Trump could learn a thing or two about freedom and democracy from Islam

TOPIX_Trump_Travel_Ban_Protest_48816.jpg-e3483From his hateful tweets and provocative rhetoric to his “new” executive order banning Muslims and refugees all over again, President Trump is driven by the idea that Islam is a threat to what makes us American.

Trump has declared that “Islam hates us.” “There is,” he says, “an unbelievable hatred.” Stephen K. Bannon, one of his chief advisers, claims that “we are in an outright war against … Islam” and doubts whether“Muslims that are shariah-adherent can actually be part of a society where you have the rule of law and … are a democratic republic.” He believes Islam is “much darker” than Nazism and seems to agree with HUD Secretary Ben Carson that “Islam is a religion of domination.”

But Trump and his administration could learn a thing or two about American values such as freedom and equality from the religion and people they so hate.

In Islam’s founding story, after Muhammad’s death, it was unclear who would lead the nascent Muslim community. Typically, succession disputes make for great drama. This one, however, was more C-SPAN than “Game of Thrones.” Rather than intrigue or bloodshed, the believers pursued democracy. Only by the people’s consent, they reckoned, could a ruler justly be named and a community freely governed. They chose Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s companions. His inauguration speech, according to one of Muhammad’s earliest biographers Ibn Ishaq, was brief (though we’re not sure how big the crowd was). It went something like this: “I’m no better than any of you. Only obey me if I do right. Otherwise, resist me. Loyalty means speaking truth. Flattery is treason. No human, but God alone is your lord.”

Abu Bakr sought to guard the people against domination by making himself accountable to them. The people obliged, securing their liberty. They could call him out at any time, and he had to listen. He even had to ask their permission for new clothes. His successor Umar carried the legacy forward. Publicly rebuked by a woman for overstepping the law, Umar responded: “That woman is right, and I am wrong! It seems that all people have deeper wisdom and insight than me.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

ISIL violence against Christians dishonors Islam’s earliest history

Women gather near flowers and candles at the city hall in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray to pay tribute to Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed in an attack on a church

Women gather near flowers and candles at the town hall in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, France, to pay tribute to French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed with a knife and another hostage seriously wounded in an attack on a church that was carried out by assailants linked to Islamic State, July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol – RTSJS29

. . . [I]n the northwest of France, two Muslim terrorists attacked a Catholic church, taking nuns hostage and killing an elderly priest, before they themselves were shot dead by police. It certainly fits the pattern of ISIL violence: vile, shocking, made for media, and—something we talk about less—standing in stark opposition to the very religious tradition they claim to represent.

 Violence against Christians isn’t just un-Islamic: It dishonors the earliest history of Islam.
The Prophet and the King

When he first started preaching Islam in the year 610, Muhammad attracted very few followers. One was his close friend, Abu Bakr, another was his young cousin, Ali, and the first Muslim was his wife, Khadija. By and large, the new faith attracted lowborn and the marginal people who belonged to minor tribes or, worse, had no tribal affiliation. When the predictable backlash began, these newly minted Muslims were especially vulnerable. Most had no patrons to protect them.

 Desperate to find his followers a safe haven, Muhammad dispatched the most vulnerable Muslims across the Red Sea to what is now Ethiopia, where he promised they would find refuge under a just and Christian king. He believed that because Islam and Christianity emerged out of the same Prophetic tradition, the king would show mercy. And he was correct.
  History has shown that Islam and Christianity can exist in harmony. The king’s act of accepting the Muslim refugees provoked a minor diplomatic incident among wary Meccan elites. The upper class feared that Islam and Christianity had much in common. Now Islam had a head of state as a potential patron, making it potentially even more influential. But despite the best attempts of the Meccan establishment, the Ethiopian king refused to hand over the refugees.

The resonance of this historical anecdote should not be lost on us today. Irrespective of the propaganda produced by a political ideology masquerading as a religion, history has shown that Islam and Christianity can exist in harmony. The Prophet Muhammad believed that fairness and decency weren’t the property of any one community, and several of the Prophet’s companions are still buried on Ethiopia’s Christian land.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QUARTZ 

What Prophet Muhammad’s covenants with Christians say about IS

أقباط-مصريون-في-مظاهرة-3Picture this. A Muslim leader reaches out to a group of Christians and invites them to his country. The Christians happily accept the invitation, while the Muslim leader prepares his people for their arrival. This is the first time the two communities have met in an official delegation. Matters of state, politics and religion are the topics of discussion. The two groups see eye-to-eye on most issues, but also agree to disagree on theological issues. If one phrase can best describe their meeting, it is “mutual respect”.

At the end of their talks, the Christians tell the Muslims, “It is time for us to pray”. The problem for the Christians is that there is no church nearby to worship. Instead of letting the Christians pray on the dirty street, the Muslim leader tells the Christians, “You are followers of the one true God, so please come pray inside my mosque. We are all brothers in humanity.” The Christians agree to use the “Islamic space” as their own. A bridge between these religious communities is made in the name of peace and goodwill.

This story is not some fairytale. It is a historical fact (I did, however, make-up quotes based on how the interaction might have played out). The Muslim leader of the story is Prophet Muhammad and the Christians are from Najran, or modern-day Yemen. The event happened in Medina in 631 AD. This moment in time represents one of the first examples of Muslim-Christian dialogue, but more importantly, one of the first acts of religious pluralism in Islamic history.

Now fast forward to 2016 in Damascus, Syria. The city – and much of the Middle East – has plunged into darkness. Pastor Edward Awabdeh leads a prayer in a Church despite threats on his life by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militant group. Pastor Awabdeh maintains the Christian faith, although many of his religion have fled a country which is now ranked the fifth most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian.

The militant group regularly persecutes religious minorities in the large swathes of Syrian territory it has taken, and its ultimate aim is to destroy all traces of Christianity in the Middle East.

But to put it bluntly, the daily abductions, murders, beheadings and destruction perpetrated by IS fanatics on the vulnerable Christians of the Middle East directly contradict Prophet Muhammad’s vision of an Islamic state.

-

Muslim pilgrims walk outside the Prophet Mohammed Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Medina on December 13, 2008. Statistics put the total number of pilgrims who attended this year’s annual hajj pilgrimage last week at more than 2.4 million, almost 1.73 million from abroad and 679,000 from within the kingdom, according to the official SPA news agency. AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

FULL ARTICLE FROM MIDDLE EAST EYE

Nancy Pelosi Invokes Prophet Muhammad at National Prayer Breakfast, Compares Islam and Christianity

12102015_obama-kennedy-center-hon-268201_c0-211-5010-3129_s400x233House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., invoked the Islamic prophet Muhammad at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., and compared aspects of the Christian and Islamic faiths.

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, was one of the number of political and faith leaders to speak at the annual prayer breakfast, and mentioned in her speech some of the similarities she sees between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

“In the Gospel of John we see the golden rule that stands at the heart of the gospel, and as we hear these words from John 13, 15, and 17, we know that this message, this command of love is not confined to the New Testament,” Pelosi said, according to The Daily Caller.

“The same message stands at the center of the Torah and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad too. In the Torah it says, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and from Muhammad, ‘none of you has faith until he loves for his neighbor or brother what he loves for himself.'”

Comparisons between Islam and Christianity have stirred notable controversy in evangelical circles in recent months, particularly with the ongoing case of a Wheaton College professor who is facing termination for suggesting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

ISIS Violates The Consensus Of Mainstream Islam By Persecuting Christians

0,,17730405_404,00In central Syria, Daesh (“ISIS”) recently destroyed an ancient monastery and a church. This, after abducting several Christians, in what has become the group’s long scourge on humanity. While global Muslim leaders have categorically condemned Daesh, Daesh continues to insist their acts are permitted — even commanded — by Islam.

But if, as Daesh claims, Islam obliges Muslims to raze monasteries, kidnap Christians and rape women, then several questions arise.

For example, how then did an ancient Christian monastery survive this long? Built in 432, or roughly 180 years before Islam’s advent, this monastery withstood nearly 1,500 years of Muslim rule in peace.

Likewise, how did Syria’s 2.3 million Christians, or 10 percent of the Syrian population, survive all these centuries? For centuries, Muhammad and Muslims have practiced a religion foreign to the one Daesh practices.

Contrary to Daesh’s ignorance and propaganda, Prophet Muhammad sought to protect the rights of Christians.

To begin with, the Qur’an 3:114 praises Christians and refers to them as “the People of the Book,” afforded immense respect. The Qur’an 2:63 additionally acknowledges that Christians can and will attain divine reward. Moreover, the Qur’an 22:40-41 explicitly forbids destroying any house of worship, including churches.

Irrespective of what religion people follow, the Qur’an 60:9 commands Muslims to be kind and equitable to all those who do not persecute them and drive them out of their homes on account of their faith. Likewise, the Qur’an 8:61-63 forbids fighting anyone, regardless of faith, who “inclines towards peace.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Christians at Phoenix protest stand between Muslims and anti-Islam crowd

love-your-neighborPHOENIX—What was billed as both an anti-Islam and pro-free speech rally in Phoenix turned into a peaceful, but heated, religious debate Friday night.

The first evening of the hottest weekend so far this summer kicked off with a group of several hundred motorcyclists rallying outside the Islamic Community Center in central Phoenix.  The protest was dubbed the “Freedom of Speech Rally Round 2,” copy-catting a similar event in Texas earlier in May organized by activist Pamela Gellar, who encouraged attendees to draw cartoons of Mohammed in an affront to the Islamic commandment not to make images of their prophet. Two gunmen opened fire outside of that event in Garland, Texas, and were killed by police.  They were suspected followers of radical Islam. One had been investigated earlier for reportedly trying to join a militant group in Somalia.

Those gunmen were from Phoenix and were believed to have worshipped at the Islamic Community Center. While the tension Friday electrified the crowd, it never erupted into physical violence. Still, attendees were rattled, and loud noises—motorcycles revving or the pounding of several news choppers overhead—seemed to make everyone jump.

Countering the motorcyclists was an equally large group of anti-protest-protesters, many of them evangelical Christians from a handful of nearby churches. Adam Estle, executive director for the nonprofit organization Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, organized the “Love Your Neighbor” rally to stand between the motorcyclists and the mosque.

“These are my neighbors,” said Estle, who also lives in Phoenix and attends Orangewood Nazarene Church, next door to the mosque. He said when he heard about the rally, he contacted his friend, Usama Shami, who heads the mosque. Shami asked Estle if he could organize a group of people to show love and support for the Muslim community that worships there.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WORLD MAGAZINE 

Why I, a Christian mother of a Muslim daughter, fear our nation’s Islamophobia

1101100830_400People stare as we tell our daughter Alana goodbye at the John Wayne Airport in California. Alana is a Muslim, and her head scarf turns heads every time.

Alana laughs to lighten the moment. “Oh, I hate airports,” she whispers to me. “As soon as I get on a plane, I know what people are saying, “Oh, God. A Muslim!”

The day before in the Nashville Airport, she got a full patdown by a TSA agent who asked to check her makeup bag, then said it tested positive for explosives.

“Explosives?” she asked.

Her old tote bag, an Eddie Bauer standby, was filled with a haul of new MAC cosmetics she’d recently purchased. Lipstick alert?

“He even swabbed my hands,” Alana says, still trying to laugh.

But her eyes look wounded, so I hurt for her and for the 1 billion-plus Muslims in the world who do not carry explosives in their makeup bags and never will.

I ache for the rest of us as our nation has become infatuated by fear of Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST