Why I love my country
A sister called me today expressing concern about the new message she feels is now more often expressed by Muslim leaders: “we love America”. “How can you love America?” She asked. How can you turn a blind eye to all the injustices both inside and outside America being done by our government and our people? Look at our history. Look at the current reality. Look at the invasion of Iraq, supporting Israel at any cost, the prejudices against Muslims, American Indians, African Americans, Japanese Americans, and other minorities. Look at the social inequalities in our own society between rich and poor. Look at all the promiscuity. When you say “I love America” you are putting yourself in the same side of the right wingers who use this as a blank support for our military expansions overseas. How can you keep saying “I love America”? Is this some sort of a new PR campaign? Well, it is not working!
What was even more interesting is that this sister is actually a white American convert. You wouldn’t think of it, right?
I shared with the sister the following:
- Our love to our people, our love to our country, America, is not a blind love. It is the love that is advocated by the prophet PBUH: that causes us to correct the wrong, and to advocate for justice. Like a person who corrects his friend, out of love, not out of anger or envy. It is the love expressed in the hadith: support your brother whether wrong or right. If wrong, help him correct the wrong.
- A prophet sent to his people must care for, and love his people. Allah called each prophet a “brother” to his non-believing people. The prophet loved Mecca, although Mecca was turning away from him. He loved Mecca in the sense that he wanted the best for his people, and worked hard to help them be better. He was sad and crying when he was leaving Mecca. When an Angel came to him offering to destroy a neighboring tribe, he refused the offer, and prayed for their wellbeing and guidance. This is how we love America, our people.
- Most Muslims love their country of origin, although their government may be doing horrible things. An Egyptian has no more right to love his country more than I have a right to love mine.
- This love does not stop us from speaking out and acting against injustices that are happening around us. However, to be authentic to our faith, we cannot only speak out against injustices that are happening to Muslims. The prophet did not advocate for justice only for Muslims; he was sent to stand up for Justice and mercy for everyone. That means recognizing and speaking out against injustice when it happens by Muslims against others (terrorism, oppression, rights of nonMuslim minorities, etc..). It also means speaking out against injustices happening against other people who are not Muslims.
- Our recognition of the wrong in America does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to all the good that is in America. Like any other country, America is not perfect; but there is a lot of good in America. Some of this is good is well aligned with Islamic values: rights of minorities, freedom of religion, democracy(shura), respect for the rule of law, respect to others, fulfilling opportunities, willingness and desire to accept the truth, ability to change for the better, honesty, courage, hospitality, etc…
- In fact Islam recognized the good that the Meccans had, although they stood against the prophet in the beginning. There is often a section in Islamic history books that talks about why Allah chose Mecca to be a place to receive His message: generosity, strong belief, commitment, loyalty, strength, etc… Islam channeled this good in a better direction to become a more positive presence in the world. We must recognize the good that is in America, and not only look at the bad. To be fair, we should also use the same scale when we evaluate America as we would other countries. It is not fair to compare the worst of America with the best of Islamic history, or vice-versa.
In 2010, America’s ideals and principles are likely the closest that the human mind has come to divine guidance. This is in fact why Muslims often find it easier and more accommodating to practice our religion, and live our lives as Muslims in this beautiful land.
America also has a lot to learn and gain from Islam and Muslims. Islam offers a more complete knowledge of the creator who sent not just one, but many prophets. Islam is the same religion of Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). Islam offers an authentic, practical, preserved, and dynamic religion that can be rationally and practically applied in our daily life. Islam offers wholesome solutions to many problems in the family and society. Islam offers a comprehensive view that, when applied correctly, fosters progress and development at all level. Islam offers an authentic, final message from the Creator that has not been altered by humans. Islam offers a balance between the material and the spiritual that makes a human being whole and fills a deep void in humanity today.
Therefore, as a Muslim, I am genuinely proclaiming to my Lord that I love America. I love the people to whom you have sent me, oh Lord. I love them and I genuinely care for their well being. I hope that they become the best in the world, and that Islam touches their lives like nothing has touched them before. I am grateful that you have given me the opportunity to take your message to this beautiful land of promise and opportunity. I pray that America will be a role model in the world, and will live up to your ideals. I look forward to strengthen the good ideals that are part of America. I look forward to change the injustices that are in America. I only ask you to allow us as Muslims to live up to this huge responsibility, and to appreciate your gift and opportunity that you have given us.