It will be a stroke of genius for President-Elect Donald Trump to pick an American Muslim for his cabinet. This move will be a great gesture for connecting with 56 Muslim countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, and recruiting American Muslims as allies against any possible threat to our national security. This move will also offset the anti-Islamic negativity associated with Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon.
An American Muslim picked for a cabinet portfolio must be a true believer in Islam, who performs daily prayers, fasts in the month of Ramadhan, gives charity, and is kind-hearted and educated. An American Muslim just in name or one espousing questionable notions such as “moderate Islam” or “American Islam” will be utterly useless if not harmful for serving on the Trump cabinet. Vilifying Islam will not work and prolonging war with Muslims will bear no fruit. In the words of Chinese military general Sun Tzu, “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.” See The Art of War (5 BCE).
There are hundreds of thousands American Muslims, native-born and immigrant, with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and expertise –- men, women, Arabs, South Asians, African-Americans, Caucasians ― who can promote American interests and American values in the Muslim world. An American Muslim, who is immigrant-citizen, will add even more credibility and complexity to the cabinet position -– much like Jewish-American Henry Kissinger or Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski, each serving as Secretary of State.
So far, no American Muslim has served as a member of the United States President’s cabinet.
It is not uncommon for democracies to reach out to minorities and recruit them for cabinet positions to better manage domestic and international affairs. In 2001, Republican President George W. Bush chose Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, both African-Americans, as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. In 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has picked four Indian-Canadians in the cabinet. He also picked Maryam Monsef, an Afghan-Canadian, and a Muslim born in an Iranian refugee camp, as Minister of Democratic Institutions.
So far, no American Muslim has served as a member of the United States President’s cabinet. Goodwill, sagacity, and demands of international peace and security mandate that the United States connect with the vast Muslim world so that good sentiments prevail, misunderstandings are removed, and a new path is lit for the benefit of the world at large. Targeting Muslim communities abroad or American Muslims at home will achieve nothing but escalate violence, breed needless animosity, and further bruise the world with a thousand cuts.
Islamophobia will not solve the security problems of the United States. However, picking an American Muslim as a member of the cabinet will revolutionize the American mindset, sending a powerful message to all that Islam is a blessing for America and America is a beautiful home for Muslims as it has been for Christians, Jews, Hindus, and many other faith communities.