During a January 1, 2016 Friday sermon in New Jersey, cleric Abdelfattah Mourou bemoaned the state of the Islamic nation today, with its high rate of illiteracy and lack of scientific achievements. "I believe that you have a role to play," he told the congregation at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, in Patterson, NJ. American Muslims "should be able to instill new hope, and to serve as a beacon and a model for our nation in slumber, far away." Mourou, who is Vice-President of the Tunisian Parliament and was the co-founder of the Ennahdha Party, called upon Muslims in the U.S. to become "full citizens" and participate in the decision-making, while respecting others.
Abdelfattah Mourou: "We, the Islamic nation, are supposed to ask ourselves: 'Where are we today?' Your prophet left you as a power in this world, as 'the best nation that ever appeared in this world.' You built academies, universities, and roads. You produced scholars of physics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, and optics. You made discoveries for the benefit of Mankind. For seven centuries, Islam provided knowledge and lore for humanity. Where is your knowledge and lore today, oh Muslims? Today, the Muslims are living in an era when everything they wear, from head to toe, is made by others. This cap was made in New Zealand. These glasses were made in Austria. This microphone was made in America. This watch was made in Switzerland, and my shoes were made in Italy. The wool of this robe came from Britain. My brothers, we do not own anything in our lives. Why do you raise your hands in prayer, asking Allah to grant 'victory to Islam and the Muslims'? Victory over whom exactly? Why should you be victorious? Allah speaks about 'evil deeds out of ignorance'? 30% of Muslims cannot read or write. We cannot take pride in a single university in the (Muslim) world for producing minds that move the world forward. We are a nation that does not read or write. Today is the first day of the new year. With all due respect, has anyone here read a single book (in the past year)? We do not read, and we do not teach our wives to read. Our sons do not read either. On average, an Arab reads 0.79 books a year – that's three quarters of a book – while in Japan, they read 80 books every two years. So how can we expect to be like the Japanese? How can I expect to be like the Americans who have learned to read and plan their lives carefully? We, on the other hand, live our lives randomly, by whims and emotions?"
"I am addressing the sons of America. You are Americans. I am proud to be speaking to you. You live in a country established on the basis of experience, and the accumulation of knowledge. Here, they benefit from every person who enters the country. Those who built New Jersey cam from Jersey in Britain, the city of textile. They came here and built Jersey, and they built York next to it. They named them New York and New Jersey. They brought their factories with them, and this land welcomed them. The local Indians were joined by the English, the French, the Italians, the Poles and the Germans. They built this important civilization, of which we are proud, because it benefits humanity. This civilization was built upon knowledge and science, and on drawing upon the experience of others. I am proud that you, as Americans, have come to this mosque, because I believe that you have a role to play. You should be able to instill new hope, and to serve as a beacon and a model for our nation in slumber, far away. The Muslims today are in a slumber.
"If the Islamic nation does not have doctors of the highest professional caliber, then the Islamic nation, as a collective, is in a state of sin. If the Islamic nation has no producers of missiles, then the Islamic nation, as a collective, is in a state of sin. If the Islamic nation has no manufacturers of cellphones, then the Islamic nation, as a collective, is in a state of sin. Today, we are living in complete sin, but we do not talk about it.
"Make yourselves full citizens of this country, the law of which does not prevent you from becoming full citizens. This country respects you and your faith. Practice your faith, but exercise your citizenship as well. Play an active role in this society. Don't be a burden on it. You cannot claim to be passive Muslims, uninvolved in policy-making, but when people curse us and say all kinds of things about us, start crying, wash your hands of them, and say: 'Oh people, protect us from them. They want to drive us out of their land, to place us in confinement and to purge America of us.' Why do you say this? Because you have forgotten to join the decision-making. You live in a country in which citizenship means participation and action. You have the right to be full citizens, but you must respect those who differ from you in their religion, in their political inclination, and in their choices, because citizenship is a mosaic that brings together a variety of colors. It is your duty to be one of these colors, to be a prominent color.
"(Oh Allah,) protect this country, with its Muslims and non-Muslims. Do not let them experience evil or hostility, oh Lord of the Worlds. Make our countries safe, along with all the other countries, so we are not stricken with evil, oh Lord of the Worlds. We do not wish evil upon ourselves or upon others."