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The Mass Media

I Am Muslim And Unashamed

I+Am+Muslim+And+Unashamed
I Am Muslim And Unashamed

Because I know I am not at fault for Islamic extremism. People may blame Islam as a whole, but I know that they have erred in attributing individual acts to an entire collective of people. People may harbor narrow judgments on Islam, but I know they lack a clear understanding on the religion. People may say terrorism is directly related to Islam, but I think it’s time we stop treating white nationalism as a difference of opinion and call it for the terrorism it is. I think it’s time we stop drawing a line between shooters based on their ethnicity. Bombings, school shootings, open firings—they are all acts of terrorism, regardless of the ethnicity of the shooter. But there are times when I do feel ashamed. There are times when I fear I can never reconcile what the world thinks of us. There are times when I cannot enter a mosque without a trickle of fear. And Friday, March 15 was one of those days.
Let me tell you something about Fridays. Friday is called Yawm al-Jum’ah in Arabic, meaning the Day of Assembly. It is the day Muslims meet for a congressional prayer; to us, it is the most important day of the week. We may miss prayer during the week, but most of us try to at least make it on a Friday. The shooter in New Zealand attacked on a Friday, a day that was sure to have a crowded mosque. I think he knew that. And that makes me fearful. Will I be able to enter a mosque on a Friday for namaaz without feeling like a target?  Without feeling a sense of trepidation? I imagine other Muslims also feel like this. After all, a mosque is a place where we go to feel safe, for it is the place where we feel a sense of community and connection—with Allah and others. But it is also the place where we are most vulnerable. And for me, that feeling of safety has gradually been siphoned away by more and more attacks against Muslims and rising Islamophobia. 
And that is wrong. 
I should not have to feel unsafe in my place of worship. I should have to dread entering a place that is supposed to be my sanctuary. I should not have to put my head down. I should not have to answer for all Muslims. I should not fear attack in an environment that is supposed to be my safe place. 
To my brothers and sisters, I remind you that we must not live in fear. I know how hard it may be to enter a mosque again. I know how hard it may be to read Jum’ah namaaz again. I know. But our existence should never be defined by the violent actions of others.
Racism, Islamophobia, and hate speech are being normalized today. Terrorism is being treated as an Islamic issue. Hatred is being condoned as free speech. To this I beg all of you, please don’t be silent. Resist this. Let the world know that hatred is not ok, that hatred will only spawn more hatred, trapping us in an endless cycle of bigotry. Speak up. Understand that an attack on people in a place of worship is an attack on us all. And until we realize this, continuing to see each other as “other” and not one, we continue to stay divided.