December 06, 2016

Imagined Open Letter to Americans from an Imagined Muslim

A dream to read, were it but real:
To My Non-Muslim American Friends and Neighbors:

I am a Somali Muslim deeply ashamed by the action of the Somali Muslim who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall in September as well as a similar action by another Somali at Ohio State recently.

Americans are right to want to limit immigration from dangerous regions of the world, and if I were a target of potential Muslim extremists I would feel the same way. As it is, I fear the backlash of non-Muslim Americans more than I do Muslim extremists, partially because in America most self-radicalized Muslims do not target Muslim communities. But also because there's an infinitely higher potential for my people to be insulted than for Americans to be killed.

Many in the media have reached out to us and written stories about our fear of backlash and for that we are profoundly grateful. But you are telling only half the story.

I don't want it to be a one-way street. I want to reach out to Americans and tell them I understand their fears and their fears are legitimate. I don't want to play the victim card because I believe in the end Americans are a fair people and to the extent we Somalis refuse to acknowledge the obvious it only leads to more fear and Islamophobia.

I therefore am in favor greatly limited immigration from majority-Muslim countries having a problem with extremists.

Islam is a religion of peace and I want to further that peace by not having extremists infiltrate my mosque and community. I am a devoted Muslim who wants to reach out to my non-Muslim friends by being willing to accept that fewer of my relatives still in Somalia will be allowed to come to the U.S. This is the price to be paid for having extremism in lands where state and church are deeply interwoven.

Moreover, I understand statistics. I understand that there is a much greater risk in taking in 100 Muslim refugees than 100 Canadians. I don't take it personally! I notice in my own country that in some cases women are afraid of men because of past domestic abuse they'd suffered. I don't take it personally if a woman I don't know assumes the worst of me merely because I'm a man and she's suffered abuse from men. I would say she's using her God-given intelligence!

I don't take it personally, just as I would not take it personally if a doctor tells me I have a greater chance of having a stroke than my neighbor. I don't blame the doctor and call him biased against my weight or age. Radical Islamic terrorism is an idea and a sickness every bit as dangerous as heart disease. I could resent my doctor, or I could make improvements that will further my health.

I believe Islam has a bright future, but not if we continue to allow the migration of dangerous forms of Islam to Western countries. We are then just contributing to our own demise, or at least the demise of peaceful version of Islam. 

No comments: