Michigan Town Elects All-Muslim City Government And Reaffirms The American Project

December 3, 2021

Ismail Royer, Director of RFI’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, recently authored an article for Religion Unplugged on the election of a Muslim mayor and city council in Hamtramk, Michigan — a first for the state and possibly the country. Royer urges reflection on what this event signifies for the health of the polity and, indeed, the very nature of the American constitutional order. He writes:

…the election of Muslims we assume to be highly competent city officials should allay the fears of those Americans who harbor doubts about the goodwill of their neighbors of the Islamic faith. These doubts may arise in some because the Muslims with whom they are familiar commit evil in Islam’s name, but such doubts should dissipate as the doubtful become familiar with Muslims who contribute to the common good through service to the community. 

Royer goes on to criticize the claims of those who believe that Islam cannot offer a worthy foundation for governance. He finds such a belief to be “as unfaithful to the principles of our country’s founding as it is to Islam.”  He continues:

Hence, if Islam as Muslims in America understand it harmonizes with these “general principles of Christianity” [referenced by Thomas Jefferson in 1813] on which the American constitutional order was founded, [Muslims] do not need to leave their faith in the mosque — they should bring it with them into the public square as befits an American and a complete human person. Indeed, Hamtramck’s new political leaders — and every American Muslim in political office — should reflect on the aspects of Islamic tradition that are the basis for a consensus on the principles of America’s founding.

Royer goes on to cite several resources within Islam, which are consistent with the understanding of the American Founders, including the classical understanding of natural law; the importance of virtue, including the virtue of “friendship,” to the polity; and the emphasis in the Quranic narrative and in other writings from the Prophet Muhammad that the role of government is to “safeguard and advance the well-being and happiness of the people.” Royer argues that the new leadership of Hamtramck would do well to heed these teachings.

Royer concludes, “Herein lies the secret of American pluralism — pluralism rooted in consensus on transcendent truth rather than the abolition of truth from the public square.”

Read the full article: Michigan Town Elects All-Muslim City Government And Reaffirms The American Project.