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

With the election of Donald Trump and the fear that comes with his picks to essential law enforcement and Homeland Security posts, it is important to highlight the truth about American Islam and Muslims. While there are some in our country who seek to incite fear of Muslims in order to marginalize them, ordinary American Muslims are hard at work making their country a better place:

For 16 years, the Chicago Muslim community has distributed free Thanksgiving turkeys to underprivileged families on the South Side. But this holiday season, the group more than tripled the number of free birds from last year to 5,000 and expanded the project to eight elementary schools in three neighborhoods.

Dr. Sofia Shakir, an organizer of the annual turkey drive, said while plans to expand the effort had been underway for almost a year, it was serendipitous that it all came together after what she considered a discouraging presidential campaign — and now amid fears of being viewed as un-American by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

The organizers of this annual drive – to which I have been honored and blessed to contribute for several years – are my good friends, and their work on behalf of the community is truly awe-inspiring. It truly puts me to shame.

Shakir and her husband, Dr. Jihad Shoshara, called the turkey drive a homecoming of sorts. As a student at the University of Chicago, Shakir tutored children after school in Woodlawn. Shoshara attended Chicago public schools. “The turkey drive is a small way in which I feel that I can give back,” he said.

“We are all part of the same,” Shakir said. “We’re not helping others. We’re helping our own.”


Shoshara said the project puts into practice Muslim teachings and fulfills one of the five pillars of Islam called zakat, or charity. For guidance, he looks to the Prophet Muhammad, who is believed to have said: “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry.”

But it’s about more than feeding the hungry, Shoshara said. It’s about giving families a way to make a meal and do something for their children.

“If you can have the turkey in your own home and celebrate like everyone else in America, that gives them a sense of dignity,” Shoshara said.

This is the truth of Islam and Muslims. Yes, there are some who are savage murderers. But, they are a tiny minority and are rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims all across the words.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims – inspired by their faith – are quietly working to make this world, their world, a better place for all, this annual Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive being only one example. This kind of story does not garner headline coverage – it does not bleed or explode. But it reflects the truth about American Islam and Muslims, and more people need to know this truth.

Join me on Twitter (@GodFaithPen).

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