Contra persisting anti-Shariah sentiments, 2011 survey findings show that mosques are a great source of good in their communities.
Hesham A. Hassaballa notes:
Among the survey’s findings: 63 percent of mosques conducted outreach activities in the past year, such as open houses for neighbors; 79 percent are involved in interfaith activities. Contrary to the perceptions of many, the overwhelming majority (70%) of Friday sermons are conducted in English.
The vast majority (88%) of American mosque leaders say domestic abuse should be addressed. A majority of mosque leaders (71%) agree that their mosque is working for social justice, and African American mosques are even more likely (87%) to be active in social justice. What’s more, mosques compare favorably to other houses of worship in terms of social services. Surveys show that only 26 percent of congregations of other faith traditions are involved in providing some type of health programming, as compared to 45 percent of mosques. Only 29 percent of other religious congregations are involved in community-organizing activities, while 47 percent of mosques are involved in these types of activities.
Wajahat Ali and Zahra Suratwala’s All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim, a compliation of essays, offers a closer up view of what it means to be both fully Muslim and American.
Hassaballa comments, “In the stories of Moghul and Moy, it comes out so very clearly how American these (and all the other) contributors are. In fact, these men are fully Muslim and fully American, and they feel no contradiction in being both. Indeed, some didn’t feel that way in the beginning, but in the end, they all come to that conclusion.”
As Amer Ahmad, Comptroller for the City of Chicago (my hometown), writes: “we [American Muslims] are made up of diverse, culturally-rich, and storied communities that are proud of our American heritage.” Jason Moy writes: “But for every nasty or disapproving look I received, I can think of a time when I was able to communicate to others the love I have for Islam. My colleagues knew of my faith and also realized that I was a normal dude who liked Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Lost, and video games.” Blogger and medical physicist Dr. Aziz Poonawalla remarks: “The simple truth is that America is the greatest Islamic country on the face of the earth, and as an American and a Muslim therefore I am doubly blessed.”
Perhaps these American Muslims have some reminders for the rest of us about how to be truly American:
A recent poll says that nearly 60 percent of Americans say they do not know a Muslim, and this lack of personal relationships that provide knowledge about Islam—along with a near-constant barrage of negative images and news coverage—has led to an increasingly negative feeling about Islam and Muslims. Yet, as co-editor of All-American Wajahat Ali writes in the introduction, “How do we get to know a people, really? Even in America, we often say, ‘Hey man, tell me your story.’ So, here are forty-five American Muslims telling their story.”
. . . but only if we listen.