Dear President Elect Trump,
I hope you and your family are well.
Congratulations on a stunning win in the recent American presidential elections. This entire election campaign, the election itself, and the living-breathing-on-going-aftermath, have all left me gripped and horrified, and I am certain I am not the only one. Having said that, I really do hope you know what you are doing, especially when it comes to us Muslims. The reason for my concern is best highlighted in the following quote:
A clash of civilizations is truly brewing. But it’s not Islam versus the West, as right-wing pundits want you to believe. Rather it’s the Trump administration versus Islam. And no one is happier about this than ISIS and Al Qaeda. – Dean Obeidallah, from an article entitled We Must Fight The Most Anti-Muslim Administration Ever
Whilst your acts of anti-Muslim vitriol are too numerous to mention, a few highlights to bring to your attention are: wanting to ban all Muslims from entering the USA, saying “Islam hates us” openly and repeatedly, falsely claiming thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the Twin Towers fell on 9-11, choosing blatantly anti-Muslim choices for your government, wanting to profile Muslims and the surveillance of mosques, and we’ll end on your desire to have a national Muslim registry so you know at all times where we pesky Muslims are and what we’re up to.
Despite this fear mongering, may I politely inform you that you will lose this clash. You will lose because you fail to realise that we Muslims are a hardy bunch. If you know anything about Islamic history then you will know we Muslims, like many other groups of people, like many other religions, we are survivors, resiliently so. We have been, we are now, and we will continue to be till God decides to pull down the eternal shutters on humanity.
Over the centuries we have endured many great hardships and heart-breaking insults, some of our own doing, some unjustly brought upon us. Know Mr President that over the centuries Islam has faced foes much tougher, meaner, scarier, and intelligent than your good self, enemies worthy of much more respect. Trust me, as sure as Brexit is Brexit, we will survive your Trumpocalypse. So let this blog post hopefully enlighten you a little of Islamic history, of the many things we Muslims have resiliently endured, as well as making it clear that we will survive…
We have survived the death of our beloved Prophet Muhammad in the year 632AD, which resulted in the schism between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims that still rages today.
We have survived some 9 crusades spanning 5 centuries, with the First Crusade arising after a call to arms by Pope Urban II in a sermon in 1095. It was in 1187 that the great Muslim warrior Saladin took back control of Jerusalem from 88 years of Crusader rule. I would urge you to compare how the Muslims behaved when they took over Jerusalem compared to when the Christians took control some 88 years earlier, and then tell me who the barbarians are.
We have survived the Italian poet Dante Alighieri and his early 14th century work Divine Comedy, considered by many to be the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. In this ‘masterpiece’ Dante insultingly places the Prophet Muhammad into the 8th circle of hell.
We have survived multiple invasions of Mongol hordes, most prominently the siege of Baghdad in 1258 led by the grandson of Genghis Khan. The siege saw the death of over 90,000 inhabitants and the destruction of the grand library of Baghdad, an event said to mark the end of the Islamic golden age.
We have survived the fall of Islamic empires such as the Rashidun and the Umayyad and the Abbasid and the Fatimid and the Ayyubid and the Mamluk and finally the Ottoman Caliphate, which was abolished in 1924. The political reverberations of this abolishment still ring through to the present.
We Muslims have more recently survived the publication of deliberately inflammatory cartoons insulting our beloved and respected Prophet, published in 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
We have survived the massacres at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, where in 1982 some 3,500 civilians, mainly Lebanese Shia Muslims, were murdered by Christian extremists.
We have also survived the Srebrenica massacre, where in 1995 more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Christians from the Serb army in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, described this mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.
We have survived the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians killed from bombs dropped from 10,000 feet in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
We have survived Salman Rushdie and his 1988 book The Satanic Verses, in which Rushdie deliberately insulted our Prophet, knowing full well what the reactions would be.
We have survived all the after effects that followed the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
We have endured the collective punishment of Palestinian families for several decades, a concept you have taken further by threatening to kill the families of terrorists (or people you think are terrorists).
We have survived Bush and Blair and Bolton and Cheney and Wolfowitz and all those other dove destroying hawks (having said that, at least Bush did go to a mosque a few days after 9-11, where he called Islam “good and peaceful”).
We have survived the death in 2016 of the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest sporting icon ever, and the ultimate response to anyone who (like yourself) questions whether Islam and western ideals are compatible or not.
We have survived the increased Islamophobia in the wake of 9-11 and 7-7 and every ISIS inspired terror attacks (which indiscriminately kill Muslims as well as non-Muslims).
WE WILL SURVIVE…
We Muslims will survive your hand-picked team of Muslim haters, people such as…
General Michael Flynn, your National Security Adviser, who has said “Islam is a political ideology…it definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion…It’s like cancer…a malignant cancer in this case…We are facing another ‘ism,’ just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.”
David Friedman, your ambassador to Israel, who wants to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. You do know this will be a slap in the face to all Palestinians and that it will kill the two state solution, thereby derailing the already flimsy peace process and causing further middle east turmoil?
Newt Gingrich, a key part of your transition team, who has said “Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.”
Dr Ben Carson, your Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who has said that a Muslim American should not be president unless that person agrees to “reject the tenets of Islam.”
Steve Bannon, your chief strategist, who let anti-Muslim rhetoric flourish during his time in charge at breitbart.com and whilst hosting a show on SiriusXM radio. Bannon also recently said “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals and the media) get it wrong, when they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.” Seriously Mr Trump? Darkness is good? Is it?
Peter King, New York’s Seaford Representative and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, who recently in a meeting with yourself encouraged you to launch a large-scale surveillance program of Muslims similar to those in New York after the 9-11 attacks (these were eventually scrapped by the NYPD after they were found to be likely illegal).
Allen West, an avid supporter of yours, who has said “We already have a Fifth Column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country. And that enemy represents something called Islam. And Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 A.D., and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.” West also put up a Facebook post suggesting that you have hired James ‘Mad dog’ Mattis as your Defence Secretary in order to “exterminate” Muslims.
We Muslims will survive the hypocrisy of watching Muslims being called ‘terrorists’ and non-Muslims being called ‘lone wolves’ whenever there is a mass shooting.
We will survive groups like ISIS, Al-Shabab, and Boko Haram, groups who tarnish Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. Just because they call themselves Islamic does not make it so.
We will survive the ongoing massacre of thousands of civilians in Syria, where Bashar Al-Assad feels emboldened in his endeavours thanks to the support he gets from Russia, who themselves are emboldened due to your election to the highest office in the land.
We will survive the legal turmoil that surrounds hijabs and niqabs, and whether a woman can or cannot wear such things. Whenever the talk of hijab arises I am reminded on the following quote from Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle who, when talking about France wanting to ban the hijab, said “France be like ‘I support free speech, free expression. Unless you wear a veil. I CAN’T SEE HER NOSE!! ARREST HER! I CAN’T SEE HER NOSE!!’”
We will survive the continued support America has for various despots and tyrants around the world, despite the recent comment from Obama that America should no longer interfere in foreign elections (presumably now because you guys know how it feels).
We will survive your proposed Muslim registry and all that entails, including having to walk down the street wearing a visible symbol to let others know we are Muslims.
We will survive all of this and more in the best way possible, and that is by following the advice of the Qur’an which tells us to bear our hardships with patience and prayer (Qur’an 2:153).
So where does all this leave us? It leaves us with nothing but hope.
We Muslims hope you read the various letters people have written to you, such as the letter signed by over 450 American Muslims who want you to know that “Muslims have been an integral part of the United States since its founding when the first slave ships arrived on its shores” and that “Americans who are Muslim contribute positively to every aspect of our society”.
We hope there are more people like Trevor Noah who said, in a recent episode of The Daily Show, that if there is a Muslim registry then all Americans should register as Muslim.
We hope that the brilliant American Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is right when he says “Many Trump supporters are decent, hard-working people.”
We hope the citizens of Silicon Valley follow through with their promise to not build your Muslim registry database.
We hope you realize that Muslims in America and all over the world are just as fearful of terrorists as you and other non-Muslims are.
We hope your exponentially increasing ignorance of Islam and all things Muslim is not the cause of your inevitable ruin.
We hope you heed the words of former Japanese American internment camp prisoner and Star Trek actor George Takei who, in an emotional essay for the Washington Post, said:
The Constitution and the government exist in large measure to protect against the excesses of democracies. This is particularly salient when, in an atmosphere of fear or mistrust, one group is singled out and vilified, as Japanese Americans were during World War II and as Muslim Americans are today. How terrible it is to contemplate, once again, that the government itself might once more be the very instrument of terror and division. That cannot happen again. We cannot allow it. – George Takei
We Muslims hope Russell Brand is right about people in service perhaps standing up to people in power like yourself:
As the degeneration of our governing institutions becomes more blatant, more and more of the brave men and women that have sworn to protect and serve the people are going to see that oath runs directly adverse to what they’re being paid to do. – Russell Brand, from his book Revolution
Despite the many on-going hardships, with boundless optimism we Muslims will continue to be unwavering in our commitment to our Prophet, to our holy book, to our own kind, and to those strangers who help us with their kindness. I personally will continue with my faith because, as Haroon Moghul said on Twitter “I am in love with a God I cannot see, a Prophet who has passed, a paradise I may never enter, and a faith I cannot deny.”
As you can now perhaps appreciate, Islam and Muslims is a complex and multi-layered ‘thing’. It is not quite as black and white as you have made it out to be. Therefore perhaps you will give more thought to your motives and actions. Here’s hoping.
God willing Mr President, we Muslims will win you over not with bullets as you so fearfully suspect, but instead with kindness. I leave you with the words of academic Karen Armstrong (whose books you should really read):
If we are to do better in the twenty-first Christian century, Western people must learn to understand the Muslims with whom they share the planet. They must learn to respect and appreciate their faith, their needs, their anger, and their aspirations. – Karen Armstrong, from her book Muhammad: A Biography Of The Prophet
Your brother in Islam
The Bearded One