“How have you grown in understanding and compassion toward one of the groups studied in this section of our course?”
This was a question asked of students at a Manchester class in which I guest lectured. The below is an email from the course faculty who invited me. I share this, and really anything I share on here, not to brag or highlight things I do but rather to highlight the power of connection and communication. Granted not everyone can, or have the opportunity to, stand up before people and give a lecture but even the simplest of conversations about the most basic of things would help educate and illuminate.
I am humbled to be useful in such a way and I encourage all to focus on the impact they can have on those around them. That's your anchor in such tumultuous times.
"Below are the essay answers I am so eager to show you. I actually wept over a few of them. For a group of young students whose only education on Islam before this class was likely a bunch of fear-stirring propaganda and hateful misrepresentations, I personally feel they have grown exponentially. The perspective you gave them has been planted…these students will take their new found understanding and humility and pass it along to grow in others they meet. I hope you read each answer, and notice how many of them mentioned you specifically (even though I know they all had you in mind).
This was the exam question: “How have you grown in understanding and compassion toward one of the groups studied in this section of our course?”
This following students applied this question to Muslim Americans:
“I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Abdelmageed’s stance on all of the controversy that is going on about his religion. Then to hear that the Islamic religion is very peaceful and non-violent, just made my heart break. Soooooo many stereotypes for the ethnicity and religion, and to just know that is the ignorance of our culture that stabs at it…”
“I know and understand that not all Muslims are bad or terrorists; in fact, most are gentle people who have strong values of family and giving to others…With discussions in class and reading about them, I’d like to help others understand that most Muslims are good people and that only a small community uses the word of Allah against people.”
“I have come to know more about Muslim Americans. At the beginning of class I said they made me uncomfortable, but I think now I could get along…They are a peaceful religion, not the scary ones you hear of in the media. I think I grew in that way immensely.”
“After listening to Professor A come in and speak about Islam, I now see it just as I see any other religion: just a religion. Most Muslims are peaceful and respect human life and follow certain laws, like: do not kill –just like Christianity. Most Muslims denounce all these extremists on the news and have “excommunicated” them from Islam. They regularly donate extra money to the community or charities and are very respectable people. If everyone got to know a Muslim, then they would see that they are good people who are misrepresented by a very small percentage of their faith.”
“When the class began, we were asked if we knew of any personal biases. Mine was Muslims. Mostly out of fear, thinking most of them were terrorists. As class went on we learned about their culture and how they live. Once Dr. Abdelmageed spoke with us I understood the difference between the radical terrorists that are often in the news and the Muslim faith: that they are good people; praying often; donating [a percentage of] they money to the poor; cleansing themselves of even the smallest sins everyday; and most of all, war is a sin, killing is a sin.”
“Learning about Muslim Americans gave me a whole new view on them. I honestly thought that the bad Muslims showed what all of them believed in. After learning about their beliefs and what they deal with on a daily basis with people being negative towards them, it made me look at myself and my morals and how I looked at someone I knew nothing about.”
Interfaith members of my city, Fort Wayne, came together this morning at 11 am to profess the power of love. This is a city you want to call home.
Below is my quick reflection on the event:
Overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude for being a member of such a wonderful community. I am proud to call Fort Wayne home.
This morning, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha'ai leaders gathered to pray for peace and to show their support for members of the Muslim community in particular. Unfortunately many more could not attend, due to the short turn around time, but were with us in spirit and prayer. To them I say, we felt the love and we were lifted with your prayer as we gathered on the green in front of the court house to send this symbolic message.
I went last and here is an excerpt of my closing remarks:
"We are gathered here today, guided by our faiths, protected by our constitution to shout a resounding NO to divisive rhetoric that threatens the essential fabric of our community and the freedoms which we have come to enjoy. But I would like to remind us all that we may individually pray for peace but we mus ALL, collectively, work for justice. God bless"
So I was out visiting sites in NW Indiana yesterday and my last stop was at Beacon Health Memorial in South Bend at 2:30 pm. As I was pulling in the parking garage, I was calculating in my head what time will I get home and will I be able to make my prayers in time. The thought of "ok, after this visit I will stop at a gas station and pray Duhur (early afternoon) and Asr (late afternoon) in the car before I head home" was my conclusion as I get out of the car and start walking towards the hospital. I've never been to this site before and so (naturally for those who know me) I was completely disoriented and did not know where to go (that's why I usually get to places 15 minutes early). As I wandered the hallways of the hospital, this sign caught my attention.
Not only is it called a chapel, they put the word masjid (mosque) on there!! I was so excited that after I finished my appointment, I went and prayed at the chapel and completely missed the fact that the word masjid was actually directing me to an actual place that they have designated as a masjid.
I share this in light of what was on the radio all day of the state of political bewilderment that we seem to find ourselves in. I was lost, settled for the fact that I will pray uncomfortably in the car and out of my disorientation came a strong signal of relief (one that I did not take advantage of fully for in my haste I missed an even better, i.e. Carpeted and Islamically equipped, place to pray).
"ان مع العسر يسرا"
"verily with every hardship there is ease" Quran 94:6
"ومن يتق الله يجعل له مخرجا"
"and whoever is conscientious of God, God will make a way out" Quran 65:2
Might be too simplistic but worth reflecting.
If you know someone that works there please extend my gratitude. I will certainly do so with their administration.
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