Xenophobic “loyalists” have long co-opted America’s definition of a “patriot”. Perhaps the most well-known racist political party was that of the 1850s “Know Nothing Party”. Their stated objective was to fight against ‘foreign’ influences (meaning America’s ethnic and religious minorities, and non-European immigrants) and define American culture solely within the boundaries of ‘whiteness’.
Of particular interest was how the “Know Nothing Party” seized the language and symbols of patriotism and furthered the ‘us vs them’ attitude that was already part of the American psyche. The ‘us vs. them’ morphed into a separatist philosophy which actually excluded non-whites from ever being able to be fully viewed as “patriotic” and indeed true Americans.
This contemptuousness toward America’s non-white minorities and immigrants helped fuel the Jan 6, 2021 insurrection by Trump loyalists, who, with incontrovertible fanaticism, felt they were defending America from unpatriotic sources - a mirrored philosophy and attitude of the Know Nothing Party from 165 years prior. Even though the U.S. government reports that over 86 million people have been voluntary immigrants to America since 1783, anti-immigrant sentiments have always been part of America’s history, especially non-white immigrants and involuntarily immigrants captured and later enslaved.
“Patriotism” as a word aligns with loyalty and trust. Loyalty is faithfulness and commitment.
Good Americans grapple with the exposure of treason, abuse of power, hypocrisy, and the betrayal of the public trust from some of its highest public officials. For Muslims, the realities and consequences of oppression and disloyalty have already been taught to us from the life example and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the words of the Quran.
Those people in power who mislead and deceive their followers about the true nature of things cause chaos, just like what we saw on January 6, 2021. As Muslims we possess a transnational identity that frowns upon an “us vs them” philosophy defined by our cultural or ethnic bearings. We are one in service to Allah. As this community of believers with a like mind, when we look to the Quran, in the second chapter, Surah al Baqara, we find in the eleventh verse, that Allah teaches the Muslims about the behavior of the hypocrites
When they are told, “Do not spread corruption in the land,” they reply, “We are only peace-makers!”
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was reported to have warned the believers that, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest)” (Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 73 Hadith 117).
Islamic teaching forbids all forms of treachery and rebellion, even if it is against our own nation. Insurgencies threaten the natural peace and security of our fellow citizens. Misguided loyalties, xenophobia, hypocrisy, and disloyalty severely compromise the guarantee of a shared freedom space within a nation. With that being the case, the citizens of a nation need to uphold honesty, morality, patience, and obedience to the laws of the land. For Muslims, we are guided and taught how to be good citizens.
Obey Those In Authority Over You
The Quran states:
“O ye who believe, obey God and obey the Prophet and obey those in authority from among you”
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, declared: “Whoso obeys the ruler obeys me, and whoso disobeys the ruler disobeys me” (Muslim).
Stay steadfast in honoring the best way of life and fight against oppression and wrongdoing.
“You who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion – Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him, who are humble toward the believers, steadfast against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the oppressed, but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By seizing his hand.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2444, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2584).
The distrust and chaos that has gripped some members of this nation is tragic. The word “patriot” actually is not English, but rather derives from French, with roots in fatherhood and familial relationships. This kinship is bound by shared existence and values. A patriot defends the rights of others and supports and loves his or her fellow citizens.
The Islamic concept of “Al-Walaa” which means support, loyalty, or “to follow” means unwavering allegiance and obedience to Allah and whatever is pleasing to Him. As we fulfill this aspect of our Iman (faith) and Ibadah (worship), we also embrace connectedness and closeness with each other and an obligation to each other. The understanding of how to maintain trustworthiness and fealty within the Muslim Ummah is found in both the Quran and reported sayings of the Prophet.
Respect: Due Regard For The Feelings, Wishes, Rights, Or tRaditions Of Others
“And the believing men and the believing women are friends and allies to each other. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and establish prayer and give charity and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy upon them, for Allah is almighty and wise.”
The believers are but brothers, so reconcile between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.
Protected From Harm From Another Muslim
The Prophet said: "The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one from whom the people's lives and wealth are safe" (unan al-Nasā’ī 4998, Grade: Sahih)