Written by Abu Turab*
Our great nation was built by peoples from all over the world coming together. With their blood, sweat and tears they laid the foundation brick by brick. Mistakes were made and not everyone was treated fairly all the time. But our saving grace has always been that we are always in flux, always changing, always shifting to adjust and reach an equilibrium where all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
ISIS is now threatening this with terror. They can now win without firing another shot. It all depends on you and me and whether or not we embrace our fellow citizens and overcome distrust with our American spirit.
American Muslims were here from the beginning helping to build this nation. About a quarter of the African slaves brought to the colonies were Muslim (1). Their blood, sweat and tears mixed into the foundation along with everyone else’s.
Some of the soldiers who served under General George Washington were Muslim (2). They served honorably to fight for a fledging nation whose ideals began as a whisper. This tradition continues today. Their blood, sweat and tears are mixed into the mortar along with everyone else’s.
Throughout this nation’s history many of its engineers, scientists and doctors have been Muslim. They have made contributions to science and medicine that have helped to make our nation what it is today. Their contributions have helped to lay the bricks along with everyone else’s.
Now, some of the Muslim professionals that I have spoken to about this topic are worried about how their fellow citizens are reacting to ISIS. These professionals are talking about whether they will have to leave the US and, unfortunately, take their talents with them. Not because they want to, but because this is what they are being advised to do by the vocal minority, the hate mongers.
We don’t blame our fellow Americans for being terrified as we are as well. We are not only afraid of terror attacks by ISIS in our homeland but also the reactions of our fellow Americans. From our government, we worry about having to wear an ID badge, and being shipped to internment camps. From our fellow citizens, we worry about our mothers, sisters and daughters being attacked in the street and from their mosques and houses being fired upon or burned down.
These fears are all fuelled by the dangerous, violence inciting rhetoric that has become normalized in our culture. An ironic fact in all of this is that more reports of potential terrorist activities have been made to local law enforcement by Muslim communities than by domestic intelligence agencies. American Muslims are fighting back against ISIS, reporting on their own families and friends. As they should, they choose their own country and the safety of their fellow Americans over their own blood. But I digress.
My point is that losing any of our American doctors, scientists and engineers hurts our nation. This is exactly what ISIS wants. They want to destroy America by tearing it apart. But we are better than ISIS. We know who we are as a nation and no one but God Almighty can take that away from us. You see, one of the great things about America is that we never stay down. You knock us out and we get right back up, every time.
We are the Rocky Balboa of nations.
So whenever we get hit we have to stand back up. We do this by stopping the unjustifiable distrust of our fellow citizens. I am not saying to turn a blind eye. If you, Muslim or non-Muslim, see anything genuinely unusual and suspicious (not just suspicious because you are being a bigot) from anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, speak up. We, as a nation, have to be vigilant. But at the same time, embrace your fellow American and let’s continue to build this nation as we always have, together and brick by brick.
*Abu Turab is an American Muslim convert and father of two teenage daughters. He is also a professional Engineer and builder of bridges between communities. He recently saw the movie Creed and cannot stop talking about how great it is and referring to Rocky in every conversation. He also promises to stop doing this once he sees the new Star Wars.
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