By Dr. Shadee Elmasry
Tell me, if there was a man out there who said he loved African Americans, supports black causes and loves MLK and Barak Obama, but…while he upholds their legal equality, believes that black people are categorically inferior because of the color of their skin. Would you be friends with this person? Would you fraternize with him? Would you consider him when trying to be inclusive? Why not? He’s not *doing* anything; it’s just his belief. Regarding African Americans, this man is like people who love cats and treats them well while still believing the human being is a superior species.
Would you even hesitate for a moment to rail against this guy on social media and publicly harangue him for his belief? Would anyone say “You’re being intolerant! Don’t judge!” I don’t think so. If anything, you would probably expect everyone to make a hero out of you for tearing this guy down along with his backward, offensive, ‘morally reprehensible’ doctrine.
So…if you (and society) would change the way you deal with a person just because of one belief (literally just one belief), then obviously beliefs are a big deal. The question becomes: who has the authority to determine them? Who says which are acceptable and which are ‘reprehensible’? Is it you? Is it society? Who exactly? Since beliefs are this important, I need to know who decides them.
In the end, it goes back to the crux of the debate of secular vs sacred. Who has the authority to define the terms? If we are a Muslim, this is what our Book teaches:
“Allah knows, and you don’t know.” (2:216 Baqara)
“He knows best about you. Wasn’t it He who created you from the earth and when you were just an embryo in your mother’s womb. So don’t praise yourselves.” (53:32 Najm)
“We have never sent a Messenger except that she be obeyed.” (4:64 Nisa)
“You will not find those who believe in Allah and the Last Day being intimate or lending support to those who openly defy Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their brothers or their family. Allah put belief in their heart and helped them with a spirit from Him…Allah is pleased with them as they are pleased with Him. These are the people of Allah. The people of Allah will always win.” (58:22 Mujadila)
“Whoever supports them is one of them.”(5:51 Maida)
“They want to take their judgments from false lords when they were commanded to reject it.” (4:60 Nisa)
“Do not fear people. Fear Me …Whoever does not judge by what Allah judges, they are truly rejectors of faith (5:44 Maida)