It is Ramadan. Muslims all over the world are fasting from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the month they will celebrate with one of the two most important holidays in Islam: Eid Al Fitr. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar it is possible that this holiday will land on September 11. No one reading this needs to be reminded of the significance of that day.
Unfortunately, Muslims who had nothing to do with 9/11 have had to contend with lots of backlash from that day and no doubt it will be even louder if the holiday lands on 9/11.
It was worrying enough to think about how some people might misinterpret such a convergence, and that was before the rise in Islamophobic rhetoric. Every other day, I’m greeted with someone arguing that Muslims are all evil, that we shouldn’t have any more mosques in America, that we are a dastardly fifth column. The assumption here is always that Muslims are foreigners and intruders, that we are strangers in our own lands, unwelcome in our own homes.
It is easy for us to forget that there were also Muslim victims on 9/11. Moghul lives in New York and was there when the towers came down. Two fears came over him, “How do I explain that I was scared because my city was attacked, but I was also scared because people might blame me?” Not sure of what to do he went to the Muslim prayer room they had on campus and found a Jewish student. When Haroon asked him what he was doing he replied:
“I figured that some Muslims might feel uncomfortable walking home”—people had already begun to blame any number of extremist Muslim groups, and of course the subways had been shut down—“and that, if I walked home with them, maybe people would think twice before trying anything.” (He wore a yarmulke).
This reminds me of when America invaded Iraq in 2003. We were living in Syria at the time and the day of the invasion a Syrian friend called to check on us. She wanted to go to the store and get some groceries so that we wouldn’t have to go out in case we were afraid of any backlash.
The Ground Zero Mosque
I have sought to stay away from politics on this blog. I am stunned to see that what one thinks about whether there should be a mosque built near Ground Zero (not on it) has become political. It shouldn’t be. It seems appropriate at the end of this post to say that I support the building of the mosque and I am saddened to think that Americans who enjoy the greatest religious freedom in the world would be opposed.