By Linda “iLham” Barto
Say, “Will you argue with us about God even though He is our Lord and yours as well? We are each responsible for our own deeds, and we are loyal to Him? Or do you claim that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants were Jews or Christians? Do you know more than God? Who is more unjust than those who fail to share the testimony they have from God? God knows exactly what you do. – Qur’an 2: 139-140
A few years ago, the chaplain at a local hospital asked for volunteers to visit patients, talk to them, encourage them, and try to cheer them up. I went to the hospital to volunteer for this good deed. The receptionist was friendly and pleasant as she got a piece of note paper and recorded my name and telephone number. Then she asked with what church I was affiliated. I answered, “I don’t worship in a church; I worship in a mosque. I’m a Muslim.” She looked disgusted, and she sneered, “Well, we sure don’t need that!” She tore up the note paper and threw it in the trash and would no longer speak to me. I felt as though she had torn up and discarded me personally.
Muslims are often devalued as human beings and devalued as Americans. We are treated as though we have nothing to offer; we are considered “lost” fools in need of salvation. I served thirteen years in the US military in order to protect freedoms for everyone –not just for people who look like I do, think like I do, live like I do, and worship like I do. Religious freedom and accommodation is for everyone. America will be stronger when Americans become united and become appreciative and respectful of our differences instead of using our differences as a basis for hate and bigotry. The world will become a better place to live when we become united as global citizens of planet Earth and strive together to serve the Creator of us all.
The prophets of old may have been turned away from the chaplain’s office because they were not of the religion that is considered acceptable here in the Bible Belt. Perhaps they too would have been devalued as human beings because they did not worship in churches. As American and as Earthlings, we must learn that every person is a creation of the Great Spirit, and he or she has something to offer our national society and our global society. Just as non-Muslims should learn to value Muslim contributions, we Muslims must also not be too arrogant to appreciate non-Muslim views. Jews, Christians, Baha’i, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other believers, and even Humanists and similar religionists all have the breath of God within them. They all have something to offer in respect to understanding our human responsibilities and significance to the betterment of this world. All truth is God’s truth, and we should never be ashamed to accept God’s truth wherever we find it.
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. – Qur’an 49:13