Life as an American Muslim has it’s ups and downs no more or less than any other hyphenated American in general, but there are times when it seems like life itself pauses and your only thought when a horrific news alert flashes across the television or smartphone is “I hope that it wasn’t a Muslim”. Self-serving as it may seem at first glance, I like many fellow American Muslims find ourselves in that uneasy nether-realm where what began as an ordinary, uneventful day, ends with most American Muslims becoming amateur private detectives and journalists. Many American Muslims at this very moment are refreshing their Twitter, Facebook and favorite online news sources, watching the television, listening to the radio, or texting and calling fellow Muslims sharing similar paranoid sentiments. Some of us are doing all of the above at the same time.
What happened in Boston today is an eerie reminder not just of the callousness and terror mankind can inflict on one another, or crystal clear proof that evil truly exists in the world, but also how unfortunate as it is, though we are not personally impacted or responsible, most if not all American Muslims are collectively holding their breath. American Muslim organizations and leaders even as I type, are sending out messages, statements, and proclamations of peace as all of America and the world waits to find out who’s responsible. Why do we do this? Only the naive or those purposefully turning a blind eye to the realities on the ground would even ask. Unlike most groups, religious, ethnic, or otherwise, since September 11, 2001 Muslims are collectively blamed each and every time a coreligionist commits a crime against humanity.
Fortunately, the beatings and murders that befell Muslim and other communities aren’t as sure a thing as they once were, but the propaganda, islamophobic celebrity and activists, and others wishing to single out American Muslims are hoping the culprit(s) are Muslim licking their chops at the opportunity to further their agendas. It’s the constant headache that never goes away, which is why most American Muslims especially those in the public eye are making it known ahead of time that we don’t stand for this madness and condemn the actions of any terrorist Muslim or not. It’s almost like we have to. Not many other groups are releasing statements and although most Americans and general are praying for the victims and their families and hoping that whoever is responsible is brought to justice, those of us that are Muslim are also praying that it’s not a Muslim. Although it’s sad when you think about it, the reality remains the same.
American Muslims like me are rattled and shaken to the core when such tragedies occur. Our constant refrain of “I hope it’s not a Muslim” in truth, means that we hope that our lives are not just a little more difficult tomorrow. We hope that our co-workers, classmates, or people on the street will just see us as fellow Americans. We hope that we can all mourn together, united as Americans, without the fear that our fellow citizens think ill of us or accuse us as being silent supporters of terror and evil committed by those who also call themselves Muslim. I guess in a nutshell, we just want to be considered equal and full Americans. No one should have to live in fear and my prayer is that the victims and their families find peace, the criminals are brought to justice, and no matter what we learn, this time we all remain a little more sane.