I came across Elisa Tamarkin’s Anglophilia: Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America, as she reflected on the thoughts of Samuel Morse, the pro-slavery inventor of telegraphy and co-inventor of Morse Code, that should give Muslims pause to consider why we still struggle to come together as a community in America:
“…democracies come together not through language and abstract principles but through the prepolitical feelings we experience toward symbols and works of art.”
If one substitutes “democracies” for “Muslim communities” while leaving “language” and “abstract principles” while exchanging “prepolitical feelings” for pre-Islam feelings and experiences, one can gain some insight as to why we continue to not gel as a community. Of course “symbols and works of art” can be substituted for “the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم” (deliberately avoiding such slogans as “Qur’an and Sunnah”).
Speaking from the perspective of one who became a Muslim, I can say without a doubt one of the main issues facing Muslims today in general and in America in particular, is the abstraction of Islam into bewildering, intangible and inaccessible principles and theories. For many who enter into Islam, they experience an “arrested development” due to much of Islam’s transformative power stunted early on if not immediately in the “conversion process”. If Islam is to have a dignified future in America, it must concretize the value system of Islam in a way that allows everyday people to be transformed by its powerful theology and cosmology – to be freed from the worship false idols, false gods, and false concepts.
Honor the Messenger. Deliver the Message.