May God’s peace and blessings be upon all people of good faith who are seekers of the truth.
My dear brothers and sisters in humanity, fellow children of Adam, peace be upon him, I congratulate you for living in the United States of America, a country which allows me as a Muslim woman to express my beliefs freely and without harm, and allows you to protest against things that you disagree with. The Second Amendment protects us both as it allows us to defend ourselves from those who would wish to hurt us. I have no quarrel with either the First or Second Amendments, and I hope to have no quarrel with you.
I live in Virginia, three-quarters of the way across the country from the mosque in Arizona where you intend to hold your protest. If I were there, I would come to the Friday prayer with prayerful patience and listen to the Imaam and pray alongside my sisters. I would then run out to the local megamart and stock up on water. I see on the news that it gets kinda hot there, notwithstanding the fact that it’s a dry heat.
I would then put the water in a cooler and walk across the street to offer it to those of you who are protesting. I might be afraid, but I hope I would not let that stop me. Now, I must say I wouldn’t be afraid due to the mere fact that y’all are “bikers”. Some of my closest friends and compatriots have been bikers. Big, hairy men with long beards, braids, intimidating (to others) tattoos, leather vests, and, oh yeah, they also carried broadswords and spears and liked to play with catapults (but that’s another story). So your hirsute appearance, your leathers, your rumbling bikes, your tattoos, your chains holding your wallets, your heavy boots, all those don’t faze me a bit. What does make me fearful is ignorance and a mob mentality. There’s nothing I can do about it, so best to just carry on and hope for the best.
If I could be there, I would offer water to you, and lend an ear to your protests. I would pray that you, being human beings, could see past my scarf – so much less intimidating than your tattoos, but oh so fear-inspiring according to Fox News – and see me as I see you, as a human being. I would ask you why you think you hate me. Why you think you hate my religion. Why you fear sharia law coming to a city near you.
I am not worried that you intend to draw insulting pictures of my beloved Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. We have a description of how he looked, but no 1400-year-old photos, so anything you draw would not be him. Not even close. A hastily penciled rendition of a brown guy in a turban holding a bomb is not my prophet and can’t harm him, me, or my religion. So draw away. You are only drawing an outward manifestation of the impurity and hatred in your heart. Whatever you draw will say a lot more about you than it will about me or him.
I would stand in front of you and allow you to ask any question you want about my faith. You see, I am a convert, a person who did not grow up as a Muslim, but rather accepted it as an adult. I studied this faith, read tons of books, went to classes, learned that squiggly Arabic writing. I know what my religion teaches. Fox News does not. Pat Robertson does not. Rush Limbaugh does not. Sean Hannity does not. You wouldn’t go to a butcher to learn vegan recipes. Don’t go to someone who hates Islam to try to learn about it.
I do not fear your questions. There are no secrets in Islam. It’s all there for the taking. Its essence is simple: I believe in One God, the God of Moses and Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. I believe in kindness to parents and raising kids to be polite, ethical, and hard workers. I believe in charity for those who share my faith and those who don’t. I believe that I have to be kind to my neighbors and that I have to be engaged with my community. I believe in chastity and modesty for men and women. I believe in cute babies and puppy dogs and kittens and not overeating and exercising to stay fit and speaking out against injustice even if it is my own family who is guilty.
Let’s break it down. One question at a time. I’m not afraid of your questions. Are you afraid of my answers? Afraid that your fear is unjustified and that you’ve been lied to? I’ll help you put away the fear, but only if you’ll put your anger and hatred on the back burner and give me a chance.
Give yourself a chance. Don’t let your the hatred that you’ve been taught blind you to the possibility of learning something. Something pretty daggone awesome. Don’t be the mob. Be people. Don’t parrot right wing hatemongers. Speak for yourself.
I can’t be there in Arizona with my Muslim brothers and sisters, so I’ll be here, praying for them, praying for you biker guys and gals to use every bit of common sense you possess, to keep the guns in their holsters, to douse your hot brains with cold water, to keep the protest peaceful, to have your say and go home without hurting anyone. And I sincerely, sincerely pray that Allah will guide you, each and every one of you, to the best way in this life and the next.
And if you hurt one of my brothers and sisters, well, Allah will deal with you justly.