Am I an American? Why am I asking myself this question again? Yes, I am an American, a Muslim African American.
Why am I asking that question again? It is because the monster is trying to once again rear its ugly head. A monster who once tried to trick me into believing that I was not an American because of the color of my skin and because of the origin of my parents and the first language that I spoke (Spanish) as a child.
The ugly beast who snapped at the heels of my parents, with its white only bathrooms and diners, and the black only seats at the rear of the bus or train, and the inequality and lack of justice that permeated its presence, breathing the fire of hate for those who dared to be different than it.
The horrible looks and words of hate that frightened a child and young adolescent, emanating from the mouths of pale skinned creatures that looked as human as I; and breathed the same air that filled my lungs, and walked the same earth that I walked upon. I a child not really understanding the disease that filled the hearts and minds of these men and women, some who called themselves the follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) as I was, the prophet of peace and love.
Why I said as a child why, why do you hate me so, the answer always being you are the other, not like me, apart from me. Yet in my heart I always knew this to be a lie, knew that the other was as human and fragile as I was. He or she was just sick in the head from some blow of a hammer that must have once fallen upon their heads.
Then as I grew into adolescence, came the words and actions of Martin, words of freedom, equality, respect, the transformational words of Malcolm demanding respect as a man and as a human being and servant of God. The demand for the implementation of the eternal principles that I knew permeated the hearts of all men and women who know the truth and that submit to the one and only Lord and Creator of the universe.
These waves of change passed through our country transforming hearts and minds, as they always have when the creature appears. Men like Mandela, Gandhi, Muhammed, Jesus, and Moses and so many others. Who chase the monster away; if not for a little time, making him hide in slumber for another day.
Here is that day, today when I ask myself again, am I an American? The monster stares in my face, I now a grown man a Muslim-African-American.
The beast once again looms in our presence, again staring at me with eyes aglow. It basks in its own self-indulgence of ignorance, hate and accusations of being the other. The same old story just another time and another place.
Know this oh beast, I will stand firmly on this sacred ground that I call my country, my home, my place of birth. A place called America; I stand here with no fear of you in my heart. Knowing with surety who I am and why I am.
I am a Muslim American, a servant of Allah, born in the home of the brave the land of the free.
I am a red-blooded American.
You can screech your words of being the other, of there is no room for Muslims or mosques, or adhans in this land. I tell you we are here to stay, over nine million of us strong and growing, most born American Muslims and true believers in our hearts.
I stand here wrapped in the cloth of freedom made by the blood of my ancestors and yours. The promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not a dream but a reality made true by the following words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,This is my birth-right, a covenant made to every citizen of this country born or naturalized.
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Your disease of the heart has made you blind and ignorant to the beauty and guarantees encased within those words. So beware oh beast, the sword of justice looms over your head, and no matter how loudly you screech, justice and freedom always prevail as God our Lord and Creator has promised. Watch your neck because the sword of Damocles hangs over your ugly head. You will consume yourself in your own self-hatred and ignorance.
We stand as brothers and sisters together Muslim, Christian, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and all the other paths of life that exist in this world.
For we stand with the Creator who has given us love and compassion the most powerful forces in all of creation. Beware and be aware, because we have the Niyat (intention) to us this force of love and compassion to its maximum effect.
We wish to change your heart, to cure you of the ancient disease of hate and ignorance. Your brothers and sister call to you to join us in peace (salaams), to join us and to become part of the human family once again.
We await your decision.
Imam Abdur’Rauf Campos-Marquetti
TaHa Mosque-Islamic Center of Santa Fe