The Muslim world right now is undoubtedly going through some major tests and hardships. We pray that the Muslim lands will be blessed with justice, peace, sovereignty,comfort and civility. In countries with a Muslim minority, we see the constant persecution of Muslims in Myanmar; in China they are prevented from fasting Ramadan and taking children to Mosques; the two million Muslims in Moscow have only been allowed to build 5 mosques and in France they are prohibiting women from their choice in dressing modestly.
Here in America there are some attempts to scare Muslims with anti-shari’ah law bills. These witch-hunt bills will not be able to hinder the rights of Muslims to practice and promote their faith thanks to those brave revolutionaries who fought to give us freedom from the tyranny of Britain. Those Founding Fathers intended that this country would first and foremost be a place where all people would be free to practice and preach their religion, while the state would not be able to adopt or enforce any religion.
When the Founders suggested defining religion as authored by Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson made a motion which garnered support of the majority to remove such specification in protection of the rights of the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination.
Then we have Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “[…] so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
As a result, the United States is one of the best countries in the world for observant Muslims to live and prosper. We are very blessed here and that is definitely something to cherish and be happy about.
Celebrating national holidays is a matter over which our scholars have differed. There is a group who prohibits it since the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) taught that we only have two holidays; thus, they say that Independence Day is obviously a holiday not approved by the Prophet ﷺ, and therefore it should be prohibited.
The other group of scholars permits it saying that the Prophet ﷺ was talking about celebrating a religious holiday. They contend that he was not referring to customary occasions not related to worship or celebrating a specific religion.
The Prophet ﷺ prohibited innovation and called for its rejection—“Whoever innovates something in “this affair of ours” that which is not from it will be rejected.” “Whoever does an action not in accordance “with our way” then it will be rejected.” All scholars interpret the portion of these hadiths (narrations) “in this affair of ours” and “in accordance with our way” as referring to Islam. Thus the meaning is whoever would innovate or institute something in religious worship that is not Islam whether it is made up or taken from another religion then it will be rejected.
I will conclude with a story from when I lived in Sunrise, Florida where there are close to a thousand Muslims in a village of almost 90,000 people. A few years ago in June, I met with a city councilman asking what we could do with the city in order to give better exposure to the Muslim community in light of the rise of Islamophobia. He said that he could get our Mosque a spot in the 4th of July parade. That turned out to be a big opportunity for our community through which we got great exposure. It really helped people to see Muslims as Americans just like anyone else with their own distinct faith and values.