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Patriotic American: Does Patriotism Contradict Islam?

Questioner

Clark

Reply Date

May 28, 2019

Question

Does nationalism conflict with Islam? I am a sincere and devoted American, but I am so much interested in Islam. But, all Muslims hate America... So if I convert, do I have to hate my own country and my own people?

Consultant

Answer


patriotism good

Salam (Peace) Dear Clark,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I’m really proud of your sincerity and devotion to America on the one hand, and your interest in Islam on the other. Yet, I disagree with your generalization in saying that “all Muslims hate America.”

Objectively speaking, it is wrong to generalize and use the modifier ‘all’. For example, I’m a Muslim and I love sincere and devoted Americans like you.

Moreover, there are many Muslims in America who are native-born. Surely they don’t all hate their own country?

Another key point is the difference between nationalism  and patriotism. One is totally welcome and encouraged in Islam while the other is unacceptable from any Muslim.

Patriotism Vs. Nationalism

I think according to the logic of most humans, people love their governments if those governments are elected by those people.  So long as they work for the welfare and prosperity of their citizens, most people support their government.

It is natural that a person loves his fellow citizens and loves his country. One is definitely considered ungrateful and traitorous if he is not loyal to his country.

When we are proud to be members of our nation, our people, and our culture, this is patriotism, and this is a beautiful, noble feeling. It causes us to do our best to protect and defend those we love and the home we know.

Things become bad when we believe our culture is superior to all others. Nationalism is like patriotism on steroids. A nationalist is convinced that anyone who is not from his country originally is inferior to a natural-born citizen.

Nationalism is anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-compassion. It goes without saying that being nationalistic is definitely not ok in Islam.

Love for This World

Moving on, a man’s heart clings to his own kith and kin—parents, children, siblings, spouses, and other relatives—as well as wealth and prosperity. However, if these are a hindrance in Allah’s cause, we have to choose which we love most.

A devoted Muslim should love Allah, even if it involves the sacrifice of all else. The love for Allah is simply the love for the source of life. It is He Who brought us to this life out of nowhere and it is He Who provides for us.

If we love our earthly ties and comforts, profits and pleasures more than we love Allah, we are the ones who would be losing. Allah’s purpose of creation will be accomplished – with or without us. But, our failure to respond to His will simply leave us bereft of grace and guidance.

Allegiance to Allah Above All

As for Islam, love is defined in a different manner. Allah says:

Say: if it be that your parents, your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you delight—are dearer to you than Allah or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about his decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious. (Quran 9:24)

In fact, this verse sums up all the types of love. These are the first eight, which represent the love of this worldly life and the last three representing the love of the Hereafter.

The verse affirms that there is no problem to love the first eight, but those eight should not precede the last three.

Thus, Allah must be the first love in the heart of a true Muslim, followed by love for His messenger.

True Patriotism Sometimes Demands Criticism of Government

I think Muslims and non-Muslims, alike, hate the American government’s policies and its double-standards in dealing with other countries. The American government wants to attack Iraq, claiming that it may have mass destructive weapons and never does the same to Israel, India and Korea, which surely have such weapons.

The American government accuses the armless civilians of Palestine of being terrorists, whereas it describes Ariel Sharon as a man of peace.

President Theodore Roosevelt, speaking on patriotism, said:

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country […] It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.

I am sure that many Americans disagree with their government and such is the case with many governments all over the world. Therefore, Muslims and non-Muslims of good conscience hate the acts and policies of the American government, but not the people.

Loving Your Country and Living Islam

There is no contradiction between love for your country and living your Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was heartbroken when he was obliged to leave Makkah to save his life and that of his fellow Muslims. It was his beloved homeland and as he left Makkah, he cried out to her:

Oh, I swear by God that you are the dearest piece of land to my heart and had not your people forced me out of you, I would have never left you. (Al-Albani)

Thank you Clark and please keep in touch.

Salam


Satisfy your curiosity and check out these other helpful links:

Islam and Service to One’s Country: Any Conflict?

 

Is Islam a Religion, Culture, Nationality or Ethnicity?

 

Obama Praises Patriotic American Muslim Soldiers




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