By Sabeeha Rehman
A bomb goes off in my neighborhood. I sit stunned and horrified, as the news flashes on my computer screen. My husband had just gone out to mail a letter. Dear God. Let him be ok. I reach out to call him. No answer. Maybe he didn’t hear the phone ring. Please let him be ok.
I grab my keys and rush out. Come on, elevator! I turnaround, make my way to the stairwell and run headlong into people rushing down. “My children!” a mother is screaming. The school next door had just let out. I take her hand.
“I am sure they are ok. The bomb was a block away. They are ok.” The lobby is body to body with people rushing out. And then I see my husband, looking stunned and dazed.
That evening, the doorbell rings. “Police. Open up.” We are handcuffed and taken to the precinct. Charges: Failure to report suspicious activity.
This didn’t happen. I dreamed it up — or rather, nightmared it up. I was watching the most recent presidential debate. A Muslim woman had asked the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump a question: How would he help millions of Muslims in the U.S. overcome the stereotype that they pose a threat? His answer: Muslims should report a problem when they see one. Said Trump:
In San Bernardino, many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many people…Muslims have to report the problems when they see them.Let’s fact check: There is no evidence that anyone knew that the perpetrators were stockpiling bombs in their apartment. Not their friends, not their neighbors, not their families, not the Muslims, not anyone else.
So who is guilty? According to what I heard, every Muslim in San Bernardino is guilty, because they had to have known, or should have known and didn’t report it. Got it! I don’t get the rationale, but I get it.
I get it that I have less than 30 days to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality. Yes, I have the power to vote, and so many of us have a plan to get out the vote, but anything can happen between now and Nov. 8. We are going to need the help of a super power to part the sea — no floods, no blizzards, no catastrophes, no attacks … just wisdom, a willingness to listen, and a heart.
So help me God.
As I place my faith in you, dear God, give me the strength to have faith in myself; not to lose heart or fall into despair; help me be patient in these times of adversity and not respond in anger.
Enable me to employ the power of the word, spoken in gentle tones to invoke love; the eloquent power of the pen, to inform; the power of friendship and dialogue, to engender understanding; and the power of impeccable conduct, to erase doubts.
Help me harness the power of rational persuasion.
This is my land, keep it fertile. Keep its garden fragrant, blooming with flowers of all species; its arching trees providing shade and respite from blistering heat; the showers of love nurturing the soil, scorched earth no more; sunshine brightening and enlightening, dark clouds blown; and spring giving new life, as dry weeds wither away.
For this is my land, the land I love.
Sabeeha Rehman is the author of the memoir, ‘Threading My Prayer Rug. One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim.’
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