In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
There is no shortage of Muslims who claim to know what “true faith” is. They claim that, if you do what they proscribe, then you will have attained “true faith.” Some of their proscriptions are indeed worthy of advisement. Others are not, claiming that if you don’t follow their twisted interpretation of our faith, it is “tantamount to apostasy and heresy.” Yet, why not go to the source of our faith and see what he said “true faith” encompasses?
“A believer is not the one who eats his fill when his neighbor is hungry.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet was asked: “Who is your neighbor?” He answered: “Your neighbors are 40 houses ahead of you, 40 houses to your back, 40 houses to your right, and 40 houses to your left.“
Moreover, the Prophet also said, “Gabriel has repeatedly recommended me to be good to my neighbor to the extent that I thought that he would include him [my neighbor] among my heirs.” (Ahmad, Tirmithi)
This is extra relevant this holiday season, seeing that Eid Al Adha is the day after Thanksgiving. According to a report of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 50 million people struggled to get food last year. That includes nearly one in four children. That’s right here in the United States, the most wealthy nation in the world. In addition, a record one out of every eight Americans received food stamp assistance in August 2009.
These are our neighbors, and our faith demands that we be responsible for them. And this Thanksgiving, we American Muslims have much for which to be thankful. According to the Gallup American Muslim report, 70% of American Muslims are employed, and 30% have a professional job. There is much blessing upon the American Muslim community, and thus, we have to respond to that blessing by reaching out to help those who are less fortunate.
That is “true faith.” We cannot claim to be “true believers” and not help the myriad of our neighbors who are hungry each and every day, be they Muslim or non-Muslim.
“True faith” is not strapping a bomb to your chest and killing innocents. “True faith” is not hating the “infidel” and hoping they go to hell. “True faith” is not killing to “uphold the family honor.” That is not “true faith,” and to claim thus is not “heresy.”
This Thanksgiving season, let us share our tradition of care for the poor and hungry with our neighbors, especially the ones we know are hungry. Let us share the meat we already sacrifice in honor of the Patriarch (pbuh). As we fast on Thanksgiving, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters standing on Arafat, let it motivate us to help our neighbors who are not as fortunate as we.
Here in Chicago, Muslims have done just that. Every year, there is a Muslim Turkey Drive to distribute turkeys to the poor on Thanksgiving. This year, thank God, over 650 turkeys will be delivered. More of this must be done. This is our way; this is our tradition; this is “true faith.”