Can a Good Muslim be a Good American?




Anyone with just a touch of understanding and a dash of common sense will know the answer to that question immediately.  The correct answer of course is “Hell yes!”  The only reason I ask the question in the first place is because it was posed to me in an e-mail I received recently.  Unfortunately, the meat of the e-mail was comprised of numerous reasons (from somebody’s “friend in Saudi Arabia”) why it would be impossible for any Muslim to be a good American.  And naturally, the concluding statements provided the caution that “we” should be suspicious of all Muslims and that the “religious war is bigger than we know”.


I think it’s the “understanding” part where we run into the most problems.  All many people know – about any subject you can think of – is what they’ve heard (or think they’ve heard) from their parents, teachers, friends and co-workers – and what they’ve heard or seen in the media.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time this “information” is incomplete, laced with misconceptions or biased for one reason or another.  This also means of course, that an individual’s understanding of an event or concept may be off the mark by at least a little bit.  Frequently, by a whole lot.


As a result, we humans often tend to develop skewed opinions, prejudices, biases, hatreds and fears.  As we cruise on through life, we feed our misperceptions with additional morsels of information that generally agree with our original opinions.  This of course, only tends to further solidify our views and beliefs.  We become imprisoned in our own minds with cell mates of our own creation.

(See “Scary Stuff” for additional info along this line…)


It doesn’t take much thought to understand how an uninformed mind could develop a mistrust and frequently a downright fear of Muslims.  It sees only a different society, a different group of people with a religion and customs it can’t relate to.  It hyperlinks the words “Muslim” and “Islam” to atrocities and terrorist acts not only against the U.S. but against their “own kind” in their own countries.  It brings up images of airplanes and the Twin Towers, ranting religious leaders, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, rifles firing in the air, smoke from explosions, injured men, women and children, bodies on the streets, crumbling buildings, masked militia, flag-draped coffins – and it  replays the sounds of gunfire, bombs, shouting, weeping and threatening words.  It activates the brain centers for fear, anger, disgust and loathing.  Its survival response team is on alert.  “We oughtta blow all them damned A-Rabs straight to hell!”


The uninformed mind will miss (or overlook) the history and beauty of the foundation beliefs of Islam.  It will not see the millions of absolutely great men and women – of all nationalities – who are devout followers of the teachings of Muhammad.  It will quickly glance past the page title whose contents lists all these people as “Fellow Human Beings”.  And it will completely miss the referenced annotation labeled simply as “Love”.


What a pity…




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