My rabbi, Jesus, once encouraged his crestfallen followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Jesus, who has come to be known as Christ, spoke these words to a grieving people, to an oppressed people, to a people occupied by the Roman Empire which maintained a so-called “peace” with violence and the blatant disregard for brown bodies that were not Roman citizens.
Jesus, a Jew himself, told his followers to welcome the strangers and the foreigners, because they were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 21:22) The God of Jesus is the God of Abraham and is the God of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muslims, Christians, and Jews pray to the same God.
So many of us are deeply mourning today’s Supreme Court decision. And, as our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer soul-death at the hands of the highest court in our land, as the racist and xenophobic policies of this administration are upheld, and therefore sanctioned, I also feel grief and outrage. I feel as though the Supreme Court has kicked us in the stomach. And so, I can only imagine the waves of grief washing over Muslim Americans today. Faithful. Gifted. Citizens. Our neighbors. Our colleagues. Our teachers, police, veterans, physicians.
We must be clear; these policies are part of a systematic, unrelenting, pernicious campaign to strive to make America white. Cruelty at our southern borders; caging human beings in urban jails and in detention centers; the state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown men, women, and children; and banning Muslims—all of this, filled with hate and derision, must be named for what it is, and fought with all of the revolutionary love we can mobilize.
As my beloved friend Ruby Sales says, "we must name this evil programme, religious and ethnic cleansing."
We have been here before; we know what this hatred looks and smells like. We know the deep pathology of the haters. We know their hatred brings soul death to our friends and families. And we know this hatred also rots the heart of the perpetrator.
What, then, do we do to bless the mourning ones, to comfort them?
We must comfort our Muslim and Sikh friends and colleagues today, as they mourn. Gather with them in solidarity.
My friend Linda Sarsour, a co-founder of the Women’s March and a Muslim, shared that she was “sitting in her daughter's high school graduation this morning when she got the news that SCOTUS has moved to uphold the racist, immoral Muslim Ban. History repeats itself and the Supreme Court was wrong today like they were wrong in Korematsu when the court permitted incarceration of thousands of people based on their Japanese ancestry. Just because the Supreme decides something is legal, does not make it just or moral. WE CANNOT BE SILENT.” Don't be silent. Speak up!
We must allow our own hearts to feel the sorrow and disappointment in a nation governed by fear and hatred; let our grief propel us into action. We must support Muslim grassroots organizations, like MPower Change and Cair Michigan.
We must also connect the dots between these SCOTUS decisions, and the ways the decisions are eroding human rights. We must take our dissatisfaction to the polls, voting out the haters, and electing officials who share the ways we value each human life. Our grief is prophetic; we know that even as we mourn, even in our frustration, we must never forget the unbelievable power we have when good people of moral courage bind our hearts and wills together to make America free, really free, at last.
Blessings to you, my Muslim friends, colleagues, and family. Peace to you. Assalamu ‘Alaikum.
And to all of us, let’s DO this! Let’s grieve, let’s act, let’s make America free.
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan and is an Auburn Senior Fellow.