Originally posted on NewsWeek
The great Indian scholar and immigrant Muslim missionary, Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, was immediately detained upon arriving in Philadelphia in 1920.
In a racially charged nation, at a time when the KKK was 4 million strong, Sadiq—an Indian missionary for the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community—had little chance of equal treatment.
The immigration police feared he would preach values antithetical to America, and felt arresting him was the safer bet.
But after observing him for several days, they realized their fears were foolish and unfounded. They admitted this Muslim immigrant to the United States, and released him from custody.
Sadiq was among the earliest 20th-century Muslim immigrants. During his time in America, he lectured on Islam at countless universities, received honorary degrees, established the nation’s oldest Muslim periodical and established a community of 700 American born Muslims through peaceful and educated proselytization.
By the time Sadiq left America in 1923, he’d firmly established a U.S. Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community—which has since spread to 75 chapters nationwide with tens of thousands of members.
With his demand to end all Muslim immigration, Donald Trump has aligned himself with the racist and ignorant immigration police of 1920.
This is tragic for a number of reasons. America is a nation of immigrants, and has been so for centuries. Muslim immigrants have contributed invaluable resources to America’s growth and advancement. By attempting to rob America’s future of the immense contributions American Muslim immigrants will make to this country, Trump harms America.
His disappointing proposal is furthermore unconstitutional and empowers extremist ideology.
The Constitution celebrates religious freedom—even for Muslims—and throughout American history, no religious test has prevented immigration to America. Instead, such a test would advance ISIS’s goals of “eliminating the gray zone” for Muslims in the West—or those seeking to go to the West—and attempt to force them to join the so-called “Islamic” state. This is unacceptable.
Moreover, we must not resort to “collective punishment” of all Muslims due to the acts of a few. Such an approach solves nothing and only creates more fear and discord.
And considering that the FBI cites right-wing terrorism as the gravest threat to American security, Trump would better direct his intolerance toward white Americans. I can’t imagine why he doesn’t.
Ultimately, we cannot defeat any threat of extremism, perceived or otherwise, by resorting to extremism ourselves. It is imperative that we instead maintain a focus on superior ideas based on tolerance, education and compassion.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is one such American dream success story made possible by immigration. Throughout our near century in the United States, we’ve worked actively—as immigrants and native born American Muslim—to serve and advance our country.
We’ve advocated for separation of mosque and state, loyalty to America, have served in the armed forces and are civically engaged. Indeed, the greater American Muslim community has made invaluable contributions to the U.S.
But perhaps most tragic is this fact that Trump spews such rhetoric and maintains his high poll ranking. The greater concern, therefore, isn’t just his remark, but the fact that his remarks have found favor with millions of Americans.
Popularity doesn’t make his comments right, only more dangerous. Back in 1920, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq refused to cower in fear or become intimidated. Though discriminated against, he did not respond with anger and certainly not with violence. He instead worked with even more zeal to advance his mission of peace with dialogue, education and service to humanity.
Nearly a century later, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community carries this torch forward with the Muslims for Life blood drive, annual marches on Capitol Hill to combat hunger and ongoing humanitarian relief efforts.
We invite all Americans of all faiths and no faiths to join us in this campaign for true Islam. Ignorance breeds fear, but education breeds compassion. Our mosques are open, and they’re safe places for all Americans.
Let’s work together—immigrants and American born, Muslim and non-Muslim—and continue to advance America forward for centuries to come.