“Why can’t we all coexist?!? I am tried of the hate and the judgments! It makes me feel so torn…I am a Muslim and I am an American and I am Egyptian, but in the end I am a HUMAN and Allah (God) made us all to COEXIST!” This was a recent status update on my friend’s Facebook profile and it grabbed my attention . Hanan, this post is especially dedicated to you.
The above video featured by CNN highlights the reality of post-911 America. These days Muslims Americans have had to constantly have to defend their religious practices. It is very unfortunate that throughout history, there has to be a group of people that are targeted specifically for their religion, color, or ethnicity. It used to be the Japanese, then African-Americans, now it is Muslims (imagine being African-American AND Muslim!).
Perhaps we (Muslims) should think of taking a page out of the advertisers handbook…..we should take the responsibility of rebranding our image so to speak. How can you, (the Muslim) engineer, doctor, writer, artist, teacher, housewife, etc, contribute your skills and talents to enhance the Muslim image in the West? My friend had expressed the need to learn more about Islam before taking up the responsibility of educating the public about Islam. I agree..to a certain degree. I happen to think that the best way to learn is to engage. In other words, go out there and mingle with the public. Volunteer in your local community, diversify your group of friends. Talking about the virtues of Islam is great, but how about modelling the virtues of Islam?
The terrible events of 911 instilled a great sense of fear in the hearts and minds of Americans. The media feeds us fear. And we have become very scared of the unknown, a reminder of our own mortality. Unfortunately the fear of the unknown has further fueled the xenophobia that has become so pervasive in our great country.
As an American, nothing gives me greather pride than my right to practise my faith the way I see fit. Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers said “among the inestimable of our blessings, also, is that …of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will”.
I believe firmly that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Just as Muslims are under fire in America, people of other faiths are also harrased for practising their faiths in other parts of the world. To my Muslim brothers and sisters, will we stand by those persecuted people the same way our fellow Americans have stood up for us in our time of need?