The “Fitna” of Donald Trump – Part 2 


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

REUTERS/David Becker

In the Islamic Monthly, I was blessed to pen a piece entitled, “The ‘Fitna’ of Donald Trump.” I wrote about how the candidacy of Donald J. Trump was a way to make our country even greater than she already is and a test for the American Muslim community. And I ended the piece this way:

 

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.

Join me on Twitter (@GodFaithPen).

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In the Wake of Brussels: My Perpetual Condemnation – Again


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

I leave aside the fact that no other community is expected to condemn the actions of its criminal fringe. I leave aside the fact that the perverse logic of assigning blame to the whole for the actions of a few tends to be applied to Muslims preferentially. I leave aside the fact that most of the victims of “Islamic terror” are other Muslims themselves. I leave aside the fact the attention of the world to acts of terror in Western countries is much more than that in Muslims countries (see recent attacks in Turkey and compare for yourself).

I put all of that aside today. I put all that aside and condemn what happened in Brussels – which took the lives of 34 people – with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind.

It’s very true that such terror is being rained on scores of innocent Muslim populations by their own governments on a daily basis. It’s very true that terror has no religion or ethnic group or nationality. It’s true that Western governments have supported brutal dictatorships in the Muslim majority world to serve geopolitical interests. That is all true.

That’s does not even begin to justify, however, attacking innocent people anywhere in the world. And just as the double standards with respect to Muslims and Islam must be called out every time, terror in the name of Islam must also be called out and condemned for what it is: pure unadulterated evil.

Read the rest here: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/03/in-the-wake-of-brussels-my-perpetual-condemnation-again.html

One Is Too Many, But “Islamic Terrorism” Threat Is Small


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Don’t get me wrong. Even one American Muslim either thinking about, or planning, or trying to commit an act of terror is too many. Each case is a failure, on multiple levels. Yet, if one hears pundits, so-called “terrorism experts,” and politicians – especially those in the GOP – speak, he or she would think that there is a Muslim waiting on every corner of this beautiful country ready to pounce and kill at will.

The truth, thank God, is very different than the rhetoric…
Read the rest of the post here: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/02/one-is-too-many-but-islamic-extremist-threat-is-small.html#ixzz3z8RmO9zy

ISIS Cannot Be Reading The Same Qur’an As The Rest Of Us


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I could not believe my eyes when I read the headline: “ISIS Militant ‘Kills His Own Mother’ In Public Raqqa Execution.”

A member of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) killed his own mother in a public execution in the city of Raqqa on Thursday, according to activists.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the Syrian civil war using a wide network of sources on the ground, and Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, an activist group inside the ISIS-held city, both reported the execution.

Ali Saqr, 20, reportedly killed his 45-year-old mother Leena Al-Qasem “for apostasy” in front of an audience of hundreds of people outside a post office building where she was employed in the city.

I didn’t think the savages of ISIS could stoop any lower than killing innocents in Paris or Istanbul. Clearly, however, I was wrong.

Yet, such savagery shows that these monsters cannot be reading the same Qur’an as the rest of the Muslim faithful…

Read the rest at: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/01/isis-cannot-be-reading-the-same-quran-as-the-rest-of-us.html#ixzz3xBc81RPI

Let Scripture Be Your Guide To A Better You In The New Year


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Whenever a transition in time occurs, such as the passing of the New Year, it is natural for human beings to reflect over the past and look forward to the future. Hence, many people will be making New Year’s resolutions, and there will be no shortage of people telling  you and me how best to improve ourselves in the coming year. This is all well and good.

Yet, the best “expert” on self-improvement is looking straight at us in the mirror. We know ourselves the best, and we are the best judge of what flaws we have that need improvement. And we can let Scripture help us on this journey of self-betterment.

Just as I wrote during the Islamic New Year, the Qur’an offers several verses and passages that can be used as “personal improvement checklists.” Here is such a verse…

In Praise of the Prophet: Poem for the Mawlid


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
In honor of the Mawlid of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (pbuh), I penned this never-before-seen poem:

 

The sun, and day, are hot yet still ’twas dark
The brute and bully reigned with no regard
The lack of light shined forth and was so stark
The lack of light made life so rough and hard

And in this muck of being came His light
Before his coming, father passed away
Along the way, his mother sees great sight
And told to call His Name as she did lay

And then he came, in splendor large and grand
The son of chieftain grand, who basked in glow
As breath was taken slow, she held his hand
And he with Grace and Light of God did glow

“The Praised” became the name of this pure child
At last! The world will bask again in light
On path of Jesus Christ he tames the wild
And brings the Light of God for all in sight

My Lord, My God! I am not worthy true
To have his face become of dust and blood
And yet, shed blood he did as message grew
With wisdom flowing as fast as Great Flood

For God so loved the world that He me sent
A Bearer true, the son of Patriarch
With Word of Truth and Love that can’t be bent
Who calls that we, to God with love, embark

And thus, we must each day to all proclaim
The Grace in which we bask all day and night
And We must never feel at all ashamed
That we are blessed inside Muhammad’s light

How Can Islam Be “Inspired by Satan” When It Honors Jesus So Much?


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

“Make no mistake about it,” he said from the pulpit in downtown Dallas, “Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself.”

These are the words of Rev. Robert Jeffress, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. This church is one of the largest and most influential members of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he uttered those words on the Sunday after the ISIS attacks in Paris. He received a standing ovation at the end of the sermon.

At first, this disturbs me deeply because, if such words were uttered at a mosque anywhere in this country about Christianity or Judaism, it would be (rightly so) condemned vociferously. It is not befitting a house of worship to attack another faith as “inspired by Satan.”

On the other hand, however, such comments also baffle me because, as a Christian Pastor, Rev. Jeffress should know that Islam greatly honors Jesus and his mother Mary.

Take this passage from the third chapter of the Qur’an:

O my Lord! Behold, to You do I vow [the child] that is in my womb, to be devoted to Thy service. Accept it, then, from me: verily, You alone art all-hearing, all-knowing!

But when she had given birth to the child, she said: “O my Lord! Behold, I have given birth to a female”— while God had been fully aware of what she would give birth to, and [fully aware] that no male child [she might have hoped for] could ever have been like this female — and I have named her Mary. And verily, I seek Your protection for her and her offspring against Satan, the accursed.

And thereupon her Lord accepted the girl-child with goodly acceptance, and caused her to grow up in goodly growth… (3:35-37).

These verses are full of praise for the Virgin Mary, where God says that no male child that the mother of Mary may have hoped for could ever be like this female Mary.

Does this sound like a faith “inspired by Satan himself”?

In another passage of the Qur’an, God sets forth none other than the Virgin Mary as the best example a believer can follow:

And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed of Our spirit into that [which was in her womb], and who accepted the truth of her Lord’s words—and [thus] of His revelations—and was one of the truly devout (66:12).

In fact, the Virgin Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Does this sound like a faith “inspired by Satan himself”?

The Qur’an has even more praise about her son, Jesus Christ.

The story of Jesus’s birth is told twice in the Qur’an (3:42-27 and 19:16-33). The Qur’an recounts the miracle of Jesus speaking in his infancy (3:46 and 19:29-33) and of Jesus healing the blind, curing lepers and raising the dead (5:110). The Qur’an also talks about how Jesus used to fashion birds out of clay and breathe life into them, by the permission of God (3:49). There may even be a reference to the Last Supper in the Qur’an as well (5:112-116).

Could this be from a faith that is “inspired by Satan himself”?

Jesus in the Qur’an is “honored in the world and the hereafter, and one of the intimates of God” (3:45). Jesus in the Qur’an is “in the ranks of the righteous” (6:85). Jesus in the Qur’an is described as a “word, from God, which God sent down to Mary [and] a spirit from Him” (4:171). The Qur’an even says that Jesus was strengthened with the “Holy Spirit” (2:253, 5:110), although classical commentators have interpreted “Holy Spirit” to mean the Angel Gabriel or divine inspiration.

Could all this praise for Jesus Christ be “inspired by Satan himself”?

No, Muslims do not believe that Jesus is divine or that he is part of the Godhood. Neither do Jews. But, how can this then mean that Islam is “inspired by Satan himself”?

If more people, especially some in the Christian community, would just learn more about Islam – from real, unbiased sources – they would see how much honor and praise Islam has for Christ and his mother. They would see how much more Islam and Christianity has in common, the disagreement about Jesus notwithstanding.

If more people knew the truth about Islam, they would see that Muslims are not “the enemy,” but rather brothers and sisters under the very same God who love Jesus and his mother so very much. If only more people knew the truth…