This might tick some people off but let me put it out there: I am emphatically NOT in favor of a “Million Muslim March” on the anniversary of 9/11. There, I said it.
The founders of the march say that they want to reclaim 9/11, but I say simply, you cannot. You cannot “reclaim” 9/11. It is seared into the consciousness of every American and many people around the world. It is a day when the world stopped. I remember that I was in the kitchen baking bread when I heard the first news of a “small plane” crashing into the first tower. I was listening to NPR radio. Curious but not alarmed, I went to the living room and turned on the TV. Along with millions, I watched the second plane hit and all the rest of the tragic scenario that unfolded. I called my husband and told him to be careful and to call his sister in New York. I knew in my heart how the story would unfold. It is in me. It is unchangeable and irredeemable.
Saying that you want to take back 9/11 is like saying you want to reclaim the swastika. What? The symbol that we know now as a swastika has an ancient and non-racist history that far predates its adoption by Hitler as a symbol of the Third Reich. I have seen it on ancient pottery and in Indian art. Sometimes the arms go clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise, but even if the orientation of the arms is opposite that of the Nazi swastika, it still evokes and immediate and intense response in me. To me and most westerners, the swastika is a symbol of racial hatred and genocide of the Jews. It will always be that, and modern neo-Nazis still use it as a symbol of their false belief in racial purity. It is what it is, no matter what it was.
I don’t like marches as a general rule. In particular, I think that if there are thousands or tens of thousands of Muslims marching on D.C., or in New York, or wherever, it will only serve to divide the country more. “Oh, look at THEM”, most people will say. It only will increase the perception of Muslims as “other” and won’t do anything to heal rifts or increase understanding.
If you really want to help improve the image of Islam, it has to be done at the grass roots level, and it has to be done purely for Allah’s sake and not as a cynical exercise in getting the non-Muslim folks to like us. I am reminded of a dear brother in the Northern Virginia community, Mokhit Hossein, may Allah have mercy on him, who lived and worked in the area and was a real pillar of the community. He was active among the Muslims and was fully engaged with the non-Muslim community as well. Follow the link, read about this man who was a true example of how a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim society. Then you’ll understand how we should move forward. It has to be one day at a time, one Muslim at a time, one encounter at a time.
You can stand up for Islam and be proud of Islam and help the cause of Islam. It starts at home. First, you have to KNOW your Islam. You have to understand the difference between Islam the religion and the politics around the world that merely masquerade as Islam. You have to be realistic and know that there will ALWAYS be people who hate Muslims blindly; all you can do is ask Allah to protect you from them and work around them as best you can. For the rest, for those Americans who are willing to look beyond Fox News or their preconceived notions about Islam, you reach out to them with love and an honest caring attitude. You want to be the reason they say “You can’t lump all the Muslims together! My neighbor was a Muslim and she was always so kind and her husband was really nice and the kids were polite”. That’s a much better response than “Hey, look at those Mooz-lums on TV”.
That’s just my opinion.