by Aamir Quraishy
On January 20th, the president of the UnitedStates passed an executive order that banned refugees from Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia from entering the United States. While there have been many stories about refugees, I’d like to share with you the story of my Muslim community and myself.
I am a US citizen. I was born and raised in America. The two flags I have always held dear to my heart are America’s star spangled banner and Arizona’s copper star, sunset stripes and Colorado blue water flag. I am a proud American, but it’s very possible I may not have been.
My mother’s family belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from Pakistan, a minority sect that experiences heavy persecution and bigotry. In 1974, Pakistan passed the second amendment to its constitution, specifically aimed at barring Ahmadis from being categorized as Muslims in all legal dealings and went on to pass ordinance XX in 1984 which made it a criminal offense for Ahmadis to engage in any Islamic practices. This was all done in the name of ‘protecting the faith.’
By the grace of Allah, Arabic for God, my grandfather had the opportunity to serve in the American military during the Vietnam War as a surgeon and obtained citizenship here in the United States for his service. He was then able to provide visas to many members of my family to come to the US, leaving behind a homeland that was bent persecuting him for his faith.
Here, my family had many problems as any immigrant family does, but developed a strong bond with the brilliance of the Arizona sunset that has always kept us together. We remained practicing Muslims and always stayed firm with the faith we immigrated to be able to freely practice. We went on to establish the Yosef Mosque on Speedway and 11th Ave and remained firm in faith despite adjusting to our new homes.
We held tightly to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who stated, “Loyalty to one’s country is part of one’s faith.” Members of my Muslim community have always been part of the Tucson community. My father is a local pharmacist, my cousin a police officer, my uncle a Swap Meet vendor, my mother a teacher and all family members my age and younger students. All my familymembers are also member of Tucson who benefit greatly from its immense love and grace.
In the past few days, we have experienced a spike in the incredible love from the people of Tucson at our Mosque. From people holding banners of solidarity to people introducing themselves to us, inquiring how they can help. We have had the benefit of jobs, shelter, money and so many things here in Tucson, but above all else, we have experienced the love of Tucson and America.
This is not just my story or my family’s story. This is a common story among many Muslims who have made a home here and will hopefully continue to be the story of others to come.Love is the great river that spreads and nourishes America and envelopes its growth. And while some build dams, that nourishment will never truly leave us as long as our love for each other remains strong.