Prophet Mohammad (SAAW) made it clear that Muslims are an extension of the prior nations in continuing moral excellence.

[1] That means people prior to us held high morals, and we are to build on it, by perfecting our moral practices and lifestyle.

As American Muslims, we understand that this country upholds honor and morality in the tenants of the constitution, albeit with glitches in practices. Lately however, following this heated presidential election, we heard hateful rhetoric contradicting these values. It has created rising tensions against anything that is considered “different.”

I believe we, as Muslims, have an added duty of stepping out from the relaxed mode we are in, and assume the lead in calling for moral values to dictate our lives in all areas. I believe the majority of the American public will be on the same page hoping to preserve the greatness of this country through ethics and morals rather than fear and ignorance.

Our prophet (SAAW) lived forty years before revelation in a non-Muslim community, and even thirteen years into revelation in Mecca under pagans. During these years he held onto the ethics that were known at that time, and he (SAAW) was known to everyone as the Honest and the Trusted. He (SAAW) was seen as a man of wisdom, even being chosen to resolve an intense dispute between leaders of Quraish over who would hold the honor of replacing the Black Stone in the corner of the Ka’bah after it was rebuilt because of a flood. He (SAAW) demonstrated such wisdom and leadership by placing the Black Stone on a cloth and asking the leaders of all the tribes to carry a side of the cloth, and he (SAAW) lifted and set it in the Ka’bah, making it a shared effort and honor among all the tribes.

During the revelation period in Mecca, his (SAAW) continuous call for ethics was described beautifully by his cousin Jaafar Ibn Abi Taleb to the king of Abyssinia when many Muslims migrated there seeking safety. Jaafar described to the king what the practices had been during the time of ignorance (Jahiliyyah), then he shared the message the Prophet (SAAW) had brought: “He called us to worship God alone, and to leave the worship of idols we inherited from our ancestors. He (SAAW) ordered us to be honest, trustworthy, kind to family, and caring toward neighbors. He (SAAW) ordered us to avoid what has been prohibited, and not to engage in false testimonies, or bloodshed, or consuming the wealth of orphans.”[2]

In Medinah, the prophet (SAAW) established Al-Sahifa that regulated the relationship between Muslims and other groups as a reference to handle disputes among them, and it was all based on the value of morals and ethics.[3]

America, though once labeled a “melting pot,” has traditionally been identified as a majority of White Caucasians of European descent, but that demography is rapidly changing. In 2015, for the first time in US history, African-Americans and Latinos outnumbered white students.[4]  It is not a colonized entity anymore but rather a multi-ethnic community that must strive to live in peace and harmony under the law of the constitution.

This diversity, changing the face of a country, can be threatening to some citizens who will use hate to protect what they assume to be America. But if the growing number of minorities choose to retaliate with the same hate and violence, this country will be doomed to failure from within.

The only way to maintain balance in a new era of defining America is to hold on to the moral values that are rooted in religious belief across nations and ethnicities. By preserving and practicing these values in daily life, balance, honor, and justice for all can be achieved.

So, how can we, as Muslims, contribute to weaving the moral fabric of America?

Live Islam and do not proselytize people

We are not here to convert people but rather to live our faith and show others the beauty of Islam reflected through our own actions. The approach to Da’wah that has dominated our minds to go out and convert people to Islam was never a prophetic approach, but rather a Christian one. The Prophet (SAAW) lived Islam, introduced it to people, and left the rest to Allah. People feel threatened by proselytization, feeling that their culture or beliefs are at risk of being taken away, and it will cause retaliation on multiple levels.

Embrace the American culture

Do that with an open mind and heart that will not change your faith or belief. Faith is universal and without borders, but culture is practiced in relation to environment and social life which differs for people from one place to another. Why do we insist on identifying the American culture as gangs, drugs and Hollywood fantasies but ignore the good qualities which brought us here in the first place? We can live an honorable life with opportunities for dignified jobs, and more justice in rights than many of us ever had overseas! When our Prophet (SAAW) migrated to Medinah, he took from the Jewish community the celebration of Ashoura’, the Day that God saved Moses from Pharaoh, and he (SAAW) ordered his companions to fast that day too. We can share common values.

Differentiate between government policies and people

If you disagree with a government policy locally or internationally, do not assume all American people are in favor or support unjust issues. Allah told us very clearly that people are not the same: {Yet [know that] not all of them are the same} 3:113. As a matter of fact, you are given a chance to make a difference in policies that you feel are unethical or unjust through practicing your right to vote and putting pressure on elected politicians to change their stand or face losing your support and vote.

Help your local American community

Only when people see you investing in the well-being of their neighborhoods and caring for the issues affecting others will you truly belong. If you are benefitting from this society you live in then you owe it to contribute whatever you can. Unfortunately, we have failed a lot in this area, even with our own Muslim brothers and sisters in the African-American community. I am calling on you to get involved in bringing benefit to society, and show the true essence of our faith. We can do that on two levels:

  1. Invest time, effort and money in projects to better your community.
  2. Stand strong against all injustices across the board whoever the victims are.

Humble yourself

Do not brush others off as morally empty as if you are the only pure one! We know that we have lots and lots of moral and ethical issues among ourselves, and just because we are Muslims it does not cancel our bad deeds! Allah made it clear, when a group of Pagan, Jewish, Christian and Muslim men were claiming piety and worthiness of favor at the Day of Judgment, Allah said: {It shall not be willed by your fancies-nor the fancies of the People of the Scripture-[that any of you enter Paradise]. Rather, whoever does a misdeed shall be recompensed for it. And he shall not find for himself, apart from God any patron or supporter} 4:123.

By Sh Kifah Mustapha

 

 

 

[1] Hadith narrated by Imam Ahad

[2] Ibn Ishaq

[3] Ibn Hisham

[4] Washington Post August 2014 quoting US Education projection