Coming from peace: An open letter to Donald Trump

[Updated as of Aug 2016]

Dear Mr. Trump,

My name is Rais Bhuiyan. I am an American Muslim and survivor of a violent post 9/11 hate crime. I deplore the acts of violence and hatred that are wrongly performed in the name of my religion, they do not represent me or my beliefs, and they do not reflect the lessons taught in the Qur’an. I also denounce all manifestations of hateful acts and rhetoric.

While I respect you for obtaining the GOP nomination for President, as such a leader, I urge you to learn about and get to know the minorities and immigrants who call the United States home. Like all of humanity, American Muslims are an integral part of our society. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, first responders and firefighters, business owners, police officers, and peace activists, like me. Over 10,000 American Muslims currently serve in the U.S. military and are ready to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and liberties. American Muslims, like their fellow citizens, are patriotic Americans, who have been living and shaping the landscape of this country for centuries. Ten to 30% of the people brought here as slaves were Muslims who fought during the Civil War, WWII, and the Vietnam War. Many gave (and continue to give) their lives to protect your freedom, liberty, and happiness, contributing to building this great country. It not only devastates American Muslims like me when our country’s leaders question our allegiance, it sends an extraordinarily distressing message worldwide. You have a unique position in American society, people take your words seriously, they listen to and believe you.

Your vitriolic, hate-filled rhetoric and ignorance is not only causing others to lose their civil and human rights and dignity, but in some cases, also inciting such abhorrence and violence that innocent people are losing their lives. Freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights we enjoy, but was not fought for to be used as a blank check to ruin other peoples’ freedom. It is imperative that you properly represent all Americans, including Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans and immigrants — voters, citizens, professionals, family members and loyal Americans. A great leader represents everyone, even those who do not support him. As citizens of this nation, we should be doing things to strengthen and empower one another, not discouraging or demonizing some among us, and not casting doubt upon their loyalties and love for our country.

I have spent my life preaching the value of radical forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and acceptance ever since I was shot in the face ten days after 9/11 by an American espousing values similar to the ones you voiced. I know how tempting it was to BLAME the whites, the Christians, or all the Americans’ because of the white supremacist who shot me in the face and killed two innocent South Asians and voluntarily told the media, after his arrest, that what he did, most Americans wanted to do, but they did not have the guts to do it. He BLAMED me and “my kind” for 9/11.  He thought that America was no place for Muslims until I started a campaign to save him from death row. Unfortunately, he was ultimately executed, but not before he called me “brother” and he said that he loved me. His last message was, “Hate has to stop, it causes a lifetime of pain”.

America needs to understand, to repair, and to heal.  America does deserve better.  We deserve better treatment from ourselves.  We deserve a country that lives up to its original creed – that ALL men (and women) are created equal.  At a time when most Americans were uninformed, misinformed, or simply afraid of Islam, Thomas Jefferson imagined Muslims as future citizens of his new nation. His engagement with the faith began with the purchase of a Qur’an eleven years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence. “Neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”
 — Thomas Jefferson, quoting John Locke, 1776

Your recent comments against Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, and immigrants are spreading fear, hate, and causing destruction in our society, and it’s not healthy. Your recent speech reminds me of the famous quote of Abraham Lincoln – “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  

I urge you to stop spreading fear and hate, putting Americans against one another. Instead, just imagine each time someone gets shot or killed, faces hate or prejudice that it is YOU or one of your loved ones. For God sake, please have some empathy and compassion for those who go through each and every day wondering if they might be next, terrified to leave their homes, unable to practice their basic rights as citizens and as human beings. Please step up and make a positive impact today. History will remember you for what you did for humanity. 

I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you, as one American Muslim, to talk with you further about the contributions that American Muslims can make to improving our national security and helping this nation to be the best it can be. Muslims have value, Mr. Trump, and all Muslims are not violent. I would like to demonstrate these truths to you.

Sincerely,

Rais Bhuiyan

Founder & President

World Without Hate

21 comments

  • Carolyn DeCook

    Thank you for so eloquently all my wishes. I can only hope you can penetrate the wall of ignorance, hate and greed.

  • Sss

    Excellent picec of article, read each and every word with lot of passion. True picture of forgiveness. I think front running candidate needs to borrow some of your understanding in order to make America safe place. Truthful article that touches the heart.

  • Marcella Lambert

    Thank you for writing Donald Trump this beautiful letter calling for peace and understanding. I agree he could help spread a new message right now and pray he will sit down with you and learn not to hate and fear.
    Marcella

  • Mrellan Harahan

    Thank You for expressing the true spirit of our beautiful country so well. May Allah bless you forever.

  • Tanya Long

    Amazing letter. God/Allah Bless you. I studied about the Muslim faith in undergrad school. It is a beautiful, loving religion. As a Christian, I see many similarities to the love messages practiced by true Christians everywhere. Keep your head up.

  • Margaret

    Since Trump was raised by parents who were extreme racists he now needs to cleanse his soul before he can move forward in peace,

  • Joseph Frank

    Thank you for writing this Rais! It was great to meet you at UMass Amherst, and I am glad you took the time to pen this letter. Your story is unfortunately still as pertinent today as it was over ten years ago. We all must remember to believe in tolerance.

  • Thank you for your words of wisdom,Mr Bhuiyan.Just as you wish that all Muslims not be thought of as terrorists,I hope that you don’t think that all non-Muslims are bigots like trump and his fanatic followers.Most of us just want to live in Peace on this fragile planet we all call home.

  • Thank you Rais Bhuiyan for your heart-felt letter. We need many more people like you in the world. Peace be with You, brother.

  • Candace Bottorf

    Thank you. Just thank you. I was part of the Counter Culture, back in the day. We envisioned a world without hate. A world with acceptance, love and understanding. Peace. And we fully believed that this world would come to pass. And so it is, that this world I currently live in breaks my heart. And I thank you for believing in my dream, and I hope that change will come. But it’s a long time coming…

  • Kudos to you! Your letter says many things that deserve and need to be said. I hope it was/is/will be published widely. Hopefully, Mr. Trump will take you up on your offer to sit down with you and listen, converse maturely, and exhibit a reasonably open mind. However, I am not holding my breath.
    From the little I saw of your story, I must commend your courage and your action. You apparently showed that level of “radical forgiveness” also shown by the families of the nine [?] African-Americans who were killed at the church in Baltimore, I think it was. This level of forgiveness is astounding to me; I doubt I could muster it up. But it demonstrates the meaning of what I believe to be the heart and soul of all the world’s great religions, and probably most of the minor ones as well.
    I was moved by your letter to comment, an atypical experience for me. Once again, kudos to you!
    — Jim Porter, Clinical Psychologist, Irving, Texas

  • Josue Reynoso

    Dear Rais,

    I greatly enjoyed reading your letter. The work you are doing is truly impressive and well needed, not only in America but in the whole world.

    The world is becoming flatter and everyday is more difficult to remain isolated in one’s culture and beliefs. American cities are currently spearheading globalization by being the melting pots where people from different backgrounds learn to live and work together. Other cities will take their place in the future in the same way other cities have been in the past. We can learn from history that when cities and nations are open to cultural exchanges science, technology, economy and the arts flourish. But when their are close-minded and isolated they vanish into oblivion (Constantinople is one of the best examples of both).

    However, cultural exchanges are not easy. When I encounter someone with different beliefs I am forced to reevaluate mines. It is painful to be introspective and recognize my own biases. It is much easier to remain isolated with people who think like myself and judge, hate and criticize whatever does not sound or looks like me. Now, the attitudes we see in some Americans (those that are reflected in Mr. Trump speeches), are not exclusive to America. The same reluctance against people with different culture is widespread, and in some nations much higher than in America. However they are more difficult to be recognized because there is much less cultural exchange in other regions.

    There are many atrocities that have been committed for cultural reasons, and it is difficult to let resentment go and forgive. But your life shows that there is a better way. You were very brave to choose the path of forgiveness, even when it is the harder thing to do. And you are now teaching others that all people are really equal and that we can get along regardless of religion, beliefs or physical characteristics. This is a message that is worth spreading across the world. A world without hate is truly a better place to live in.

    Thanks for your letter and keep up the good work!
    Josué

  • Thank you so much Mr Bhuiyan for a well thought out, loving and intelligent message to Mr Trump. As someone living in Coventry, UK, and as a follower of Jesus I really don’t understand the attitude of those who pick out one part of society as a scapegoat for all the problems.
    I am sorry for all the hate and violence you have received at the hands of non-muslims.

    Here in Coventry, I have friends who are Christians, Atheists, Hindhu, Muslim, Sikh and many others. You would always be welcome to visit here, and i would love to hear more of your story, but I fully understand that you are probably very busy.

    Anyway, God bless you richly, and keep filling you with the love and compassion your letter displayed so well.

    Vicki Sutton (Senior Pastor, Coventry Vineyard)

  • Alan Myson

    Well said sir

  • With you dear friend. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you

  • Excellent post, i surely appreciate this website, keep on it

  • Joanne Coleman

    Thank you! I live in Texas.

  • Jennifer Can

    Thank you for this eloquent and touching letter of hope.

    I am using this as part of a lesson dealing with the election, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and hope with my high school students.

  • Thank you for giving the information. It will
    help me lot.

  • Sara Pierce

    We are all blessed by your presence and actions.
    In gratitude and inspiration

  • Kristine Forsberg

    You’ve inspired. Please continue your good works and take this message, and your work with children, as far as you can. The world needs this. Thank you.

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