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Common Word, Common Lord

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

I truly enjoy watching the Olympics, especially the Summer Olympics and its multitude of events, because of the amazing athletic ability of the athletes. The feats that these women and men achieve is truly awe-inspiring. And when they win Gold, Silver, or Bronze, it is wonderful to watch them accept their medal, many times with tears in their eyes. I share in their happiness, especially the American athletes. 

This year has featured American Muslim athletes who have won medals: Ibtihaj Muhammad (the first to complete in hijab) winning the Bronze medal in team saber competition, and Dalilah Muhammad winning the Gold in the women’s 400m hurdles. In a time of anti-Muslim sentiment, they have made our entire community proud and helped us raise our heads up high. I thank God for them and their amazing accomplishments. 

Yet, that is not the highlight of the games for me. What I love best about the Olympics is the sportsmanship between the athletes. During the competition, they are fiercely against each other. They will do whatever they can, even diving forward on the ground, to win. 

After the competition is over, however, they all shake each other’s hands in congratulations. They likely all know each other from other competitions. But still, once the race is over, they are all friends and colleagues. While there are a few unfortunate exceptions, this is the general rule at the games. 

This represents the best of humanity. Yes, we are different races, different faiths, different cultures, but we can all come together – every two years – and compete in a spirit of fairness and common brotherhood and sisterhood. 

This is, in fact, what God had intended for us:

To each of you We have prescribed a law and a way; Had God so willed, He would Have made you one nation [united in faith]. But [He willed otherwise in order] to test you in what He had given you. So race to [all that is good]. To God is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you were wont to differ (5:48)

It is so heartening to see this manifested in beautiful glory during the Olympics. And, as the Summer Olympics wind down, it is heartbreaking to realize that, in a few days time, it is likely our kind will go back to the hatred and division at which we are so effective (Election 2016 case in point). 

Is it naive of me to think that, perhaps, we can learn from the spirit of the Olympics and be better as a people? As a country? As a human race? 

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