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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Yasir Qadhi on Obama's win

*بسم اللّٰہ الرحمٰن الرحیم*

Indeed, all praise is due to Allah, and may peace and salutations be upon
the prophets of Allah.

When the Muslims were in Makkah, there was a major war raging in a nearby
land; a war that was, relative to its time, of cataclysmic proportion. It
was being fought out between the only two super-powers of the era. And even
though the Muslims themselves had nothing at stake in that war, even though any win or loss to either side would cause no immediate change in their
lives, the Muslims were emotionally attached to one side against the other.
Their spirits, their hopes, their optimism, all centered on the army of
Heraclius, the emperor of Rome, as he fought against Kusrau Parvev, the King
of Sassanid Persia. These early Muslims felt an affinity for the Christian
Heraclius as he fought against the fire-worshiping Zoroastrians. So, when
the news came that Heraclius had been defeated, the Muslims were in fact
dejected, and the pagans of Makkah boasted to the Muslims that their 'team'
had lost. It was at this occasion that Allah revealed the first few verses
of Surah al-Rum, which gave them the optimistic prophecy that even though
Heraclius had lost this battle, he would win a future one, in a few years.
Many years later, the Prophet wrote a letter to Heraclius, and Heraclius
heard the message of Islam. While respectful of it, he did not convert.
Throughout this entire time, the Muslims were not reproached or reprimanded
for their feelings of hope towards Heraclius and the Roman Empire.

How much more so, then, are we deserving of feeling hope and optimism, when
a candidate who WILL directly affect our lives and the lives of millions of
people across the world has been elected. For those who wish to make Muslims
even feel guilty for this hope, I say that our religion is a religion of
optimism and a religion of reality. We should feel optimistic, at all times,
and take the best from every situation. And between the two candidates that
were running for the highest office in the most powerful country in the
world today, it was clear in the eyes of many, which of these two was more
inclined to peace, and which was more inclined to war. It was clear who was
able to inspire with hope and optimism, and who was more inclined to inspire
through fear and hatred of 'the other'. It was clear who had more
intelligence and common sense, and who could not even think clearly enough
to choose a qualified running mate.

Make no mistake about it, though. Barack Obama is no messiah, and, as an
American political leader, he will inevitably do things that will enrage
people around the world, and yes, sometimes even us. But looking at the
alternative, in my opinion and the opinion of many in the know, the message
was clear: he was the better candidate overall, at this time and place, for
Muslims, for America, for the world. And if it so turns out that those who
voted for Barack Obama were wrong, well, they can say, in full conscience
and with no fear of reprimand, 'O Allah, this is what was apparent to us
when we chose, and only You knew the future and what it held.'
Indeed, we thank Allah who will judge us for the sincerity of our intentions
rather than the unintended consequences of our actions.

It is indeed an historic moment for this country, when a black leader, with
the middle name of Hussein, the son of an African visitor to this land,
raised far away from the bastions of political power, can actually win the
highest office. It is an historic moment, and I am proud to have witnessed
it. But the election yesterday was not about supporting the persona of
Barack Obama as much as it was about the scathing indictment of the previous
administration. When people voted yesterday, they voted not for Barack, but
against the current administration. Obama did not win because he was Obama,
but rather because he was for change. And to me, that is huge reason to be
optimistic about this country.

There is much good in America, and we need to channel that good and help it
overcome the bad. Keep in mind that while Obama won a resounding victory in
the electoral votes, he only had a slight lead in the popular vote (52% to
Obama, 46 % to McCain). And while it is overly simplistic and wrong to claim
that all those who voted for McCain were supportive of the current
administration's policies, it is not an exaggeration to state that a fairly
large percentage of them would be averse to the positive vision of change
that Obama claims to want. And that is a scary thought, one that sobers us
up the reality, and shows us that there is a lot of work to do ahead.
As an American, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy, a sense of optimism
for the future, and the work ahead for all of us. And as a Muslim, I
sincerely pray that Allah wants good for this country, and that He places
people in power that will bring about that good through them, and through
all of us. The Obama campaign might have stopped now, but our campaign as
Muslims, in spreading the truth and calling for justice, never stops as long
as we remain in this world.

In this moment of elated happiness, when the nation itself seems swept away
with the raw emotion of victory, let us remember that true victory is one's
spiritual victory in winning the pleasure of Allah. Let us keep in mind that
leaders come and go, nations rise and fall, and one day, after having
witnessed much happiness and sorrow, we too shall depart, leaving this world
with only our deeds to show.

May Allah make us all beacons of light, calling people to the truth, and
being a shining example for others to follow.

Yasir Qadhi
New Haven, CT

2 comments:

Walisha said...

Salaam,
Thank you for this post. A very good reminder.

UmmMohebyAlIslam said...

Salaam,
Interesting!

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