Yes, it's hard for me to admit, but I am an American Muslim. This is my identity, but it's very difficult for me to say it out loud these days. I know it's wrong of me and I constantly get lectured by my other Muslim friends about how I should take pride in my identity and who I am, yet my heart still struggles with it.
I was born a Muslim in the U.S., as my parents had migrated to California in the early 1960s. Growing up I never felt that I was looked upon differently. I was me. This was my home and this is where I belonged. Religion has never been an outwardly beast for me; it was always an inner angel that lived within me and guided me towards kindness and gentleness.
But in the past few years after seeing what has been happening inside and outside of the Muslim world, I am torn. Many things have started to fall in place and make sense to me. This is not the first time in history where people have done crazy things in the name of religion. This is not the first time when wars were fought for political reasons and personal gains and they were covered with the cloak of religion -- but why does it hurt more now? Why do I want to scream when I hear about people calling themselves Muslims and killing innocent humans.
But then why do I feel lost and unloved in this country, America, which is my home that I love so much? I am as American as the guy that lives next door to me, yet I am looked at with suspicion. I live a good, clean, ethical life, yet I am made to feel guilty. I am told through the media that I need to apologize and condemns attacks that crazy people around the world are doing. Of course I will -- just the way I condemned the Columbine shooting, the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson or the torture chambers in Guantanamo Bay. I will always condemn the evil craziness of mankind wherever it happens not only if it's done by people who say they are "Muslims."
Already my progressive Muslim friends and I are feeling sad and upset, and then comes a string of hate tweets and comments all over the media. The release of Clint Eastwood's movie American Sniper was a box office hit, but it created more hate towards peace-loving Muslims like myself. I will not watch the movie and give my $12 to something that promotes hate towards a certain people. Maybe my $12 won't make any difference, but in my heart I will have a clear conscious about not watching a movie that encourages hate. I would watch the movie Selma 50 times if I had to because it carries a message of hope.
I will always be a peace promoter and a compassion warrior, no matter what color, religion and country I come from. So haters of the world, remember before generalizing a certain people of religion, be it Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, etc. You will be defeated one day by the peace-loving citizens of the world.