I believe in Allah and America

Category: Americas, Life & Society Views: 2324
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Myself included, there are over one billion humans on earth who call God by his Arabic name, Allah. Out of that billion, over seven million of us call America our home. Many of us are born as Americans, study in American institutions and go on to work and pay American dollars to our tax system. Like everyone else, we eventually find our better half, have chubby babies, go to zoos, get season tickets to the Chicago Bulls, go on our childrens' field trips and fix the leak in our roofs. With all the growing pains in the life that we lead as normal Americans, everyday we turn our face to Mecca to pray to what our Christian brothers call God, our Jewish sisters call Yahweh and whom we call Allah.

Islam, Christianity and Judaism have exactly the same origin. We each believe in the monotheistic deity of Abraham, who was the father of all three of these noble religions. Islam's moral and ethical standards are equivalent, if not more stringent, than those of modern day Christianity and Judaism. We, as Muslims, believe in every prophet of both Judaism and Christianity. We believe the world began with Adam and Eve and great prophets, namely Moses, Aaron, Jacob, Joseph and Jesus (peace be upon all of them) were all divinely inspired by God.

We revere Jesus as a great prophet and the messiah of God. He is mentioned by name in the Quran 33 times. We equally revere the Virgin Mary as the mother of the Messiah. She is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran and she is mentioned 34 times. Anyone who says Muslims don't respect women, read the entire chapter dedicated to Mary (peace be upon her). How many times was our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned by name in the Quran? Five.

In Islam, a woman receives a monetary dowry from her husband, of which he has no legal claim. A woman is not obligated to change her maiden name. CNN happily broadcasts women being oppressed by the Taliban regime. Islam abhors the oppression of women. The Taliban says women are not allowed to work, yet the Prophet Muhammad's wife, Khadijah, was one of the most successful merchants in all of Arabia. Should we base our belief on a bunch of tribal warlords or the teachings of our Prophet?

In Islam, both men and women have to dress modestly. One aspect of this modest dress for women is the hijab (head covering). This is a religious mandate, but whether a woman decides to wear it or not, is an issue between her and Allah, because as the Quran categorically states, "there is no compulsion in religion." The hijab symbolizes empowerment, not oppression of women. It allows women to be judged on the content of their character, rather than the physical features that we men today objectify onto them. When we see a nun covered from head to toe in her habit, we commend her on her devotion to God. But when we see a Muslim woman wearing hijab, she is oppressed. In how many likenesses of the Virgin Mary, sculptures or paintings, is her hair not covered? Not one. Was she oppressed? Hardly.

Muslim American is not a paradox. As Muslim Americans we currently live in a diaspora having to deal with an attack on our, yes, our, country. We also have a dual anxiety because our way of life, which is not far different from our Christian and Jewish counterparts, is under attack.

I am a law student. I study international human rights. I have been to U2, Sarah Maclachlan, Dido and Outkast concerts. I have been a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls. I have owned a Ford Mustang. I pray for peace and have read Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech ninety-six times. I may be a dreamer, but I promise you, I am not the only one.

I am a Muslim and I am an American. I am proud of both and will compromise neither.

Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar is the Midwest Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest non-profit Muslim advocacy and civil rights group. He is a native of Chicago and currently attends law school in St. Louis. (Source: Providence Journal)


  Category: Americas, Life & Society
Views: 2324
 
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Older Comments:
RASHDA BALUCH FROM ENGLAND said:
In Islam there is no nationality.Our faith is not bassed on nationalism we are muslims I mean only Muslims. In front of Almighty ALLAH we all ARE equall doesn't matter what race or nationlity we think we belong to. In the day of judgement we shall be called MUSLIM UMMAH which means ONE NATION. NOT AMERICAN BRITISH OR ARABS.Even now we are one nation and our DEEN IS ISLAM. WE SHOULD PROTECT OUR DEEN NOT OUR LEADERS OR CUNTRIES.
2002-12-03

ASHLEY FROM USA said:
dear citizen of the world,
i would be happy that the chrisitans and the bahais still trying to have a life the islamic countries could say the same.
but in saudi they can't even praise the lord, in iran they're second class citizens and hunted to death (bahai), in indonesia they have little shelter by those carrying on jiahd, in Susan put underslavery and other pressures, in Egypt the laws still don't permit them (copts) to be considered as well as the other citizens...
guess if in usa you would have been treated the same for your ideas nd still no blame come to the forgotten of the land ...the minorities in most of the muslim countries forgottem by usa(sold out for oil) Hope not from Allah.
muslims be aware that you claim (nd get) what in your countries in written in the book of dreams...
sadly Ashley
2002-05-08

FILFILA86 FROM USA said:
i totally agree with your article . i could not put more beautifully as you did. I am an american muslim i was born and rasied here. Being only 15 dosen't change that i don't care about whats going on. i love my religon and my country.
2002-01-25

HAFIZ ISMAIL FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalammu'alaikum!
I can see the important points that Sameena is trying to make, but to then condemn the Arab world for almost everything that is considered 'wrong' with Islaam (in the eyes of, no doubt, the Westerners) is totally uncalled for.
I used to make the same mistake, but alHamdulillah I grew out of it!
Also, I used to think that perhaps the Arabs get the governments that they deserve.
But years spent in the UK and getting to know all sorts of people (Muslims, non-Muslims, Arabs, 'Caucasian', Chinese, the lot...) have probably set my thinking straight.
And one of the many things I learnt is that no one individual Muslim, let alone an entire race, should be blamed for the immoral conducts, and atrocities, perpetrated in the name of Islaam: a fact that should be crystal clear to you Muslims in America after 9-11.
And Arabs, for that matter, shouldn't be an exception: for all their seemingly "unacceptable" cultural (for most of these ARE cultural, and has always been so) practices, they deserve none of Sameena's sweeping remarks.
Perhaps, in talking about "ignorance and xenophobic extremism", Sameena should look herself in the mirror very carefully and asks herself whether what she's saying does not qualify her as ignorant (of the Arabs and their world) and/or xenophobic (i.e. having racist ideas against the same race) !
It is not my intention here to foster enmity or hatred--especially not amongst us Muslims--and I hope everyone will have a good Ramadhaan and 'Eid...
Selamat berpuasa dari kami di Malaysia!

2001-12-11

AHMAD FROM PAKISTAN said:
The second thing I would like to mention in this article is that you said

This is a religious mandate, but whether a woman decides to wear it or not, is an issue between her and Allah, because as the Quran categorically states, "there is no compulsion in religion."

Well my dear friend. read the quran before and after this aaya too. Quran says that there is no compultion in religion for the non-Muslims. But if you accept Islam as your religion you have to Enter in it completely. Quran said for the Msulims "Enter in Islam completely". But i will not blame you people for this missunderstanding. But this is totally the lack of knowledge about the Islamic teachings. If hijab is the matter between the women and Allah then prayers sex everything is between us and GOD then we can simply avoid everything by saying this. Read the Hadith The prophet said "No women will enter the paradise whose perfume's smell reaches even a single Non-Mehram". learning the knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and woman and what knowledge??? All kind of knowledge if it is religious or non-religious. Read the history how the Muslims conquered the whole world and how they gained so much knowledge??? Physics chemistry Mathematics everything was taught as the part of the religious knowledge and still all this knowledge is the part of religious knowledge if we understand. please study and understand Islam completely first and then write about it or there is a saying in URDU which means "incomplete doctor is a danger for your life and Incomplete Mulla is a danger for your religion". So please be careful about writing anything regarding Islam.
2001-12-11

AHMAD FROM PAKISTAN said:
Well Mr. Arsalan quiet impressive article you have written. But there are things that are missunderstood about Talibaan because of the media. The whole world concentrated on telling people about Talibaan that they abused women rights and did not allow the women to work or get educated. The actual statistics are very different from what are being told on the media. I do'nt have enough space here to describe everything in detail. But i will try to answer everything.
1. Women rights, well what people do'nt know about the Talibaan is that they did not ban women education but they did ban private institutions in Afghanistan and they had the right to do so because before 1977 it was the education system that became the reason of destruction of Afghanistan The Russian School system that concentrated totally on secularism and this ban was on men too. So what Talibaan did was they banned all the institutions that did not have Islamic education in their studies instead they opened madressas in Afghanistan and there were more than 100 madrassas in kabul only and more than 50% were for women. now they started the other education like medical science and as much as they could provide through madrassas, and you people will be surprised to know that there were more women medical students than men. and now you people might have come to know that there is a woman commander in Talibaan too. Now about the women's work. Well can any of you tell me what work women used to do in Afghanistan??? none of you know and no one will ever tell you either. It was prostitution and that was banned by Talibaan. Women were traded and that was banned but women were allowed to work in parda whatever that was not legal.
Now why did USA attack on Afghanistan?
since last hundreds of years Afghanistan is the only country in the world whose natural resourced were never used and now Talibaan started to work that and thats what USA disliked.
World Trade Center was not attacked by Muslims and
2001-12-11

ANON FROM UK said:
why the heck do u claim to be a muslim and then go to silly concerts??
2001-12-01

CHRISTINA REIDEL FROM USA said:
Thank you so much for writing "I believe in Allah and America." I am a social studies teacher in NY trying to teach my students what Islam is all about. May I distibute your article to my students?
2001-11-28

FATINA FROM NEW ZEALAND said:
I would like to comment on Sameena's harsh and unrealistic remarks on the Arab World as being a shame and embarrassment for the rest of the Muslims. The Arab nation may lack behind the developed word in terms of technological advancement, we are after all totally dependent on exported products in every aspect of our life. However, this is due to many external factors. One among these is the establishment of the state of Israel on the Land of Palestine, which has engaged us in a long deadly military struggle; another important factor is our geographical location, which made our region through history an attraction for other nations. One more reason I can think of is the oil fields that have become the reason for the continuous foreign interference in our local affairs. As regards your accusation about the rights of women and minorities. I wonder when was your last trip to the Arab World!!! Unlike what is being projected by the Media, women in the Arab Word are highly valued and respected. We have equal rights and opportunities as our men counterparts; we can go to work, get higher education, travel abroad and enjoy the right to choose our future life partner. As regards the minorities, the Arab world has always been the shelter for many non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities such as the Greeks, Armenians, Jews and many others. Your remarks are contrary to those I have heard from many visitors to our area who believe that the picture projected by the Media about the Arabs is totally disrupted.
2001-11-21

ESTHER FROM USA said:
At least SS is honest.
2001-11-20

I. HUBERT BALLARD FROM USA said:
Excellent!
2001-11-19

SAMEENA FROM US said:
Islam, as it is practiced in the Arab world, has become a source of shame and embarassment for the rest of the Muslims. The Arab world, which at one time, was the most advanced civilization has now degenerated into ignorance and extremism. We need our Muslim masses to educate themselves not just in Islam but also in secular education. A large part of the problem is Arab Islam's inability to cope with the modern world. We need a massive intellectual clean-up campaign in the Arab world. Unfortunately, Islam is, to a Western mind, synonymous with the Arab World. And its image of Islam, therefore, is one which is very cruel to women and to minorities. As a muslim woman, I am very disheartened by Muslim attitudes towards women. We cannot claim our rightful place as one of the great religions of this world if we do not allow the other half, the women, to develop their potential, live a life which is intellectually fulfilling. The Muslims professionals and intellectuals have to organise ourselves to fight this fanaticism.(I know its hard given our diversity; Islam does after all stretch all the way from America to Bangladesh but we must join to counter this radicalization of Islam). The Arab world has many legitimate grievances but it is also a fertile ground for ignorance and zenophobic extremism. We have to find better ways to communicate our grievances. And we, moderate Muslim, have to organize ourselves.
2001-11-18