The story of Joseph is almost identically narrated in both Bible and the Quran. As an American Muslim, I have been deeply reflecting over one of the most climactic scenes of Joseph's story as we arrive at the 10th anniversary of the heinous and tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11. Joseph meets with his brothers for the second time, as one of the most powerful men of Egypt, and finally reveals his true identity to them. He looks in the eyes of the very same people who not long ago took a despicable set of aggressions against him and says, " You meant evil against me but God Almighty turned them into blessings for me and for others..."
Ten years after these barbaric attacks, which rocked our boat as a nation, can we, as Americans, look at the evil forces behind 9/11 and say the same?
As we reflect over the eventful decade after 9/11, can we feel the intense pride and gratitude that Joseph felt when he faced his aggressors? Can we tell these evil forces: You wanted to divide us but we are more united than ever. You wanted us to concede from our ethical and moral standards, but we even raised the bar higher in those standards. You wanted us to be enveloped and suffocate in fear, despair, hate and revenge, but we breath nothing but hope, grace and glory. You wanted us to reveal to worst of ourselves in response to your treacherous attacks but we didn't submit ourselves into our lower desires and revealed the best of ourselves. You wanted to destroy our beautiful social fabric but the mosaic of that fabric shines even more beautiful than ever.
My personal and honest answer to these Josephy questions is: Not yet. Despite very encouraging signs in that direction, 10 years later our water is still muddy and the dust hasn't settled down yet in our nation in response to 9/11. However, 10 years is not a very long time in the life of nations. The real question for us to ask today is: Within a decade or so, can we get there? Can we have a Joseph-like moment in the face of our enemies in our recent future? Even though current realities may provide very few reasons to be hopeful, I am very hopeful that, inshallah (God willing), we certainly will.
I still truly believe that this nation is one of the healthiest at its heart and those foundational ideals that U.S. society has been built will not be destroyed by 9/11 and post-9/11 hurricanes. This is not the first time that this great nation found herself hitting seen and unseen brick walls. As we grew out of our previous calamites, as the forces of exclusion, hate and revenge always have been defeated by the forces inclusion, love and grace in our lands, inshallah we shall overcome this one too. We will turn these challenges into blessings for ourselves and others and, like Joseph, we will humble our enemies by responding to their evils actions with something better. Inshallah.