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.
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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