Today at work, a man walked up and tossed a card over the front of my desk and said, “The United States was founded on Freedom of Religion, not Christianity.” It was a drive-by tossing and I had no time to think of a response, which perhaps is a good thing because I still don’t have a clue what I was supposed to say. Here’s a photo of it:
I’ve read the card about four times now, and I keep thinking about it.
“Die with honor, integrity, dignity, strategy. Gentleman warrior. Obtain secure line from proper source. Both die, two die and both walk away. To walk away is the way of a warrior. Violence and hatred are the way of cowards. Live dangerously, die courageously.”
I got home from work and dozens of my Facebook friends are posting encouragement for hijabis and other “Identifiable As Muslim” individuals to stay strong and keep their heads high. I’ve seen posts encouraging those who recently donned the headscarf to stick with their decision. I’ve seen posts from friends asking why such a big deal is being made of women in headscarves, when men are often subject to the same danger due to skin color, beards, names, and even accents. I’ve seen a lot of posts. Everyone is scared, and Islamophobia continues to rise.
“Die with honor, integrity, dignity, strategy.”
People often talk about hijab representing the honor of a woman. Most people are familiar with the Qur’an verse (24:30) which tells us to dress modestly so that we may be seen as women deserving of respect. Our very dress code, as Muslim women, is a reflection of our inner commitment to God, and the dignity and honor that God has bestowed upon us. We also must be ready to stand firm in our beliefs. This is our jihad, our struggle.
So what is our strategy as Muslims and allies of Muslims? I personally believe this has been identified for us in the Qur’an as well. “O you who believe! Fear God, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” (Quran 9:119). I’ve referred to defining normal in the last post. We as Muslims and as friends of Muslims need to develop a strategy among ourselves that perpetuates the idea of relating the headscarf with integrity, and defines that normal. Associating the headscarf and other visible identifiers of being Muslim simultaneously disassociates these symbols with terrorism and oppression.
“Obtain secure line from proper source.”
A secure line from a proper source. Salah is the main line of communication that Muslims have with God. So many of us stray from prayer when we get busy, we don’t want to be seen praying, or we’re just too lazy to get off the couch. A secure line – perhaps the rope of Allah that is spoken of in Surat Ali Imran, verse 103? “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided…” The second part of our strategy in relation to the Samurai is to remember that regardless of what identifier we put in front of our place as a Muslim, we all face the same enemy. Whether Sunni, Shia, Su-Shi, Sufi, or whatever other sector one may identify with – we are all identifiable as Muslim and will face the backlash together from those who choose to see our faith incorrectly. We must not be divided by title, but stand united against those who wish us harm.
“To walk away is the way of the warrior. Violence and hatred are the way of cowards.”
The Samurai were not afraid of battle or death. Neither should we, as Muslims, be afraid of conflict for the love of Allah. The Qur’an says in Surat Al-Baqarah (2:190) “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.” The importance of self-defense is not lost upon the Muslim community, as many mosques across the nation are beginning to offer self-defense courses for women as Islamophobic hate crimes increase. As violence and hatred are the way of cowards, the Qur’an contains a call for courage: “And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Al-Anfal 8:61). The courage to rely on Allah in peace, even in the presence of enemies.
“Live dangerously, die courageously.”
If living according to the will of Allah is the most dangerous thing we do on this planet, then we are living life in the right way. God is the Most Just, and we must put our trust in Allah to guide our lives. When we live for Allah, we do not have any need to fear on the Last Day. We will be able to walk into the Day of Judgement with courage and confidence that we did everything we could do, with the best of intentions, for Allah.
In the 13th century, Hōjō Shigetoki (1198–1261 AD) wrote: “When one is serving officially or in the master’s court, he should not think of a hundred or a thousand people, but should consider only the importance of the master.”
Likewise, we should not let the hundred or thousand bigoted people affect our perception of the importance of our master, Allah.