The American Muslim community feels conflicted about its relationship with America.
On one hand, America has given us religious freedom, political freedom, and economic opportunity. America has also helped free Muslims in places like Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosova. (Some would say that America also helped free Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.)
On the other hand, America (a secular, non-Muslim state) has invaded various Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) resulting in instability and the deaths of thousands of Muslim civilians; supported dictatorships in various Muslim countries; and supported people of other faiths over Muslims in various conflicts around the world. In addition, America has also cracked down on various American Muslim organizations and individuals since 9/11.
In light of all this, what sort of relationship should American Muslims have with America? Should American Muslims care about America, and be committed to the security and prosperity of America?
Arguments By Those Who Believe American Muslims Should Be Loyal To America
1. By virtue of living in the U.S., and benefiting from freedom and opportunity in the U.S., American-born Muslims have given an implicit pledge to be loyal to America; naturalized American citizens have given an explicit pledge of loyalty by taking an Oath of Allegiance. Believers “faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants.” (23:8; 70:32)
2. Being loyal to America does not require American Muslims to be less loyal to God. Neither God nor America demand exclusive loyalty. God requires that we worship none but Him, but He does not prohibit loyalty to others outside the sphere of worship. America requires that we be loyal to the nation, but America does not prohibit loyalty to God.
3. There is no conflict for American Muslims between being loyal to and caring for the worldwide Muslim community, and being loyal to and caring for our American neighbors of other faiths. Caring for our neighbors is an Islamic obligation. God says, “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess…” (4:36)
4. After Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) left Mecca and moved to Medina, some Muslims remained behind in Mecca. Even though the Prophet and the Muslims of Medina were at war with Mecca, there is no evidence that the Prophet asked Muslims in Mecca to be disloyal to the leaders of Mecca, or to betray Mecca.
5. You can be both a good Muslim and a good American, because Islam and America are based on the same values, like justice and compassion.
6. Being loyal to America doesn’t mean blindly supporting current American policies or the current American administration. Being loyal to America means working towards domestic and foreign policies that American Muslims believe are in America’s best interests, and opposing policies that American Muslims believe cause harm to America.
7. America is dar-ul-ahd (the land of treaty), because America has diplomatic relations with most countries in the Muslim world. America is dar-ul-shahada (the land of testimony), dar-ul-amn (the land of safety), and dar-ul-dawa (the land of invitation), because American Muslims have the freedom to practice and preach Islam. America is not dar-ul-harb (the land of war), because Muslims are free to practice and preach their faith here.
Arguments By Those Who Believe American Muslims Should Not Be Loyal To America
1. American Muslims have no special relationship with (or obligation to) America. American-born Muslims have given no “implicit pledge” to be loyal to America. The “Oath of Allegiance” taken by naturalized American citizens is just a formality to gain citizenship; most people who take the “Oath of Allegiance” don’t even remember the words they recited. A Muslim’s true covenant (or pledge) is with God. (2:27)
2. American Muslims can be loyal to both God and country, but only if that country is an Islamic state, governed by Islamic law (Shariah), not a country that rejects God’s law and follows man-made laws.
3. American Muslims must be loyal to the worldwide Muslim community, not to Americans of other faiths who have rejected Islam and repeatedly elected political leaders who have caused great suffering in the Muslim world. God says, “O ye who believe! Take not my enemies and yours as friends (or protectors), offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Prophet and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in Allah your Lord!” (60:1)
4. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed a Muslim, Naim bin Masud, to place his loyalty to the Muslim community over his loyalty to his tribe. The tribe of Banu Ghatafan and its allies besieged the Muslims of Medina (in what came to be known as the Battle of the Trench). During that siege, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) learned that Naim, a prominent member of Banu Ghatafan, had secretly become Muslim. The Prophet asked Naim to feed false information to his tribe, Banu Ghatafan, and its allies. Naim agreed. Naim’s false information helped create distrust and break the alliance between Banu Ghatafan and its allies, contributing to their failure to defeat the Muslims.
5. America and Islam have contradictory agendas and priorities, and they have different visions for the world. American Muslims cannot simultaneously support both sets of agendas, priorities, and visions.
6. American Muslims who loyally pay their taxes are funding whatever evil the American government does.
7. America is dar-ul-harb (the land of war), because America is at war with Muslims in various countries, oppresses Muslims in various countries (including in America), and seeks to dominate the Muslim world. America is dar-ul-kufr (the land of disbelief), because America has rejected Islam and actively opposes the establishment of a Caliphate in the Muslim world.
Kamran Memon is the founder of Muslims For A Safe America, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Chicago. Muslims For A Safe America encourages honest and informed discussion about how to make Muslims and America safer. Kamran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.