Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

THIS YEAR, the juxtaposition of the Islamic New Year and Rosh Hashana is, I believe, a message from God to the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together in their common faith in God and His prophets. Yet, there is a similar message that, I also believe, is sent from God to the Muslim community every single year: the holy day of Ashura.

Ashura is the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic New Year, Muharram. For Sunni Muslims, it is a day of fasting and commemoration of the exodus of Moses and the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. For Shiite Muslims, it is a day of great theological significance, where they commemorate the tragic murder of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Although Sunnis and Shiites commemorate the day differently, the fact that this day (and month in general) has great significance for both communities should be taken as a message from God for the two communities to come together.

For years, I have written about how it is important for Muslims, Jews, and Christians to come together in their common faith in a common Lord and God.It is just as important for Muslims themselves.

Yes, there are differences in theology; yes, there are differences in application of Islamic law; yes, there are differences in political and religious philosophy. Those differences, however, must pale in comparison to the fact that we share the same God, same Prophet (pbuh), same Scripture, AND the same love for the Prophet’s family.

No Sunni Muslim would argue that love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh) is not important. The same goes for Shiite Muslims. This is the thing around which our two communities can come together: our common love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh). No, I am not commemorating Ashura like my Shiite brothers and sisters. That does not mean, however, that I am not terribly pained by the horrific manner in which Imam Husyan – whom I love ever so dearly – was killed all those years ago. I can understand the pain that my Shiite brothers and sisters feel on the day of Ashura and reach out to them in peace and brotherhood.

We desperately need more of this today.

All over the world, and especially in the Middle East, scores of innocent people are dying because of this geopolitical rivalry between Sunni and Shiite. This must stop. No difference in creed is worth the loss of life. None.

I pray that my Shiite sisters and brothers are blessed with peace, safety, and comfort during this Ashura season. I pray that our two communities – Sunni and Shia – may come together around our common love for the family of the Prophet (pbuh) and live in peace. And I pray that the killing and violence against the innocent – wherever it may be – ends once and for all. Amen.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I tweeted out my happiness at an interesting happenstance that occurred this year:

Kinda cool that the #IslamicNewYear and #RoshHashana are at the same time. May God bring our two communities together in peace.

By the grace of our Lord, it was warmly received by many people. 

And this made me think: the pervasive negativity that has engrossed our country because of the politics of this election has repulsed so many people, including myself. There is so much division, so much animosity, so much hatred. 

We are being made to suspect one another, question one another’s patriotism, and look at each other with suspicion and fear. This is even more acute between many communities of faith, including the Jewish and Muslim ones. Despite the fact that Muslims and Jews have so much in common, there are forces that are hard at work to push us further apart. 

Enter this accident of the calendar: both the Islamic New Year and Rosh Ha-Shana (the Jewish New Year) fall on or at almost the exact same time. 

For both communities, it is a time of reflection over the year that was and the year to come. For both communities, it ushers in a particularly holy time. For both communities, it is a time of renewal and hope that the year to come will be better than the year that was. 

Or, was it an accident? 

Is the Lord our G-d telling us something? Is He wanting us to stop and reflect over our divisons and challenge us to a higher road? Is He wanting us to resist the lower demons of our nature and live up to standards He wanted for us all along? I believe He is. 

He says it Himself in the Qur’an:

Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Compete, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ (5:48).

Compete, then, God says, with one another in doing good works

Yes, we are going to have differences: differences in faith; differences in theology; differences in origin; differences in language; differences in perspective. But we can’t allow ourselves to use those differences to divide. We must allow our common faith in our common Lord make us see past our differences to work together for the common good. 

The calendar is telling us something: we are more alike than we are different. It is telling us to resist the siren song of hatred and be the communities God wanted us to be. If we fail to do this, then I fear the space between the “rock” and “hard place” will suffocate us all, with consequences too devastating to bear. 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Happy New Year.

The new Islamic Year, 1438, just started. The year, 1438, marks the time since the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape the brutal persecution of his people.

As with any marker of the passage of time, the Islamic New Year gives Muslims the opportunity to reflect over their lives and their accomplishments in the previous year as well as set goals for what they wish to accomplish in the coming year. The Qur’an, in fact, helps Muslims in this personal reflection:

Truly, the believers shall attain a happy state:
Those who humble themselves in their prayer;
And who turn away from all that is frivolous;
And who are intent on inner purity;
And who are mindful of their chastity [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses – that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]: for then, behold, they are free of all blame. Whereas such as seek to go beyond that [limit] are truly transgressors;
And who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges;
And who guard their prayers. (23:1-9)

The Qur’an has a number of such lists of attributes which God finds commendable, and thus they are perfect checklists against which every individual can evaluate themselves and their character. Each of us can see whether we have any of these attributes:

Do we pray the ritual prayers in the first place? And if we do pray, are we humble before God? Do we realize that, while in prayer, we are standing before God?

Do we waste our time in frivolity? Or, do we spend our time wisely, doing things that are useful to ourselves and those around us. Now, this is not saying that entertainment and having a good time is frivolous. It is important to, sometimes, just rest and relax. 

But, frivolity can go overboard. We need to check ourselves and make sure we are not wasting our time doing silly things, especially since we have social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and the like right at our fingertips.

Are we constantly striving to make ourselves better people? This is what the verse, “and who are intent on inner purity,” actually means. It literally says, “And those who work towards achieving purity.” Thus, are we seeing what flaws we possess and then working to make those flaws better?

Indeed, the Qur’an is very stern about relationships outside of wedlock, and thus guarding one’s chastity outside of marriage is highlighted here. And in the age of websites like Ashley Madison, this message of chastity and loyalty is extremely important in my eyes.

Are we faithful to our pledges and trusts? Are we people of our word? Can people trust that we will do what we say? Can people trust us at all?

And, again, prayer is highlighted once again, indicating how important the ritual prayer is in Islam.

This is something that we can do, not only every year, but actually every month or even every week. And it is a personal checklist, which we can do with ourselves, without having anyone else accuse us of falling short and making us immediately defensive.

And if we see that we are lacking in one or more of these qualities, then we can set goals for ourselves: to become more mindful in prayer, or more honest with ourselves and others, or more pure, and the like. If more people worked on making themselves better, rather than worrying about how much everyone else is bad, our world would be such a better place.

May we all strive, each and every day, to make ourselves better people. Amen. And a very happy, healthy, and prosperous Islamic New Year to one and all. Amen.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I QUICKLY PASS OVER the pictures in my Twitter feed. I try not to read the news reports. I even confess at getting a bit annoyed at the constant tweets and posts about what is happening in Syria, about the devastating human tragedy unfolding before the eyes of a seemingly uncaring world.

But all that is because I hate what is going on, and I hate more that there is nothing – other than prayer and supporting those organizations that are helping relieve the suffering in Syria – I can do to stop the terrible tragedy in Aleppo and other cities in Syria.

And as the ferocity of human brutality rages on – by both savage terrorists and savage government forces alike – I start to look for things that make me feel better. Right away, this verse of the Qur’an came to mind:

Corruption and evil has become rife on the land and at sea because of the deeds of humanity: this is in order that He may cause them to have a taste of some of their deeds [so that] perhaps they will turn back [from evil] (30: 41)

It’s their fault, I say to myself. It is all of the various actors – many, if not most, of whom are Muslim – that are fueling this barbaric conflict. Somehow, this is supposed to absolve me of the guilt I feel for living in such blessed comfort while innocent children are being slaughtered mercilessly with each passing second.

In fact, I quoted this very verse to another colleague in reference to the carnage in Syria. He said to me in return, “What about the children?” It stopped me dead in my tracks.

What about the children? What crime have they committed to be viciously murdered? I have no answer. All I have is my cowardly silence.

And so, all I can do is pray for the violence to stop. All I can do is pray for (and support as much as I can) all those who are risking their lives to help the innocent in Syria.

But I also pray that all those who have killed innocent people be brought to justice. Make no mistake about it: they will be brought to justice. They will face God for their crimes. If they laugh in this world, they will not be laughing in the next. They will have to answer the question that God asked more than 1400 years ago in the Qur’an:

And when the little girl that was buried alive is made to ask for what crime she had been killed (81:8-9)

And I also pray for myself. I pray to God for forgiveness that I could not do more to stop what is happening to all those innocent men, women, and children suffering, not only in Syria, but all places in the world. I hope and pray that God forgives my utter helplessness at making our world a better place. Otherwise, I am surely doomed.

I first heard it while listening (for the tenth time) to Disney’s “Pirate Fairy” movie in the car. Towards the end of the film, they play Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Weightless,” and it is a very catchy tune. I looked up the lyrics, and they are as uplifting as the song itself. The most profound part of the song is the chorus:

The sky is the limit
And I just wanna flow
Free as a spirit on a journey of hope
Cut the strings and let me go
I’m weightless, I’m weightless
Millions of balloons tethered to the ground
Weight of the world tries to hold us down
Cut the strings and let me go
I’m weightless, I’m weightless

My Lord, there is so much I can write and reflect about just the chorus: how the “weight of the world” and its delusions, temptations, and estrangement from our Beloved “tries to hold us down.” And all we have to do is “cut the strings” of the world’s delusions and become “weightless” to fly to the Lord our God and His love and light. I could go on and on.

But, invariably, thoughts of my daughter came to my mind when I heard this song. She died more than seven years ago, losing a battle with lymphoma. And it was these words in particular that truly affected me deeply:

cut the strings and let me go
I’m weightless, I’m weightless

As soon as she breathed her last, the “strings” that kept her “tethered to the ground” were cut, and she truly became “weightless.” She was not just such a beautiful little girl, but she was truly a beautiful soul. So kind, so sweet, so bright; she brought my wife and me so much joy, so much happiness.

But she was “tethered to the ground” by disability – she had a terribly crippling disease called Ataxia-Telangiectasia. By the time she was ten, she could no longer walk. She was “tethered to the ground” by chronic infection – she was on antibiotics every day for two years prior to her cancer diagnosis. And she was completely “tethered to the ground” by her cancer, which ravaged her poor, little body from the very moment of diagnosis.

The chemotherapy, with all of its poisonous side effects, also completely “tethered her to the ground.” And I know she felt “held down” by the “weight of the world,” because she would love it when I would spin her around in my arms. I could see on her face that she felt free. I loved those moments.

And when our Beloved decreed that He wanted her back with Him, I know that the “strings” that kept her down were finally cut, and she was finally free to “flow/Free as a spirit on a journey of hope.” She was finally free of disease, cancer, pain, misery, and disability.

But she left behind a father who was devastated; a father who is completely weighed down by the grief – horrible grief – of her loss. It’s so hard to be strong all the time. I don’t want to be sad all the time; it is not fair to all those around me and to those who depend on me. And, as a believer in and servant of the Beautiful Lord, I should be happy when He gives me moments of happiness.

Nevertheless, my heart is still smothered by the pain and constriction of her loss. Sometimes, I can’t even breathe, and I am quickly overwhelmed. It doesn’t take much to bring the sadness over the horror of her loss up to the surface.

On the one hand, I’m happy that the “strings” that held my baby down were cut. I’m happy that she finally became “weightless”, and that she could finally fly like she always wanted to do.

But, I’m not happy that she is gone. As she flew away to her Lord, she left behind a father who was – and still is – ravaged by her loss; still screaming out in terrible pain; weighed down by a sadness that no one should have to bear.

Lord! Beloved Lord! I am not complaining, but sometimes I have to let it out. Lord, Beautiful Lord, You know the best how much my heart hurts; how much my soul shakes from grief; how much I miss my baby. Lord, Beautiful Lord, I have been blessed with so much good after her loss, but – and You know best – the pain of her loss has not gone away. I know, my Lord, that she is now “weightless” with happiness; “weightless” in Your Garden; “weightless” in Your Presence and Light.

But, she left behind a father weighed down by the horror of her loss. Lord, Beautiful Lord, please tell my baby that her Baba misses her so much. Please tell her that her Baba can’t wait to see her again. Please tell her that her Baba loves her so very much. Please tell her that her Baba loves her so very much…

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

While the investigation into the motives of the suspected bomber in NYC continues, there is one aspect that gave me pause:

Multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence sources said that Rahami’s friends and family were telling investigators that they noticed a transformation when he returned from Afghanistan in 2014 regarding his dress and appearance. He had become more religious and started distancing himself from friends and family.

He had become “more religious.” What seems implicit in this statement is that his religiosity, somehow, led to his radicalization and his becoming a would-be mass murderer.

Let me say this: being “religious” and committing mass murder do not belong in the same sentence.

Now, author and internationally syndicated columnist Rami Khouri made a good point about why some people become more religious:

Still, there seems to be this contention in the minds of many that Islamic religiosity is connected with violent extremism.

This is simply not true.

In fact, Islamic religiosity should make someone less violent, not more.

If someone becomes more religious, he or she would become closer to God. This would then mean his or her love for God would increase. If one’s love for God increases, then this necessarily would mean that his or her love for God’s creation would also increase. As a result, violence would not be contemplated, since it would hurt the very creation of the God that one loves.

In the Qur’an God says:

Now there has come to you from God a light and a clear divine writ through which God shows unto all that seek His goodly acceptance the paths leading to salvation and, by His Grace, brings them out of the depths of darkness into the light and guides them onto a straight way (5:15-16)

The term “paths leading to salvation” in the above verse is literally translated as “the paths of peace.”

Thus, violence can never figure into one’s “path of salvation,” or “path of peace,” to God. They are wholly antithetical. Any non-Muslim who thinks otherwise is mistaken about our faith. And any Muslim who thinks otherwise is deluded by Satan.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

What it’s like at a Coldplay concert during “A Sky Full Of Stars”

I have always liked Coldplay and its songs, but I have never been a true fan…until after I saw them in concert. They put on an amazing show, and it gave me a much greater appreciation for their artistic genius. Their shows also gave me a greater appreciation for songs which, heretofore, I had no idea existed.

One such song is “Sky Full of Stars.” Yes, I hear, it was all over the radio a few years back, but I confess, I do not listen to commercial radio that much. When I heard this song in concert (which was truly amazing) – and then multiple, multiple times afterwards on my phone – it has captivated me:

‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
I’m gonna give you my heart
‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
‘Cause you light up the path

As I listen to the song, I cannot help but think of God. He is more beautiful than a “sky full of stars.” And because of that beauty, I cannot help but say to Him: “I’m gonna give you my heart.” His light truly is as a “sky full of stars” that “[lights] up the path.”

When the love of God takes hold in one’s heart, one cannot help but say:

I don’t care, go on and tear me apart
I don’t care if you do

The great thing is that, when you are in love with God, His love does not tear one apart; His love is soothing and full of healing and comfort. And as the song says, when one gazes in awe at the majesty of the night sky – with all its brilliant stars – one definitely sees God:

‘Cause in a sky, ’cause in a sky full of stars
I think I saw you

The second stanza of the song applies to our Lord just as much:

‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
I wanna die in your arms
‘Cause you get lighter the more it gets dark
I’m gonna give you my heart

Every time I hear this, I pray to the Lord that I die in His arms. He indeed gets “lighter the more its gets dark,” always there to help us when times get difficult and dark. And – again, as I look at a “sky full of stars” – I behold the beauty of the Lord, and it’s “such a heavenly view.”

If my reflections on this song stop there, it would be more than enough. They don’t, however. As soon as I think of God in this song, my thoughts also immediately dwell on my daughter, who we lost to cancer in June 2009. Every single word of this song can apply to her as well:

‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
I’m gonna give you my heart
‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
‘Cause you light up the path

I don’t care, go on and tear me apart
I don’t care if you do, ooh
‘Cause in a sky, ’cause in a sky full of stars
I think I saw you

‘Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars
I wanna die in your arms
‘Cause you get lighter the more it gets dark
I’m gonna give you my heart

I don’t care, go on and tear me apart
I don’t care if you do, ooh
‘Cause in a sky, ’cause in a sky full of stars
I think I see you
I think I see you

‘Cause you’re a sky, you’re a sky full of stars
Such a heavenly view
You’re such a heavenly view

As soon as I saw her, I gave her my heart. She lit up, not only “the path” of our lives, but everything around her. Her smile was enough to light up the room, light up our spirits, and light up my heart.

As her disease progressed, and we watched her deteriorate slowly, it tore us apart. But, we didn’t care because she was still with us. By the time she was 10, she couldn’t walk anymore, and I had to carry her everywhere we went. I knew that people would see me do that and feel sorry for me. But, I swear by the Beautiful Face of the Beloved, I didn’t care. I was the happiest man in the room, even though I may have struggled a bit to carry a fairly large child into the house.

I was the happiest man in the room because I had my “sky full of stars” in my life. What’s more, up until the very end – when her disease made her truly miserable – she never lost her smile. She never complained. She never once – again until the very, very end – say “I can’t take this anymore.” Her attitude in the face of severe disability and illness was nothing short of awe-inspiriting. Truly, truly, she got “lighter the more it gets dark.”

Her loss did not fail to “tear me apart.” The pain of her death continues to haunt my heart, and whenever I go back to those beautiful memories of her, it can become overwhelming very quickly.

And so, all I am trying to do now is live a life of righteousness; I am trying – struggling, actually – to live up to the standards of my Beloved on this earth. That way, I can be blessed with Paradise and get to see my Booboo again. And, God willing, when I do, I know that she will be “Such a heavenly view.” Truly, truly, she will be “such a heavenly view.”



In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

ALTHOUGH Eid-ul-Adha is the pinnacle of the Hajj season, it is not the end of it. Starting today, and for the two days after that, the pilgrims will be staying at the tent city of Mina, worshiping, reflecting, and praying. And, each day, they will travel to the stone pillars that represent the Devil and pelt them with stones.

The story behind this ritual is that, when Abraham was on his way to sacrifice his son, the Devil appeared to try to dissuade him from going through with it. Each time he tried, the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) stoned him. Hence, the pilgrims do the same.

This ritual can become particularly emotional for many pilgrims. It is not uncommon, in fact, for one to see flip-flops and other shoes flying at the stone pillars (which are now more like long walls). I am certain that many pilgrims – if not most – recall the sins they have committed in the past and throw the stones with the intent of “getting back” at the Devil for “making them” commit those sins.

Not so fast.

Yes, we stone the Devil – or the representation of the Devil – during the Hajj. Yet, that does not absolve us of our responsibility for our actions. The Devil does not make us do anything. He merely suggests a course of action, and if we heed his “advice,” we are to blame for this decision.

That is exactly, in fact, what happened to our father Adam. Yes, the Devil suggested that he and his wife eat of the forbidden tree. But they both admitted their faults and turned to God in repentance:

The two [Adam and Eve] replied: “O our Lord! We have sinned against ourselves and, unless You grant us forgiveness and bestow Your mercy upon us, we shall most certainly be lost!” (7:23)

They did not even bring up the Devil and his trickery.

Yet, that will not stop countless human beings from trying to blame the Devil for their sins. The Devil, however, will throw them under the bus:

And when everything will have been decided, Satan will say: “Behold, God promised you something that was bound to come true. I, too, held out [all manner of] promises to you – but I deceived you. Yet, I had no power at all over you: I but called you, and you responded to me. Hence, do not blame me, but blame yourselves. It is not for me to respond to your cries, nor for you to respond to mine. For, behold, I have [always] refused to admit that there was any truth in your erstwhile belief that I had a share in God’s divinity”… (14:22)


We are all responsible for what we have earned, and we can not blame anyone else for our sin, even the Devil. So, yes, we Muslims may stone the Devil during the Hajj, but – nevertheless – we will have to face the consequences of all that we do before God.


In the Name of God: The Eternally and Extremely Loving and Caring

I usually look at the calendar for the expected timing of the two major Muslim holidays well in advance, so I can plan my work schedule around them. When I saw the expected date for the major Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” my heart sank in total dread: Sunday, September 11. My elation, therefore, was palpable when Saudi authorities announced that Eid-ul-Adha is going to be on Monday, September 12 and not September 11.

Eid-ul-Adha is the major Muslim holiday that commemorates the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Ishmael (in Islamic tradition). This holiday falls right in the middle of the Hajj, or the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims should perform if physically and financially able. The rituals of the Hajj is a live re-enactment of the story of when Abraham – after being commanded by God – left his wife and young son in the barren plain of Paran (later to become Mecca).

The Hajj is the trip of a lifetime for every Muslim, and that includes me. For those Muslims not in Mecca on the pilgrimage, they celebrate Eid-ul-Adha by performing special morning prayers and sacrificing an animal to be distributed to the poor. The animal sacrifice is also in honor of the Prophet Abraham, who was ordered by God to sacrifice an animal instead of his son.

This is an important religious holiday for Muslims, for we celebrate this day in solidarity with the millions of our Muslim sisters and brothers who are blessed to perform the Hajj this year. The timing of the holiday is not in our control, as it is based on a lunar calendar. Had Eid-ul-Adha actually been on 9/11, Muslims likely would have had to think twice (or three times) about openly celebrating this holiday.

The reason for this is the toxic anti-Muslim atmosphere of 2016, especially in light of this year’s Presidential election. If Eid would have been on 9/11, given the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, there may have been the real threat of violence against the community. Why, I could even see the headlines that may have been generated in some media outlets: “MUSLIMS CELEBRATE ON NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING,” or “MUSLIMS CELEBRATE WHILE FELLOW AMERICANS GRIEVE.” Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump could have even said – and be telling the truth this time – that he saw Muslims celebrating on 9/11. (Only, it would have been 9/11/16.)

This is not right.

If Eid was on 9/11, our celebration would not have been because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It would have been because Eid-ul-Adha happened to fall on that day. In fact, Muslims would have likely prayed for the victims’ families on that day and joined their fellow Americans in memorials and commemorations. We are Americans like everyone else, and the 9/11 attacks hurt us just as much, if not more, as any other American.

Still, it is no secret that most, if not all, of us had a BIG sigh a relief when Eid was announced to be on September 12. It is sad, but true nonetheless. I pray for a day when all Americans – of every faith and stripe – no longer have to worry about being attacked for practicing their religion in their own country, even if that would mean celebrating a religious holiday that happens to fall on 9/11. I pray that day comes and comes soon.



In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

It does make me pause a little that the highest ranking government official to ever address the largest gathering of American Muslims – the 53rd annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – was the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. Depending on how one looks at it, it’s either a slap in the face of the community or a genuine gesture of friendship and collaboration. I’m sure there are American Muslims who are saying both. 

Still, I attended the speech, and I thought it was full of respect for the American Muslim community. Yes, there are many policies of DHS that are controversial, at best, and have harmed many innocent American Muslims. And, of course, Sec. Johnson didn’t mention any of those policies, such as the sending of informants into the community. Still, I appreciated the things he had to say. 

I appreciated when he said, “Your story is the quintessential American story.” He highlighted the many positive things American Muslims contribute to America, and he also said, “Tonight I will not talk about counterterrorism. Tonight I will simply address you as who you are, ‘my fellow Americans.'” 

The best part of the speech was when he talked about his grandfather, Charles S. Johnson. He highlighted how he had to endure the racist suspicion of African-Americans during the Red Scare in this country. He quoted a moving statement his grandfather made decades ago:

It is expected that Negro Southerners, as a result of [our] limited status in the racial system, would be bitter or hostile. . . Bitterness grows out of hopelessness, and there is no . . . hopelessness in the situation. . . . Faith in the ultimate strength of the democratic philosophy and code of the nation . . . has always been stronger than the impulse to despair.

Secretary Johnson then said, 

I believe that too. I believe that because Charles S. Johnson was my grandfather. He died a second class citizen, in fact and in law. But he had faith in this country.

And he encouraged us to have faith in our country as well. He encouraged us to:

Follow the example of many people in this room, the leaders of this organization, and become full participants in our great democratic society. Continue to prod us toward a more perfect union. Aspire, excel, contribute, engage, and vote. Channel your energy in a way such that Muslim Americans too become recognized as a full part of the fabric of this diverse society, like others who have done before you.

He then ended his speech with saying:

Like those who came before you, do not lose hope. Do not despair. Have faith in the code of this Nation. We will continue on the path toward a more perfect union.

If you know American history, take comfort in learning from it.

Yes, it is frustrating to listen to those who foment fear, suspicion and intolerance, who don’t know the mistakes of history, and are in the midst of repeating them. Have faith that the character of the American people as a whole is such that, in the end, we will choose not to drink this brand of soiled milk.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans: public officials in this country are often reluctant to ask the public we serve for your help. On behalf of myself and the President, I ask for your help. Hear this message and share it with others in your communities.

Light a candle. Show others the promise and the wonder of this country.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you, Secretary Johnson. Thank you for coming out and showing your support to our community. All the bad policies of DHS notwithstanding, your words were greatly appreciated.