22 Nov Hate Crimes: How you can help
Assalamu Alaykum / Peace be upon you all
The large granite sign in front of the MAPS building was vandalized over the week-end. It appears that someone took a sledgehammer and tried to smash the slab bearing the institution’s name and logo. We have taken necessary measures to safeguard the safety and security of the building and of our community. We have increased security, will have armed guards round the clock and are working closely with Redmond Police and the FBI. US Representative Suzanne Delbene and Redmond Mayor John Marchione have denounced the vandalism. We have received a tremendous outpouring of support from the inter-faith community and from citizens at large who have pledged to stand by us and against such criminal acts. To our leaders and to our friends, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude from the bottom of my heart!
An attempt to smash a sign that represents the largest Islamic institution in the state of Washington is an attempt to smash the very foundations upon which our country was founded. In the past two weeks there has been a very concerning increase in hate crimes across the country and our community was not spared. Many people from all walks of life have reached out to MAPS and asked how they can help. Here is what you can do:
1. Talk to your family – Condemn hate
As you sit down for a Thanksgiving meal this week, have a discussion with your extended family and remind adults and children alike that our nation celebrates this holiday because we celebrate the noble idea of different people coming together for the greater good of all. Remind them that we are not only the descendants of the Pilgrims but also of the Native Americans who were present at the original feast and of the African slaves who were brought to Jamestown a year before the Mayflower landed and of all of the people who have come and contributed greatly to our nation since then. It was a committee of the Founding Fathers, including Franklin, Jefferson and Adams, who suggested “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one) as the new country’s motto to underscore the pluralistic nature of the American experiment. Championing diversity is deeply woven into the fabric of our nation’s character. Hate crimes are un-American.
2. Talk to your community – Eradicate fear
On August 21st, 1790, in a letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, President George Washington, borrowing from the Old Testament, wrote, “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.” Freedom from fear is at the very core of who we are as a nation. Today, many minority groups including American Muslims, are worried and afraid. You cannot let this fundamental right, the right to be free from fear, be usurped. Talk or write to your local newspapers, to your congressmen, to your leaders, to your school boards, to your city councils, to your congregations, to your clubs and committees and let everyone know that you will uphold Washington’s promise and that you expect them to do so as well.
3. Respond to hate with overwhelming kindness – Get engaged
God Almighty tells us in the holy Qur’an, “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend” [41:34]. Channel the frustration and negative emotions inside you from these sad incidents into something that is magnanimous. Get engaged with your co-citizens. Learn about them and their families. Visit a mosque (MAPS will host an open house this Friday 11/25 from 10AM to noon). Volunteer for a social good. Two weeks ago I challenged the MAPS community, asking, “If you volunteer to clean our parks once a month, now clean them once a week. If you feed the homeless every now and then, now start a soup kitchen. If you are good at something, design a course and teach others. If you plan on completing community college, now plan to finish a Master’s degree. If you are in a profession or in a business, now set your goals for next year double of that for this year and achieve them.” Do something overwhelmingly good and do it now.
As a nation we have come too far to let our fundamental rights be taken away from us, to let our nation’s character be hijacked and to let our communities be divided. Through dialogue with our families, through voicing our concern in our communities and through engaging in acts of goodness, we will overcome hate.
The granite slab will be fixed easily and soon; even a hairline crack in our country’s foundations, however, will leave all of us permanently shattered.
Register to attend MAPS Open House on Friday 11/25 10AM-Noon.