In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
This election has been unprecedented in so many ways, and the fitna of the candidacy of Donald Trump has tested the true mettle of our country and our people. But if I know anything about our people, I know that they are fundamentally good. And this fitna will only make our country and her people even greater than it already is.
I must fully admit: I wrote it before the election thinking – for certain – Donald Trump would lose and lose big.
Well, it is a new dawn in America and a scary one at that. Donald J. Trump will be our next President. And there are several worrying signs that his Administration will be hostile towards Islam and Muslims. Now, the “fitna” of Donald Trump takes on an even greater significance.
As I said in the piece, the word “fitna” has several meanings:
In classical Arabic, the word “fitna” — as found in Lane’s classical Arabic Lexicon — means “a burning with fire” and “the melting of gold and of silver to separate, or distinguish, the bad from the good.”
Coming out of the original meaning of “burning with fire,” a very common translation of the word “fitna” is trial or tribulation. Indeed, this is how “fitna” is used in multiple instances in the Quran. This is the fitna of Donald Trump for the American Muslim community. He is a test for American Muslims: How will they respond to his candidacy?
That is the question we must ask ourselves: how will we respond? Those who have sought to marginalize our community feel emboldened by the election of Trump. They want us to be scared. They want us to cower in fear and retreat into our homes, disappearing from public life in America.
And I have to admit, I do feel a great degree of fear over our future in this country. And I’m born and raised here; I have no other land or people to call my own. I can only imagine the fear of newly arrived immigrants or refugees.
I shared my fears with Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry. This is what he said:
First let me tell you this. I stand with you. And I always will. There are millions of people that understand the grave danger that a Trump presidency poses to American Muslims.
That made me feel much better. It’s comforting to know that there are good people in America willing to stand by us in times of distress.
Yet, with all due respect to Nathan and the millions of other great allies and friends we have, I got the most comfort from the Word of God:
Those to whom some people said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, “God is sufficient for us, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.” So they returned with favor and bounty from God, no harm having touched them. And they pursued the pleasure of God, and God is the possessor of great bounty. (3:173-174)
God is still in charge. He is more powerful than anyone or anything in this world. If we turn to Him, if we stand on His side, He will stand with us. Our challenge is to be worthy of His company; our challenge is to step up to the plate and be worthy of God’s help.
Which brings me to the other thing Nathan Lean told me:
This is not a time for fear of the worst to suppress social mobilization, coalition building, and activism. Those things are needed now more than ever, and I encourage American Muslims to assert their rights to equal treatment under the law in a vocal and confident way. They will find, I am sure, that others will rally with them and take up those causes as their own.
I also posed the question of what Muslims need to do now to Ahmed Rehab, long-time Muslim activist and Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of CAIR (full disclosure: I serve on its Board). He said:
The last thing we do is cower in fear and sit this out. We prepare. And we fight back by doubling down on supporting our civil rights organizations, by building stronger alliances, and standing with other communities who will also be victimized by bigotry and hate.
That is our challenge. That is the gauntlet that has been thrown at our feet. The “fitna” of Donald Trump places a clear choice before us: step up or get stepped upon. If we step up and fight for, not only our justice, but the justice of all people, then – God willing – we will be worthy of God’s company and His unbeatable strength. We cannot afford to fail in this task.
Yet, further, the “fitna” of Trump is more than just a call to action. Nathan Lean also said to me:
If there is a silver lining in what is assuredly a dark storm cloud, it is the possibility of getting this virus of prejudice out of our collective American system and restoring a sense of decency and moral uprightness with the American electorate.
Amen, brother. Amen.
Just as gold or silver undergoes “fitna” to become more brilliant and beautiful, it is my hope and prayer that, just as I wrote in the Islamic Monthly piece above, our country will rid herself of the ugliness of hatred and bigotry and become even greater and more beautiful than she already is.
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