I know it's been nearly two weeks since the bombing in Boston. I should've spoken sooner, but frankly, I've been sorting through the swirling maelstrom of emotions that have plagued me since then, sick at heart over what I've seen on tv and read in the news. My first thought, the moment I heard about it, was "Ya Allah, please please PLEASE don't let the people who did this claim to be Muslims."
To no avail.
The whispers began almost immediately: "Muslims." "Islam." "Foreign radicals." The faintest whisper and suspicion became a blanket guilty sentence on millions of people in the US.
Because we're Muslims, and when someone who claims to belong to us goes radical, we are "clearly to blame".
Let me break it down: We are tarred by that dark brush, guilty without a trial, guilty by association. Because we, along with 2 billion people in every country, speaking every language, in every culture, have a shared belief in Islam.
It took only hours before we started hearing of reprisal attacks: a woman out at the park with her child and a man punched her in the shoulder and screamed profanities at her. A man beaten up as he was leaving a restaurant by a group of men. The guy didn't even know about the bombings in Boston, but he was to blame because of his skin color ("looked Arab") and his faith.
What happened in Boston wasn't because of Islam. It wasn't because of Muslims. It wasn't because of tv or video games or movies. It happened because a twisted man had evil in his heart and acted on it.
It was heinous, wrong, evil, a complete violation of Qur'anic teachings and simple human decency. His wife, an American convert, is now being portrayed as brainwashed, stupid, ignorant, less than American. Some people act like her conversion was an act of treason instead of an act of faith.
Nothing will undo what happened in Boston, but we have a choice: we can honor those who lost their lives, help the wounded recover, grieve with those affected, and press forward, or we can allow hatred and bigotry to cloud our vision, darken our hearts, forget our shared humanity, and make us just one step away from being like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
I know which path I choose. What about you?