The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 certainly impacted the Muslim community in the U.S. The backlash against the Muslim American community was certainly felt, as the ADAMS Center was vandalized and congregants of the center were harassed and threatened.
Despite the wave of fear, anxiety and suspicion that arose from that time, the true spirit of America shone through the darkness. Our neighbors from various faith communities stood shoulder to shoulder with the ADAMS Community and spoke in defense of the Muslim American community in Virginia. Members from the Christian, Jewish and Sikh faith stood in solidarity with the ADAMS community. It was then I realized the beauty of the resilience of America to overcome any challenge that comes in her path.
The good things that have happened in America post-9/11 is the creation of a more open dialogue and exerted effort to understand people of other faiths, cultures and ethnicities. In my work as the Imam of the ADAMS Center, I've seen the diversity in belief and culture in America. Speaking to people of various faiths and cultures, it became apparent that we had more in common than not. Also, individuals I met post-9/11 and talked to regarding Islam and Muslims had not heard of Islam before 9/11 or had not previously met a Muslim. As I explained to them what Islam was, what Muslims believed and their role in America as loyal and dedicated citizens, I saw that their questions came from a place of genuine interest in learning, rather than for any nefarious purposes. Through the interfaith work I have done, it has become apparent that there definitely is hope for an America that accepts Muslims as a part of the American heritage.
I know that America has always overcome obstacles and challenges and has always been resilient in times of hardship -- be they racism, xenophobia, economic turmoil or natural disasters. I believe in an America that will overcome these difficult times in the next 10 years and help create a better future for people of all faiths (or people of no faith), be they Christian, Jewish or Muslim.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, "We shall overcome."
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