My father was a military man, so I was raised in a household that stressed the importance of the founding values of the United States. Having served in a post-World War II military, my father served alongside men of differing faith commitments and races where he learned first-hand the important “glue” produced by a common commitment to those values.
He taught us that the constitution guarantees protection of diversity in claims of conscience, both religious and non-religious. My father instilled in us a respect for persons of any and all races and religions, and he underscored the precious worth of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Out of that background, I developed a curiosity about what role being committed to a particular faith plays in people’s lives, and how they are related to U.S. citizenship. This interest led me to study religion in undergraduate as well as graduate school and, in the process, I developed a strong desire to articulate, educate others about and support a healthy relationship between these two ultimate commitments in people’s lives.
Over the years I have been fortunate to participate in work through which I could achieve my aims. What I have learned has been invaluable and has only strengthened the lessons my father taught me about the crucial nature of our common agreements to live with our differences in peace.
This peace is now, more than ever for the Muslim community in the Unites States, meeting severe challenges. Simply, what motivates me to be here, now, serving the Muslim community through ING in these challenging times, is the warning, paraphrased from the poem written by Reverend Martin Neimöller in Nazi Germany, that if we are unwilling to stand up for the rights of others, particularly those who are different from us, our own rights are also in peril.
I stand unwavering with my fellow Muslim American brothers and sisters in the struggle for equal protection under the law, fairness, respect, and the freedom to walk the streets of their neighborhoods free from fear and to worship as their consciences demand.
Next: Meet Kate Chance, Interfaith Coordinator