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Letter 78 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 78

Rose Aslan

Assistant Professor of Religion
California Lutheran University

April 7, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

With much misinformation being spread by politicians and the media, and with growing hostility among Americans, we need healing and soul searching to find a place of balance and equanimity in our country. In the Islamic tradition, we believe that change must first come from within and that we cannot blame others for our problems. Our religion demands that we be agents of change, as God says in the Qur’an: “God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves” (13:11). We need to go beyond stereotypes and see our fellow Americans as fellow humans. We should make it our mission to focus on what binds us together as a nation rather than what divides us.

Mr. President, your words and actions, and those of others in your administration, suggest that you view Muslims as an enemy and seek to restrict our rights as citizens and legal residents. You stoke fear among some Americans against their fellow citizens, despite the fact that Muslims have been part of the American fabric since before we became a nation in 1776 and have made significant contributions to our country.

No matter how many times you try to limit our rights and our movement, Muslims in this country will always take the high road, as God demands of us in the Qur’an: “Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better, and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend, but only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain to such goodness” (41:34-35).

Going forward in your service to the American people, remember that Americans from all religious traditions are counting on you to maintain our nation’s values of liberty, justice, and equality for all, without exceptions. We will keep you accountable to your duty as the “Leader of the Free World” to uphold our Constitution and American ideals.

We should embrace each other because of our differences. This is what has made us great in the past and what holds the promise of our future. The more we affirm and contribute to building a pluralistic society, the more we will reap its potential.

Peace and Blessings,

Rose Aslan

Rose Aslan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Religion
California Lutheran University


About the author

Rose Aslan, Assistant Professor of Religion at California Lutheran University, received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an interfaith activist as well as a scholar of Islam and religious studies. She teaches courses on global religions, with a focus on Islam, and her research focuses on ritual and material culture in diverse Muslim communities.