Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author e-mail alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
I've always felt a deep respect for people who are Sikh. Aside from our shared Punjabi roots, it always has been admirable to me how dedicated they are to the rituals of their faith, especially those that require an external manifestation. The wearing of turbans for men and not cutting hair for both men and women give Sikhs a distinct look. Their sense of validation is not from a society that can't tell that all brown people don't practice the same religion. It's just always nice to see someone be proud of who they are and not feel the need to hide themselves, regardless of the ignorance of others.
The tragic events that took place at a Wisconsin Sikh Temple yesterday took the lives of six congregants. The immediate concern is for those who have passed and their families. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Wade Michael Page has undoubtedly disrupted your lives, taking away the most precious things that he possibly could have -- your loved ones. Please do not let him take anything else. Continue to visit your house of worship and practice your faith as you are entitled to do so. Do not let those who are bigoted, racist and hateful dictate how you live your life. They should not be allowed to take away your sense of comfort or security.
I remember speaking on a panel held at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study last year entitled "Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustice." The panel took its name from a collection of essays that has the same name, edited by Alia Malek who was also on the panel. The essays focused on men and women from diverse backgrounds who were treated unjustly post 9/11 and some of the essayists were present in the audience, including one young Sikh man. He was very tall, well built, and consumed by a quietness. His story speaks of his experiences as a boy being excessively bullied by classmates after 9/11 because he wore a turban. Every day brought harsh treatment, ridicule, and much more at the hands of most everyone around him. He came home one day and told his father that he could no longer take it and told him he wanted to get his hair cut and his father went him to do so. I'll never forget the way he described it. Watching his hair fall to the ground was like watching leaves fall from a tree, and a tree does not look right without its leaves. I felt more kinship to this young Sikh man at that moment then I have with many Muslims.
I am far away from home right now (in Abu Dhabi) but my heart is still there. For all of you who have been impacted by this shooting, the shooting that took place in Colorado, and all other who have experienced loss in this way, you will be in my prayers during this month of Ramadan.
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