Recently, media commentators have been surprised by the support Bernie Sanders has received from the American Muslim Community. After all, a Muslim cannot support a Jewish president, right? On the contrary, the deep roots between Islam and Judaism is often overlooked.
Israelite prophets are revered by both Jews and Muslims, and early Muslims did at first pray toward Jerusalem before praying toward the Ka’ba in Mecca. The Qur’an itself speaks about Prophet Moses a total of 136 times. No other prophet in the Qur’an is given as much attention as Moses is given.
Muslim children throughout the world have grown up hearing stories about Moses’ nearness to God. We are told of the story of when God split the Red Sea for him and the early Jews when escaping Pharaoh’s torment. Even now, before giving a speech, I am reminded of Moses’ prayer to God before he confronted Pharaoh, when he asked God to “loose the knot of my tongue, that they may understand my speech.” (20:26¬28) Over 2,000 years later, Muslims recite these same words that Moses recited, attempting to walk in his esteemed footsteps.
Muslims also have a particular duty to stop terrorists that attack synagogues. The Qur’an clearly states that synagogues need to be protected: “If Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques … ” (22:41). Here, God requires Muslims to step up to the plate and stop those who destroy or disrupt synagogues and other houses of worship. Indeed, the Qur’an recognizes the protection of synagogues alongside mosques. The Qur’an, in fact, places more importance in the protection of synagogues than mosques by recognizing the protection of synagogues before recognizing the protection of mosques. In the eyes of God, Muslims need to protect the rights of their Jewish brethren and freedom of religion as a whole.
Just as the Prophet Muhammad would celebrate Yom Kippur with his Jewish brothers by fasting along with them, society, too, needs to embrace the diversity of other beliefs. If Muslim Americans are supporting Bernie Sanders, it is because of his political beliefs while embracing the commonalities between Muslims and Jews.
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 received his JD from Loyola Law School and works to combat blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, and ultimately to protect religious minorities throughout the world.