Frasat Ahmad, USA
This week, your Muslim neighbor Ahmad will be enjoying Thanksgiving just like you.
You may not know, but Muslims love thanksgiving. Not only does the thought of juicy turkey and sweet pumpkin pie entice our stomachs, but the spirit of Thanksgiving entices our souls.
Although Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday or observance and is not commemorated as such, Muslims in America are naturally drawn to this holiday because of the spirit of gratitude and service that it embodies. This American spirit of giving thanks is actually enshrined in Islam. In fact, Islam can be boiled down to two ideals: giving thanks to God and giving thanks to our fellow human beings.
The Qur’an tells us,
‘Worship God and be thankful to Him,’– The Holy Qur’an 39:67
Some may say that ritual prayer and worship suffice to give thanks to God. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) could not disagree more.
In a famous tradition, he states,
‘If you are not thankful to people, then you are not thankful to God.’– Sunan Abu Dawud 4811
Gratitude to our fellow brethren by way of community service, paired with prayer, is the truly Muslim means to give thanks to God. And it fits perfectly with the American spirit of Thanksgiving.
As Americans excitedly prepare to organise food drop offs to homeless shelters, donate groceries to food pantries, volunteer at food banks, or raise money for local charities, they will see that their Muslim neighbors stand in unison with them in these selfless acts of service.
This spirit of selfless service connects us all, whatever our background or religion.
And members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in America have all the more reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Ahmadi Muslims are grateful to God for living in America, a country that offers us the right to exercise religious freedom and to vote. In stark contrast, many supposedly Muslim countries snatch such religious and political freedoms away from their religious minorities.
To celebrate such freedom, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) across all 62 of our chapters in America are expressing their gratitude to God by giving thanks to our fellow brothers and sisters. From hosting thanksgiving dinners in our mosques to donating toys for underprivileged families this holiday season, Ahmadi youth are giving thanks in the most American way possible – through acts of service.
And we call on all Americans — of every faith or no faith — to excel one another in such goodness (The Holy Qur’an 2:149).
You can take part in the various drives held by AMYA across the country. For example, you can donate to non-profit organisations like Humanity First, who has partnered with AMYA in providing Americans 1.7 million meals since the pandemic started.
Or you can donate blood with the Red Cross, whom AMYA has partnered with to combat the severe shortage of blood donations. Thus far, Ahmadi Muslim youth have saved nearly 3,000 American lives through the gift of blood. You can save lives too this Thanksgiving, as just one pint of blood can save three lives.
You can also register to be a potential bone marrow donor and help someone get the lifesaving transplant they need. In fact, AMYA has partnered with the Be the Match Registry, the most diverse marrow registry in the world, so that our youth can serve as a possible match for a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. You can too.
This Thanksgiving let’s show our gratitude by uplifting our fellow Americans and ensuring they have a helping hand during a time of need.
It’s the American way.
About the Author: Frasat Ahmad is an Imam who serves with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States of America