I woke up on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 knowing that it was yet another anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A day when many people, myself included, can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing, on that very day eleven years ago.
A day when Americans, and millions of others across the globe, reflect on the lives that were lost that day, on the families that were impacted by this loss, and by the sheer magnitude of how that day has affected us all, forever.
I know that, as a Muslim woman (even though I am an American, born and raised here), unfortunately I must expect some additional “awareness” of my presence in the community on the anniversary of 9/11. And, I must have a more “heightened” awareness of my surroundings. Although no one made any comments to me on that day (well, comments that did not make it to my ears anyway), I did experience a bit of discomfort (no harm) from others actions.
Once the media started reporting on the violence (ironically the violence began to occur on the anniversary of 9/11?) erupting in some middle eastern countries due to a stupid, disgusting, and ignorant low-budget film that was made in the USA depicting a blasphemous, ridiculous, slanderous, vile, and disgusting portrayal of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SAW), I suddenly felt so let down (once again) by people who immediately choose violence over Islam! People who certainly do not understand Islam, or who have been very misguided due to their lack of knowledge.
As a Muslim woman, I felt that these people could actually be putting my safety at risk from across the world. Why did I feel like they could be putting my safety at risk and that I may be a target of others comments or violent actions? Because, I am identified as a Muslim woman. Because I cover my hair and body.
God willing, I will remain safe but I am certainly becoming a bit hypervigilant while out and about by myself.
And, God willing no one, no law, no group, will ever take away my right to identify myself as a Muslim woman.
That being said, I am so deeply disheartened by all of the hate that I continue to see in the world today.
Growing up in a small community, predominantly white, with very little diversity, I was sheltered from much of what happens in the rest of the world. I am thankful to my parents for instilling me with values and morals that include love for all of humanity, not just those who were in my local community that I saw everyday.
As students, we are all taught of how far we have come since the days of slavery, the days of people of color having no rights in this country, the days of women having no rights in this country, etc.
Really? We have come so far?
Sure, laws were passed to “give equal rights”, but laws did NOTHING to remove the hate and prejudice! It is still here, and it is very widespread.
Such arrogance! Yes, it is arrogance! How can one person feel that they are better than another? Show me the proof that this is true! Where is that found?
Now that I am an adult (a female, white, American adult), an adult who has embraced Islam as my way of life, I am no longer part of that sheltered community that I was raised in, and let me tell you, it is like seeing the world through a different lens. Not just MY lens, but the lens that OTHER people are looking through when they look at me. To some, I instantly go from the American female that I am, to someone from another country, someone who can’t speak English (so I don’t understand their snide, hateful, ignorant, comments), or someone who must be oppressed because of how I dress. Throw in that social media has gotten so huge that “Freedom of Speech” has taken on a whole new level of acceptance.
There is so much HATE, MISINFORMATION, RACISM, VIOLENCE, INTOLERANCE, MISGUIDANCE, IGNORANCE (on so many levels), HYPOCRISY, DISHONESTY, SLANDER, shall I go on…?
Free speech…..free from what exactly?
I AM IN NO WAY CONDONING THE RECENT ACTIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SO OFFENDED BY THE ACTIONS OF “THE HATERS” THAT THEY HAVE TURNED TO VIOLENCE (which by the way, is not found in Islam and they are not acting according to what is taught to us).
I am offended myself, very offended, but I know that patience, sharing the truth, and acting in accordance with what Islam really teaches, is what I will do, God Willing.
Take away lesson: BE NICE, BE KIND! I’ll take that kind of “free” speech any day!
Pretty simple right? Why is it so hard to do?
Let me share something on the character of Prophet Muhammad SAW. As Muslims we should all know that he was the best of mankind! His noble character is a model of excellence that we should all strive for in our own lives. It amazes me that so many people believe the slander! I urge those of you who do not know of the remarkable human being to learn about him. To learn the truth about him from those who know the truth and are not making up lies and taking things out of context and spreading hatred!
Let me share a short example of what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had to endure during his years as a prophet and his response. About ten years into his prophet hood, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) set out on foot to the town of Ta’if to spread the word of Allah and invite people to Islam. When he arrived there, he was met with hostility. He endured this hostility for 10 days, staying in Ta’if and delivering his message. The people of Ta’if did not welcome him, in fact, every day that he was there they literally tried to drive him from their town by pelting him with stones. He was so wounded that blood from cuts that he received was filling up in his shoes and overflowing. He endured this violence for 10 days. Once he had left the boundaries of Ta’if, he sought refuge and began supplicating to Allah SWT.
He said, “O Allah! To You alone I complain of my weakness, my insufficient ability and insignificance before the people. You are the Most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak. O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of the unsympathetic distant relative who would angrily frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control of my affairs ? But, if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about.”
Your pardon is ample enough for me. I seek protection in the light of Your Face, which illuminates the darkeness, fixing the affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone.”
SubhanAllah, he had just endured days of suffering and pain and he complained of his own weakness and sought forgiveness and safety from Allah’s wrath. He complained of his own inability to convince the people of Ta’if of the truth.
Upon hearing this supplication, and knowing what the people of Ta’if did to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, Allah SWT sent down the angel Gabriel who said to Muhammad SAW “Allah has heard what your people said to you, and their reply to you. Allah has sent the angel of the mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.”
Do you know what Prophet Muhammad did next? He could have had the entire community crushed between the mountains, but instead, he left them alone. SubhanAllah. His response was, “No. I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship none besides Him.” (Al Bukhari).
Alhamdulillah, the Prophet was certainly upset, and certainly offended by the response of the people of Ta’if, but he did not act out in violence, nor did he ask for them to be punished. His only wish was that they continue to have children in the hopes that some from that community will embrace Islam.
Another hadith about his character is related by Aeshah (may Allah be pleased with her). She narrated “When the Messenger of Allah (SWT) was enabled to choose between two things, he used to choose the easiest of them if it was not a sin. If it was a sin, he used to evade it. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not take revenge for himself, except if the lawful commands of Allah were violated. In this case he used to take the revenge for the sake of Allah SWT)” (Al-Bukhari).
During these troubling times, we need to ask ourselves:
How would the Prophet have dealt with this insanity?
How would he address the Ummah?
Were the lawful commands of Allah violated? That will be for Him to judge!
I know who creates this evil, this hate! We all need to be aware of who is stirring up this trouble. After all, didn’t Iblis say that he would create havoc among us.
“Then I (Iblis) will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” (Surah Al Araf: 17)
We need to stay strong, don’t cave to the Shaytaan’s whispers!