A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So this question started floating around in my head a bit today. What does it mean to be American? How do we define that? Does it mean our blood flows red, white and blue? Does it mean we strive to uphold the ideals of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?
I don't think it means any of that. To be American means, simply, that you were born in this country. There are millions of Americans incarcerated; untold numbers who are pedophiles, child abusers, drunkards, and wife-beaters. There are red-blooded Americans who still believe in apartheid on the most basic level and would see the majority of our population ruled by the very distinct minority. (Oh wait, it already is, my bad. LOL).
Please, before my detractors get all riled up, I believe there are many more good, kindhearted, open-minded people in America than there are from the above groups. I am just making a point. :-)
So if by definition, being American simpy means you were born into this society/culture or accepted as a citizen (after testing and payments and hardships, btw) what is there to be so proud about?
Mahatma Ghandi (among others) said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats it's weakest members". If we look at the track record of almost any nation that was ever in existence and judge them by this standard, it would be disheartening to say the least. None should be "proud" to be called from any nation.
This is why in Islam we are taught to turn from nationality and turn to Allah. To turn to the teachings of our prophets and messengers, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all! We are encouraged to love and want for our brother or sister what we want for ourselves. To love what Allah loves and hate what He hates.
Even in the last sermon of our beautiful Prohet Muhammad (saws) he said:
"All mankind is from Adam and Huwa, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.
How beautiful, how clear are these words, these commands. We are to feel NO superiority over another unless it is in our good deeds and piety. Which, btw, a Mu'min never feels he is pious enough nor good enough in his deeds. As Cap'n recently related to me:
"He (Imam Malik) was the man about whom Ash-Shafi’ee said, 'When scholars are mentioned, Malik is like the star among them.' Malik said that he did not sit to give Fatwa, before 70 of the Madina scholars first witnessed to his competence in doing so."
Subhanallah, Imam Malik, who had more knowledge than you or I can comprehend, refused to consider himself knowledgeable, a scholar, a shaykh, until 70 of his peers felt him to be so. Just a little dose of reality for you all, my friends. :-)
It is narrated by Abu Da’wud that the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said:
“He is not one us who calls for ..Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for ..Asabiyyah or who dies for ..Asabiyyah.”
This does not mean we cannot be proud of the good actions of our country. If you live in a place where Muslims are accepted and allowed to practice freely, be proud of that. If you happen to be of a certain ancestry and you like to learn about your history or past customs, there is no problem. What this hadith means is that we do not place our nationalism ahead of our religion. (Even the sahaba had names which indicated their country of ancestry such as Salman Al-Farsi for example.)
"My prayers and sacrifice, my life and death are all for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds" (Qur'an 6:162). There is no clearer injunction that our lives, in totality, are to be lived for the glory of Allah swt.
So we can see as Muslims we are to turn away from nationalism, to be proud only of the good deeds we do FI SABILILLAH. I wish more people in this world, non-Muslims and Muslim alike, would strive to be good people, not good nationalists.
Ma salaama ya'll.