Huffpost WorldPost
Salam Al Marayati Headshot

Muslims in America

Posted: Updated:

"As Muslims, when we take an oath of citizenship or allegiance, it is tantamount to making an oath with God: "And be true to your bond with God whenever you bind yourselves by a pledge, and do not break [your] oaths after having [freely] confirmed them and having called upon God to be witness to your good faith: behold, God knows all that you do." --Quran 16:91

As Muslim Americans, when we take the oath of allegiance to America witnessed by our families and our friends (and now DHS), we must remain true to our word. It is an Islamic obligation to defend what we are taking an oath to, namely the constitution of the United States of America.

That does not equate with supporting the policies of the government. Patriotism is not waving the flag or using it to intimidate others; patriotism is love of country, and when we as Muslim Americans see a danger to our country, such as terrorism or xenophobia, or policies that hurt the image and interests of the United States, it is our American and Islamic responsibility to change toward the betterment of America. The Constitution also allows amendments starting with the Bill of Rights. This document becomes a form of self-governance, which Islam also promotes (when we entrust authority) :

"O you who have attained to faith! Pay heed unto God, and pay heed unto the Apostle and unto those from among you who have been entrusted with authority..." (Quran 4:59)

We are asked a number of questions with respect to our loyalty to America. While this is an unfortunate attempt to challenge our patriotism akin to McCarthyism, let us at least understand concerns raised by the actions of Muslim extremists or myths promoted by Muslim-haters:

1. Converting America into an "Islamic State" The notion that Muslim Americans want to convert America into an Islamic state is simply a forgery. The type of Islamic state formed in Muslim countries is not agreed upon by Muslims: in Iran, it is a theocracy; in Saudi Arabia, it is a monarchy; in Pakistan, it is a parliamentary democracy under military control. The Quran does not define an Islamic state and the Prophet was an elected leader in Medina, where constitutionalism was the basis for governance, departing from tribalism, the norm of that era. The challenge to Muslim World is that it has departed from constituionalism, the model of the Prophet, and resorted to tribalism.

2. Imposing "Islamic Law". Islamic law has five goals accepted by all the scholars of Islam: securing and developing rights to life, expression, faith, family and property. That's similar to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. It's not about draconian measures or puritanical rule. It is about the human interpretration of the Islamic legal code, the core value of which is justice. The Quran calls for freedom of religion: "Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith." (Quran 2:256) In Western tradition, there is separation of church and state; in classical Islamic law, there is separation of Islamic scholars and state. Islam has no Pope and no central religious center as the authoritative body for Muslims. The Quran is the supreme source of Islam, and the Quran established that there is no clergy in Islam. Yet, Islamic scholars always played a prominent role in Islamic history, and they shined when they remained an independent judiciary. When the Islamic scholars made unholy alliances with the state or became the state, the results were usually disastrous to Muslims.

3. America is a home for Muslims. Muslim extremists and Muslim-haters agree on one thing, that America is alien to Islam and vice versa. On the contrary, Muslims regard America as a home for them and for their religion. One scholar defined Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) as the place where Muslims gain security. In many ways, Muslims are more secure in America and can practice their faith freely in America than any other country in the world, including any Muslim country. I am an American.

I am a Muslim. I will work for a better future for all Americans and Muslims worldwide.