For many generations, Islam lived under the surface of the American psyche. It was long recognized as a presence in the United States, but it was content to ignore and be ignored. Its adherents were never singled out simply because there was no need to know who was Muslim and who was not. This was America so why should it matter, after all?
All of that changed on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001. There were other terrorist incidents before that day, and there were others after. But none rival the events of that day in their sheer grotesqueness. Islam suddenly became equated with terrorism, murder, and general “otherness”. Numerous discussions ensued about whether the Muslim faith was even fundamentally compatible with Western Civilization. With rare exceptions, these discussions were spearheaded by non-Muslims and ignored the fact that for many generations Muslims had already proven by example that their faith was compatible with the “West” by living and thriving here.
During those crucial days, the American Muslim community had a responsibility to stand up and lead those discussions as the most qualified people to do so. Out of fear of retaliation and ostracization, we shirked that responsibility and let that narrative be driven by others with their own agendas.
No longer. I am honored to be a contributing author to a new book entitled All American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim (White Cloud Press, 2012). This work is the follow up to the wildly successful I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim. The book, like its predecessor, is a collection of essays by real Muslims who have real, practical stories which incontestably demonstrate by experience that being Muslim is compatible with being American. The best part about it is that each of these authors has shown this in a different way. That is, there is not just one way to be Muslim and American; the areas of intersection are so vast, there are in fact many ways.
My own essay deals with my extensive positive interactions with the Jewish people. I am honored and humbled to be included in the same book with the likes of Congressman Keith Ellison, accomplished author Wajahat Ali, and prominent blogger (and dear friend) Aziz Poonawala. But mostly, I feel gratified that my voice is being heard and hopefully helping to drive the discussion to more realistic ground.
The book can (and most definitely, should) be pre-ordered on Amazon to ensure availability.