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Navigating and Reaffirming Faith During the 2020 US Elections

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Modern history has not been kind to the Ummah. But we have seen over the years the congregating of kindred souls, remembering Allah and His Prophet. We found in all corners of this world, community building and organizing against manifest and cryptic tyrants. The discourse must transcend Trump vs Biden. It should answer and reaffirm the question of honest faith and humanity despite the upcoming election results.

As we come to the closing of a formidable election cycle, I am reminded of the last four years. In the last election, American Muslims witnessed the country elect a leader whose racial animus was alarmingly conspicuous.

The past four years are marked with aspersions against minorities, politicians, and truly anyone or groups that dared to contend with him. He used his physical stage and virtual platform to utter illimitable unfounded charges against Muslim congresswomen such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib. Within months of his inauguration, he imposed a Muslim travel ban, vowed to erect a wall at the Mexican border, and repeatedly supported politicians with a well-documented history of Islamophobia, and xenophobia. When requested by his constituents to denounce white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Khan and the Proud Boys, he either did so with delay or declined to do so. More currently, we feel the ramifications of his denial and derisions of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of many. His term has been turbulent, to say the least. 

We are just days away from the next election. The time it seems has had a hazy and chimerical power over me. When Donald Trump’s victory was declared four years ago, I was seized with an emphatic uncertainty. Yet, we have persevered and are upon another tipping point in history.

For American Muslims, the previous election had us overwrought. The discourse was rife with unpropitious phrases such as “the Muslim problem.” At the time, navigating faith and community in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election was complex in a more pronounced manner. Although the Trump Administration’s Islamophobia did not dissipate, now must we maneuver our faith and roles in American society more intricately than before. This year we consider the dissidence that centers on civil unrest, and disease, and healthcare, as well as, ongoing issues of Islamophobia. We must confront ourselves as Muslims, as well as, contributing members of a global community as we approach this election. 

Remember that anti-Muslim sentiment, healthcare, racial inequality, and wealth inequality did not begin with Trump. Rather they insidiously formed the base of American society and government. This administration merely amplified the parasitical backbone of capitalist America. Such egregious policies that serve the rich and obscure all others could not have been implemented in a matter of four years.

The mere fact that Trump’s predecessor was an African American should not disillusion anyone. One only needs to take a closer look at modern American history. For example, American politicians have long maintained ties with the apartheid state of Israel, and a deep alliance with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi before Trump’s appointment – not to mention, it’s nefarious history of marginalizing and systemically othering the African American community.

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Many of us have falsely chosen to narrow the lens and expect to witness justice in a Biden administration. However, a Biden-Harris Administration will not offer that. Perhaps an overall, but a transient respite from the chaos of Trump’s reign may imbue the atmosphere, but justice and an honest leadership will not prevail. Only the struggle will be a more civilized one. Biden may have been the vice president to Obama. Harris may have a Black and South Asian background. While these are facts, they are also mere embellishments that are cited to dim the truth of the policies they have and continue to support. They are not the anti-Islamophobia candidates we seek. They are scarcely the torchbearers of the egalitarian society we need. 

But before we investigate governmental policies and the convoluted network of forces that conspire to uphold capitalist ideologies, introspection as spiritual beings are necessary. I have read in many texts that what separates and exemplifies Islam is that it provides the framework for the individual believer and a community as a whole. Time and time again, we are reminded that our faith is not independent of our actions towards humanity. How often have we cited ahadith such as, “love for your brother what you love for yourself,” or quranic ayahs that invoke the importance of justice?

The question is not one of idleness or inaction. Rather, it is one that strikes the very core of our faith in Allah SWT, in the words of His Messenger and this religion. Silence and prayer are a futile combination. Anti-Muslim sentiments are not the only issues we should be focused on. We have to dismantle the entire structure from which such antagonism is born. This includes expressing outrage when life-sustaining medicine puts laymen in life-long debt or when authoritarianism continues to permeate our police forces. This includes evoking indignation when systemic racism renders citizens uninsured, homeless, and desperate. 

While we must vote against Trump, let this serve as a reminder that electing a leader that speaks elegantly and laconically does not constitute peace nor victory. It is but a mere cosmetic modification to the current system. As Muslims, we can not allow frustration to stagnate us at this impasse. Not only does our faith nurture our heart and soul, it sustains human connection and empathy. Just a moment of pause amidst the tumult, and we will be taken back to the teachings of our beloved Prophet PBUH.

Modern history has not been kind to the Ummah. But we have seen over the years the congregating of kindred souls, remembering Allah and His Prophet. We found in all corners of this world, community building and organizing against manifest and cryptic tyrants. The discourse must transcend Trump vs Biden. It should answer and reaffirm the question of honest faith and humanity despite the upcoming election results.

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