This past Sunday on December 1, I was honored to be asked to speak at an event hosted by an organization called We Care. We Care is an Islamic based not for profit organization that aims to build a safe space for Muslim youth around the state and to provide them with academic, mental and social resources. The goals were simple, to create a sense of community for free expression in the short term and the long term, to build a physical institution and a future youth center. It would take time, but the organization was determined. Their target audience was more than just uncles and aunts of the community donating money, rather they looked to mark a different crowd: the future of Muslim-American youth.
As the No. 1 growing religion in the world, Islam has rapidly spread to the United States. The country was no longer dominated by Muslim immigrants, but rather a new wave of first, second and third generation Muslim Americans. Our generation was starkly different in regards to overcoming obstacles. We did not struggle with the English language, attaining green cards or fitting into society. Instead, we were going through an identity crisis. Our daily lives included the debate of what is the easiest way to pronouncing my very “Muslim” name? What will my teacher say when I request off for Eid? We weren’t exactly foreigners, but we didn’t feel quite at home either.
Being a Muslim-American in the post 9/11 era tests our patience to prove ourselves. Our parents saw America as evil, while America saw Islam as evil. So the question is, where do we come in?
Simple. We establish our identity. Being a Muslim-American in today’s era is no longer a void where we must prove our worth; instead, it is about embracing our identity. We are Muslims, continuing the faith of our parents and grandparents, speaking the native tongue of our families and adapting to the morals we were raised with. At the same time, we are Americans. We are today’s physicians, writers, engineers, artists and professors. We are not a threat. We are a community. One that is proud, diverse and vibrant.
The Prophet ﷺ once said,
“Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied and your life before your death.'”
As Muslims today, we are encouraged to be great. To succeed in the fields which God blessed us in. This is our time to be confident Muslim-Americans and to embody an identity of Islamic principles and American opportunities. Our parents and great-grandparents came here for a reason, and that reason is us. We are here to stay. To continue to succeed in our careers, establish our families and be acknowledged as valuable part of American society. And may Allah subhana wa ta’ala guide us to the righteous paths blessed with His opportunities and to futures where our identities hold strong and ultimately please Him. Ameen.