Who Is a Muslim?

15ibish-master675Mr. Trump presupposes that the government could create an immigration policy that discriminates against Muslims. But implementing such a policy would be completely impossible under the current circumstances.

How would consular or immigration officials determine who is, and is not, a Muslim? This is the most obvious question, but almost no one is asking it. Instead, the debate churns on as if this problem does not exist.

Would the definition of a Muslim be based on family heritage, personal beliefs or both? How would that be codified in practice? On what basis could the government categorize people as Muslims? We have no legal definition or database of religious beliefs, and the First Amendment would almost certainly render any such enforced categorization unconstitutional.

My own case is instructive. I am a citizen of the United States but born in a Muslim-majority country (Lebanon), and, on my father’s side, into a clearly Muslim family. Moreover, my first name, Hussein, is one of a few in Arabic that is practically exclusive to Muslims (Arab Christians and Jews are not given this name).

While my father was a devout Sunni Muslim, my mother remains a devout Anglican Christian. So, despite my name and place of birth being clear indicators of a “Muslim origin,” the reality is more complex.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

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