As I was reading THE TENNESSEAN this morning, I came across an article that was particularly interesting to me considering the posts I’ve written the past few days and the reader response to those posts.
The article was titled: “Tennessee Voices: I am a Muslim, and yes, I am an American,” and was written by Sabina Zia Mohyuddin. Here it is:
I am an American. To be more precise, I am a Tennessean. I was born and raised in Nashville. I rode the bus to school for 12 years, then went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University. I have lived in Memphis and Clarksville among other places and now call Tullahoma my home. I got married in college and now have four children. Sounds like a typical American, right?
Yet, when people see me, their first question often is: “Where are you from?” Naturally, I say I was born and raised in Nashville.
The catch is that I am a Bangladeshi Muslim American. My parents are from Bangladesh, my religion is Islam, but I am still an American.
Nonetheless, there are those who would regard me with suspicion because â€” although I worship the same God of the Christians and Jews â€” I pray five times a day, fast during the month of Ramadan and wear a headscarf in public. I love to eat rice and curry and occasionally wear traditional Bangladeshi clothing.
So sometimes, people’s first impression of me makes them wonder why I have not become more Americanized.
This leads me to the question: “What does it mean to be an American?” For me, being an American does not just mean I am a U.S. citizen. It means that I want what is best for America. I want a country where our children’s welfare and education are our top priority. I want a country where there is “liberty and justice for all” and where there is equal access to health care. I want a country that works with other nations to solve global problems such as disease, poverty and pollution.
Desiring what is best for America is not enough. As an American, I must get involved in helping those in need and become actively engaged in the issues affecting our country. I must speak out against any injustice and let my voice be heard by voting in local and national elections.
An American does not have to be a white or African-American Christian. Whether or not a person is a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or member of any other faith, if she is working for a better America, then she is an American. Whether a person is from Mexico, Somalia, China or any other country, if he is working for a better America, then he is an American.
Each person brings unique experiences and ideas which help strengthen America. As a Bangladeshi Muslim American, I share my ideals of strong families where parents are respected and children are cherished.
I find no contradictions in being a Muslim and being an American. As a Muslim, I must uphold the laws of this land, stand up for what is right and help those in need.
That is what makes me an American.
I find Ms. Mohyuddin’s words refreshing, and while she and I might notÂ agree completelyÂ about howÂ to accomplish them, the goals and dreams she expressed in the article are the same as mine.Â She expressed the American ideal very well.
However, for all the lofty and conciliatory rhetoric, I also call on American Muslims such as Ms. Mohyuddin, along with rationale Muslims worldwide – to publicly condemn the brutality of Muslim terrorists and the bastardizing of their religion, faith and holy book.Â Â Where isÂ the loud and public outrage and condemnation from moderate Muslims for the extreme brutality that is being carried out in the name of Islam?
As long as there are Muslim extremists and terrorists going throughout the world killing, maiming and creating mayhem, as long as there are militant Muslims bragging loudly about how they infiltrate average American society in order to carry out their terrorist agenda, and until I hear moderate Muslims throughout the world loudly and publicly and in great numbers condemning the Islamic terrorists and calling for an endÂ of terrorism, then I will be wary of Muslims.Â I won’t deny them their rights as American citizens or as human beings.Â However, until I get to know them personally, I will be wary of them.Â It’s only common sense.