Monday, June 8, 2009

At the very core of President Obama’s speech on June 4th in Cairo was the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. President Obama spoke of many things in his nearly one hour speech, but throughout what he was really talking about was mutual respect among all peoples. That no matter what religion or country we come from, no matter what color our skin is or what language we speak that we are all created by God and that we all need to treat each other as fellow human beings, deserving of dignity and respect.

As a Muslim American I was also very touched by the fact that he mentioned the many important contributions of Muslims to world history, knowledge, culture and the arts and that he also recognized the particular and unfair discrimination that American Muslims have suffered, especially since 9-11. He also paid special attention to the conflict in Palestine/Israel, laying out both the rights and responsibilities of the people on each side of the conflict. This brings much needed attention to an important aspect of this difficult problem that has been missing with previous administrations.

Some would say that our 44th president has laid out an overly ambitious plan. Yes, it is an ambitious plan which amounts to nothing less than a dream for world peace. Every great accomplishment begins with a dream and President Obama has articulated his dream and the dream of many of us so that we can begin to put it into action. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream…” but he didn’t stop there. He and many others worked hard for years to make the dream a reality. That work continues and it is my hope that Americans and Muslims and all people around the world will work together to help accomplish this age-old dream.

See link to full text of speech here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Eid, Day of Blessing

Eid al-Fitr, the biggest holiday of the Muslim year, was observed this past weekend and it turned out to be a weekend of blessings. Besides being able to eat during the daytime for the first time in a month, the blessings were many and much more sublime. A special prayer service with our growing community, growing each year with new children and new neighbors, holiday hugs from friends not seen in a while, two days of beautiful, clear fall weather, an afternoon in the park with friends, an evening prayer with the youthful of the community full of love of faith, a special expression of love from a dear friend, an obligation fulfilled after two years which restored faith in a word of honor given, all these received as special gifts from our Lord and Creator, Allah. Eid al-Fitr, a special day at the end of Ramadan, a special month of worship, forgiveness and blessing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today is 9-11-07. What does that mean to me? On that awful day six years ago I was working at a local mosque and I spent the day in tears as hateful phone calls and death threats continued to heap on me the hatefulness and fear of some people. I also cried at the many expressions of love, support and offers of help that came in at 10 times the rate of the hate. So every year since then I have spent 9-11 participating in Peace Walks that have included people and places of worship from many different faiths, walking for peace, talking about peace, wishing, hoping and praying for peace in our world.
Well, all those wishes, hopes and prayers haven't been answered yet or have they? Just being with all the wonderful people who take the time and make the effort to publicly state that they want to live in a world of peace and that they are doing what they can to make it happen is a wonderful thing. That's probably all that most of us can do. And now I think I have graduated to a new level.
What did I do to commemorate 9-11 this year? On 9-8 I spoke at a Women's Spirituality Conference to a group of about 50, mostly Catholic, women and I shared with them my love of Islam and the very special ways that God loves us all. On 9-9 I walked in the local "Race for the Cure" to help support breast cancer research. In the afternoon I participated in a forum called "One Nation Under God: Religion, Government & Public Policy" that was organized by a local peace and justice group. A major theme of the discussion was how we live out our values personally and in our public institutions within a democracy. I ended the day by attending my Muslim, Jewish, Christian trialogue group where we discussed stereotypes of religions and a future trip to the Holy Land to explore the possibilities of peace there.
For me all these activities are ways in which I can try to live out my convictions and hopefully make my country a better place for all. This also gives me hope for the future of our country and our world. Our world is still a pretty scary place most days, but days filled with positive action are infinitely more worthwhile to me than a day filled only with reminders of what happened that awful day six years ago.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pew Study Reveals US Muslim Community is Mainstream

As most people in the U.S. are not personally acquainted with American Muslims, most of us turn to other sources for our information on the Muslim community. Recently there have been two surveys that give us a glimpse into this often misunderstood community. A Pew survey of the American Muslim community was released in May and showed that American Muslims are largely satisfied with their lives in the U.S., are well integrated into the society, economically empowered and very American in their attitudes. A University of Maryland survey (December 2006) revealed American attitudes on some of the same topics. A comparison of the two reveals some unexpected facts.

The Associated Press released an article on June 7, 2007 which discussed the results of a Pew survey entitled “Young U.S. Muslims Face Mistrust”. On June 8, the Cincinnati Enquirer picked up this AP article and re-titled it “Many young U.S. Muslims say suicide bombs can be justified.” While it is true that a question included in the Pew survey about the acceptability of suicide bombings did elicit responses from a small number (8%) who felt that it is “often” or “sometimes” justified, by comparison a recent University of Maryland survey reveals that 24% of Americans think that “bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “often or sometimes justified.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Pew study reveals that fully 78% of American Muslims think this kind of barbarity is never justified. Only 46% of Americans in the University of Maryland study said targeting civilians is never justified.

So the real question is why would newspapers around the country slant their representation of the poll results? Could it be because those in the media reporting on this issue know so little about the facts of the subject? Or could it be because the American public has very little accurate information on the American Muslim community readily available to them and so must accept whatever is fed to them? In either case the media takes advantage of this lack of knowledge to sensationalize the headlines and sell their product. The old adage “if it bleeds, it leads” comes to mind.

Unfortunately, this particular headline does more than tell us about the latest interstate pile-up or neighborhood murder. Sensationalistic headlines like this have a real and negative impact on the American Muslim community that is already suffering under a dark cloud of suspicion and hate. Incidents of discrimination, bias and hate crimes against Muslims continue to rise every year. We saw the effects of this locally when a Cincinnati area mosque was bombed in 2005.

Regardless of how media outlets might choose to spin this information the recent Pew survey shows us, when viewed in its entirety, an American Muslim community that is mainstream, moderate and believes in the American dream. This is what American Muslims have been saying all along.