Religious America

The Holy Qur’aan reveals to Prophet Muhammad a course of action in dealing with his responsibilities as a messenger & Prophet of God Allah even under the most adverse of conditions:

“ياأيها النبى انا أرسلناك شاهدا و مبشرا و نذيرا و داعيا الى الله باذنه و سراجا منيرا و بشر المؤمنين بأن لهم من الله فضلا كبيرا” سورة الأحزاب (33) الآية 45 الى 47

We have sent you to fulfill a number of major objectives in order to fulfill your mission:

  1. شاهدا: A witness, an observer and an analyzer of the environment around you, the people & their behaviors & beliefs, the systems applied to conduct peoples’ affairs and peoples’ imagination. Sort out what is wrong and b invite people to correct it and identify what good and positive and reinforce it.
  2. مبشرا: The bringer of glad tidings, bring the good news and great promises of Allah God about the rewards in this life and hereafter
  3. نذيرا: A Warner of the outcome of deviating away from God’s way & path,
  4. داعيا الى الله باذنه: Inviter to the Way of God Allah by His permission,
  5. سراجا منيرا : A source of light to guides people, enlighten them, enrich them spiritually, intellectually and in a lively way.

Perhaps the greatest wave of immigration of Muslims to America started in the mid- 1960’s and brought with it some of “the crème de la crème” of the Muslim societies top quality graduate students, MD’s, engineers, administrators, accountants, bankers, businesspeople, investors, developers and merchants. This generation of immigrant American Muslims set up a network of Masajid (mosques), Islamic centers (about 1,600) and schools (about 500) that are now serving mostly every city in America and Canada.

In our course of interacting with America and becoming responsible American citizens we met many non-Muslim Americans who became interested in Islam and eventually reverted to become Muslims. In fact, this process was not planned in a missionary format. It was self propelled with little planning on our part. We enjoyed almost 35 years of an easy growth and development till the despicable events of 9-11 and what followed.

As I searched my soul and my heart after 9-11, I discovered that many Muslims including myself enjoyed living in America for almost 35 years without spending any effort to understand America, its historic and religious roots and that most of our knowledge of Christianity and Judaism are based on older Eastern Jewish traditions, Eastern and Greek Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church teachings that we learned in our countries of origin or from books that were authored in our countries of origin quoting the same orthodox sources.

It is a known fact that America is growing to be vibrantly religious. May be the trend was there but was only made clearer after 9-11 and the involvement of the religious forces in the re-election of President George W. Bush.

Here are some of the reasons of the rise of religious adherence in America:

  • The ageing of America. It is a known fact that when people get old they become closer to God Allah.
  • The proliferation of promiscuous cultures that resulted in:
  1.  
    1. Corporate corruption like what happened with Enron,
    2. Homosexual activities that touched the lives of many leaders in our country and the resulting attempts to redefine marriage,
    3. The concern over religious fanatics from David Koresh in Waco, Texas to the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma by Christian fanatics and of course the crime of 9-11.

There are two fronts that are active in religious America. These are:

  • The Bible (New & Old Testament) Prophecies front, and
  • The front of how America lives as a society.

On the front of prophecies, we believe that only God Allah knows the future and we shall let the future decide on that as it did many times before since the dawn of history. However and most importantly, on the social and life style fronts we find that what the religious movement in America is asking for coincides perfectly well and are similar to what we Muslims believe in. I humbly believe that this is a great foundation and a golden strategic opportunity that we American Muslims must build on.

Here is a cross section of our religious America:

  • The new Judeo-Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical movement (representing at least 75% of Americans) stands for purity in faith and belief in God, denounces homosexuality, corruption, promiscuous activities in TV and the media, government controls and asks for religion to become an important part of what the students are taught at school.
  • America is the MOST religious country in the West:
  1.  
    1. 95% believe in God as compared to 62% in France
    2. 57% belong to and are active members of a Church compared to 4% in France,
    3. 23% volunteer their time and resources to a churches compared to 3% in France.
    4. Protestants (born again Christians); i.e. Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians, represent 62% of the religions followed in America as compared to 27% for Catholics and 2% for Judaism, 2% for Islam and 1 – 1.5 % for Mormons. In fact 50% of Catholics in America can be counted within the born again Protestants making this group at least 75% strong within the religious fabric of America.
    5. There are around 200 Christian TV stations, 1500 Christian radio stations in America.
    6. Gallup poll found that around 70 million Americans watch Evangelical TV on 104 TV stations and over 1006 cable TV stations in the US.
    7. There are about 1300 Christian publishing houses and 7000 Christian bookstores in America with sales totaling over $5 billion annually.
    8. TV Evangelists Mr. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club TV program audience reached 1 million per day (16 to 20 million every month) and his CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) reaches 60 nations in 40 languages and Mr. James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” broadcasts to 5 million weekly and can be heard here in LA on KNX News Radio 1080.
    9. There are 20,000 Christian schools and over 1000 Christian colleges in America.

Unfortunately, Most of us Muslims know of Christianity according to Catholic and Greek orthodox sources, because they were the ones Muslims interacted with in their lands, and NOT the Protestant American sources. I humbly believe that this has been the main source of Muslims’ inability to communicate with and have a felt impact in America.

One of the most shocking experiences I personally went through was the name calling of the Muslims, the attacks against our faith, accusing Muslims of worshipping a different God and may be the devil and that the many insults and claims made against our beloved Prophet, then came many other attacks including the popular cartoons episode and the upcoming movies along the same lines.

November 16, 2001

STATEMENT MADE BY REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM ON ISLAM and THE GOD OF ISLAM:

In a report aired Friday on “NBC Nightly News,” Rev. Franklin Graham stood by remarks he made about Islam last month at the dedication of a chapel in North
Carolina. At that event, Graham said: “We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” In the NBC report, Graham said, “I don’t believe this [Islam] is this wonderful, peaceful religion.” SEE: http://www.msnbc.com/news/659057.asp?cp1=1

But the question that faces us today is how we should react and how to respond using the example of our beloved prophets Abraham and his decedents Moses, Jesus and that of Prophet Muhammad (s).

There are two levels of character, an ordinary and a superior:

  • An Ordinary Character – Those possessed of such character offer only reflex responses to treatment by others, breaking with those who break with them, wronging those who wrong them and harming those who harm them.
  • The higher level Superior Character – Those possessed of such a character deal with both friends and foes in the same manner, irrespective of how they themselves have been treated. They are reconciliatory, even joining with those who break with them. They are compassionate, even to those who seek to harm them. They are forbearing, even towards those who wrong them.

The author Soren Smith has written, “History shows that the closer one came to Prophet Muhammad (s), the more one was taken by his superior character and fine qualities. It was the magnanimity of the Prophet that gave him the power to capture people’s hearts and imagination.

Adopting high code of ethics means practicing what one preaches, treating the weak with the same courtesy and deference as one shows to the strong and affluent, setting the same standards for oneself as one sets for others, never budging from one’s principles, maintaining a high moral bearing even when others stoop to the depth of degradation. Aisha, the Prophet’s widow – at that time – was asked about her late husband’s – Prophet Muhammad (s) character. She said” “He was a personification of the Qur’aan.”

The Prophet’s character is most useful to those who pursue permanent change of societies. History teaches us that in many instances when worldly people gain power; the first things they do is to punish their opponents and try to get even! They proceed to remove them from their posts and install their own henchmen instead. Every person in power thinks in terms of supporters and opponents. Promoting supporters and demoting opponents is an essential part of their policy. But when the Prophet gained power in Arabia, he did quite the opposite. He did not look at matters in terms of supporters and opponents; he considered only what was right and fair and what benefited the newly emerging State-Ummah. He buried all grudges and dealt with every one as justice and compassion would demand. One of his sayings has been: “those who discriminate in hiring and NOT hire the most qualified regardless of faith then they betrayed God Allah and His prophets.” This is the character that will help us engage America and make a difference in America.

Winning the hearts, the minds and imaginations of America will certainly not be achieved:

  • By shouting and complaining,
  • By trying to assemble military power and armies, and/or
  • By denouncing other faiths and hating others,

The force that will defeat hate mongering, religious discrimination prejudice, anger, greed and hate, the lust for power, vanity, and self-interest does not wear uniforms, own nuclear bombs, drive Humvees, or calls in air strikes. It does not have a high command, high security, or a high budget. The force that emulates Gods prophets Jesus and Moses, and Prophet Muhammad does battle quietly, clearing minefields and educating and vaccinating children. It undermines dictatorships, ignorance, bigotry, lobbyists and special interests. Where people feel powerless, this force helps them organize for change, and where people are powerful, this force reminds them of their responsibility. This force is that of those who emulate Prophets Moses, Jesus and Prophet Muhammad.

The outstanding and amazing achievements of all prophets and that of Prophet Muhammad were the result of an extraordinarily simple training program, which the Qur’aan explains in Chap. 74 verses 1 to 7:

ياأيها المدثر – قم فأنذر – و ربك فكبر – و ثيابك فطهر – و الرجز فاهجر – و لا تمنن تستكثر – و لربك فاصبر””

سورة المدثر – Chapter 74 Verses 1 to 7

“You, who are wrapped up in your vestments, arise and give warning. Magnify your Lord, cleanse your garments and keep away from all pollution sources – both physically & spiritually. Bestow no favors expecting gain. Be patient for your Lord’s sake.”

A person develops inner strength when:

  1. He becomes free of all selfish ties and inclinations, and
  2. He attains a level of thinking in which all superficial considerations are cast aside, and as the Prophet put it, and sees things as they are.
  3. His thoughts and actions are not guided by prejudice, anger, greed, hate, and the lust for power, vanity, self-interest or any such urges. This is what makes a strong character. A real brave believer makes all allowances for all eventualities, both probable and possible, in his decision making. The more people oppose him, the more he adheres to his position of truth and righteousness.

And before I leave I want to make the following conclusions:

  1. I have notice a decline in the fervor of belief of the American Muslims especially after 9-11, and I want to invite myself and you all to follow the same order given to the Prophet Muhammad by God Allah in the Qur’aan. Never be afraid, rise and stand up to glorify Allah and invite others including all non-Muslims you meet to worship with us. It is our responsibility.
  2. Study the American history especially its religious and national roots and understand the Protestant faith and the new arrangements of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Wallahu Alam – Only Allah God knows the Truth.

 

* Dr. Yahia Abdul-Rahman is from Whittier, CA 90603, USA and may be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone 626-818-0855. He regularly contributes to these websites as well: www.lariba.com, www.whittierbank.com, www.lariba.com.eg, www.islam-in-usa.com