Honored to share the stage with Rev. John P. Gardner of Plymouth Congregational Church and deliver tonight's Allen County Democrats dinner's opening invocation.
John P. --
O God of all ages, Creator of heaven and earth,
of all we see and worlds we have yet to discover;
O God of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar; of Moses and Miriam,
Mary and Jesus; of Mohammed the Prophet: you are the most
bounteous and most merciful; all praise and thanks are due to
You, the most merciful and wise.
John P. --
We thank you for this evening’s gathering; for those who have
planned the program, for those who have prepared the food,
and who serve at table; you nourish our bodies, no less than our
dreams and visions, and we are grateful.
We thank you for those in our midst running for state and national
office; keep them strong in the face of adversity, and humble with
any measure of accomplishment; give them stamina during the day,
rest at night; grant them wisdom and courage to lead and guide in this contentious age.
John P. --
Working together may we fashion a future worthy of our children:
where young and old are secure; where the racial divides of the past
are overcome; where water is drinkable and the rivers swimmable;
and the air is fit to breath and harness for energy; where no child
designed as different is diminished or denied their dignity.
Waken us to the urgency of the hour; open our eyes to see right
and follow it; working together may we boldly advance a better day
for our city and state and nation, that all Hoosiers, regardless of
class or creed or color, may attain the blessings of liberty and peace.
John P. –
We pray in the name of all that is beautiful and excellent and true.
We pray in the name of all that is merciful, just, and kind.
John P. and Ahmed --
Fifteen years ago today, I was a pharmacy student in Big Rapids, Michigan. I was in the office of one of my professors, having a general conversation, when his phone rang. He became visibly shook and looked pale as he hung up the phone. "My wife says planes crashed into the world trade center" he managed to mutter and, to be honest, it did not register with me. I thought it was an accident; A small engine plane that lost its course and hit one of the buildings.
I excused myself from the office of my visibly distraught professor and walked down to my lecture room. It was approximately 30 minutes before the start of class, and as I walked in, the footage of the plane crashing into the world trade center was on full display on the big screens. My heart sank, for many reasons, as I watched the details start to unfold.
A few minutes later, I noticed students were starting to trickle in and I immediately went to the main door of our college and waited for the handful of Muslim/Arab students to make their way to class. I told each of them as they came by to turn around and go home. I recall specifically saying "If someone yells at you, screams at you or even spits in your face....Don't do anything. Just keep walking and get to your home."
The world has changed.
On that particular day, the entire world turned and stared at me.
On that particular day, I became THE representative of the Islamic faith. I now speak for the entirety of Islam and am expected to answer for any and all actions of those who claim it as their faith.
I am now the measuring stick.
I am now it.
I have always been somewhat active in raising general awareness/education about my Muslim faith, my Arab culture and my people's struggle for justice in Palestine. But on that particular day, I realized that trying to be an agent of positive change, peace and coexistence is a full time duty rather than a service to be done on my free time.
On that particular day I was both disoriented and focused,
panicked yet calm,
afraid yet full of courage.
On that particular day I came to understand how I can be surrounded by many yet feel completely alone,
Have many thoughts yet be unable to speak,
Have many emotions yet not be allowed to grieve.
On that particular day I realized the full meaning of "other"
and to this day I don't take a second of my life for granted and use every bit of me to be an agent of change
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark