At Donald Trump's swearing-in ceremony, there were no Muslim religious leaders
There was no Muslim leader offering prayers or reading scripture at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, serving as a symbol of the incoming administration's contempt for the religious community.
The swearing-in featured six faith-based leaders including five Christian leaders and one rabbi. Two of the clergy were prosperity preachers, who preach that God rewards the faithful with financial rewards. This inauguration was the first time prosperity preachers participated in the ceremony.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has garnered support and praise for proposing hardline views on Islam and discriminatory anti-Muslim policies. Some of these include calling a religion with 1.6 billion followers a "hateful foreign ideology" and advocating for a Muslim registry. Trump also called on Rev. Robert Jeffress, of St. John's Episcopal Church, to preach at a private church service on Friday ahead of the swearing-in ceremony. Jeffress once called Islam an "evil religion" that "promotes pedophilia."
Lila Igram, a mother of three children from Austin, Texas, said she's not surprised there's no imam featured in Trump's swearing-in ceremony.
"I would just say considering Trump's track record to date, it doesn't surprise me," Igram said. "But it's a shame. If he truly wants to be a president for all Americans he would be more representative. Although I'm not surprised, I still find it shocking to not include a representative from the second largest religion in the world."
Igram, who is Muslim American, said she's concerned about the future of her family under Trump's America — but she remains optimistic. "The theme remains — stay positive, more work to do," she said.
The inaugural committee, however, selected Imam Mohamed Magid to perform the athan (or the Islamic call to prayer) on Saturday. Magid will be one of 26 religious leaders who will read scripture at the National Prayer Service held at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday. He also led prayer at Obama's 2013 inauguration prayer service.
Magid is an imam for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Virginia, and has received mixed reaction from the Islamic community for his involvement in Trump's inauguration service.
Dr. Maha Hilal of the Muslim American Women's Policy Forum said that Magid's decision to participate in the interfaith service "represents nothing less than an acquiesing of any political power that Muslims in the U.S. could have had." Hilal said Magid's involvement at the service will signal to the new administration that Muslims will "tolerate a hostile discourse and problematic national security policies," referring to Trump's draconian approach to crack down on "Islamic extremists."
"At a time when Muslims should be rising up, Imam Magid is instead bowing down and setting a dangerous precedent for how Muslims can be treated and still cooperate in the next four years," Hilal said.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Magid said his decision was an effort to "to elevate our shared principles, champion freedom, and promote civil rights for all Americans."
"In doing so, we will demonstrate to all who witness this service that our nation is strengthened by our diversity, enriched by our common humanity, and sustained by our belief in God Almighty," Magid said.
Sabiha Ansari, a Muslim-American mother from central New Jersey, said she trusts Magid's judgement and believes he didn't take this decision lightly.
"The American Muslim community is quite diverse and there will not be one single way to tackle the incoming administration," Ansari said. "This is the time for the community to support our leaders and have faith that their years of service and engagement will lead to the right choices."
Shahed Amanullah, a former senior adviser in the Obama administration, said Muslim leaders are put in a tenuous position between being an advocate for their community and serving as representatives within government engagement under a Trump administration.
"Muslim leaders who for years have advocated for engagement with government are being put in a difficult position," Shahed Amanullah, a former senior advisor in the Obama administration told Mic via Facebook message. "Avoiding, or worse being excluded from, participation in governance is a complete reversal of the strategy of the last decade — after all, it's our government too and we have a right to a seat at the table. But giving the Trump administration even the slightest bit of validation is unthinkable."