My Family is Not the Threat to America Right Now

As she was facing the inevitability of her last days and trying to decide how she should face it, my mom said something that sort of shocked me. She had spoken to the Dashi of Lohan School here in Vegas, who had become something of a spiritual mentor for her in the last few years. When she asked him what she should do, he said the same thing she ended up saying to us in December before leaving.

“Go back to your faith,” Dashi said. And for my mom, who had raised us with no God or book to guide us, that meant returning to Islam.

Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and our family practices it too. We never have, because our parents both held different beliefs ( and we’ll talk about the Jewish side of my family very fucking soon ) and they wanted us to have the freedom to choose for ourselves. But my mom was raised by Muslim customs and she wanted to die in them. Through all the fear and uncertainty, the one thing that was clear to my mom was that she wanted to be buried properly by Muslim traditions in the family plot. She wanted to be home with her family so that they could carry her off from this world on the pillars of her faith.

Islam, to us, is peace. It is family. It is the end of suffering and clarity through the fog. We are not religious but we know that the last thing my mom asked for in her lifetime was to be graced by her faith and returned to Allah.

Tell me what is violent about that. Tell me what is inhumane or unjust about that. Tell me how Muslims are monsters that can’t be trusted. Tell me how my family poses a threat to this country because they believe in God in a different way than you do.

Tell me my mother’s faith is wrong. Tell me that the end of her life was a disgrace because she chose the wrong kind of salvation.

I hate that every single day, I am given another reason to be grateful she is not alive to see the things this country that she loved is doing. She would be ashamed and horrified and furious, the way she was when I saw her crying in the living room on 9/11. The life left her face and she held a quiet fury within her for the rest of the time she had strength to fight against hatred, and today, America’s leadership has decided to double down on it. She would be so fucking disgusted by us.

I hope you’re all paying attention, and I hope you’re as mad as I am. The country my mother believed in and the country I keep waiting to actually see believed in the freedom to be exactly the way you are without judgment or persecution. But maybe freedom of religion only applies to white people, or to people that we haven’t spent the last couple of decades bombing. Maybe the Statue of Liberty, that became a beacon of hope for immigrants during times when it seemed like they had no future in front of them, is no longer a door in but another wall between us and our neighbors.

Maybe America was always like this, and it is only just now starting to show its true colors without shame.

But if you believe in the freedom of religion that lets you practice your faith, if you are not a Native American and your family came to this country seeking a new future, if you are not the hatred and bigotry that is running rampant through our country, you should be ashamed. You should be reviled at the injustices our leadership is signing into law. You should be furious, just like I am, just like my mom would be. And you should do something about it.

Call your Senators. Call your House Reps. Go to town hall meetings. Have conversations with Muslims and ask them about the things you don’t know or understand. Visit a mosque and tell them they are welcome in your neighborhood. Reach out. Do not let the millions of people that will live and die by my mother’s faith look at you and see hatred. Do something. Do something right fucking now.

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