God Almighty instructs His faithful servants “When a courteous greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous or of equal courtesy [Koranic verse; Al-Nisa (The Women); 4:86]. O Muslims, US President Barack Obama offered you the greeting of Islam; return the greeting. God Almighty sent Moses and Aaron to the tyrant Pharaoh and instructed them “Speak to him mildly”. The President of the greatest country in the world came to our land and spoke to us mildly. He spoke to us mildly although he speaks from a position of strength. He is not the chancellor of a university or the president of a company or the dean of a college; he is the one who makes the most serious decisions in the world.
The Arab poet says do not stubbornly oppose the one that can do what he says. Barack Obama delivered a beautiful speech full of intelligence, tact, and courtesy unlike his predecessor Bush whose speeches were full of arrogance, haughtiness, recklessness, and highhandedness. Barack Obama gave a just testimony before the world that no other US President has uttered. He referred to the greatness of Islam and cited the Koran several times. He returned the greetings of our prophet and of Moses and Isa [Jesus Christ), may God’s peace be upon them. He testified that we made the greatest contributions to the sciences and the arts like medicine, algebra, and engineering and that we forged a great Muslim civilization in the service of mankind. He testified that he is not in a state of war with Islam but in a state of partnership. He asserted that the Muslims are part of America and urged us to forget the past. He asked us to engage in dialogue and to be tolerant and to open a new page. He said that we should not be the prisoners of the past. What great intellect is this, what logic, and what speech! I contrasted it with the speeches of the revolutionary and oppressive Arab regimes that have brought our lands nothing but devastation, wars, and defeats and in which their revolutionaries start their speeches with in the name of the people instead of in the name of God, we will throw Israel in the sea, fie on the despicable who will be expelled [phrase often used by Saddam Hussein], and along list of swearwords, curses, screams, and hallucination that are uttered only by drunkards or fools. Barack Obama chose his words carefully. He did not offend our sensibilities. During his trip and his speech, he acted like the most senior official in the world. He began with Riyadh, the capital of the cradle of Islam, and continued to Cairo, the meeting place of civilizations and the mother of Arab culture. He offered his hand to the Muslim world and he supported the call to interfaith dialogue of the custodian of the two holy shrines.
What is the most proper way for us to behave in such a situation? Our wise elders, decision-makers, opinion shapers, and writers and columnists should answer him with a speech that is rational, sensible, sound, and full of wisdom, softness, and mildness. They should thank him and encouragehim to carry out what he promised and they should march with him step by step. Speeches of denunciation, condemnation, threats, skepticism, and suspicions express a reckless, twisted, and immature logic. Why should we be afraid of the openness, candor, frankness, and dialogue for which Barack Obama called? Why do we have to be embarrassed or have doubts or fears? We are the proponents of a message and a righteous argument. We have a holy book and we have justice on our side. Why should we have doubts or fears when we offered the world the greatest civilization and we have wise men, scholars, and rational people among us? Why do we have to meet mildness with rudeness, gentleness with violence, cheerfulness with frowns, and beautiful promises with suspicion?
Some of us want Barack Obama to agree with us on everything we want. They forgot that at the end of the day, he is the President of the United States. Why can’t we be inspired on the political level by the life of the infallible messenger of guidance, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him? Did he not go himself to the homes of the Jews and use mild words with them? Did he not partake of their food? Did he not host them in his home, as well as the Christians? In fact, his God ordered him to give idolaters a chance to speak and to engage them in dialogue. God Almighty said: “If one among the Pagans asks thee for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the word of Allah”[Koranic verse; Al-Tawbah (The Repentance, 9:6]. Why do we block our ears and close our eyes and hearts? Why do we not face the facts? Why do we escape to the darkness? Why do we not give and take, engage in maneuver and dialogue, be courteous and argue? Have we not had enough of what his predecessor Bush did to us? He occupied our land, killed our children, demolished our homes, disregarded our values, wounded our pride, and put us all in the dock? But God has removed him and relieved the world of him.
Now we have an educated and rational President with roots in Islam. He is knowledgeable about history; he is courteous and tactful; he is kind and gentle; he is calling for dialogue and candor. [Nevertheless], some of us replied: We do not hear or see and we do not give and take because we are afflicted with the conspiracy theory. In fact, some of us threatened him and their words reminded us of Jarir’s words: “Al-Farazdaq claimed that he will kill Marba. O Marba, you are thus assured a long life”. [Jarir and Al-Farazdaq were rival Muslim poets of the 7th century. One day, Al-Farazdaq threatened to kill a Bedouin called Marba for insulting his mother. Jarir ridiculed Al-Farazdaq’s empty threat with the above verse].
We tell Barack Obama: “What a blessed hour, O Abu-Hussein! You are a thousand times welcome”.