Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering September 11 Envisioning September 12 and Beyond

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) September 11, 2007 - Like almost all of us, I have a vivid recall of September 11, 2001. A great deal changed for me, and for all of us, on that infamous day six years ago.

I remember my fatigue, and relief, when my flight from Durban, South Africa landed at Kennedy Airport, a little less than an hour before the World Trade Center was incinerated.

I recall, too, seeing the burning buildings that were visible from the Major Deegan Expressway in New York City, and later, arriving in Rockland County just before the highways, and almost the entire New York City region, went into shut-down, and later; war-mode.

The nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 tragedy were simply a prelude for the bigger carnage that followed – a carnage, and war that continues today.

Like most of us in the Muslim American community, this terrible day marked a pivotal point in U.S. history. Our communities were both vehemently attacked and valiantly defended by numerous interfaith and ethical allies who refused to blanket us with the stigma of collective guilt.

Over 500 incidents of reactionary violence against innocent Muslims were recorded, and some 1,500 Muslim "suspects" were rounded up for interrogation and arrest by U.S. security forces - although all of them were exonerated from guilt.

But while "flying while Muslim" (or Muslima) became, and still is, a very precarious adventure for many of us, the deeper and more permanent attacks on Muslim leadership and Muslim institutions remains an ongoing challenge for Ummati Muhammad here in America.

The essential infrastructure of our collective community remains vulnerable to financial and legal maneuverings designed to limit, if not silence, our collective demand for freedom and respect for our civil rights.

Muslims in visible leadership positions, even when exonerated by jury trials, are re-tried by judicial ideologues who believe that even when Muslims are innocent, they must be guilty of something that merits their incarceration.

Even our charitable assistance for the victims of occupation and colonialism in Palestine is regarded by some as prima facie evidence of some Muslim conspiracy and wrongdoing - even though this great nation, itself, was born in a struggle against colonialism and occupation some 231 years ago.

Yet, despite all of this, I believe that the collective cup is not half-empty. In fact, it is more than half-full.

I believe that the Muslim community has made solid and significant gains across the nation over the past six-years, sometimes in the face of formidable opponents, and even some who would like to obliterate our very existence in America.

Mosques, neighborhood centers, youth programs, and other institutions continue to be built, and yet, despite the open and underhanded opposition of others, we remain deeply committed to both community service and interfaith dialogue.

And Islam continues to grow.

But perhaps the most noticeable and solid achievement in the last six years is the growth, and consolidation, of real Muslim presence and power in the political realm.

We have now (Alhamdulillah!) our first elected member of Congress, numerous mayors and local elected officials, and new respect throughout the country for a growing community of civic-minded voters.

We are making a significant impact on the national electoral scene, and this impact will not be diminished.

As I travel throughout the MAS national network, I am impressed with the dedication and deep, spiritual impact of our members, and especially our youth, who continue to build, teach, serve, and pray, despite the power of those who oppose us.

And so, on this solemn day and as we enter into the blessed season of Ramadan, I am certain that, just as Allah (SWT) will test us as believers, that He will not abandon us, or let us be unsuccessful in our collective struggle for freedom, justice, and ultimately a nation and a world that is better for all.

Our work here at MAS is invigorated, and becoming even greater as a result of the challenges that confront Muslims today, and tomorrow.

Today is September 11th - and our struggles are ever present - but we must also hold fast to the hope that, on September 12, and each day thereafter, we will continue to flourish as a community.

Muslims have a great deal to contribute to this nation, and to the future of humanity - these contributions will continue, insha'Allah.

Peace, justice, and success to you all.

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