Islam Does Not Hate Us Despite What Trump Says

14 March 2016
Published in Blog

By Huma Munir

March 15, 2016

Once again, Donald Trump has tried to simplify the issue of extremism in the Islamic world by simply suggesting that Islam “hates” the United States.

As a Muslim-American, I don’t think Islam hates America. In fact, Islam requires of its followers to obey the laws of their country of residence. The Prophet Muhammad said loyalty to one’s nation is part of one’s faith. Since its inception, Islam has been a champion of religious freedom. During Prophet Muhammad’s time, religious freedom was granted to anyone who chose not to convert to Islam. This is further confirmed by the Holy Quran, the Islamic scripture, that says that there is no compulsion in religion (2:256).

While I firmly believe that Islam is not at odds with the western values, I do think as a religion, it disagrees with the bigotry and prejudice Trump is trying to promote. And just because Islamic values disagree with Trump’s racist beliefs, it doesn’t mean that Islam hates him or anyone else. In fact, by saying that “Islam hates us,” Trump is using his beliefs to speak for billion plus Muslims— something that most of us find very troubling.

Trump wants to use broad brush strokes to paint an inaccurate picture of certain minority groups— one that defines these people by stereotypes and by his own divisive beliefs. By doing that, he is not only putting millions of American citizens at risk, he is also paving the way for disunity among the nation. The Holy Quran is clear about this: “And when it is said to them, ‘Create not disorder on Earth,’ they say: ‘We are only promoters of peace.’”

However, Trump and his supporters are completely blind to the prejudice and racism they exude, and think of themselves as those who are waging a war on “political correctness.” This reminds me of a verse from the Quran that says, “Beware! It is surely they who create disorder, but they do not perceive it,” (2:12-13).

Trump and his supporters see the refugees from Syria and other Islamic countries as a threat. While I believe that caution is necessary in admitting anyone into the United States, I do think that as a powerful nation, we have a moral imperative to help those in need. Most of the people fleeing violence in Syria and other parts of the world are humans who have seen and experienced terrible atrocities. Children have been orphaned, women have been widowed. In some cases, men have faced torture before escaping the wrath of militants. Such people, who are destitute and helpless, require that the world open their arms to them— regardless of their faith or creed. Above all, they are human.

But Trump seems to focus on one point only: They are Muslim and therefore, they must be terrorists. In reality, a wealthy person like Trump, should be spending his wealth trying to better this world. Instead, he is using his power and money to marginalize people who have been forced to flee severe and intense persecution in their homelands. The Quran says, “Has thou seen him who denies judgement? That is he who drives away the orphan. And urges not the feeding of the poor…” (107:2-4).

Islam is not the only religion that decries Trump and his ideology. Any faith or belief built on reason will disagree with racism, bigotry and prejudice. The Bible reminds the followers of Moses, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt,” (Leviticus, 19:33-34).

Trump and his supporters find it convenient to simplify arguments about extremism, because it’s an issue that requires us to look at the big picture— something that Trump and his supporters are incapable of doing. They fail to see that poverty, ignorance and most of all, violence plays the greatest role in radicalizing people. They see the terrorists reciting Islamic slogans, but they fail to see how Islam is being used as a tool to achieve political motives. Trump and his supporters would rather blame all Muslims for the atrocities of a few, because they find it too complicated to separate good Muslims from bad Muslims. And if you can’t separate the good from the bad, then all should perish, according to Trump.

When it comes to innocent people and their lives, the president of the United States can’t be lazy. We need someone who will look at the big picture and truly understand all the underlying causes of extremism. We need someone who has the courage to face the truth about such complicated issues rather than hiding from the facts. We need someone who won’t use simplified arguments to address issues that need greater scrutiny. Unfortunately, Trump is not that person.

The Holy Quran says, “Surely, we have created man in the best make. Then if he works inequity, We reject him as the lowest of the low,” (95:4-5). While this verse can be applied to militant groups waging the war in the name of Islam, it can also be applied to politicians who use their power to marginalize and hurt innocent people. 

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Huma Munir is an ESL teacher in San Antonio ISD, Texas and  a member of Teach for America, San Antonio.  She serves as the local media secretary for Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Association in Austin, Texas. You can follow Huma on Twitter.

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Donald Trump's Jihad on Pope Francis

18 February 2016
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

February 18, 2016

Payback is a bitch–especially when dished out by the Pope! For years Donald Trump has questioned President Obama’s Christian faith. In fact, “question” is too mild. Trump, when not waging his racist birther campaign, tried his best to paint Obama as a Muslim.

For example in 2011, Trump stated on Obama’s failure at that time to produce his long form birth certificate: “He may have one, but there's something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim."

In 2012, Trump tweeted: “Does Madonna know something we all don't about Barack? At a concert she said "we have a black Muslim in the White House."

And just two weeks ago when Obama made his first U.S. mosque visit, Trump commented, “maybe he feels comfortable there."

But when the Pope now suggests that Trump is not a Christian because of his heartless views about Latino immigrants, he loses it! (And add to that Trump has also questioned the religious beliefs of both Ben Carson and Ted Cruz.)

So what did the Pope say exactly about Trump? Well when his Holiness was asked about Trump vowing to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall on the US-Mexican border, he responded: “A person who thinks only about building walls...and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

But the Pope then qualified his remarks by saying, “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.” Adding, “We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

Trump’s response to these comments was not only laughably hypocritical given what he had done to Obama, but actually on the verge of being unhinged. (Which is par for the course with Trump lately- even Rush Limbaugh said this week that Trump has “emotional incontinence” and was out of control at last week’s GOP debate.)

Trump responded by first calling the Pope’s words “disgraceful.” But then he added bizarrely and what almost seems like Trump’s fantasy revenge plot: “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS...I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened.”

First off what does ISIS attacking Rome have to do with building a wall on the US-Mexican border?! Anyone?! It’s gibberish but it’s still alarming that Trump is saying if he isn’t elected President, the Pope could be killed.  

For a guy struggling to prove he has the temperament to be President, lashing out that the Pontiff doesn’t help. And instead of Trump backing down, his supporters are doubling down. Alarmingly Trump’s supporters have been spewing vile anti-Catholic and anti-Pope remarks in the comments sections of articles about the story.

And then in a stunning display of intellectual dishonesty, Trump’s minions are claiming that the Vatican has a wall so why can’t America? Hey geniuses, the Pope was using a metaphor. When he said, “A person who thinks only about building walls...and not building bridges,” do you think the Pope was also demanding that Trump build a “bridge”?

Of course not. Pope Francis was using a metaphor- just like we see so often in the Bible, a book I doubt Trump knows much about. For example lets look at this famous Biblical metaphor where Jesus stated: “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12) Was Jesus boasting that he’s a huge table lamp that when switches on is like the sun plus ten?! Think of his electric bills?!

The Pope was clearly saying that the hate Trump has spewed about Mexicans is not following the teachings of Jesus Christ. After all the Pope was on a flight home from Mexico and had just celebrated a mass approximately 300 feet from the US-Mexico border.

So is the Pope right that a man who has spewed lies about Mexicans (calling them “rapists”) and who wants to rip 11 million undocumented immigrants including children out of their homes and deport them is not following the teachings of Jesus Christ? Well I for one will defer to his Holiness on this.

Will Trump’s slamming of the Pope hurt him politically? Not according to Sean Hannity who thinks that Trump will get a three or four point bump in the polls from this incident. Hannity argues that any time a foreign leader gets involved U.S. politics that is what typically happens.

That may happen. But what Hannity is missing- among many other things – was Trump’s response. If Trump had simply stated, “Well I respectfully disagree with the Pope,” he very well could be correct. But I doubt Trump gets a bump for slamming a wildly popular Pope for simply calling for him to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

We will all know in a few days how this plays out, but I bet Trump is thinking of adding the Pope to his promised Muslim ban.

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Dean Obeidallah is the Editor of The Dean's Report, host of SiriusXM radio's "The Dean Obeidallah Show" and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter.

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Donald Trump's War on Comedy

04 February 2013
Published in Blog

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t possibly slither to a lower level, he has done it. The paradoxically thin-skinned, yet leather-faced Trump announced Monday that he’s going to sue comedian Bill Maher for $5 million dollars in essence because of a joke Maher told mocking The Donald.

What led to Trump getting his hair all in a wad? It all started in January when Bill Maher was on “The Tonight Show” and joked that Trump was the, “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.” Maher’s reasoning was that the only thing in nature that has the same orange-ish color hair as Trump is an orangutan, hence, Trump must be part orangutan. A split screen of Trump and orangutan did reveal an uncanny resemblance.

Maher, to the delight of “The Tonight Show” audience, then offered to donate $5 million dollars to charity if Trump produced his birth certificate. (This $5 million number was the same amount Trump had offered in October to donate to charity if President Obama would produce his passport and college records.)

Maher even suggested some appropriate charities that Trump could donate the millions to such as, “The Hair Club for Men or the Institute for incorrigible douche baggery.” (Pretty sure Lance Armstrong is also in that Institute.)

Trump, instead of simply ignoring this joke like all other billionaires would, actually responded by producing his birth certificate to prove that he was 100% human. (Call me a “Trumper,” but I’m still not buying it’s a real birth certificate.)

Trump then demanded Maher pay up on the “offer.” Since Maher has refused to pay, Trump is now filing a lawsuit versus Maher for $5 million dollars.

Who except a publicity craving, megalomaniac could think Maher’s joke was a valid offer to pay $5 million dollars?! I’m a former lawyer, I can tell you it’s highly unlikely that any judge would find that Maher’s joke was intended by him to be a binding offer to enter into a contract with Trump. When you look at the context of the “offer” and the place it was told- “The Tonight Show”- most rational people would understand it was a joke.

Obviously, Donald Trump’s goal here- as with most things - is to attract press. He’s like a vampire who needs publicity instead of blood to survive. (Clearly his hair has been dead for years.) If we collectively ignored Trump, he might actually wither away like a vampire exposed to sunlight. And, to be honest, I would usually encourage us all to just that.

But to me, Trump has a more sinister goal with this lawsuit: To send a message that if you tell jokes about The Donald that he doesn’t like, he may sue you. Like a dictator in a third world country, his majesty Donald Trump tells us all that if we mock him, we will be punished. 

Look, if you are a public figure who has thrust yourself into the spotlight like the publicity whore Trump has, you will be the subject of jokes. That comes with the territory. But Trump hates being mocked. Think back to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2011 when SNL’s Seth Meyers crushed Trump in a sea of ridiculing jokes. Trump should have simply laughed and tipped his hair to Seth.

Instead, Trump didn't crack a smile.  As the audience laughed at Trump, he increasingly looked angry. The Donald later lashed out at Seth mocking his delivery of jokes. Trump even called Seth a “stutterer.” Not sure where he heard Seth stutter – maybe there’s an echo in Trump’s empty head.

The media should not dismiss this lawsuit by Trump as simply another pathetic and desperate attempt at publicity. It’s more dangerous than that. It’s an attack on comedy. It’s an attack on freedom of expression.

My hope is that comedians, and non-comedians alike, will not back down to Trump. Instead, I propose that we make it a daily ritual to mock Trump on Twitter. In fact lets have a “Ridicule Trump Day” later this week on Twitter-Trump’s Twitter handle is @realDonaldTrump.

We shouldn't cower from this orange haired, leather faced billionaire bully. Instead we should respond in the very way he hates most: By mocking him. He can’t sue all of us! (Right?)