Five reasons to stop questioning Obama’s faith

Published: March 22, 2012

I just would like the pollsters to ask the right question in the future polls: Is there something wrong with a Muslim running for the president of United States? Many seven-year-old Muslim Americans are waiting for the answer. PHOTO: REUTERS

I thought the question was so absurd to begin with, that it would go away on its own.

I was wrong.

Four years later, that absurd question, “Do you think Barack Obama is a Muslim?” keeps nagging the American psyche in national and regional polls – despite ample data to the contrary. In 2009, a Pew Research Center poll showed that one in 10 Americans believed President Obama was a Muslim; the number jumped to one in five by 2010. So when last week, one in two Republican voters in the states of Mississippi and Alabama reaffirmed the same phobia, I had to say something.


Data isn’t enough to convince these pollsters, it seems. So here are my top five reasons to stop painting the president as an undercover Muslim by asking this question:

1. The president has answered the question, repeatedly.

They alleged that his father was a Muslim; he denied, saying his father was an atheist. They alleged that he attended a Muslim school in Jakarta for two years; he provided evidence of also attending a Catholic school for the same duration. They alleged his liking for the sound of the Azan – the Muslim call to prayer; he presented his 20-years long association with the United Church of Christ. They alleged he was a Muslim by birth; he responded that he was “a Christian by choice.”

2. If a bunch of loose correlations are enough to call Mr. Obama a Muslim, then you might as well declare Thomas Jefferson to be a Muslim too!

Jefferson’s view of God, Jesus, and biblical miracles is far more aligned with the Muslim understanding than the Christian doctrine. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed in a Creator whom he invoked in his writings. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed Jesus to be a reformer and not the son of God. Like Muslims, he believed that Jesus never even claimed to be the son of God. Like Muslims, he did not believe in the biblical miracles of Jesus literally walking on water or resurrecting to the skies. And like Muslims he owned a personal copy of the Quran. Who knows? He may have used it to incorporate the principles of equality (4:125), life (5:33), liberty (10:100) and pursuit of happiness (62:11) in the Declaration of Independence.

Isn’t it ironic that President Obama, a man who has repeatedly declared his commitment to Christianity faces unending questions about his faith, but Jefferson, a man who repeatedly denounced core Christian beliefs, stands tall and revered in a monument? Anyway, back to number three.

3. The question is a dirty trick; a trick that does not work.

The demise of Donald Trump’s presidential bid followed by the political decline of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry – all guilty of demonising Muslims — are a testament that voters are not seduced by this “every-Muslim-is-an-enemy” mentality. And don’t be fooled by the recent success of Rick Santorum. His campaign will soon end up right next to Newt Gingrich’s; on life support.

4. The question is an insult, not to the president or the Muslim faith, but to our Constitution.

A document that allows any American born citizen over the age of 35 to run for the office of the president, regardless of his or her religion, a document that codifies the presidential oath to office to make it faith-neutral, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…” is too sacred to be trivialised by such bigoted questions.

5. We know the right question to ask.

Surprisingly the right question did not come from the Muslims, or the Democrats, or atheists but from the core of Republican party itself: Colin Powell. During a 2008 “Meet the Press” interview, Powell pushed back: Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president (one day)?

I neither plan to invite President Obama to a Friday prayer service nor wish to posthumously convert Thomas Jefferson to Islam. I just would like the pollsters to ask the right question in the future polls: Is there something wrong with a Muslim running for the president of United States?

Many seven-year-old Muslim Americans are waiting for the answer.

This post originally published here.

Read more by Faheem here.

Faheem Younus

Faheem Younus

The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA. The author can be followed @Faheem!/FaheemYounus

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • NGH


  • owais khan

    this is the first time i’ve read that Obama’s father was an atheist.good to see he had a rational and sane parent when growing up.Recommend

  • asad majeed

    obama’s father was born a muslim,but with time and education he became an atheist.Not too many people know that he became an atheist and therefore they keep thinking that he was a muslim.Recommend

  • junaid shirazi

    It’s heartening to see obama’s father choosing critcal and rational thinking to become an atheist.Hopefully,his son has also learned how to look at issues in a rational manner.
    world leaders need to think in a rational manner,not in an emotional manner.Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Pakistani Hindu kid believing that he or she could be president of Pakistan (one day)?Recommend

  • manish

    @Yuri Kondratyuk:

    yes, it is fundamentally, and theologically wrong. the concept of secularism is meant only for hindus, christians and other religions, but not for muslims.

    they are afterall, the true believers whereas the rest are just ignorant beings, waiting for enlightenment, at their hands.Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @Yuri Kondratyuk: Stop needlessly riling people with unrelated jibes! No Muslim has become Indian Prime Minister (the elected real executive, not the ceremonial one) either. The day India starts giving its missile non-Sanskrit names and stops doing bhumi pujan for government office buildings, you would be closer to having the right to throw such taunts at our neighbour. Oh yes, I am a Hindu Indian, and I don’t believe India is a heaven for minorities. It might be better than Pakistan, but marginally. What’s with this misplaced superiority complex? Recommend

  • Cynical

    Moral of the story:
    If your parents are atheist, you have a better chance of being the President,PM,CEO,MD or likes regardless of the religion you are born into, but hold your breath……only in a secular,liberal country. Recommend

  • Cynical

    I love this Jefferson guy.He was almost a Muslim.
    It’s a great feeling that one of the founding fathers of the great Amreeka was so close to Islam.No wonder they are helping us with grants,loans and weapons since 1947. Recommend

  • American

    It is blasphemous for a muslim to rule over a country which was based on chrisitian ideals.. will a muslim country ever allow a non muslim to be a PM or president. Recommend

  • AAK

    Since when did atheism become the necessary predicate for rationality? The dogmatic mind is a mind that cannot conceive of virtue in any other way of thinking other than itself – in this regard the dogmatic mind can be that of an atheist or a theist. Recommend

  • http://quetta kenneth

    Please dont tell me the virtues of liberty and equality may have been included from the Quran, beacuse we non muslims are dhimmis and pay jazya so how could a great, right giving, equal constitution be attributed to the source.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The premise of the theory is incorrct.

    He cannot be recognised a muslim, since he has neither declared nor accepted the tenets of Islam!!

    It is probable that he was born a muslim since his father was a muslim and his stepfather was also supposed to be a muslim and if he was baptised a muslim at birth. This question could only be answered by his parents, who unfortunately do no longer live!!

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • john barakt

    yes in lebanon the president is christianRecommend

  • kaalchakra

    Dee Cee

    You might be a Hindu (why did you say so?), but you have an extremely poor grasp of reason. Superior or inferior is in your mind, but India and Pakistan are two completely different places, as they should be by reason of their orientations.

    In an officially Islamic nation, it is reasonable than the Chief Executive be required to be a good Muslim. India lacks that guidance. Your language may be part of your religion but most others see it as part of their culture. By separating your culture from your religion and requiring that your secularism be first de-cultured you may be more Pakistani than Indian. By the way, that will not make you inferior, but just very unIndian in your thinking.

    (that some Pakistanis are trying to bring culture back should serve as a warning to you.)Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    @mods, nice to see that a harmless question from me is modded out with some alacrity!!Recommend

  • The Truth

    It doesn’t matter whether he is Muslim or not , because he is working against the Muslims.Recommend

  • Umer


    In an officially Islamic nation, it is
    reasonable than the Chief Executive be
    required to be a good Muslim. India
    lacks that guidance.

    That is why we have Mr 10% has the Chief Executive in Pakistan with Pakistan’s supreme court trying to prosecute him.Recommend

  • Nasamajh

    Brilliant..very well articulated article!!Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    It matters not wheather he declares himself as a christian or a muslim, deeds are which determins his performance as a person and a leader. He was brought up in the black suberbs of Alcapone famous city of Chicago. After his inauguration, the Bishop of the church which baptised his children abondoned him and his performance has shown that as suspected he is an imposter. He is definitely not what people around the world thought about him? The majority want him now to be the one term president?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • New Yorker

    5 reasons why I know he is a Muslim:

    1) He is rational being who believe a God like a Muslim

    2) He tried to distant himself from Muslim voters during election, if he was so comfortable with his belief and faith – why would he do that?

    3) He visited Egypt and Indonesia and must have more than a soft corner for Islam!

    4) His father’s extended family members are Muslim and he did visit them as a senator.
    He has Muslim blood in him. Period.

    5) All Christians are Muslims they just don’t know it yet. Christians are waiting for the second coming of Jesus and Muslims also believe Jesus (i.e. Prophet Isa) will return to guide them in their faith. When Jesus comes back (some believe he already did, Obama will have no choice but to accept Islam openly if he is true follower of Jesus! Recommend