Liberal Islamic scholar MAULANA WAHIDUDDIN KHAN offers constructive advice to American Muslims who are still smarting under the ‘humiliation’ heaped on them by the new president-elect, Donald Trump
The United States of America has elected Republican Donald J Trump as its 45th president, and the current president, Democrat Barack Obama will hand over office to Trump on January 20, 2017. The Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential campaign was perhaps the most contentious and hotly debated campaign in US history.Trump’s ‘harsh’ comments about immigrants and Muslims generated a great deal of controversy. He even called for banning the entry of Muslims into the US.Trump’s remarks about Muslims prior to the elections were seen by Muslims as insulting their community. In the aftermath of the election, many American Muslims have expressed shock and anxiety. A Muslim columnist has written that America has elected its first Islamophobic president. This kind of negative reaction is not good for American Muslims.It will only serve to tarnish their image in the US. American Muslims should not become emotional.
Rather, they should follow the teachings of Islam that have eternal relevance,regardless of time and place. Islam does not encourage reaction in such matters; it requires Muslims to adhere to the eternal principles of nature.
According to the Quran, in ancient Egypt, God sent Moses as His prophet. At that time, Egypt was ruled by a despotic and arrogant Pharaoh. But when God commanded Moses and his brother Aaron to approach the Pharaoh, He gave them this advice:“Go, both of you, to the Pharaoh, for he has transgressed all bounds. But speak gently to him; perhaps he may yet take heed or even feel afraid” (20:43-44). This Quranic verse teaches that the faithful should treat every person as a human being and address him in a normal way. Irrespective of the response that the person gives,people of faith should in every situation unilaterally behave positively. This is because,according to the teachings of Islam, every deed of the faithful should be determined by higher ethics and not by the conduct of others. When the Prophet of Islam began to impart religious teaching in ancient Mecca, two people, Amr ibn Hisham and Umar ibn al-Khattab, became his bitterest enemies.The Prophet neither called down the curse of God upon them, nor did he stoop to using abusive language against them.Instead,he prayed:“O God,strengthen Islam by either of these two men.” As we know, this prayer of the Prophet was accepted in favour of Umar ibn al- Khattab, who entered the fold of Islam and became its staunch supporter.This shows that a prayer is not simply a prayer. It is rather the response of a person of faith with regard to his opponents. A believer should pray for one who appears to him as an opponent, even when there seems to be no hope of the prayer being accepted.The reason behind this teaching of Islam is that, even if there is no possibility of the prayer being accepted on behalf of the opponent, by praying,the believer would retain his positivity.
Present-day American Muslims should know that every person is Mr Nature, whatever he may appear to be on the surface.We must remember that all the remarks against Muslims were made by Donald Trump before he got elected as President,but he has not made any negative remark after his election as President.Muslims should meet him, speak positive words to him and share with him their feelings and wish him well.In short,Muslims should not employ the language of complaint or protest against him. Muslims should welcome Trump as citizens of America and not merely as advocates of the Muslim community. Having travelled to America more than 10 times and having read extensively about the country, I may say with confidence that there is absolutely no evidence of Islamophobia being common in America. In fact,America is a country where the adherents of all religions,be it Islam or any other faith,enjoy every kind of freedom, provided that they do not ever take to violence. If they keep the peace, there are no hurdles for them in America.
The modern age is one of secularism, the central principle of which is non-interference in the domain of others. As a result,in America,Muslims enjoy the same freedoms as others do. Muslims must take proper note of this spirit of the age. If they understand this principle,they will be able to lead their lives in America in a far better manner than Muslims do in other countries. There is no such thing as Islamophobia in America. If at all there is a phobia about anything, it is the phobia about events such as 9/11. If Muslims do not let themselves become negative, they will command just as much respect in America as members of other communities do. Muslims in America should always bear in mind this teaching of the Quran: “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Do a good deed in return for a bad deed; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”(41:34) This Quranic teaching is based on an eternal principle of nature which works in every country — be it the US or any other country.