Al-Islam, commonly called “Islam,” is a universal religion for all of mankind; it is not only for Muslims. Therefore, Prophet Muhammed (prayers and peace be upon him), the Qur’an (Al-Islam’s holy book), even the Islamic religion is not just for the benefit of Muslims. Instead, all the forementioned are for the improvement and advancement of the universality of humanity.
Many Muslims believe the last words of revelation received by Prophet Muhammed from our Creator read, “This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Al-Islam as your religion” (Qur’an, chapter 5, verse 3).
The freedom of religion as established in the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — makes America the perfect soil for a rebirth of Al-Islam. America is an environment where Muslims are taking full advantage to study the Qur’an and the life modeled by Prophet Muhammed, studying these two key essentials of Al-Islam in an atmosphere that openly promotes freedom of thought, freedom of conscious and freedom of speech.
Sadly, in many “Islamic societies,” these freedoms don’t exist, at least not to the level we’re accustomed to in America. Some Muslim immigrants to America have stated that it wasn’t until migrating to America that they were able to practice Al-Islam conscientiously, beyond mere rituals.
Al-Islam during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed, particularly in Medina, is probably the first true expression of democracy in a community setting where multiple religions, ethnicities and cultures blended in unity while maintaining a diversity that recognized: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Al-Islam as your religion each distinct group and respected each individual.”
In 1943 it was a white American woman, Rose Wilder Lane, who noted the strong compatibility of America and Al-Islam in her book, “The Discovery of Freedom: Man’s Struggle Against Authority.” Lane wrote about three historical efforts to establish societies that were free to serve both their Creator and the good of mankind. She gives credit first to Prophet Abraham — called the “first attempt” — at successfully challenging paganism and authoritarianism. The second and third successful attempts to establish free societies, Lane notes, were achieved, respectfully, by Prophet Muhammed and the United States of America.
Due to the diligence of Muslim Americans, dating back even to the contributions of great men like the Honorable Timothy Drew Ali and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, slowly but surely Al-Islam has evolved to become one of the well-rooted religions in America. Yes, an American-based Islam, albeit in its infancy, is now part and parcel of our American thinking, conversations and a viable alternative as an open expression of faith.
A special beauty of Al-Islam in an open and free society is that Muslim Americans are not burdened by the social and cultural oppressive baggage that often accompanies Islam as practiced in many Islamic societies around the world. On a larger scale, America is the perfect soil for a rebirth of all of Islam as modeled by Prophet Muhammed in Medina.
Sadly, too many of our Muslim societies around the world go against the Qur’an in their treatment of women and the poor and true public democracy. They are in need of a rebirth, an “Islamic renaissance,” and the best Islamic community to model that Islamic rebirth is the evolving community of Muslims in the U.S., particularly African American Muslims who has savored the struggles of America’s Civil Rights Movement as well as the growing pains of reconciling one’s entire life with a new religion. This sacred combination — America’s free and open society — is the perfect opportunity for baptizing (submerging) our life energies so that we can rise up energized for the expressed purpose of building a better, more inclusive America that continues to respect freedom of choice and freedom of religion.
As Muslims around the world study the development of Al-Islam on our American soil, within an American context, yet fully Quranic, they will witness this American model of Al-Islam, a model that can revitalize their understanding and practice of Islam in their respective nations and communities.
Muslim American leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed shared that, “Islam and democracy place high value on the human being.” He added, “Islam is addressing that. Islam wants to bring the good news to the human family, especially, to the oppressed of the human family that, ‘This world’s leaders, the oppressors of your humanity, they have evaluated you and have estimated you to be something very mean, low and cheap in your reality; but G_d has not. G_d, who created you respects you, and He highly values, or He places a high value on you, on your real human worth.’”
Imam Mohammed concluded, “So, American democracy and Islam come into the world to challenge this idea in the power structure of the world that the human being, in his true human state, is not much to be respected.”
Al-Islam in America is in the best place, the perfect place, for giving a rebirth to the high human worth and value, a rebirth that shows how our Creator taught Prophet Muhammed how he intended life to be for all people.
May the Peace that only G_d (Allah) can give be with you!
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-753-3754.