I am an American Muslim. I believe in pluralism. In the Holy Quran, God tells us, “I created you into diverse nations and tribes that you may come to know one another.” I believe America is humanity’s best opportunity to make God’s wish that we come to know one another a reality.
Today, if you’re part of a minority, you’re a target. Blacks, Latinos, Gays, Lesbians, Jews, Atheists, Illegal immigrants, and even Women are all walking around with a “bulls eye” on their back. A Christian in a Muslim country? You’re toast. Muslim in a Christian country? You’re under surveillance by the Dept. of Homeland Security. Basic human rights and freedoms continue to erode on a daily basis, before our very eyes, and we’ve been brain washed to believe it is acceptable and necessary.
In my Room hangs Norman Rockwell’s illustration Freedom of Worship. A Muslim holding a Quran in his hands stands near a Catholic woman fingering her rosary. Other figures have their hands folded in prayer and their eyes filled with piety. They stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing the same direction, comfortable with the presence of one another and yet apart. It is a vivid depiction of a group living in peace with its diversity, yet not exploring it.
I attend high school in the suburbs of Richmond, Texas. The group I eat lunch with includes a Jew, a Hindu, a Catholic and a Lutheran. We all talk about our future and our grades, but we almost never talk about religion. Somebody would announce at the table that they couldn’t eat a certain kind of food, or any food at all, for a period of time. We all knew religion hovered behind this, but nobody ever offered any explanation deeper than “my mom said,” and nobody ever asked for one.
A few years back, my Muslim friend from the said that his mom was coming to pick him up, he said something horrible has happened, terrorist had just hijacked and blew up the world trade center I didn’t know how important the buildings was but I knew it was something important. A few days later a group of 5th graders in our high school would pick on Muslim girls because they wore a veil over there head, the would slur horrendous words in the hallways and make faces and throw signs up that offended people.
My friend told me he feared coming to school those days, and he felt abandoned as he watched his close friends do nothing. Hearing him tell me of his suffering and my complicity is the single most humiliating experience of my life. As in grew older I better understood what exactly was happening in this world.
I cannot go back in time and take away the suffering of my Muslim friend, but through action I can prevent it from happening to others.