religions and I am more concerned about the extreme christian Americans, to be honest. I’m sad that a nation of immigrants has become so hateful. We all need to learn how to accept one another and educate ourselves.

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