Donald Trump and the Qur’an
I seem to have lost a few friends this week over my opposition to proposed measures to ban all Muslims from the United States. Some authors might hesitate to speak out against demagogues like the erstwhile Donald Trump in fear of losing potential readers, but I am by very definition a minister to all—as in one who tries to reach those no matter their diverse and disparate faith traditions or spiritual practices. After all, the concept of interfaith hinges on tolerance, acceptance, and a profound wish to reach across rather than to erect barriers that would separate peoples from all around this good earth of ours.
When I shared this post quoting the boxer Muhammad Ali on Facebook, I said:
“The true teachings of Muhammad are ones of love and beauty. Muhammad was a prophet, a true servant of the Lord, who spent most of his life writing poetry (speaking it actually, not writing, for he didn’t write). He was called to serve at a relatively old age, and he got started slowly. He mostly took care of the poor, the widows, the orphans–he helped people and he taught simple principles, like pray with meaning and conviction, take care of others, love one another, feed the hungry, know that there is one God and this God is great . . . some of Muhammad’s teachings were perverted and twisted by later scribes–just as some of Jesus’ teachings have been twisted by later teachers. After all, the Christian church has led Inquisitions, started bloody “Holy” Wars, and it has also been misused by horrific organizations like the KKK to justify evil acts.
“Most Muslims, like most Christians, are good souls. Some Muslims practice terrorism. So too do some Christians. The true enemy lies not on some foreign shore but within all of us–for the true enemy is the human heart, which is capable of good and evil. The vast majority of Muslims are good souls. Let’s not let fear and hatred be our guides. Let truth and the light each one of us holds within be our guide instead.”
One of my “friends” called me a radical liberal and claimed that the Islam religion is the Enemy, that all Muslims accept a hateful creed; and that I needed to reread my Qur’an if I didn’t see this; another said that Americans should leave Trump alone because he was the only presidential candidate who cared about Americans—particularly those with military experience. I don’t care much what folks call me, but I do care when scriptures are misrepresented, misquoted, or used as weaponry. So I’ll come back to the issue of the Qur’an in a moment.
But as far as the concept that critics should leave Trump alone, I can only respond that Trump should then take a seat back in the boardroom or the TV studio if he wishes to be left alone. And as far as Trump being a friend of the military, it appears to me that Trump is neither clear friend nor clear foe to the military. His policies if enacted would, however, most certainly result in decades more warfare in the Middle East, and his rhetoric is best seen as a wonderful recruiting tool for radical Islamic terrorists all throughout the world. If I were a Saudi Arabian sheik funding terrorists, I would be sending munificent funding in whatever manner I could to help Trump get elected.
As an American who loves peace, I do not love the message Trump is preaching. Islam is most certainly not the enemy, notwithstanding the fact that many terrorists have preached jihad and practiced radical hatred of all things American. The basic Islam religion, as preached by Muhammad and later prophets and Sufi mystics such as Hallaj and Rumi, is both simple and recognizable to all who practice the Christian, Judaic, Hindu or Buddhist faiths:
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. (Muhammad, Hadith).
The Qur’an also says something very similar to the Golden Rule, as taught by Jesus:
“Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good—to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess [the slave]: For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Q:4:36).
When Rumi spoke about the basic Muslim teachings, he called the religion an old lady’s religion because it focused on basics like feeding the hungry and taking care of those in need. Rumi went past those basic teachings, particularly in his great scriptures, the Masnavi. As a mystic, Rumi taught a creed very similar to what Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart teach. According to Rumi, if you empty yourself of all things created by humans, you are then able to reflect back the clear, beautiful holy waters that reside in all human souls. Stripped of human greed, want, desire, ego, and attachments, humans can attain purity, and through this attainment, will become closer to God. Indeed, this is also what great mystics in the Hindu and Buddhist faiths teach.
The Hindu faith further teaches, as does the Christian and the Muslim faiths, that service to other humans—feeding the hungry, taking in the orphans, giving shelter to the homeless—is a way of showing devotion to God. Not a single true prophet or servant of the Lord has not emphasized the correlation between service and achieving closeness to God. All the religions emphasize serving others and emptying yourself of egoistic desires. Or as this beautiful chart expresses, all the world’s religions agree that we should treat one another as we treat ourselves:
Does the Qur’an contain passages that are troubling and difficult to defend or understand? Sure. But so does the Old Testament and the Torah . . . so too does Rumi’s Masnavi, as well as Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, or any other spiritual work by the great poets and prophets throughout all human times. Even the U.S. Constitution, which is our secular Bible, is imperfect. Why? Because it was written by humans, just as the Qur’an was written by later scribes who often didn’t even know Muhammad directly.
Jeremiah, the great Old Testament prophet, says rather succinctly that scribes sometimes get it wrong. In fact, Jeremiah calls out scribes for lying:
“‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely? Jeremiah 8:8.
I believe that the same thing could be said of those who took down the words of the prophet Muhammad. There are disparate tones and messages throughout the Qur’an. If you’re not certain of what it really says, you should go directly to the source and read the Muslim scriptures yourself rather than taking passages that have been selected in a spirit of fear by those who deplore all things eastern or who are simply ignorant of what the Qur’an actually says.
Indeed, the Qur’an must be read in the proper way: with the spirit of God guiding you as you sort out what was divinely inspired and what has been misinterpreted, rewritten, and simply changed by scribes who came to the words of Muhammad years, even centuries, after he died. When you read, try to read with light and love as your guide. That’s how I read: knowing that God tries to reach us all no matter where we live or what we bring to the altar.
Reading with light, with the spirit of all that is holy means that you seek for the truth within you, and you use that truth as your barometer of what is and is not the Word of God. Read with God alone as your guide, for God lives and breathes within each one of us.
Don’t accept my take on this work of holy scripture, but don’t accept hateful interpretations offered by frightened westerners . . . and most certainly do not accept the even more hateful misuse of Muslim scriptures that radical terrorists brandish about as part of their demonic rhetoric. Use the tools you have been given and truly seek to understand these eastern texts . . . because knowledge is the best tool you have to protect you when the world is shouting its chaotic messages and demagogues are spouting from the manifold uninformed grounds of our collective mindset.
Donald Trump has donated all of $57,000 via his foundation to Veterans according to a recent article by the well-respected Forbes Magazine. I am putting this out there because some claim that Trump does great things for vets, but for someone who is worth 4.5 billion, he gives very little.
The relevant quote from the article is: “The Donald J. Trump Foundation has donated $5.5 million to 298 charities between 2009 and 2013 (the most recent year available), according to the non-profit’s 990 tax forms from those years. Of that, only $57,000 has been donated to seven organizations that directly benefit military veterans or their families, Forbes found. Wounded Warriors was not among the organizations Trump’s foundation gave to in that time period.”
The article can be read in its entirety here:
Quote.. “Reading with light, with the spirit of all that is holy means that you seek for the truth within you, and you use that truth as your barometer of what is and is not the Word of God. Read with God alone as your guide, for God lives and breathes within each one of us.
Don’t accept my take on this work of holy scripture, but don’t accept hateful interpretations offered by frightened westerners . . . and most certainly do not accept the even more hateful misuse of Muslim scriptures that radical terrorists brandish about as part of their demonic rhetoric. Use the tools you have been given and truly seek to understand these eastern texts . . . because knowledge is the best tool you have to protect you when the world is shouting its chaotic messages and demagogues are spouting from the manifold uninformed grounds of our collective mindset.” end quote.
I have been saying this for years. (albeit not as eloquently!) Read, learn, absorb all you can, and come to your own conclusions. Parroting fear mongers &/or haters only leads to more hate & fear of anything different. Yes, I’m worried right now. It would be foolish to stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothing or no-one is out to hurt us because there are ignorant people out there blindly following other ignorant people. Ignorance breeds fear. Fear breeds hate.(& do not confuse intelligence with ignorance – I know plenty of pretty darned smart people that are ignorant.) Question everything. Arm yourself with information.
Keep it up E.L. You make me think, & I like that!
Thank you thank you thank you so much Janet!!!