I got an idea of an experiment that I wanted to do a few days ago. Given the date, I thought that it seemed like the perfect time to try it out, though the timing wasn't deliberate on my part.
The experiment? Take my cute hijabi self and stand at a busy intersection with a sign that said "Peace Be Upon You". I wondered what kind of reactions I'd get. Let's face it - my new town is in the Bible belt, and you can probably count the number of Muslims in town on one hand. You can hazard a guess at what would happen, but I wanted to know for sure.
Let me tell you what happened. People waved at me. They smiled. They gave me thumbs up and honked their horns. More than a few flashed peace signs - including (not surprising to me) a trio of soldiers in one car. Two comments: "Salam aleikum, sister. Islam is the path of peace. America needs Islam!" from one middle-aged African American brother. Another drove by and shouted "That's right, sister! That's right!"
In short, on a day most Muslims dread because they worry about negative comments and behavior, the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. Not a single person made a negative comment. Not a single one made a negative gesture. People understand, by and large, that Muslims are their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members. They understand that we're normal people, just like them. This new understanding and acceptance is a sign of the times that we live in.
To me, this just goes to show that a little faith in the basic goodness of humanity can go a long, long way. Alhamdilullah.