In my last post, I addressed the deeply personal accounts of Haroon Moghul’s self- and religious exploration in his memoir How to be a Muslim: An American Story. This post will broaden that reading to consider an October 2017 interview with Moghul at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
The interview echoes themes relevant to current global crises which implicate religion including how religious rhetoric circulates to support extremist violence and Islamophobia. Exploring how the events of 9/11 intertwine with such crises adds depth to understanding Moghul’s individual experience.
After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Haroon Moghul, the undergraduate leader at New York University’s Islamic Center, was called upon to be a representative voice for Muslims in America even as he negotiated his own relationship with Islam. He recounts his religious journey, alongside personal encounters with suicide and bipolar disorder, in his recently published memoir: How to be a Muslim: An American Story. Recognized by Ausuma Zehanat Khan in The Washington Post as “an extraordinary gift,” the memoir offers, what Khan calls, “an authentic portrait of a vastly misunderstood American community.”
For all souls who died on, because of, and since 9/11 …
We build a lot of walls, especially when we are fearful, hateful, angry, and retaliatory.
There are personal walls, our own little “bubbles,” that give us the illusion of safety. Then we have bigger walls. Walls that our governments build. Walls to keep people in, and walls to keep people out.
Current walls that come to mind are the Mexican-US Border Wall – you know, that one that Donald Trump loves – because it keeps all those rapists out. We have the Israeli-West Bank Separation Barrier-which has contributed to the drop of suicide bombing exponentially, but, in the meantime, has cut off Palestinian livelihoods, and led to the death of many who can’t get through the checkpoints in an emergency. Here in the US we have “gated communities” – those communities that give a false sense of security to keep the “degenerates” out. No crime inside those walls, right? Right. We also have prison walls to keep people in. The prison industry is thriving here in the US and more walls need to be put up to incarcerate all the “offenders.” And, now, we have a new wall, just finalized on August 29, in Hungary – a razor wire wall to keep fleeing refugees from Syria, out. Continue reading “The Utter and Undeniable Need For Walls of Compassion by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
I remember 9/11. I was having phone sex with a woman from Chicago that I was seeing and I had just come back from Chicago to Los Angeles the night before. I was on the phone with her…and we were doing what people do…we were doing what we do when we are in love long distance…and then she said to me, “Turn on the T.V…” and I did. And the towers were collapsing. Jesus.
Days later I remember all of us lighting candles all across the city and coming together…it was such an incredible time of coming together and then it got ugly and full of war.
I have often stated that I went to sleep as an African American woman on September 10, 2011 and woke up Muslim on 9/11. It may seem odd to say this since I am a third-generation Muslim; however, my reason for doing so is that my life as an American Muslim now has two main eras: 1) pre-9/11 and 2) post-9/11.
In the pre-9/11 era of my life, I felt more black than Muslim because my color was a point of conflict and controversy throughout my life. I grew up in two areas as a child—an urban area with majority Latinos/as and then in a very rural area with majority whites. In both areas, being black was not so popular. I was called “mayate,”which is a bug but also the Mexican term for “nigger.” I was also called, “tar baby,” “nigger,” “African booty scratcher,” and a host of other hurtful names as a young black child.
In the post-9/11 era of my life, the main part of my identity that people focus on is my religion instead of my color. On 9/11, I went from being a nigger to being a “towel head,” from being a tar baby to being a “terrorist,” and from being the stereotype of an unruly and angry, loudmouthed black woman to being the stereotypically seen-but-not heard, oppressed Muslim woman in need of saving. As a Muslim, I suddenly was a potential threat and un-American, while as a Muslim woman I was also pitied and looked down on as misfortunate for being in a religion that oppresses me. In my life, white privilege and white monoculturalism have turned into Christian privilege and Christian monoculturalism. Continue reading “Waking up Muslim on 9/11 by Jameelah Medina”