“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
On July 4th, 1776, these words were declared to be the foundation for a brand new country. This was the starting point of not only years of revolution, but also centuries of struggles; struggles that continue to form the country that we know today: the country of the United States of America.
As an American, I’ve grown up proud of my nationality, and have always believed in these ideals. As a Muslim, my faith does not hinder me from standing by these ideals, in fact Islam promotes them.
Islam teaches that obedience to the laws of one’s land is a religious duty. The Holy Quran commands Muslims to remain faithful to not only God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), but also the authority that they live under.
The Quran says: “O ye who believe! obey God, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you” (4:60).
Furthermore, according to the teachings of Islam, a country or government that guarantees religious freedom to followers of different faiths must be repaid with loyalty. The Prophet Muhammad stressed this point when he said:
“One who obeys his authority, obeys me. One who disobeys his authority, disobeys me.”
Respecting the law of the land that I live in is part of my faith.
With that being said, my faith also teaches me to stand up for equality and justice in one’s nation.
The unjust killing of George Floyd raised awareness to the discrimination and systematic oppresion that still exists within our country. Injustice like this stands affront to the values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
Just as the Decleration of Independence, Islam also promoted equality and justice amongst all races.
In his final sermon, the Holy Prophet of Islam said, “O People, your Lord is One, you are the progeny of the same father (who was created from dust). Hence it is not permissible for you to make any discrimination between high and low. Neither an Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab. A white person is not superior to a black person one, nor a black is superior to a white. The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous.”
As Muslims, we believe that we are all equal under the authority of God.
For this reason, it is important for all of us to recognize that we must all stand up in the face of injustices until our American ideals are truly met.
On Independence Day, we recognize that our founding fathers made enormous accomplishments to set the foundation for the United States that we know today. However, we must also celebrate the accomplishments of Black people and other minorities who suffered and struggled throughout the history of our nation, who helped to uplift the majority but were brought down themselves, and are not given the recognition they deserve.
As Americans, we can do our part this Independence Day by not only celebrating our independence as a nation, but also by learning about history and injustices, raising awareness and educating others on these things, and acting to create a better world.
1. Become Aware
The first step to making a change in society is to look within ourselves. Becoming more aware of issues in our society is not a change that comes overnight. Whether it’s following new social media accounts, watching documentaries, or reading new books, we can’t celebrate our nation without being completely aware of our nation’s faults.
In the Holy Quran, it says, “Say, ‘Travel in the earth, and see how He originated the creation. Then will God provide the latter creation.’ Surely, God has power over all things” (29:21).
Muslims are told to understand different races, cultures, religions, and ways of life. In other words, we will not be able to make a change without educating ourselves to reality.
We can educate ourselves in many ways, one way being through learning about historical black figures during America’s revolution. Some of these notable people include James Armistead Lafayette, a former slave and later spy during the Revolution Peter Salem, who fought alongside his former owners for our independence, and Crispus Attucks, whom many credit to be the first martyr of the Revolution.
2. Educate Others
The next step after creating positive change from within is spreading positive change to the people around us. Whether it might be ignorant friends, conservative parents, or social media followers, educating others is the next step to stop injustices in our world and to promote equality.
The Holy Quran also says, “O people of Islam, "You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in God"”(3:111). In Islam, it is commanded to serve those around us and to promote good in the world.
Acting to promote equality in the face of injustices, large or small, is something that we as Americans must learn to do in our daily lives. This can be done in many ways, whether it’s signing petitions, donating, writing to public officials- it is our responsibility as Americans to act, until all men are truly equal.
As a Muslim, I take inspiration from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who always acted to peacefully promote justice. He emphasized love, sympathy, and kindness towards all, and said, "One who is not grateful to mankind is not grateful to God."
This Independence Day
This Independence Day, we must recognize that we've come a long way, while remembering that we still have a long way to go. As a Muslim American, I take pride in my country, and I celebrate the many accomplishments we’ve made throughout our country’s history. Happy Independence Day!