Commentary: Why the spirit of Thanksgiving resonates with Muslims


Thanksgiving — with all its festivities and scrumptious dishes — has always been my favorite holiday. As an immigrant to America, I adore this holiday not only for its origin of fostering peace but as well for focusing on divine remembrance and for offering gratitude — a common value shared by all religions.

As a Muslim, the idea of giving thanks resonates well, since it reminds me of a famous saying from Prophet Muhammad: “One who is not grateful to others is not grateful to God.” So, from an Islamic perspective, rendering thanks to God will not suffice unless I make a sincere attempt of appreciating my fellow mankind and the environment from which I draw many benefits.

COMMENTARY: Is America ready to embrace true meaning of ‘jihad’?

Sadly, the current image of Islam is grossly distorted by groups promoting hate, like the Islamic State. Groups like these are engrossed in their own hidden agendas continue to radicalize troubled and lost souls and steer them toward deranged actions like killing innocent civilians, just like the recent mass shooters. Individuals oblivious to religious teachings and morality commit these horrific acts, and in the process, malign religious conviction and torment peace-loving followers.

Regrettably, the phrase “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) is greatly maligned by these criminals. If they had really opened the religious scripture, then they would not amiss this simple decree that the phrase “Allahu Akbar” — along with other exhortations, such as “Subhan Allah” (glory to God) and “Alhamdulillah” (thank God) — are to praise God for the favors and blessings He bestows upon us. We must also be grateful of our surroundings — and we should acknowledge the favors bestowed upon us from our adopted nations as well. Then, we will be truly recipients of Gods’ grace, mercy and bounty.

As a Muslim celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to expound upon the true connotation of “Allahu Akbar,” a phrase recited by Muslims several times a day in expressing multitude of gratitude to God. As an American Muslim, I recite “Allahu Akbar” to glorify God when offering my five daily prayers — to acknowledge God of his benevolence in letting me breathe freely, to break my bread with my family, to cherish my friends, colleagues, neighbors and let me acclaim all my surroundings from which I draw my benefits on a regular basis.

AHMADIYAA MUSLIMS: Group builds understanding over coffee in Austin, Round Rock.

This is the context in which “Allahu Akbar” is used to venerate God. I hope and pray that one day the whole world will realize the true significance of saying “Allahu Akbar.” It is not so different from saying “Hallelujah” after all. It is also a reminder for Muslims to count their blessings and be grateful to God and his creation.

Thankfully, in the United States, due to religious freedom, we are encouraged to set the record straight on Islam — and many Americans keep an open mind and engage with their Muslim neighbors to evade any misunderstanding. For that, I truly am thankful for their efforts in bridging the gaps and learning about the true teachings of Islam.

Our American leaders should reject the notion that Islam is at war with the West and instead should engage in dialogues with their American Muslim neighbors to overcome any skepticism. This sociopolitical conflict can only be won by the dissemination of true Islamic teachings. American Muslims must continue to tread this path to show the true face of Islam.

The effort must be exhibited by both sides to elude any misperceptions. If our leaders hold on to the American values of decency, tolerance and gratefulness, it will reassure everyone that this is what makes America a great nation.

Ahmad is an engineer for a tech company and lives in Round Rock.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Letters to the editor: Jan. 20, 2018

It is appalling the disrespect being shown to President Trump. The left, liberals and Democrats have turned a blind eye to the corrupt leadership shown during the eight years of Obama and the Democrats. President Trump has done very well so far. It is very apparent that the Democratic party’s leadership does not want Trump to succeed and they...
Affordable credit is essential to a growing middle class
Affordable credit is essential to a growing middle class

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents deep southern Texas, understands what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. His parents were migrant workers who sometimes traveled from Laredo to Idaho for jobs. He also understands the value of hard work. With a master’s, J.D., and Ph.D., he’s “the most degreed member of Congress...
Commentary: Where will technology take the arts?
Commentary: Where will technology take the arts?

Every new technology changes how we find and experience art and entertainment, for better and worse. Today, as streaming becomes the dominant delivery mode for creative content, a new world of instant, global, direct connection between artists and their fans is at hand. The potential is glorious — ease of access, openness, a search for new content...
Herman: The Kiddie Acres carousel spins again
Herman: The Kiddie Acres carousel spins again

Back in July I told you that after about four decades and countless birthday parties, Joe and Marina Herring were retiring and closing their Kiddie Acres, a small North Austin amusement park that has a special place in the our town’s collective memory bank. I told you the rides were being auctioned. And in September, I told you that ...
Facebook comments: Jan. 19, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove, Gov. Greg Abbott has unveiled the centerpiece of his re-election campaign: His property tax reform plan. It would cap revenue increases for local taxing entities at 2.5 percent a year. “Under the plan I am announcing today, Texas will take action to limit property tax growth, secure...
More Stories