Nine years ago, on September 11, 2001 the world changed for ever. Initially the disbelief and the sheer devastation caused by this horrific incident shook everyone in America to the core. Of course there were certain reactionary incidents targeting American Muslims and other minorities. These bigoted incidents targeting Muslims and other minorities were shameful and abhorrent. All of these incidents were totally against the core values of this great country.
American Muslims were in a quandary of identity, religious, national and regional affiliations. Initially, the denial of the whole episode by other Muslim nations planted the seeds of a skeptical view point in many minds. When the facts became apparently clear and the mystery started to unfold, American Muslims like their other fellow Americans felt betrayed by their co religionists. To add insult to the injury, the condemnations from the Muslim nations were slow and tepid. This lax attitude from Muslims around the globe gave the impression that over all Muslims in general, were indifferent and some how “America deserved it.” The Islamic faith strongly condemns the act of suicide and of course the killing of innocent people.
This incident brought Islam to the forefront in America and certain groups and organizations demonstrated their evil agendas of smearing the entire faith, day in and day out. Those short sighted and ill informed organizations, along with certain media outlets have made Islam synonymous with terrorism. Needless to say, the “terrorist organizations” have done the biggest harm to Islam, by using the name of the religion to carry out their sinister acts. Of course American Muslims are extremely disgusted and enraged like many other sane Muslims around the world.
Subsequent to the this horrific incident, President Bush’s “Global War on Terror” has given a totally different dimension to the terrorist outfits. Arguably, both Afghanistan and Iraq wars were not th roughly planned and their outcomes, to say the least, on an overall basis have been dismal. The terrorist organizations, if any thing have multiplied and are definitely beyond the boundaries of those two countries. This war on terror has been turned very tact fully by the terror outfits into “US vs. Islam.”
If President Bush would have used some sound strategy and would have made surgical and measured strikes in the area of strongholds at the right time, things would have been perhaps different. The effort should have been combined with diplomacy and universal condemnation and support. More so the case of the actions, should have been sold to the Muslim nations. The wholesale invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have exacerbated the situation and drained the precious human and economic resources.
The Muslim community by and large has been in the US for ages. The Muslims Americans are mostly law abiding and hard working people, who are part and parcel of the fabric of this great nation. They excel in all walks of life as Muslim family values stress on quality education and emphasize the significance of community service and greater responsibility towards the nation.
The Muslim image in America as a whole, did suffer from this horrible event. The emergence of some sleeper cells and the botched attempt of Faisal Shahzad earlier this year, raised the suspicions of their fellow citizens. Overall, if any one puts things in any reasonable perspective, all these characters are statistically insignificant, if you compare them to the millions of Muslims living in the US.
The way forward for Muslim Americans is to at least demonstrate to their fellow citizens that Muslim Americans are not “aliens” or “nomads” from some harsh desert of Middle East, but Americans, who love and adore America, its freedoms and values.
There is no denying that Anti Muslim organizations will be constantly busy in scheming things here and there. Muslim Americans have to use patience, as our faith teaches us, as our biggest line of defense. We are not reactionary and have the ability to initiate a dialogue, and present our beliefs in a rational manner.
The first step is of course reading the Holy Quran and be able to understand and explain to other Non Muslims about our point of view clearly and cohesively. The teachings of Holy Quran, condemn the senseless violence being perpetrated in the name of Holy War. American Muslims should affiliate with their Islamic Centers and Masajids, more than ever to learn and to enhance themselves. It is extremely important that Masajids organize an “Open House” for the members of the community, the local schools and colleges and the Press. It gives the Non Muslims the opportunity to see, what rituals Muslims follow and why. It is the person to person contact, which is very instrumental in building bridges.
Despite all the negative publicity about Islam, most Americans want to learn or at least know what Islam is about. Blogs, news paper columns, main stream media needs Islamic education to de mystify the unknowns. Similarly, Muslims Americans have an obligation to improve the perception of the often wrongly perceived “Evil America” in their homelands. Any conflict, no matter how enormous or tiny, eventually gets resolved by meaningful exchange of dialogue. We have a moral obligation to act now on behalf of our children, who will be the American Muslims of tomorrow.
Our children have to excel in every aspect of life to demonstrate to their fellow Americans that we are here to add value to the nation and will emerge as an extraordinary segment of this society. Above all, our children have to participate in politics on a local and national level so Muslims can make strides in the legislative and perhaps the executive branch of this country one day.