Murders, infidels, 313 million devils on Earth. That is what America is. Americans are the reason the entire world is on fire from Ukraine to Uganda. Americans hate everyone and love trampling on the rights of everyone. Then there’s this whole thing of being a Muslim in America…Forget about it. The Muslims are being wiped out; our Mosques are being raided; our Qurans are being burned; the hijabs are being ripped off our sisters’ heads, and our freedoms? They don’t exist!
Backwards, disconnected, questionable loyalties, 1.2 billion savages. That is what Islam is. Islam is the reason for all the violent crimes and terrorism on the planet and has been so for thousands of years. Our women have no rights; they must be kept under lock and key to serve their men at all times. We are blood thirsty and want to rule the world!
The above two narratives are the very essence of the mistrust, general lack of knowledge, and the fuel for extremists on both sides. So let’s set the record straight. There are no better ambassadors to the "Muslim world" in regards to all the good about America than American Muslims. Likewise, there are no better ambassadors to Americans in regards to all that is good about Islam than American Muslims. Stop looking at what some guy in Someplace-istan says about America to form your love or hate for our home, America. And please stop looking at the actions of modern day cavemen to form your love or hate for our way of life, Islam.
We are Absolute Muslims. We pray 5 times a day; we fast; we recite the Quran; we give to charity, and do so much more. We are Absolutely American. We love our sports; we love to grill all summer long. We can take the frosty winter, but it's the dibs for parking spots that we hate. We are Republicans. We are Democrats. Then there are those who could care less about who gets elected because they're all crooks anyway, and we are so much more.
When my family and I are out to catch the Chicago Wolves Hockey, the folks sitting around us just know us for the loud fans we are, not as "Muslim" fans. There's no way and no reason to know our religious background while we're busy howling with a few thousand other fans. When we're up all night for the Relay of Life raising funds for the fight against cancer, the neighbors donating and walking alongside us don't see us as "Muslims". They see us as survivors or caregivers.
This is America. This is the American way. We are free to visit our places of worship whenever we so choose, free to be as devout as we wish, free to be individuals, be a community, and so much more without fear. We are judged by our actions not by our religious affiliations.
American Muslims and the many accomplishments by the community in large aren't noted with giant neon signs. When you see Chicago's skyline, it doesn't read "Designed by a Muslim" for the work of Fazlur Rahman Khan. Instead, you see American icons, American innovation, American creativity, because that's what he was, an American.
We as Americans have the concept of life and freedom right. We don't start our conversations, friendships, business deals, or anything of the sort based on someone's religion. For the most part, we see each other as equals. Where we fail is when we buy into the loud minorities who use fear and ignorance to divide us. This is what gives extremists on the other side the fuel to push their agendas and we must stop feeding their frenzy. The extremists on both sides have picked up on the fact that most people are ignorant in their understanding of Islam. They use that to push their agendas and to seek power over us.
As American Muslims, we have the luxury of being attacked from both sides. Neither side wants to admit that Muslims are very much a part of the rich heritage and history of this country. They don't see Muslims are happy, free, and like their fellow Americans, very patriotic. The extremists will never tell their followers what great accomplishments Muslims have achieved as free citizens. Instead, they pick up on the isolated incidents that happen to show a bleak reality. And surely when American Muslims speak up against them, they turn on us and tell us that we are brain washed, sell-outs, and not true Muslims or true Americans, based on which side is doing the accusing.
The fact is our faith has given us the strength. Our American spirit has given us fuel. Our freedom has promoted our understanding of Islam to be more complete. Our passion has kept us close to God, and given us strength to lead a righteous life. Like it or not the American way of life goes hand in hand with the way of life Islam has shown us, to be inclusive, to enjoin what is good, and forbid what is evil.
We are students, business owners, professors, civil servants, professionals, and yes some of us are complete bums too.
Our families have the go-getters, the do-gooders, the Directioners (One Direction fans), the lazy good for nothings, and…sigh…Cubs fans. We're no less American than Football. There are no dual loyalties here. When the Taliban types threaten our cities, they threaten us equally. Just look at the fact of who the extremists on the other side have killed most since 9/11. It's other Muslims. They don't care if we are Muslim or not. They want power, something we will never give them.
With that said, my fellow Americans who belong to the school of thought that all Muslims are evil and that we are not Americans, those who deny our places of worship, take away our freedoms, and alienate us, you're no less than the backwards Taliban. You feed on ignorance and fear to gain power.
It's very simple. This is our home and Islam our religion, if you don't love the freedoms we all enjoy, then LOVE IT or LEAVE IT because THESE COLORS DON'T RUN.
Speak, for your lips are free;
Speak, for your tongue is still your own;
Speak, for your life is still your own.
See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flames are hot, the iron is red,
Mouths of locks have begun to open,
Speak, the little time we have is plenty
Before the death of body and tongue
Speak, for truth is still alive-
Speak, say whatever is to be said.
- Faiz Ahmed Faiz