A Remembrance of hope this Ramadan!

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Originally Published in Patheos on July 7th, 2017

The recent hate crimes targeting Muslims has made the month of Ramadan exceptionally difficult. This past month witnessed nationwide anti-shariah protests by a Muslim hate group known as ACT for America[1]. There has also been a surge in attacks against Muslims including an attack on a Mosque in North London [2] and the kidnapping-murder of Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old Muslim girl.[3]

Amidst the hate, this has also been a time of unity and coming together. On June 17, in Tucson, Arizona, several people of all denominations, including Tucson Police Dept. officials, attended the interfaith iftar dinner with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.  There was universal agreement on the need to come together in faith and stand as one.

This is the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad(SAW). Throughout his life he stood for protection the people of all faiths. In the Constitution of Medina, he promissed to allow all people practice as they worshipped. That despite religous differences the people of Medina were one people and would stand together. He showed this again in the letter to St. Catherine’s monestary. “Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.” The example of Islam is to stand for freedom of religion of all people.

This is the example people are showing by attending interfaith events, helping their Muslim neighbors, and supporting them this month. When hate marches are organized in cities and people yell abuse and curses at any group of people, it is imperative that such hate is countered by even more love.  After so many cases of anti-Muslim sentiment, still more people came and stood in solidarity to support their Muslim neighbors.

After the incident where a terrorist attacked people on the London Bridge, The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association was afraid to go to the London Bridge and offer help. But his Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Community said they have to go and set a precedent for what the teachings of Islam are. After this the Muslims stood and held up the proud slogan of the community, “LOVE FOR ALL, HATRED FOR NONE!” But rather than being greeted with verbal and physical abuse they were greeted by hugs and joy, and they proudly marched on.

When this incident happened, many tried to find solace, and they found some in the kind words of the late Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” This is what we should do.

When I was writing this piece, like I have written so many others, it was going to take a very different turn. This op-ed you are reading would have had a very different tone where I would speak of my fear.  However, as my brothers in the UK who, amidst their fear, marched with their communities under our slogan of “love for all, hated for none,” i also overcame my fear to share with you true Islam, which is my love for my community.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the future will show more troubles and even hostility, but it will show a greater quantity of solidarity and love! Goodness always begets goodness, and that is the most important truth to remember in trying times.

[1] https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/act-america

[2] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/man-charged-terrorism-van-attack-muslims-170619231935261.html

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/funeral-for-muslim-teen-killed-in-attack-near-virginia-mosque-draws-throngs/2017/06/21/31620dd0-5686-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html

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