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Letter 94 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 94

Zayn Kassam

John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies
Pomona College

April 23, 2017

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

As I sit here sipping my morning cup of joe, I wonder what millions of Americans who join me in that daily ritual would do if Yemenis had not figured out how to grind coffee beans and turn them into the drink we enjoy each morning. It does not matter what your religion, skin color, or culture is:  the capacity within each human being for discovery and moving civilization forward is immense.

That, to me, is the promise of America: a country that provides an environment in which each person can flourish and actualize our potential to contribute to the greater good. I find this promise in the U.S. Constitution (“We the People of the United States…promote the general Welfare”) and the Qur’ān (“Allah loves those who do good”; 3:134). How will you help us fulfill this promise?

In order for individual Americans and our nation as a whole to thrive, we need a healthy natural environment. Take the humble bee, for example, about which God says in the Qur’ān: “There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people” (16:69). Yet bees in America today are facing colony collapse due to neonicotinoides in pesticides, thus threatening our ability to produce food.

Will your administration be able to provide a healthy natural environment? Or will you be remembered for bringing Earth a little closer to the fires of Hell? There is no question that greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels are accelerating the process of a hotter climate. Yet you are leasing public lands to revive the coal industry, removing emission standards, encouraging fracking, and doing your utmost to get America off clean power. What will these decisions cost Americans, now and in the future?

Nevertheless, your administration could provide visionary leadership by investing in renewable energy and upgraded electricity grids. This would produce economic and environmental benefits, put Americans back to work, and reduce our reliance on dirty oil. That way, “the righteous will be amid gardens and rivers” (Qur’ān 54:54); and each person “shall sit under his vine and his fig tree, and none shall make him afraid” (Micah 4:4). Will you make it so?

Sincerely,

Zayn Kassam

Zayn Kassam
John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies
Pomona College

About the author

Zayn Kassam, John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, teaches courses on Islam, ethics and social practice, and the environment.  She has authored an introductory volume on Islam, edited volumes on women and religion, and published articles on Muslim women, religion and migration, and teaching Islam.