Taken from the book American Muslim Agenda by Dr. Mike Ghouse
Chapter 16: Islamic Value No. 1
The American Amin
Trust is one of the twelve major Islamic values that contributes in building safe, secure and cohesive societies. Everything element in nature has built-in anomalies, perhaps the rejection rate is less than one percent. On the one hand there is that temptation and the other there is instruction not to go astray. This is uploaded onto our genes, when Adam was tempted by Lucifer to go after what sounds like pleasure.
The only reason you are comfortable driving on the road, going to the mall or grocery store for shopping or leaving your child in a daycare is the limited trust you have in fellow beings. You trust the other driver to follow the traffic rules and not drive in your face, you feel relatively securing going shopping, and feel at peace knowing your child is safe at the day care.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had envisioned that the ultimate achievement of civilization will be realized, when a single woman can go from Medina to Damascus and return back un-harmed and un-assaulted. We are not there yet and we have to work at it. Thanks to fellow Americans for pushing the misogynist among us to listen to a woman’s story of assault, it is for the first time in human history that a few creepy men among us, at least pretended to ‘trust’ her word. That is not enough. The reluctant men did not even want to investigate the truth. May God forgive them for their shortcomings and give hope to women that the change is coming. Those men will pay for it one form or the other. That is God’s justice.
Islam is a systematic religion, it is like building a home. First, you pour the foundation, then erect the walls and then comes the roof. Without a good foundation, all the lavish furnishings or fancy woodwork becomes meaningless if the house remains insecure and you cannot trust living in it.
Let me be clear, every religion serves the same purpose as described herein about Islam; to bring sanity and coherence to an individual and to live in peace with fellow humans and what surrounds you. In Islam, no human is superior to the other, no prophet is superior to the other, and hence, neither your belief is superior to the other, (Chapter: Civil Dialogue) all are beautiful systems that work for the believer in creating an abode of peace for all.
Amin is the foundational value of Islam.
Before he became a Muslim, that is subscribing to the belief in oneness of humanity, and that each individual is accountable for his or her actions in keeping the society run smoothly, Mr. Muhammad was called Amin. It was God’s plan or call it the law of nature to find healing from a wise man when things are not going well in the society.
For anyone to listen to you, you have to earn the ‘trust’ of the people. They believe you if you tell the truth, you are trustworthy, just, fair, kind, and around whom people feel safe. Becoming Amin is like pouring the foundation of you home. You cannot build your faith without being an Amin first. That is how Islam was set up. Prophet Muhammad was the Amin, even those who disagreed with him, did trust him to make the right decision for them in a given conflict.
If you live amidst people of different faiths, races, and ethnicities, and they don’t know you, you have not poured your foundation, but decorated yourselves with a beard or a burqa. What is the point? Your faith is laden with insecurities.
The other word for a Muslim is Citizen. You don’t become a good citizen at once, it is a process of understanding the purpose of your life, a life about fellow humans, other life forms and environment. It is figuring your role in the web of life. Becoming a good citizen requires you to continually protect and restore the equilibrium or the balance in the society. The purpose is to live freely and with the least conflicts. As you mature, you become a better citizen.
Let me repeat from the preface of this chapter, Islamic values. Quran offers guidance to set your goal posts, and that is to enable humans to dwell in an abode of peace, a conflict-free, hassle-free life. Quran 6:127, “Theirs shall be an abode of peace with their Sustainer; and He shall be near unto them in the result of what they have been doing.” And Quran 10:25, “And [know that] God invites [man] unto the abode of peace, and guides him that wills [to be guided] onto a straight way.”
The goal of a good Muslim or a good Citizen is to bring oneness to the given diversity and create a smooth sailing world. Embarrassingly, a few Muslim scholars went insane with it and did the opposite. They came with a dumb idea about Darul Harb and Darul Islam – Abode of conflicts and abode of peace.
Let me share the Native American quote that perfectly describes one’s role in society. Chief Seattle, a Native American said this correctly, “Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Whatever he does to the web, he does it to himself.”
If the whole family is together in whatever they do, without violating the rights of women, children, and weaker members, then all of them will feel secure and happy. They will have time to focus on uplifting the living standards rather than spending time tearing each other part or getting even. The same applies to the members of your community, place of worship, government and nations.
A Muslim is a good citizen, who cares for fellow humans and the environment, speaks up for justice for all and works on creating cohesive societies where each one of God’s creation lives freely without fear of the fellow humans.
We are one world, one humanity and one family, and we came out of the same first intelligent couple from the species who survived the furies of nature instead of getting washed away like the dinosaurs.
God says everything on this earth is created for you, it is a compact statement that contains the whole universe. Quran 55:10 -13 (Asad Translation), “And the earth has He spread out for all living beings, with fruit thereon, and palm trees with sheathed clusters [of dates], and grain growing tall on its stalks, and sweet-smelling plants. Which, then, of your Sustainer’s powers can you disavow?”
It is amazing how everything from the poison of a snake to the chemicals in a Jellyfish to a variety of Ayurvedic, Unani, Native American, Tribal and modern medicines have been derived from that ‘spread’ for all the living beings. There is a whole lot more we have to learn that are spread for us.
The Foundation of Islam is Amin.
As Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita that whenever a society loses its morality (adharma), he (meaning goodness) will emerge among them and restore the Dharma (righteousness) for the common good. Quran says, God loves all of his creation and has sent a peacemaker to every nation and tribe to restore, preserve and maintain the righteousness, so all of humanity can live freely and cohesively.
The most critical Sunnah (Prophet’s example) and the first Sunnah is to be the Amin; the trustworthy (81:21), the truth teller and someone who mitigates conflicts and nurtures goodwill for the peaceful coexistence of his or her neighbors, communities, tribes and nations.
That was the first example of Muhammad (PBUH) to be a good citizen, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that the first model, Prophet Muhammad had set up for one to follow? Mind you, he was called Amin by non-Muslims. Shouldn’t we start with the same first foot forward?
To be good citizens, whether, in Pakistan, America, Saudi Arabia, China or Indonesia, Brazil or India, we have to earn it by being a participant and a contributor towards to the wellbeing of the people around us. Your presence should relax others, and make them comfortable that you are a peacemaker and they can trust you for your fairness.
Muslims should be a Mercy to fellow beings (That is the walls of the house you are building). The second most important Sunna to follow is to be Rahmatul Aalameen (Mercy to mankind) (21:107). To be a Rahmat (Mercy) to fellow beings who are Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wicca, Natives, Zoroastrians and others, including Gays and Lesbians. We must be kind to them, no one should be afraid or apprehensive of Muslims. Should anyone be afraid of a Muslim? Do you think that Muslim is following the Prophet’s example?
The Pakistani, Iranian, Afghan and Saudi governments (not the people) have screwed up this sunnah badly. Asiya Bibi, a Christian lady, is harassed for taking the water from a well for her sick child, because a few Muslims wanted her to wait until they get their water first. So, Asiya Bibi may have said terrible things about Muslim and their Prophet, Muhammad. If Hazrat Umar were the Judge in Pakistan today, he would punish the Muslims for causing Asiya Bibi to say bad things, that is justice, and that is Islam. Iran has Pastor Nadarkhani languishing in Jails, and if Hazrat Ali were the boss in Iran, he would have said, “Salaam to you Pastor Nadarkhani, to you is your faith and to me is mine.” And Allah says there is no compulsion in faith and I welcome you as my brother. Both Umar and Ali believed in God and the prophet, and were secure in their faith (More in Chapter Fixing Sharia).
This is Islam’s foundation. The outward appearances of being a Muslim like a beard, Cap and Burqa (are the visible part of the home, the roof) does not make you a confident Muslim unless you are an Amin first.
All other Sunna emanates from the above two necessary steps, clearly and unambiguously corroborated by the Qur’an (81:21, 21:107). Please read three verses before, and three after a given sentence to get the fuller meaning of the words of Quran.
We cannot compromise on free speech, however much a few may abuse it, but free speech is an enduring value and the hallmark of civilization. I believe in free speech, and that is the only way societies will grow. As Muslims, we need to consider the gains Muslims have had that far outweigh the tensions given by a handful of loonies.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was committed to peaceful societies, and he knew one cannot build peace in a vacuum, one has to earn the trust of the community, one has to be truthful, reliable, and trustworthy and around whom others have to be safe and secure. So, he lived his life by example and earned the title of Amin from the Jewish, Christian and Pagan and other tribes. Shouldn’t we do the same?
The Muslims were blessed with this model of Amin, and we at the Center for Pluralism and www.WorldMuslimCongress.org are pleased to resurrect this model and encourage individuals to earn respect and trust of fellow Americans.
What does it take to be the AMIN?
Every Muslim should develop comfortable working relationships with all humanity without any prejudice, including Muslims of different denominations.
We have to understand Islam in its full glory. We recite that God is Rabbul Aalameen, (Creator of the Universe) and Prophet Muhammad is Rahmtul Aalameen, that is the blessing to the whole of humanity. That makes us a human for the goodness of all humans.
Simply put, a Muslim is someone who embraces the whole of humanity, someone who drops all racial, religious, ethnic, gender orientation and other barriers and respects the otherness of others.
If we place barriers between us and people from other faiths, races, ethnicities and other uniqueness, then there is something missing in us from becoming a full human, a Rahmat to the Aalameen (a blessing to the universe) in the footsteps of the Prophet, is it not?
Would you accept a partial God who favors others and not you or vice-versa? Would you take a God that makes a deal with you behind other’s backs or vice-versa? Would you limit Prophet’s mercy to part of the humanity or would you ‘allow’ it to embrace all humanity?
What holds us?
We have been misled by a few scholars from the middle ages that we cannot make friends with Jews, Christians, and Pagans. God did not say anything like that. It is time to fix our understanding of God. It is time to understand God’s words to embrace the whole of humanity, the Aalameen. God is about justice, balance, harmony, and kindness and does not take sides with any group, he does not stereotype any group that he has created, he is about dealing with each individual on an individual basis.
Quran 3:104 (Asad) “And that there might grow out of you a community [of people] who invite unto all that is good, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong: and it is they, they who shall attain to a happy state!
We are precisely committed to doing that.
The American Amin Award
Let’s encourage Muslims to build safe and secure communities for the common good of humanity
The American Amin Award is being instituted to recognize and encourage individuals who follow the Amin model of the prophet. There are two national awards, one is qualitative and the other is quantitative.
While the traditional Muslim organizations like ISNA, ICNA, MANA, MSA, MANA focus on Qiraat competitions (recitation of the Quran), the American Muslim Agenda group can focus on recognizing Muslims who follow the foundational value of Islam. Amin, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was called, i.e., an Individual who reaches out to every human regardless of his or her religion, race, region or other uniqueness for the common good of humanity.
The First ‘American Amin Award’ is qualitative in nature and goes to a Muslim who has made every effort to reach out to fellow Americans from different faiths, at least four or more to prevent ganging up together with the Abrahamic faiths. He or she has consistently served fellow humans without regard to the God-given uniqueness of the individual.
The Second ‘American Amin Award is quantitative, that is a Muslim knows at least one person from Atheist to Zoroastrians including the Native American and LGBTQ Communities. As we become Amins, we can increase that number.
God has created everything in balance and harmony and says the best ones among you are those who preserve harmony by knowing and removing the myths about each other.
God rewards for all the good we (all humanity, not just Muslims) do, and as a society, we must recognize and appreciate the people who make a difference in the communities we live in.
Prophet Muhammad ‘s daughter Fatima asked him once, “Dad, am I going to the Paradise straight?” The Prophet says, “No.” She inquires again, “but I am the daughter of the Prophet.” He says, “You have to earn it, deed by deed” and there is no automatic privilege in Islam. A good deed is something you do for the other without expecting anything in return. In another verse (5:69) he communicated that, whether you are a Jew, Christian or a Pagan, you need not worry, as long as you take care for fellow beings.
Trust is the glue that binds and ensures the smooth running of the societies, and Amin is the foundational value of Islam, the very first step in creating cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.
What does this mean for American Muslims? It merely means we have to become Amins of the society and have to be there for our neighbors in their crises, deaths, marriages, births and other celebrations and commemorations. Mind you, neighbors are neighbors. There are many verses in the Quran where God consistently talks about caring for fellow beings, his creation.
Here is the bottom line.
Since it is a premier award, we felt Rizwan Jaka, Chairman of the Adams Center is the right individual to begin the process and start the annual Awards. He is one of the sincerest guys with least bias towards fellow humans. I have watched him throughout 18 months, he does not fake welcomes to people of other faiths. His interfaith reach-out is genuine, and he is sincere. Congratulations Rizwan! I take my hats off for you. (http://centerforpluralism.com/american-amin-award/ ).
Next year, God willing subject to Muslims funding, it will be one of the most significant events of the year by and we hope to highlight 50 Muslims from 50 states but will recognize one based on his or her work and the public vote. It is a big responsibility, we are willing to handle.
If we do this, there is no reason why fellow American will not readjust their perceptions about Muslims.