Since December 2019 I have sent e-mails, Facebook messages, and/or Twitter messages to over 200 Muslim public officials or Muslim candidates running for public office. I presented each with four questions requiring a choice to be made between the U.S. Constitution/our manmade laws or Islamic Doctrine, and I wrote that I looked forward to his or her responses.
A few personally responded and expressed support for the U.S. Constitution, and a few more personally responded but would not express support for that Constitution. For a complete list of the Muslim public officials or candidates contacted go to The Muslim Oath Project website.
Muhammad Arif – Candidate United States Senate: Arif responded the same day to the February 10, 2020 e-mail. He asked if we could meet for coffee or lunch to discuss the questions. I explained that I lived too far away for that. We exchanged several additional e-mails, and on February 11th he wrote:
Since you do not live in Arizona and I’m busy in my campaign because I have limited time … can I email you these answer [sic] next week … I apologize for delay [sic] because the questions I have to read carefully and answer in details [sic]
I replied that would be fine. The “next week” came and went, and on February 22nd I sent him an e-mail asking when I could expect his responses. I have not heard back from Arif.
Christopher E. Benjamin, Esq. – Florida State House of Representatives: Benjamin promptly responded to my email of December 8, 2020:
Thank you for your inquiry as to my position on your concern as presented in your questions. As you are aware, I’ve taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Florida. I take this oath very seriously as I have taken this solemn oath a number of times in my pursuit of service to my fellow man (as a soldier of the United States Army, as a lawyer, as a magistrate and now as a State Representative). The 1st Amendment provides the foundation of our nation’s separation of Church and State. It provides for individual citizens to practice the faith of their choosing (and to practice in the manner of their choosing); it also provides that the government (the United States as a whole and its several states) will not place one religion over another – thereby preventing a national religion and that government shall do nothing to abridge this important freedom. As it relates to the practice of one’s religion, it is a very personal thing and should be protected as the Founders intended. My goal as a legislator is to enact legislation in a way that gives the individual that greatest ability to exercise the Free Will for which our creature has endowed every human being. I believe that the value of Free Will is only truly realized when the individual has the opportunity to obey or disobey divine decree. The US and Florida are not governed by the divine decree of G-d as given by revelation in the Holy Quran; and although I am Muslim, I am also an American and a native Floridian who has been elected to represent the voices of those who live within my District. I will represent them with an eye towards what is important to them as a community and what is important to us as Floridians.
Have no fear, as I shall uphold my oath and maintain the 1st Amendment’s separation of Church and State.
Christopher E. Benjamin, Esq.
Florida State Representative – District 107
Ameena Matthews – Candidate U.S. House of Representatives (IL-1): On February 24, 2020, in reply to my second e-mail, I received the following from Dr. La’Shawn Littrice, Matthews’ Campaign Manager:
Hi, Steve. How are you? I will forward this to Dr. Matthews and get it back to you by Wednesday [February 26th] of this week.
On February 28th I sent Littrice an e-mail asking her for an update. I have not heard back from Littrice.
Pious Ali – Portland City Council: Ali responded on December 9, 2019, simply writing:
The Inquisition ended in 1834
I replied that same day:
There is no “inquisition” involved. These should be very simple questions to answer because I believe your oath of office included a statement that you would support our U.S. Constitution and laws. Why do you hesitate to support the 1st and 8th Amendments to our Constitution, and our bigamy laws?
On December 10th Ali responded:
Where are you located again? I have taking [sic] that oath three times, It [sic] never says I should answer to bigots who live outside my jurisdiction, I hope your week is going well.
I replied that same day by pointing out that there was nothing bigoted about asking how he resolved fundamental conflicts between doctrines of his faith and the U.S. Constitution, and I asked why he was reluctant to answer.
On December 11th Ali responded:
I don’t think I have to answer you, for one basic reason there is a separation between faith and politics in America. Unless you have another question that is directly connected to my role as an elected official in Portland Maine. [sic] I will not answer any of your racist anti-Muslim questions.
On December 12th I thanked him for his input. Later that same day he responded:
that is what I thought [sic]
I had not further exchanges with Ali.
Deqa Dhalac, South Portland City Council:
On March 19, 2020 Dhalac responded to my first e-mail:
What you asking has nothing to do with how we work in our city government. We do not use religion to govern for the work we do, you might want to check our website.
Every religion has some good and some bad, So for your writings here I see your biases against one religion.
I ask you, do you live in South Portland? If not I don’t think there is a need for me to answer for any of your question.
I hope you have a good day.
Thanks for getting back with me. As a public official you took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution. But as I pointed out in the four questions, there are irreconcilable conflicts between that Constitution and tenets of your religion. I am interested in understanding how you reconcile the two. That is why each of the four questions presents a choice between the Constitution or tenets of Islam.
I look forward to your responses.
On March 20, 2020, Dhalac responded:
In these difficult times in our universe where people are helping each other regardless of their religious believes I refuse to entertain your negative views. I hope god shows you how to respect other people’s faiths as god showed me to do just that.
Salwa Fawaz – Crestwood School Board: On April 9, 2020 I sent a Facebook Message to Salwa Fawaz asking her to respond to the attached four questions.
That same day she responded:
I don’t debate religion nor do I discuss it publicly as I see it is a personal relationship with Allah that each of us have. If you have any School related issues within the Crestwood School District please feel free to share your concerns with me so I may be able to direct you to proper channels.
I replied later that day:
Thanks for getting back with me. This is not intended to be a debate about religion. I am simply presenting four scenarios in which you can choose between the U.S. Constitution or Islamic Doctrine.
Fawaz has never responsed.
Leila Shukri Adan – Candidate U.S. House of Representatives (MN-5): On February 17, 2020 Adan responded to my second e-mail:
Thank you so much for your email and for the reminder. I am confirming receipt and will get back to you soon!
I have not heard back from Adan.
Hala Asmarai – Columbia Heights School Board: On April 9, 2020 Hala Asmarai responded to the questions I had sent her earlier that day:
Hello Mr. Kirby,
It’s part of Islam to follow the laws of the land.
Dr. Hala Asamarai
Hala Asamarai, Ed.D.
Columbia Heights School Board
I replied that same day:
Thank you for your prompt response.
You are saying that Islam commands you to follow the man-made laws of the United States. Does this mean that when there is a conflict between the man-made laws of the United States and the commands of Allah and/or the teachings and example of your prophet Muhammad, our man-made laws will come first and you will choose to follow them?
Dr. Asamarai has never responded.
Suud Olat – Candidate Minneapolis City Council:
I sent Suud Olad the Four Questions by Facebook Messenger on March 31, 2020, and again on April 3rd since I had not received a response.
In the evening of April 30th I received this response from Olat: “Nonsense questions.” A little over two hours later he sent another response: “Did you ask kinda questions white candidates running or a candidate for office? [sic]
On May 1st I responded:
These questions have nothing to do with ethnicity. The focus of these questions is on the conflict between major tenets of Islamic Doctrine and the U.S. Constitution/our man-made laws. The only reason I am asking you these questions is because you are a Muslim who follows the religion of Islam, and if successful with your campaign, you will be taking an oath of office swearing, or affirming, to support a Constitution that is in direct conflict with major tenets of your religion. In the four scenarios presented, will you choose to support the Constitution over conflicting teachings of Islam, or will you choose to support Islamic Doctrine when there is a conflict with the Constitution? You choose.
I have not heard back from Olat.
Mustafa Al-Mutazzim Brent – East Orange City, City Council: Brent responded on December 12, 2019, writing:
Please pardon my delayed response, it is neither deliberate nor intentional. Thank you for this timely and necessary discourse. Please feel free to reach out to me at your convenience, I will be happy to answer any questions you my [sic] have.
I replied that same day by pointing out that I looked forward to his responses to the four questions I had sent him. I have not heard back from Brent.
Kaleem Shabazz – Atlantic City, City Council: On December 19th I received this reply from Shabazz:
As an elected official I support uphold [sic] and defend the laws of this nation state and city [sic] where I reside. Islam is completely compatible with the American laws. As president of the local branch of the NAACP and a member of the state Executive committee of the NAACP I support and speak for social justice civil rights and equality for all citizens [sic]. As President of Bridge of Faith an Interfaith group I try to being [sic] understanding of various faiths.
The next day I sent this response to Shabazz:
Thanks for getting back with me. I am curious about your statement that “Islam is completely compatible with the American laws,” especially in light of the glaring incompatibility between Islamic Doctrine and the U.S. Constitution/“American laws” shown in the four questions I sent you. How can you support “the laws of this nation” when such an incompatibility exists between some of those laws and some of the tenets of your religion? Are you saying that when there is a conflict between the two, our man-made laws are superior to the commands of Allah found in the Koran and the teachings and example of your prophet Muhammad? Do you mean that Islam “is completely compatible with the American laws” because when there is a conflict between the two, the Doctrines of Islam are subordinate to the U.S. Constitution and our other man-made laws?
I have not heard back from Shabazz.
Zainab Baloch – Candidate Mayor of Raleigh: Baloch lost the 2019 general election to become the Mayor of Raleigh. However, her subsequent social postings appeared to indicate that she was in politics for the long haul; she had written: “This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.” On February 17th she responded to my second e-mail:
I didn’t miss it [my first e-mail]. If I have time to respond to your harassing questions, I will. Have a great week!
I have not heard back from Baloch.