Back in the late 1980s, when I first started fasting, I was the second kid to do so in my Midwestern junior high school (ok, the first was my older brother two grades ahead of me) in what was a predominantly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant community, I was somewhat unapologetically Muslim. As a 12-year-old, I didn’t advertise to my gaggle of not-Muslim friends that I was fasting. I just retreated (with permission) to the library or the counselor’s office during our lunch break.
I wore long pants in gym, sheepishly explaining to those who asked that I was not allowed to show my legs for “religious reasons.”
In my junior year of high school, I moved to the East Coast and a decidedly more diverse educational environment. Became a little more unapologetically Muslim in my long sweat pants in gym and hanging out in my art classroom when fasting. No one really asked questions. There were others who skipped prom like me.
College, job, marriage, career, parenthood – each stage helped me become more unapologetically Muslim as well as American. Two identities that can and do live comfortably intertwined, as evidenced by my life and the lives of millions more. Or, as Dr. Sherman Jackson said in his speech at the janaza (funeral) prayers for Muhammad Ali: “Ali put the question of whether a person can be a Muslim and an American to rest. Indeed, he KO’ed that question.”
Indeed. The core of me says I have no need to prove myself to anyone, any human. I answer to the laws of the land I live in and God above. Each of the recent following events leads me to one conclusion: I’m hoping we remain unapologetically Muslim, unapologetically human and committed to uplifting the human condition.
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