the Promise, but not the Promised Land
witnessed the all too common phenomenon of people who, when criticizing or
questioning our administration’s policies around the impending war with
, are labeled by others as America-haters or as unpatriotic.
The explanation offered in defense of their assessment is that if those
criticizing our nation’s policies really loved this country they would support
their government. They say that they
and claim that this love is demonstrated by their support of our government in
whatever it chooses to do.
occurred to me that this is the same logic that religious fundamentalists use in
support of their position. People
such as Osama bin Laden and others like him, claim that if Muslims really loved
Islam, they would support those people who “defended” it against its
“attackers.” Osama bin Laden and
his ilk claim to represent Islam just as these “defenders” in the
claims to represent
sides mistakenly believe that the other side is out to destroy their own way of
Both of these positions are based on an incomplete understanding of the
institutions that they claim to represent.
is based upon the Constitution and our
founding fathers’ view of how man should live.
Those who say that they know what
stands for, but don’t hold the
Constitution as their guiding force are misinformed and mistaken.
only exists when it is true to and
lives in accordance with the Constitution.
is a concept and a state of mind, not
only a piece of land.
is not the government.
Once we give up on the idea of
and exchange it for the idea of “my
country right or wrong” or “we are right because we are
” then all is lost.
We are not Americans because we live in
, we are Americans when we live as
same is true of Islam and religion in general.
For Muslims Islam is literally surrendering to God’s will and his
vision of how humans should live. The
Qur’an is the living constitution that explains how this is to be
accomplished. Islam is something
that man does for God, not the other way around.
When Islam becomes something that man has to defend against attack, then
somewhere the original intent and purpose has been lost and forgotten.
Muslims are not righteous because they are in the religion of
Islam, they are righteous only if they follow the religion of Islam.
you say you love
but don't love and honor the Constitution and the spirit embodied therein, then
you are like the religious fundamentalists who love and honor their religion but
don't love and honor God. This type
of belief is just another form of idol worship.
These idolaters are taking the symbol as the object of their worship
instead of the underlying essence and source from which it springs.
John the Baptist and Jesus taught on this subject.
John the Baptist challenged some of his fellow Jews who believed that
being the children of Abraham was sufficient for their salvation.
He confronted this belief and pointed out its inherent falsity.
So significant was this incorrect reliance that he offered the radical
symbolic ritual of baptism to bring them to the realization that their salvation
lay in repenting of their sins and turning to God.
Identification with and membership in a particular group was not the
basis for God’s judgment.
was preaching to a large crowd. When
told that his mother and brothers were asking for him, he challenged this
limited understanding of identification and relationship and taught that
whomsoever does the will of God is truly his mother and his brother.
Being members of his family, being connected to him in a most intimate
and direct way, was not as important as doing God’s will.
Qur’an challenges this idea of self-selected salvation when it asks, “Do men
think that they will be left alone on saying, ‘We believe’, and that they
will not be tested? We did test
those before them, and God will certainly know those who are true from those who
are false.” Even so many Muslims
are guilty of this same misunderstanding and are in even greater danger of
missing the mark. In the Qur’an
Muslims are also warned of the mistakes of their older brothers-in-religion who
preceded them. God reminds Muslims
with the same lesson by describing some of the Jews and Christians who believed
that because God had specially chosen to send them a unique Message and a unique
Messenger, membership in each community alone was sufficient to make them secure
and protected from making mistakes and committing sins.
God points out that if Muslims as a whole can learn not to make this same
mistake, that they will indeed be a great community having fully benefited from
the experience of their predecessors and more completely and effectively
implemented this teaching. Unfortunately,
many Muslims simply believe that because they can be a great
community that they automatically are the greatest community.
can be a great nation because it has the understanding to be a great
nation and because of what it has learned from the nations that preceded it both
in its creation and implementation.
is a great nation only when it lives up the promise of its founding
fathers and implements that wisdom and vision better than any of the previous
nations that have preceded it. Like
great countries in the world of which
is arguably the last, Islam is arguably the last great world religion.
When you come last in history, you do have the opportunity to be greater
than those who came before, but only if you learn from their successes and
failures and take full advantage of all the accumulated knowledge available.
If not, your loss is even greater. When
you think that you will succeed where others have failed because it is your
destiny to succeed, you have misunderstood God’s promise.
Islam is the last great world religion and
is the last great country in the world, Muslims in
have a special role to play on the world stage.
can practice their religion freely, unlike their co-religionists in many other
so-called Muslim countries. We also
have the vantage point of seeing and understanding better than any others, how
democracy and Islam are compatible and complementary and actually arise from the
same underlying principles. Muslims
have the unique challenge to show the entire world that Islam can work in and
contribute to the social good in the most powerful, modern and technologically
advanced democracy in the world. If
Muslims are going to reclaim the soul of Islam, it is going to happen first in
. If there is going to be an Islamic
reawakening, this is where it starts.
is the supreme example of unity in diversity for Muslims,
for the world. That is why so many
people make the pilgrimage to this country.
is the country where people of all religions, ethnic backgrounds, cultures and
nationalities must demonstrate, by working in unison, that we are a community
that improves the human condition and brings people closer together in harmony
and unity, instead of contributing to more death, destruction and division.
is the country that can show the rest of the world that the most diverse nation
on the planet with people who are different from one another in every
conceivable way can live together in mutual respect and admiration and have a
better society to show for its efforts. I
is the last great social experiment of history and we the people are its
subjects. I pray for the sake of all
human kind that we are up to the challenge.