Common Word, Common Lord

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

“You know they hate you, right?”

That’s what was repeatedly told to me as I cheered the French national team in their doomed bid to win the 2016 Euro Cup final against Portugal on July 10, 2016. They were referring to the generalized notion among many Muslims that the French hate Islam and all Muslims. Now, judging by the news reports about the discrimination of Muslims in France, I can see how this perception can take root. I resisted this, however.

“They never hated me,” I said.

Indeed, when my wife and I traveled to Paris in the summer of 2015, I was only treated with kindness, respect, and honor. I left France an immediate Francophile, and I have embarked on learning the French language and have a special place in my heart for Paris in particular and France in general.

That does not mean that I am not pained by the discrimination that French Muslims do face. It is a major problem that needs to be addressed. At the same time, however, I refuse to blanket all the French people as “racist” because of what I read in the news.

We all need to do more of this.

I hate it when all Muslims are tarred with the stain of the crimes of the savages acting in our name. I resent when fellow American Muslims are looked at with suspicion because of what is in the news. I am sick and tired of Muslims having to bear the brunt of backlash – including my own family – whenever a Muslim criminal does anything anywhere.

Well, as the Prophet (pbuh) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” If I resent that being done to me, then I cannot do the same to others. That is true for the French, or African-Americans, or Jews, or the police, or anyone else.

I was horrified by the death of Philando Castile. At the same time, however, I refuse to paint all police as racist. I was horrified by the attacks on the Dallas police officers (and those in Baton Rouge) who, as shooting survivor and Imam Omar Suleiman said, “[The hearts of the Dallas Police] were with us for that demonstration. They get it.”

It’s hard. It goes against our natural tendency as human beings. Indeed, it is a jihad, or struggle. But, it is one that is vital to our country, as the current hateful rhetoric of this Presidential campaign bitterly shows us. The words of Imam Suleiman ring so true:

I truly do believe that as a country, this is a pivotal moment in the history of country. Are we going to be a pluralistic, tolerant, accepting nation that is guided by a unifying principle that everyone has the right to live with the same level of dignity, and be treated equally by the law, and be free to worship in a way that they please, and live their lives in the way that they please? Are we going to be united by that principal?

We have to be united by that principal. Else, the very nature of who we are as a people, as a country, hangs in the balance.

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