Like almost everyone I know, I could not imagine that Donald Trump would win the presidential election. Could Americans really choose as our leader someone so obviously unsuited to the position? Someone who casually threatens the destruction of even his mildest critics and who daily declares his deep and abiding enmity to every value for which our society purports to stand? It was inconceivable.
That is not to say that I was looking forward to a Hillary Clinton presidency. I could not bring myself to support her, not after the way that she had colluded in the Bush invasion of Iraq to advance her own political ambitions. But I was resigned to the prospect. I went to bed on Election Night, with results still too close to call, in the expectation that the next day would bring news that Clinton had pulled out a win by the narrowest of margins. She would finally have what she had craved for so desperately long—but, of course, under such circumstances that progressives and minorities could not consider her bound to fulfill any of the promises made to win their support.
I had a very rude awakening, to say the least. For weeks, I could not bring myself to write the words “President” and “Trump” in juxtaposition. I struggle to do so even now. I held on to the slim hope that the Electoral College might perform its duty to ensure, in the words of James Madison, “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” and that the contest would be thrown into the House of Representatives. The choice there certainly would not have fallen to anyone of my liking, but at least it would not have been to someone who could well bring about the end of the American experiment itself.
Now I must collect my wits and recall what the Qur’an reminds us: “Perhaps you hate a thing while it is a benefit for you, and perhaps you love a thing while it is a harm for you. God knows, and you know not.”
The election of Donald Trump prompts deep misgiving in me as a Muslim and as an American. It is truly disheartening to see my country succumb to the rhetoric of fear and hatred that Trump has leveraged to gain the presidency for himself. And as distressing as I find the prospect of a Trump administration and of all three branches of the federal government under the sway of the worst elements in the Republican Party, I can only imagine the trepidation of those whose minority status is much more obvious than mine. But the Qur’an teaches: “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say ‘we believe’ and will not be tested? We have certainly tried those before them, and God will surely make evident those who are truthful and He will surely make evident those who are liars.”
Prophet Muhammad (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught that whoever sees an injustice must then resist it with his hand; and if unable to do so with his hand then with his tongue; and if unable to do so with his tongue then at least must resist it in his heart, though that is the slightest of faith. The challenges that lie ahead in the coming years present to us all the opportunity to reach out to one another in solidarity. Even if we cannot always mount effective resistance to injustice by word and deed, we must still avoid the temptation to accept the oppression of others as the normal state of affairs.
I find it difficult to imagine how our nation and indeed our very planet can survive a Trump presidency. But, God willing, survive and even thrive we shall: “For surely with every hardship comes relief, indeed with hardship comes relief. So when you are relieved strive on to please your Lord.”