As a Muslim American who helps people who want to come here to seek security and prosperity, today's inauguration events might make me feel bewildered and confused. When our identities are put to the test, we are forced to look back at ourselves and look for answers. Today's events are no surprise. We are expecting a barrage of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment. We're expecting calls to expel and exclude.
I've reiterated in previous khutbas about how these tests are from God. We cannot assume that we will not be tested simply because we say "we believe in God." No, that's why we'll be tested:
أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن يُتۡرَكُوٓاْ أَن يَقُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمۡ لَا يُفۡتَنُونَ (٢) وَلَقَدۡ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡۖ فَلَيَعۡلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُواْ وَلَيَعۡلَمَنَّ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبِينَ (٣
Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, We believe, and will not be tested with affliction? (2) Lo! We tested those who were before them. Thus Allah knoweth those who are sincere, and knoweth those who feign. (3)
So what is the right response? I rhetorically ask, do we put up walls around ourselves and weather the storm? Do we run away? Do we refuse to engage?
Maybe it's time we turn back to our Book, given to us as guidance, and see if there are any answers there. Let's look at the life of our Prophet Muhammad (S) and ask, what would he do? Is there not a model for us who want to build (and preserve) a country where everyone has a chance to make it?
And then I realized something that made me feel quite at peace, and ready for whatever.
Think back to the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. A young nation that had been growing in Madinah after the hijra six years earlier, that had put together an historic Constitution that brought together people who had no ties of blood, tribe, or even religion. One of the world's first Constitutions guaranteeing the rights of minorities, and simple but powerful declarations that refugees from Makkah were now the brothers and sisters of the natives in Madinah. A brand new pluralistic society sprang out of the oasis in the middle of a tribal Arabian desert. Now they yearned for their homeland, and to perform the ancient rites of pilgrimage around the Ka'bah.
And they marched back, in ihram, unarmed, desiring only to practice their faith freely. And then, they were stopped by, for lack of a better term, Customs & Border Protection. They were told there was a ban on Muslim immigration into Makkah. They were denied entry.
This could have been settled by the sword. It could have been settled by mass marches in the street. But on that day, diplomacy won out. A deal was struck. A treaty was written between the Prophet Muhammad (S) as one party representing the Muslim nation, and Suhayl ibn Amr, a spokesperson for the Quraysh tribe as the other party. Almost immediately wrangling over the language in the treaty began: the Prophet (S) titled himself as the Messenger of God, and Suhayl ibn Amr said no, your prophethood is not recognized. In the end, the final treaty referred to "Muhammad son of Abdullah" rather than "Muhammad the Messenger of God." More bad news: if a member of the Quraysh fled to join the Muslims, he would be sent back. But the reverse was not true: a Muslim who defected would be allowed to do so. Finally, the Muslims would have to return to Madinah without performing the pilgrimage, but would be allowed to the following year.
It sounded like a raw deal. But our Prophet (S) knew what he was buying: security. The treaty also called for a 10 year ceasefire. Each party would be free to enter into treaties and covenants without interference.
Our Prophet (S) had a long game. He had a lofty vision. He knew that given peace and security, Islam would thrive. And he used the time wisely. He send messages to rulers outside the Arabian peninsula. He focused on being a statesman and governor back in Madinah, allowing his community to continue to grow organically. Soon, prominent Quraysh members began accepting Islam, like Khalid ibn Waleed, or Amr ibn al-'Aas. And less than 2 years later, the Muslims returned to Makkah victorious, conquering it nearly bloodlessly and declared a safe haven for all no matter the atrocities that had been committed before.
Muhammad (S) was a rebel in the streets when necessary. He was a governor, statesman, military commander, and negotiator. He compromised strategically - but he knew what never to compromise on.
In his masnavi, Rumi relates the parable of the mule and the camel. How was it, the mule jealously asked the camel, that I keep tripping over my feet and you never do? The camel replied that the mule walked with his head down, and so could only see the ground immediately in front of his feet. The camel had a lofty vision, and looked ahead. He saw the pitfalls, bumps, and ditches beforehand and so had time to react to avoid them. Men of God are like the camel and can formulate a long game by having a lofty vision.
If you keep your eye on the truth, and believe that the truth will eventually conquer, you've got lofty vision. And this verse from Surah Israa' this morning gave me a profound sense of solace:
وَقُلۡ جَآءَ ٱلۡحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ ٱلۡبَـٰطِلُۚ إِنَّ ٱلۡبَـٰطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقً۬ا ٨١
And say: Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away. Lo! falsehood is ever bound to vanish.
So when you see people marching in the streets, don't tell them they're wasting their time. When you see our leaders meet with those in power who seem hellbent on our exclusion, don't tell them they're selling out. When you meet someone who stands in solidarity with you, embrace them even if you don't agree with everything they stand for. Find common ground wherever you can.
Our mandate is the same as it was yesterday, and it will be the same tomorrow. Nothing has changed. Dynasties that are built on deceit and divisiveness and destined to fall. At least we live in a country where the dynasty automatically changes, though I'm acutely aware of attempts to stack the deck.
Be diplomatic. Be strategic. Be firm. We have a roadmap - all we have to do is take the first step.