George Washington once said, “Discipline is the soul of an army.” Indeed, our founding father knew what discipline meant when just a handful of Americans had to earn the freedom that we hold dear today. The soul of that revolutionary army is what created the soul of America today. A very little known fact from that time is that part of the soul of those early patriots were the souls of American Muslims. American Muslims who served alongside Washington included the likes of Bampett Muhammad, who fought for the “Virginia line,” Yusuf Ben Ali who served as an aide to General Thomas Sumter in South Carolina, and Peter Salem, who took down Great Britain’s Major General John Pitcairn at the epochal Battle of Bunker Hill. These Muslim patriots are role models for any American regardless of their religion.
If Bampett Muhammad picked up a newspaper today and saw the behavior of the extremist in Chattanooga who is accused of killing four marines, he would be upset to say the least. He would be upset at the acts of an extremist hijacking his faith against his country. Importantly, the actions of extremists completely contradict Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and the ethos of Islam. Prophet Muhammad has stated that loyalty to one’s country is part of one’s faith. According to the founder of Islam, if you are not loyal to the nation you reside in, then you are not fulfilling a tenet of Islam.
When I pick up the newspaper and see the events today, it makes me nauseous: a sort of mental nausea with feelings of hatred, sadness, and confusion. Hatred toward the actions of people like the extremist in Chattanooga, sadness at the loss of lives, and confusion as to how a so-called Muslim coulddo such heinous acts and attribute them to Islam. The individual who has been accused of the murder was 24, grew up in a Chattanooga suburb, and graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Tennessee. How could someone whose life experiences were likely similar to my own, follow a track that is completely unlike mine and completely un-Islamic?
These extremists follow their own ideology filled with political dogma that has no guidance from religion. As the French journalist Didier François, who spent 10 months being held captive by ISIS, stated, they didn’t even have a Qu’ran. They do not care that loyalty to one’s nation is part of one’s faith, rather they give precedence to a political dogma. Who are the ones that are giving their lives to the cause of these extremist groups? Certainly not the leaders of ISIS, but those who have been brainwashed by them.
Dear extremists, you will never succeed. Your path is like that of dead tree branch that can only gain attention by the sacrifice of your own withering leaves. The true soul of a Muslim is that which has the discipline to die for the sake of protecting their country. An extremist took the souls of four American heroes. And an extremist disgraced the souls of his American-Muslim ancestors. The spilled blood of violence will never permeate deeper than the ink of my pen. The National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, Dr. Bilal Rana, has shown that Muslim youth across the United States condemned this attack. Indeed, for each extremist who attempts to hurt my country, I and thousands of Muslim youth will stand up to stop you. Extremists, get out of my country.
Osaama Saifi an award-winning member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America and a Santa Maria native. He received his bachelors of arts in Economics and Rhetoric, with honors, at the University of California, Berkeley. Saifi is currently pursuing a JD in order to combat blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, ultimately to protect religious minorities throughout the world.