Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States of America. Many are celebrating the symbolism of America having a White male conservative as the next Commander in Chief as well as breathing a sigh of relief that Hillary Clinton will not be in the Oval Office in 2017. Others, however, are upset that Trump won, believing that Trump will usher in a historic low which America has never seen. Within this framework coming off of the most divisive presidential election cycle since the turbulent year of 1968, the socio-political divide in America probably will not mend anytime soon.
Given that we truly do not know where America is heading though there are forecasts which can be made, I offer three pieces of advice for American Muslims.
Tie Your Camel and Trust in Allah
A man asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah! Should I tie her [a she-camel] up and trust [in Allah] or let her stay loose and trust [in Allah]. “ The Prophet (prayers & peace be upon him and his family) replied, “Tie her up, and trust [in Allah].” (at-Tirmidhi)
Given that hate crimes against Muslims have been at their highest levels in America in the past year, we need to be vigilant in taking proper safety precautions for ourselves and our Islamic and cultural institutions. The election results will most likely embolden some Trump supporters, which include white supremacists, to be confrontational with people of color. This should not be underestimated especially given the plot broken up by law enforcement last month of white nationalists who intended on attacking Somali American Muslims in Kansas directly after the election. Those who are visibly Muslim should be extra vigilant in the upcoming weeks, being more aware of their surroundings, especially in areas which contain well-known pockets of Muslims as well as those who reside in semi-rural and rural areas.
Tying our camels and trusting in Allah (Mighty & Sublime) are actions that should be done in unison, not an either-or proposition. Intelligence dictates that we know the era in which we live, take appropriate protective measures accordingly, and place our trust in Allah (Mighty & Sublime) which includes praying for His protection.
Remember That Salvation is Not Through the Oval Office
Though this may seem like common sense, we must remember that the salvation for America will not come from any one person in the Oval Office. Just as Clinton is vested in the economic and military-industrial complex systems which are part of the agenda of the elite among the 1% in our country to exploit the masses, Trump too has and most likely will align with the same 1% that he is a part of. Though he has never held public office, we also know of his storied past of being involved in housing discrimination against African Americans to his more xenophobic and racist statements and proposed policies. Trump being president does not bide well but should not make us feel as if the sky is falling upon us.
With that being said, the same wait and see approach definitely cannot be taken with Trump as it was taken with President Barack Obama when he was sworn in back in 2009. A mistake was made by many people of color and the activist community alike which treated Obama like he was the Mahdi of America. The amount of cushion allotted to Obama, in his initial term in particular, opened the door for a record amount of deportations of undocumented immigrants which split up hundreds of thousands of families, an increased drone strike policy which extra-judicially killed many civilians and laid the foundation for the controversial Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program which treats American Muslims as a suspect community. The need for American Muslims to join other Americans of goodwill to place public pressure on Trump to move America towards more just federal policies, especially under his power of executive orders, should begin the day that he is sworn into office and should be seen as a non-option.
Organize For Political Alternatives Now
The primary weakness of the 3rd parties in America isn’t simply the lack of big money or the Democrat – Republican duopoly which works to keep other parties from getting public exposure. The primary weakness is the deficit of organizing around them outside of election cycles. Instead of Muslims proclaiming that the system is broken or stating that we should not vote for a Democrat like Clinton nor a Republican like Trump in 2020, it would be more productive to begin organizing now around a 3rd party for the next local, state and federal elections.
In situations where we have to weigh if one presidential candidate in a major party will potentially do far more harm than good (in domestic policy, not just foreign) in comparison to another in the other major party, it is unrealistic to get Americans, be they Muslims or persons of other faiths, to back 3rd party candidates without a ground game. Calling people to vote for 3rd party candidates less than a year before a national election, candidates which most Americans have never heard of, is an unrealistic expectation. The work that is involved to organize with these parties is a process that requires perseverance and involves more than just tweets and Facebook posts months before an election proclaiming how misguided persons are who vote for the Democrat candidate over the Republican or the other way around.
At the end of the day, Allah (Mighty & Sublime) is in charge, and He is the Best of Protectors. The United States of America has seen times much more tense than this. Presidents have overseen chattel slavery and ethnic cleansing of Native Americans; Trump being elected is not a horrendous new low for our country. As a faith community, American Muslims need to be a people of faith, moral courage, vision and prolonged commitment to doing what is necessary to bring positive change in America — including in the political realm — if we wish to see our country progress as well as to protect ourselves and our vital interests.
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