MuslimARC & Muslims For Ferguson “Call For Justice” Open Letter

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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Call for Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality

January 26, 2015

 

Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh

We are contacting you on behalf of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)(1) and Muslims for Ferguson(2) to ask for your solidarity in the struggle and call for justice concerning the tragic and unnecessary police and federal law enforcement killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States.

From the time of our Noble Prophet ﷺ‎, anti-Black and anti-African racism has plagued Muslim societies and communities. The first martyr in the early days of Islam was Sumayyah (RA), who had black skin and was a victim of violence at the hands of the governing authorities of Makkah. Other companions with black skin, such as Ammar bin Yassir (RA) and Bilal (RA), were also victims of ridicule and torture by the same authorities. State violence against marginalized communities is not a new development. History has proven time and again that Muslims are not immune to these forms of oppression.

Indeed, these oppressive behaviors and practices go against the messages that are at the heart of our Holy Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.

In his final sermon, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ relayed:

All humankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a sister/brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one sisterhood/brotherhood.

Today, in the United States, anti-Black racism partly manifests in the form of systematic injustices such as police brutality, misconduct in shootings by law enforcement and vigilantes, and a lack of recourse in our courts of law.(3)

In the last few months, our nation has witnessed massive demonstrations regarding these issues. (4) While the United States has a centuries-long history of systemic racism,(5) the recent failures of multiple grand juries to indict officers who killed individuals of color like Michael Brown,(6) John Crawford II,(7) and Eric Garner,(8) among others, have especially invoked strong emotions.

The outpouring of anger, outrage, fear, sadness, and grief that has swept across our nation cannot be ignored. We ask to you recognize that our nation is going through tumultuous times, and that we as Muslims should always remember the Prophetic example and our adab, which is rooted in empathy. We must first and foremost acknowledge the grievances of our brothers and sisters who are most affected by these issues. Let us exercise compassion and mercy in our discourse on these issues. Let us increase trust and love between hearts and minds so that we may create an environment full of warmth and mercy regardless of our individual opinions.

Given that race is inextricably tied in with current events, we as Muslims unequivocally affirm that Islam is egalitarian, and that the Qur’an and Sunnah clearly condemn racism not just as an individual act, but also as a structural force that marginalizes people.

As imams, activists, and community leaders, we are figures of authority in our respective communities. Therefore, we are especially positioned to address these important topics and initiate dialogue about an issue that is often inadequately addressed. Let us take this opportunity to highlight our ethical responsibilities as Muslims to challenge stereotypes and tribalism.

State violence against Black Americans does not bypass American Muslim communities. The killings of Black American Muslim men Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah(9) and Amadou Diallo(10) weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Let us join together as one in condemning acts of violence by state and federal law enforcement against unarmed civilians.

We have observed that while some Muslims in our communities decry the use of drones and armed warfare against civilians abroad, many still repeat language that blames Black individuals – men and women – for the violence that police commit against them here at home.

Our faith mandates that American Muslims advocate for justice in the killings of all innocent civilians irrespective of whether it is the popular stance to take. Let us align ourselves with the countless others who are demanding justice by declaring that this stops today.

Islam encourages a tradition of standing with marginalized members of society. Today, let us stand with those who state that Black Lives Matter. Let us practice what we preach with regards to community unity and participation. Let us have honest conversations, challenge our nafs, and examine where we may improve our adab and akhlaq when it comes to racist tendencies.

As Malcolm X noted in his Letter from Mecca after completing Hajj,

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”

(11) His life left a profound mark on American society and continues to inspire Muslims around the world. This year marks the 50th year that has passed after his tragic death. Muslims of all backgrounds note the role his words have had in calling them to Islam and/or strengthening their imaan.

Let us honor this man and the many other Muslim men and women that have come before him in the fight for justice. Let us honor our Prophet ﷺ in all the good that he ﷺ has done, by standing up for marginalized populations in a way that emulates his shining example of courage and dignity.

We humbly request that you endorse and share this letter so that we are better able to hold fast to the message of unity and brotherhood in Islam.

On the authority of Abu Saeed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“Whoever of you sees a wrong must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”
(Recorded in Muslim)

Let us work together to right the wrongs that have been done in recent history, and continue to be done today against Black individuals in America.

Please do not hesitate to contact MuslimARC and/or Muslims for Ferguson if you have any questions about this letter. We are also more than happy to provide you with resources on these topics.(12) We encourage you to begin these conversations in your communities by signing this letter, issuing statements, delivering khutbahs, and speaking on these subjects.

 

JazakAllah kheir,

MuslimARC, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
www.muslimarc.org
info@muslimarc.org

Muslims For Ferguson
www.facebook.com/Muslims4Ferguson

 

Letter updated 1/29/15

 


FOOTNOTES

(1) Founded in early 2014, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) incorporates wisdom from the Islamic sciences, grassroots activism, human rights law, the arts, and instructional design, to offer collaborative work that is fresh, unique, and can be put to use on the ground challenging racism in American Muslim communities.

(2) Muslims For Ferguson are a community of Muslims Americans committed to seeking justice for Michael Brown and supporting relevant important campaigns in Ferguson.

(3) See, for example, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement “Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People” at https://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-120-black-people/.
Also see “Fourteen Examples of Racism in Criminal Justice System” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html.

(4) See, for example, “‘We Will Have Justice’: Tens of Thousands March in Day of Resistance” at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/12/13/we-will-have-justice-tens-thousands-march-day-resistance.

(5) See “History of Racism and Immigration Time Line: Key Events in the Struggle for Racial Equality in the United States” at http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/racismimmigration-timeline.pdf.

(6) See “The Killing of Michael Brown: Missouri Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen Sparks Days of Protests” at http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/12/the_killing_of_michael_brown_missouri.

(7) See “John Crawford Shooting: Ohio Man Shot Dead By Police While Holding Toy Rifle In Walmart” at http://www.ibtimes.com/john-crawford-shooting-ohio-man-shot-dead-police-while-holding-toy-rifle-walmart-1655416 or “The Brief Life And Baffling Death Of John Crawford III” at http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikehayes/the-life-and-death-of-john-crawford#.re0LMG8WA.

(8) See “‘I Can’t Breathe”: NYC March over Chokehold Death of Eric Garner Protests Police Violence Nationwide” at http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/25/i_can_t_breathe_nyc_march.

(9) See “YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF IMAM LUQMAN SHOOTING TODAY” at https://dawudwalid.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/year-anniversary-of-imam-luqman-shooting/.

(10) See “How the legacy of Amadou Diallo lives on in New York’s immigrant community” at http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-05/how-legacy-amadou-diallo-lives-new-yorks-immigrant-community.

(11) You can read the Letter from Mecca, delivered on April 1964, here: http://www.malcolm-x.org/docs/let_mecca.htm.

(12) You can access our #BlackLivesMatter toolkit for resources and suggestions at www.muslimarc.org/blacklivesmatter/. Follow Muslims Make It Plain to see the toolkit in action, and more, at http://muslimsmakeitplain.com/.

 


Endorse this letter by completing the Call for Justice Endorsement Form at docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZA8o2fFBA1IFWTSZKqJQZvIop4CCFS-AQXHfujfJ3ts/viewform.

Your name will be added below within 1-2 days.


 

List of Signatories

Organizations
  1. Al-Karim – Albuquerque, NM
  2. Al-Madina Institute – Maryland
  3. American Muslim Advisory Council – Tennessee
  4. CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) – Washington, D.C.
  5. CAIR-California – California
  6. CAIR-Chicago – Chicago, IL
  7. CAIR-Michigan – Southfield, MI
  8. Center for New Community – Chicago, IL
  9. Community Mosque of Winston-Salem – Winston-Salem, NC
  10. Dawah Core – New York, NY
  11. DePaul University UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead) – Chicago, IL
  12. El-Tawhid Juma Circle – International
  13. Felicity Foundation, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
  14. FloodPlains – Chicago, IL
  15. Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) – Chicago, IL
  16. Islamic Alliance for Justice, Cornell University – Ithaca, NY
  17. MANA (Muslim Alliance in North America) – Lexington, KY
  18. MASGD (Muslim Alliance for Sexual & Gender Diversity) – California
  19. MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) – Washington, D.C. & Los Angeles, CA
  20. MuslimARC (Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative) – USA
  21. MuslimGirl.net – Washington, D.C.
  22. Muslim Community Link – Worcester, MA
  23. Muslim Community Network – New York City, NY
  24. Muslims For Ferguson – USA 
  25. Muslims For Progressive Values – International
  26. Muslim Voice For Peace And Justice – Worcester, MA
  27. Muslim Wellness Foundation – Philadelphia, PA
  28. Quba Institute – Philadelphia, PA
  29. Queer Muslims of Boston – Greater Boston Area
  30. Prophetic Legacy – Madinah, Saudi Arabia
  31. Safa Center for Research and Education – California
Individuals

Listed in alphabetical order. Note: endorsing organizations are listed above. Organizations listed below are for identification purposes only.

  1. Abdul-Alim Mubarak-Rowe, Journalist – Maplewood, NJ
  2. Abdul-Malik Merchant, Student – Washington, D.C.
  3. Abdullah bin Hamid Ali – California
  4. AbdulMalik Easley Bey – Saint Louis, MO
  5. Abdul Nasir Jangda – Dallas, TX
  6. Abid Husain – Baltimore, MD
  7. Abu Noor Abdul-Malik Ryan – Chicago, IL
  8. Ahmad Abuznaid, Legal/Policy Director, Dream Defenders – Miami, FL
  9. Ahmed Yousef – Macon, GA
  10. Al-Sharif Nassef, Activist – Cincinnati, OH & Cairo, Egypt
  11. Ala Salameh – Chicago, IL
  12. Alahyo Amira Young, Social Researcher – Lansdowne, PA
  13. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Founding Editor-in-Chief, MuslimGirl.net – Washington, D.C.
  14. Ammar Ali – Texas
  15. Annisa Rochadiat, Graduate Student – Detroit, MI
  16. Arshad Hasan Qureshi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, The Muslim Community Center, Inc. – Silver Spring, MD
  17. Ashiq Rahiman – Brooklyn, NY
  18. Asmaa AhmetiKingston, PA
  19. Awa Sanneh, Student – Gaithersburg, MD
  20. Ayesha Mohyuddin, Artist – Tullahoma, TN
  21. Bilal Nasir, PhD Student – Chicago, IL
  22. Catriena Thomas – St. Louis, MO
  23. Chaumtoli Huq – New York
  24. Coniqua Abdul-Malik – New Jersey
  25. Conor Hatch – Minneapolis, MN
  26. Cyrus McGoldrick, Youth Director, Youth Coalition of South Florida – Miami, FL
  27. Damiyr Leonard – Corpus Christi, TX
  28. Darakshan Raja, Program Manager – Washington, D.C.
  29. Darlene R. May, Associate Professor of Arabic – Winston-Salem, NC
  30. Dawud Walid – Detroit, MI
  31. Debbie De Palma – Illinois
  32. Drost Kokoye – Knoxville, TN
  33. Elaine Younes – California
  34. Eman Aboelnaga – New Jersey
  35. Eric Dykes – Philadelphia, PA
  36. Erik Hedemalm – Sweden
  37. Eyad Alkurabi, The Hampton Institute – Albany, NY
  38. Fahd Ahmed – Jackson Heights, NY
  39. Faisal Siddiqi – Chandler, AZ
  40. Faiza N. Ali – Brooklyn, NY
  41. Farhaj Hassan, Soldier – Bristol, PA
  42. Faryal M. Khatri – Indianapolis, IN
  43. Fatimah Jackson-Best, Lecturer – Barbados
  44. Gulnaz Saiyed – Chicago, IL
  45. Hala A. – Doha & San Francisco, CA
  46. Hasib Noor, Founder, Prophetic Legacy – Madinah, Saudi Arabia
  47. Dr. Hatem Bazian, Co-Founder, Zaytuna College & American Muslims for Palestine – Berkeley, CA
  48. Heather Bukhari – Des Plaines, IL
  49. Hena Zuberi – Washington, D.C.
  50. Hind Makki – Chicago, IL
  51. Hussam Ayloush – Los Angeles, CA
  52. Imrana Soofi, Director, Muslim Community Link – Worcester, MA
  53. Inaam Avant, Student and Activist – Arlington, TX
  54. Isadora Moustata – California
  55. Jamaal Diwan, Imam – Los Angeles, CA
  56. Jamiah Adams – Washington, D.C.
  57. Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow – Philadelphia, PA
  58. Jammelah – Cleveland, OH
  59. Jerry Hionis, Assistant Professor of Economics – Chester, PA
  60. Jihad F. Saleh – Washington, D.C.
  61. Jilan Armstrong – Nevada
  62. Joe Bradford – Texas
  63. Johnny Roberts – St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
  64. Josh Shahryar, Journalist – USA
  65. Joyce Tesar – Buffalo, NY
  66. Juan Almanza – Bosie, ID
  67. Kalia Abiade – Chicago, IL
  68. Kamal Fizazi – New York, NY
  69. Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad – Philadelphia, PA
  70. Kamilah A. Pickett, MPH, JDAtlanta, GA
  71. Katharine Kauthar Ahmed, Student – Toronto, Canada
  72. Kathryn M. Logan – Kingston, NY
  73. Keren Salim – Winston-Salem, NC
  74. Keshia Friday – New Jersey
  75. Khadizah Saavedra – Albuquerque, NM
  76. Khaled A. Beydoun, Law Professor – Florida
  77. Khalid Griggs, Imam, Community Mosque of Winston-Salem – Winston-Salem, NC
  78. Khalis Rashaad, Imam, Ibrahim Islamic Center – Houston, TX
  79. Khari A. Hubbard – Chicago, IL
  80. Kia Philpot – Philadelphia, PA
  81. Lasania Wahid, Student – Chicago, IL
  82. Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder, Muslims for Ferguson & Civil Rights Activist – Brooklyn, NY
  83. Imam Mahdi Bray – Washington, D.C.
  84. Dr. Malik Raheem, Assistant Professor – Fresno, CA
  85. Marc Manley, Imam/Religious Director – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  86. Margari Hill, Programming Director, MuslimARC – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  87. Mariam Gomaa, M.D. Candidate, Wake Forest University School of Medicine – North Carolina
  88. Marissa Diaz – Oakland, CA
  89. Mary Iqbal, Student – Gaithersburg, MD
  90. Maryam Amirebrahimi – California
  91. Maysa Elsheikh – Baltimore, MD
  92. Maytha Alhassen – Los Angeles, CA
  93. Mohamed Hussein, Imam – Manassas, VA
  94. Mohammad Ali Naquvi – Princeton, NJ
  95. Mohammed Tayssir Safi, Chaplain – Ann Arbor, MI
  96. Monica Ennaciri, Homemaker – Maryland
  97. Moutasem Atiya, President, Al-Madina Institute – Maryland
  98. Muhammad Bello Umar, Senior State Counsel – Kaduna, Nigeria
  99. Muhammed Malik, Muslims For Ferguson – Miami, FL
  100. Munir ul-Haq Raza, Chairman & Managing Director at RYFC – Toronto, Canada
  101. Munirah Quadri – Jackson Heights, NY
  102. Muslema Purmul, Scholar in Residence, Safa Center – California 
  103. Mustafa Abdullah, Co-Founder, Muslims For Ferguson – St. Louis, MO
  104. Namira Islam, Executive Director, MuslimARC – Flint, MI
  105. Nashiha Alam, SJP Loyola – Chicago, IL
  106. Ola Mohamed – New York, NY
  107. Omar Suleiman, Resident Scholar – Dallas, TX
  108. Patrick Cates – Dearborn, MI
  109. Philip Early – Painted Post, NY
  110. Quaiser Abdullah – Philadelphia, PA
  111. R. David Coolidge, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service, New York Univ. – New York, NY
  112. Raadia K., Student – Maryland 
  113. Ramah Kudaimi – Arlington, VA
  114. Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, IMAN – Chicago, IL 
  115. Ramon Mejia, Social Studies Teacher – Dallas, TX
  116. Riham Osman, Communications Coordinator, MPAC – Washington, D.C.
  117. Rimsha Ganatra, Student – Northwestern University
  118. Ruqayya Toorawa, Student – Stanford, CA
  119. Saba Bazzi – Michigan
  120. Sabina Khan-Ibarra – Fremont, CA
  121. Sabiha Mohyuddin – Knoxville, TN
  122. Sabina Mohyuddin, Board Member, American Muslim Advisory Council – Tullahoma, TN
  123. Imam Dr. Salahuddin M. Muhammadd – Raleigh, NC
  124. Samana Siddiqui – Chicago, IL
  125. Sana M. Uddin – New York, NY
  126. Sarah Khan, Student – Dayton, OH
  127. Shabana Mir, Assistant Professor, American Islamic College – Chicago, IL
  128. Shabana Shaheen, Student – Richmond, VA
  129. Shahid Buttar, Executive Director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Washington D.C.
  130. Shireen Hamza – New Jersey
  131. Sonia I. Manriquez – Detroit, MI
  132. Stephen Jamal Leeper, Educator – SF Bay Area, CA
  133. Sufyan Sohel, Deputy Director, CAIR-Chicago – Chicago, IL
  134. Suhad Khatib – St. Louis, MO
  135. Sumbel Aurangzeb – Dallas, TX
  136. Syed Kazmi – Long Island, NY
  137. Taher Herzallah – California
  138. Taheerah Hendricks – Spring, TX
  139. Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed, Artist & Activist – Los Angeles, CA
  140. Tareq Abdul Azeem, Software QA Engineer – Campbell, CA
  141. Tasnim Elboute, Student – New Haven, CT
  142. Tesay Yusuf – Stanford University
  143. Umar Hakim, Consultant – Compton, CA 
  144. Waheedah Muhammad, Director of Operations, Muslim Alliance in North America – Lexington, KY 
  145. Wardeh C. – Detroit, MI
  146. Yao Lawrence Cunningham – New York
  147. Yasmin Ahmed, Co-Coordinator, Muslim Alliance for Sexual & Gender Diversity (MASGD) – California
  148. Yasmina L. – Washington, D.C.
  149. Youssef El AshmawiLas Cruces, NM
  150. Zahra Billoo – Santa Clara, CA
  151. Zainab Chaudry, Maryland Outreach Manager, CAIR; Board Member, Interfaith Action for Human Rights – Elkridge, MD
  152. Zakee Yah – Mauritius
  153. Zareena Grewal, Associate Professor – New Haven, CT
  154. Zeena AljawadSouthern California

 


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  • Carolyn Erazo

    I’ll start by saying that I am the epitome of an all American girl. I was raised within a Christian family and it’s Christianity I was taught. I can clearly remember my years growing up wishing I wasn’t forced to go to church. I would attempt to purposely lose my Sunday shoes just hoping to be able to stay home. Ultimately shoes or not I had to go and I was never happy about it. I think back to my thoughts as I sat in Sunday school..and how I never quite believed what I was being taught. So many inconsistencies left me with no desire to find out what faith really was. How can you believe the unknown? Did things really happen like that or was the bible… just another story on my bookshelf. 

    Years later I attended a church retreat and it was there that I initially sought the desire to find that faith. My childhood was tough fitting in and being accepted was a luxury I never had. I wanted what most people take for granted and it was about time I accepted that I wasn’t going to get it. On the last day of the retreat I walked down a big hill to get to the beach and I sat watching the water. My heart was open I wanted so badly for God to reach down and touch me with his grace and glory. I wanted to fit in and be accepted…and I had come to believe he was the one that could do it. It was late October and sitting by the water was a little chilly but I continued to sit and in my mind I yelled for God to help me. I remember that’s the very first day I changed. I was no longer looking for faith I knew I wouldn’t find it. God had forgotten about me I clearly wasn’t as important as the others participating in the retreat. Its than that I noticed the warm tears streaming down my face and it’s than I gave up on God. If he forgot about me I’m going to forget about him. 

    As the years progressed I lived my life in that way having no beliefs and absolutely no faith. I sought answers for the trials and tribulations I was enduring. I found nothing and with each question I became more angry knowing the answers would never come. 

    It was late February four years ago that I attended a funeral and it was there that my heart reopened. I watched a mother speak after unexpectedly losing her son. I sat in the back of the funeral home and I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. Why is she and how does she love god so much she speaks of her son with smiles instead of sorrow. She found joy in the fact that her son was with god and I couldn’t understand it. I looked at her almost envious of her faith and I said to myself I want what she has ! That day I  couldn’t keep that image from my mind. I knew what I had to do..if I wanted to yet again seek God’s love. 

    This is what consumed me for weeks until I decided I needed a journey of faith. I couldn’t just seek reasons…I needed to seek God and with that my questions might be answered. Of course I insisted to start my journey in Christianity it’s how I was raised and maybe now as an adult those inconsistencies wouldn’t be noticed. I sat at church every Sunday for weeks listening to every word spoken. Give me something to hold on too I thought. Just a little spark to allow my faith to burn within me. Still nothing and after months I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t call it a journey if I didn’t broaden my search. 

    It was a Wednesday morning and I woke up very early to find a mosque I had searched for the night before. I began to drive there but couldn’t find it. I was so upset why was it so difficult to find even with an address. My emotions were everywhere. I was angry I hadn’t found it..I was sad because I really wanted too.. and I was worried my useless venture was going to make me  pointlessly late for work. I just had to give up…maybe another day I thought. I began to cry out of fustration and the thought of being late so I called my boss and advised him of my circumstances. His response was actually amazing “Don’t worry my friend I’m almost at the office..I know that place well I’ll help you find it and he did just that too. He somehow lead me right to it and I couldn’t of been happier. 

    My first thought was that I already knew I wasn’t Muslim. Those people are crazy was definitely my second. Look what they’ve done. Thousands of people died all because of thier crazy beliefs. I actually didn’t understand my happiness to find the mosque.. I guess just a place in my journey I had to investigate. I’d never be able to rule it out until I heard the craziness for myself. Before hanging up with my boss I jokingly said, what if they throw me in the basement and sell me to a third world country? My boss laughed at my ridiculous thoughts and I laughed with him and said I was kidding..but deep down my fear was sincere. 

    I approached the door and as I reached to open it.. I feared what I’d see when I did. I was there now and I wasn’t turning back I had to rule this crazy Islamic religion off my list and figured it would take minutes to do so. A man approached me as I stood in the entrance way asking for the Imam. I was told he wasn’t there but would be and he would have him contact me. I jotted down my number and hurried out of there. I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure I’d get a call but also didn’t know if I wanted one either. 

    Before leaving, the man I spoke with said “his name is Abdul Lateef”. Now all I could think about was him calling. Did I really want to talk to someone so different from me. How would he understand me and how will I understand him?

    It was less than two hours later and I couldn’t believe that he called. 

    Those fears where immediately abolished when the man on the other end of the phone spoke as I had. I instantly knew… who better to explain this disturbing inhumane religion. I expected nothing but to solidify..in his words..that it was exactly what I had always heard it to be. I just wanted to remove it from the list. He immediately invited me to come and meet with him that night. I expected fifteen minutes and I’d either be running out worried it was a terrorist organization or my initial fear of the being locked in the basement. My thoughts were racing and I didn’t know how to stop them.  

    I walked in and stood in the entrance way. I immediately reached out my hand to shake his..as I introduced myself. He quickly apologized and explained to me the reasons for it. I remember that clearly, I guess it literally was the first thing that impressed me. I got to tell you though..I wanted to kill my boss for not telling me about that. He invited me to sit and ask him all the questions I had. I started with the fact that I was on a religious journey and that I was seeking enough truth to make me believe. I started to explain my reasoning for failing to see Christianity as truth which lead me to explain my examples of the inconsistencies that I couldn’t over look. Abdul didn’t speak much he let the questions just pour from mind to my mouth. With each question.. he answered quick and to the point yet as each one was answered I began to notice.. they just seemed right. My questions were finally being answered. How can this man know so much and why do I believe him..as weird as it was I couldn’t answer my own question. He gave me in such a short time reason to believe. Almost two hours had past and I was still bombarding him for more answers.  I wanted to be sure that I took what I needed from the conversation to be able to cross Islam right off my list. As I got up and headed to the door he said “Thank you sister for allowing me to be apart of your journey. I hope when you leave here..you’ll either know why you are…or why you aren’t Muslim.”

    I thought about those words all night.. actually for over a week. Those words were profound and relentlessly consumed my thoughts. I needed to know more. I had more inconsistencies that I sought answers for. Three more days passed and oddly enough he called me. It was like he knew I was seeking more answers and he spent over an hour giving me just that. So now I had some questions.. but this time they were to myself.  Why did I wait to so long to seek a journey of faith..and why..didn’t I start here. 

    Over the next couple of months I continued reading everything I could get my hands on, I just had to know more. This religion made sense, nothing in what I had already learned made me doubt the truth within it. These horrible Muslims weren’t horrible at all.. in fact they were better than us. I now had a better understanding of who they were and what they weren’t. Islam wasn’t bad some Muslims are. After learning a lot I knew no Muslim would ever do what we claimed they had done. There’s just no way the rules written in the Qur’an would allow that. Real Muslims couldn’t possibly have caused the 911 terrorist attack that rocked the United States. The price would have been to high..in this life and more importantly the one after. 

    My desire to convert was overpowering me..but I couldn’t. How would I explain it no one would understand. The opinions around me lead me to believe I didn’t fit the profile.. yet again I didn’t fit in. The problem was I couldn’t fight fate and or my faith. I found it and I wasn’t letting it go. I needed to believe and Islam poured the truth giving me exactly what I asked for. God finally touched me..my heart and mind was open but still I couldn’t convert. I immediately found a hundred reasons for why I couldn’t. Ramadan was one of them and definitely approaching and I feared that obligation.  Women have a hard enough time dieting I would never be able to fast. I distinctly remember what Abdul told me as I voiced my fears “sister Ramadan shouldn’t scare you it should please you to do it for god” and a couple weeks later he said “I guarantee you will want to convert before Ramadan ends”. I dismissed it knowing I just couldn’t see myself doing it, my family would be outraged. 

    Two weeks into Ramadan I couldn’t believe that I had been doing so well. It was something I never thought possible but yet I was half way through it. Something within me knew that it was god allowing it and his comforting presence gave me peace within myself to accomplish the impossible. I was half way through my day at work when I just knew..tonight’s the night. I called Abdul and told him how important it was for me to take my shahada. He laughed a little and said he knew it would be before the ending of Ramadan and he was right. 

    As I approached the mosque I felt so nervous I wondered how was I even going to be able to do it. I had just learned that day you have to take your shadda in Arabic. I got through it although not sure the words I said were accurate, either way I was Muslim. I did it.. I made my choice and was barely out of the parking lot before I cried. The feeling within me was indescribable, but now how do I explain this. I guess I didn’t realize the full extent of what my decision would bring.  I had resistance in every direction and at times it was simply unbearable. I couldn’t figure out how my religion impacted anyone, leaving everyone with a bad taste in thier mouth. 

    My happiness for my found faith was increasingly becoming a problem for most people and the ridicule I endured would enrage me. I found myself in defense mode all the time, I refused to allow anyone to stereotype Muslims around me. The worst part came when they took notice of the rules I was abiding by. No pork…that’s ridiculous..fasting seriously..what for? With each question I had an answer and it also made me want to learn more, I wanted to always have an educated response to anything thrown at me. 

    June 2015 made 3 years since I converted and I find myself sometimes asking..did I really need to convert..or was I already. Born into a Christian family does not make you Christian and I’m living proof of that. I have seen many changes..obvious changes within myself. I think I finally got it..I understand now why this journey of faith was a necessity. A person cant live without beliefs and faith its impossible. I was able to let go of my anger of years of unanswered questions and prayers. What has becoming a Muslim done for me the answer is simple and I can sum it up with one word…”acceptance”. We will never know why God puts us through trials.. but what we do know is it’s purposeful. God gave us an instruction manual for life he gave those instructions to live a life that will inevitably lead us to our deserved place in either heaven or hell. What’s wrong with people that question our rules, are they nothing any person should not follow. What I’ve learned so far is that its not the rules others are against its the religion. I’m not sure why people discriminate against a religion and not an individual. Why are we so against each other..when ultimately we’re the same. God created us all..we are equal yet share different beliefs. Can we hate the Islamic religion because of the actions of some Muslims? If that’s the mind set..than why not blame all Christians because of that terrible man..who used bombs and took so many lives..was he not a Christian. Within the denominations of Christianity lets look at the  Catholics, should all of them be considered child molesters. Its apparent all the religions have bad people but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad religion. I failed to find truth in Christianity..my choice was easy because truth is exactly what I found.. and my sole reason for becoming a Muslim. Ultimately it’s an individual choice and in my opinion there’s only one way to go..and it’s to follow me. 

    I initially sought to write a letter to find its way into the right persons hands. I just have this overwhelming need to try and fight this war of the misrepresentation and discrimination against our religion. 

    Ironically I am a mother of a United States Marine. I am the mother of a son willing and prepared to fight for his country but are we. We all are so consumed fighting each other and sadly it’s a war of religion. We don’t need to fight against Islam we need to fight for it. Allow people to see what the religion is truly about and not the ignorant misguided discriminatory view of it. 

    I have worked very hard over the course of the last three years even with resistance hitting me from every direction to teach my children about what I am and why. I am Muslim..my children are not but its the responsibility of myself to educate and lead them. I can’t force them just like no one had forced me but my intentions are there and that’s my job. Our job as people.. is the same except if your going to educate do it with truth and not discrimination. I’m not looking to change the word, unfortunately my voice is not loud enough to allow every one to hear me. I’m also not looking to have every person abandon thier own religious beliefs because as a Muslim all religions should be respected. What I am looking for is simply to bring awareness to the poor unfortunate souls that can’t distinguish the truth from the lies they’ve been told. 

    Many have said that this awareness crusade I’m on will be fruitless. They say its a crusade many have fought unsuccessfully. I say so why stop trying even with the possibility of failing again and again. If we can change one person’s heart wouldn’t that make a difference. To diminish one person’s view by offering truth. Changes happen one person at a time and we have that capability to make those changes a reality. 

    My name is Carolyn Erazo and I want to make a difference by standing up for what I believe in. One woman can do it she just has to be willing and prepared for the possibility  of defeat. Segregation was also a crusade fought for hundred of years unsuccessfully but one woman changed that with standing and refusing to accept what was. So should we just accept defeat with out a continuous fight… my answer is no. I have history proving one person can make a difference and now that one person could be me. By sharing my story I’ve already started the crusade…join me Christians and Muslims because whatever religion you are… win or lose.. we fought as one.. for the one god..we all share.