Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Muslims are Here to Stay: A Reply to Brian Fischer and the American Family Association

Muslims Are Here to Stay: A Reply to Brian Fischer and the American Family Association

I've heard some bizarre, offensive, and wacky things said about Muslims in America, but the recent comments from Brian Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, just about takes the cake: it seems as if Mr. Fischer is beneficent enough to feel that Muslims should be allowed to stay in America-but only if, as he says, we "renounce Islam, Allah, Mohammed, and the Koran (sic) so that "we can not only become good Christians, but true Americans".

Let me see if I have this right. Mr. Fischer thinks that Muslims must renounce our faith in order to become "good" Americans, although, last I heard, neither Christianity nor faith were requisite requirements for citizenship.

But it gets even deeper. Mr Fischer is quoted as saying that "the current objective of Muslim activists is to create a brand new Islamic state-meaning a state like New Jersey of Montana." Not California or Florida, Mr. Fischer? We're not demanding some sunshine and beachfront property as part of the deal?

It would be convenient to dismiss this latest rant as the product of a depraved, xenophobic mind. But that would be wrong, because a great deal of Evangelical Christians in America do listen to the pronouncements and opinions of the American Family Association, and presumably, their Director of Issues Analysis carries some clout in the formulation of the group's policies. So when a large Christian organization claims that Muslims must "convert" in order to be "allowed" to stay in America, Muslims-and anyone with a modicum of respect for religious freedom and pluralism-should wake up and take serious notice.

As a 16th-generation American citizen of African ancestry who accepted Islam in 1993, I might know a few things that Mr. Fischer and his friend seem not to be aware of: First, that Muslim are an authentic part of America, and that our roots in this nation go back even before the arrival of Muslim captives from Africa in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Second, that there is no "un-American" religion, and that Muslims have the legal and moral right to practice our religion freely, and without hindrance. And third, that peaceful religious co-existence and the mutual respect of religious differences are values that reflect the best of this society, and ones that are shared by a great majority of Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others who make up the diverse mosaic of the American religious landscape.

There is no litmus test for the proper religious identity of a "good" American. But there certainly is a litmus test for xenophobic ignorance and intolerance, and sadly, Brian Fischer and company seems to fail it miserably. And if Mr. Fischer is looking for religious fanatics who threaten domestic tranquility in this nation, he might want to start with the nearly 1,000 identified American militia and racial supremacist groups-made up mostly of white, Christian men-who defy the legitimate authority of the U.S. government, and in some cases, take up arms or plot to attack it.

So, if it's all the same to you, Mr. Fischer, I think that I'll stay right here in the land of my birth. After all, my ancestors-all 16 generations of them-contributed both slave labor and underpaid labor to build this society, and in some cases, they fought fought to defend the best of this nation. The the current population of more than eight million Muslims in America includes some of the most brilliant and dedicated men and women who carry on that tradition of service to our diverse and plural nation. And we don't need the permission of anyone to be here. We will be here, with full belief in the Creator of the universe (Allah, Most Exalted and Glorified), His messenger Muhammad, and the sacred, revealed text of the Holy Qur'an.

The American Family Association may not want Muslims to be here. But while some men plan against Muslims, God plans for us to not only be present in this nation, but to thrive, serve, and lead here as well.

And God Almighty is the best of planners.

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