Shadia: My contract with America

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

January 11, 2012|By Mona Shadia

A religion should be judged by the understanding and practices of the majority of its followers.

And I'm not just talking about Islam. I'm talking about every religion.

Let me tell you a little bit about the ways in which my faith requires its followers to conduct their daily lives, regardless of where in the world they live.

Although I spent almost the first half of my life in another country with a completely different culture, language and a Muslim majority. When I first moved to the United States 13 years ago, I felt I had only one major obstacle to overcome: learning English.


I knew that once I learned the language, nothing was going to be an issue for me, and that has a lot to do with the principles of my faith.

Being a minority in a completely different culture has never been an issue for me, and that's because I was taught that you can be a Muslim anywhere you like.

One of the best virtues of Islam is respecting the laws of the nation in which you live. This is an important Islamic principle.

In my research for this week's column, I read several entries and articles on and, sites dedicated to enhancing the understanding of Islam.

Islamic scholars consider citizenship or a visa a "covenant of security," or a contract between that individual and the state in exchange for safety, security and obeying the laws of that land.

This applies to both born and naturalized citizens of any country, Muslim or not. A covenant in Islam doesn't only mean a written or even a verbal contract, but a moral understanding, meaning that when I enter one's house or one's country, I ought to respect its people and rules.

Not doing so is considered treasonous and a major sin, said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA).

"You cannot engage in warlike behavior or criminal activities against people who have trusted you," Ayloush said. "Prophet Muhammad taught us that one is not a true believer until he loves for others what he loves for himself. I am sure we all love to be treated with goodness and integrity."

This principle is not only about respect, but about loyalty, commitment and love for the country that has given you a home.

The Prophet Muhammad once said, "Whoever kills someone who is protected under a covenant, then he shall not even smell the scent of Paradise."

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles