I’m a Muslim American Mom. And I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for Kansas City Chief Husain Abdullah’s prostration of gratefulness (or Sajdat al-Shukr) after intercepting Patriot Tom Brady’s football pass and returning it 39 yards for a touchdown.
I’m sorry for Michael Jackson — for that time he converted to Islam. (Or maybe he didn’t convert. It might have been Jermaine.) Regardless, please accept my apology.
I’m sorry we took Cat Stevens (who now goes by the name Yusuf Islam).
I’m sorry about any pain or suffering caused by the rumors that we took Princess Diana, Liam Neeson and Angelina Jolie. (Don’t worry! None of them ever converted to Islam to my knowledge. Phew!)
I’m sorry if head scarves make you uncomfortable; if modest dress makes you think Muslim women are oppressed; and, I’m sorry for all the birthday parties and school events that you had to hear me ask for the umpteenth time, “Do these hot dogs have pork?”
The Twitter hashtag campaign, #MuslimApologies, has provided Muslims like me a meeting place to provide the apologies that you have come to expect from us. And condemnations too. I definitely condemn extremists like ISIS. I often figure those who know me from PTA or the bus stop or the grocery store would naturally assume I would condemn criminals and bad guys and extremists of every sort, but apparently, since I’m Muslim, the condemnation has to be signed, sealed and delivered to make it stick.
But then I often wonder, how come Christians are not asked to apologize for crimes committed by Christians? Why aren’t Hindus asked to apologize for crimes they had nothing to do with? What about Jews? Atheists? Republicans? Democrats? Unitarian Universalists? Skin heads? Gays? Lesbians? Homophobes? Police Officers? Politicians? Young, hot teachers? I think every young, hot teacher needs to apologize for the sexual exploits that some young, hot teachers are having with their students. Where are the apologies? Where are the condemnations?
In case you didn’t know, Islam teaches us that taking one innocent life is equivalent in sin to killing all of humanity. Saving one life is like saving all of mankind. American academic and commentator, Juan Cole said it best when he stated, “Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.”
And you know what? Mr. Cole backs it up with numbers and with facts. Just looking at the twentieth century – Christian Europeans were responsible for 100 million deaths. (I’m sorry if you thought that was a typo. It’s not. 100 million is the tally: 16 million in WW I, 60 million in WW II- though Cole contributes some of those to Buddhists in Asia- and millions more in colonial wars.) In the twentieth century, mainly in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 and the Soviet and post-Soviet wars in Afghanistan, for which Europeans bear some blame, Muslims killed more than 2 million people.
So it is fact that people around the world who call themselves Muslim do not commit murder more than other groups around the world. But with the $42 million Islamophobia network alive and well and on its mission to spread lies and hate about Muslims, you may have been led to believe otherwise. When free speech is abused to spread hate speech, it gets into your psyche if you let it. It incites violence against Muslims too (and those mistaken as Muslim,) in the form of hate crimes.
Muslims don’t speak up enough against the Islamophobia network or the hate speech. (And for that, I almost forgot to say: I’m sorry!) Maybe some Muslims just don’t want to “rock the boat.” Or they might be too self-absorbed. Or perhaps they are in denial. Muslims have work to do in this area. But this doesn’t give hate groups the right to stoke fear about Muslims at every opportunity.
Anyway, I can go on about this topic, but I’m sorry — I have a beef roast in the oven, so I have to go. But before I do, let me preemptively provide you for the months of October, November and December 2014, my heartfelt apologies. Not sure what for yet — but I just know you’ll appreciate it.
Yasmina Blackburn is a Muslim mother, activist and blogger. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yasmina_reality. This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
Photo Source: yasminareality.com