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Love Thy Neighbor – A Point of Connection Between Faiths

I’m curious about how it is that someone who is Muslim can function within a non-Muslim country and be considered a patriot of that country, is that possible? Can those allegiances sit side by side? Can you be a Muslim and American?

Well, it was Ted Cruz who said:

“I’m a Christian first, then I’m an American.”

Imagine if a Muslim said that!

Peaceful Coexistence

There is absolutely nothing in our religion that teaches us that we can’t be good patriotic citizens in a non-Muslim land. If we tie the previous topic that I just mentioned with this idea of citizenship and residing peacefully with non-Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in an authentic narration:

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Don’t fight with the Abyssinians if they don’t fight with you.

This is a theme in the Quran that:

Fight against those who fight against you and don’t transgress. (2:190)

God doesn’t prohibit you from having a good relationship, from being friendly towards those that don’t fight you. So this idea of people that don’t fight you, you should always look for peace, you should look for in a situation where you can have peaceful relationships, and so on and so forth.

Not only that, but patriotism; this concept of being a good citizen wherever you are, the Muslims’ function as a minority in Abyssinia very well in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and they lived under a Christian majority and they were fine with it; they were able to function, they were able to be good citizens.

So there is nothing wrong, in fact it is fully in accordance with our faith that you not only are a Muslim, but you are a citizen of your country and you should love your country; you should be a person of great reformation and a person who brings great good.

Love Thy Neighbors – A Common Point

Islam stresses, just like Christianity and Judaism, the idea of being good to your neighbor, and loving your neighbor. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says that:

The Angel Gabriel came to me and he kept on telling me to serve my neighbor to the point that I thought that he would assign inheritance to him.

A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

There are many different traditions about being kind and loving neighbors.

And Muslims scholars even tried to define parameters like seven houses down… but the point is that Islam teaches us to be an outstanding citizen. You’re taught to love your neighbors, treat them well,  and help them. And it’s not a PR campaign, you’re not doing this to show that you’re a decent human being; you’re doing this because you’re a decent human being, you’re a Muslim because your faith teaches you this.

It reminds me of Jesus when someone asked the question:

“Who is my neighbor really?”

And then Jesus launches into this story that lifts up someone that no one would assume is the neighbor of the person questioning and offers that broader perspective.

That is another point of connection.

About Omar Suleiman
Imam Omar Suleiman is the President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and a professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University. He’s also the resident scholar of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square, a multi-faith alliance for peace and justice.