BY ROSE HAMID
Rev. Chris Ayers, pastor of Wedgewood Church in Charlotte, asked me to speak at his church about what it’s like to be a Muslim American under a Donald Trump presidency. These are some excerpts:
A year ago, I, with eight others, stood in silent protest against the concept of hate-speech at a Trump rally and we were asked to leave.
Rose Hamid, center, stands in silence as Donald Trump speaks of radical Islam and terrorism during the Donald J. Trump for President rally at the Winthrop University Coliseum in Rock Hill, S.C. on Jan. 8, 2016. As an officer escorted her to an exit, several supporters jeered her. “One man said: ‘Do you have a bomb?’ I said, ‘No, do you have a bomb?’ ” Hamid said Jeff Siner firstname.lastname@example.org
What I remember most about the rally was the positive interactions I had with Trump supporters before the rally started. In the year since that rally, I’ve looked for opportunities to interact with Trump supporters, many of whom don’t have opportunities to meet Muslims. My interactions in Cleveland during the Republican convention, and at two Trump rallies in Charlotte, inform me that we are not all that different from each other. In one memorable interaction a woman told me how she feels vilified as a Republican because people treat her as if she is a racist, homophobic, enemy of the people.
We’ve come to a point where people who are different or hold differing views are being painted as the enemy, which I think comes from fear of the other.
I am reminded of an exchange between God and Moses and Aaron in the Quran.
20:43-46 “Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; Both of you must speak with him in a gentle manner so that perhaps he may be reminded or have fear (of God).”
They (Moses and Aaron) said: O our Lord! Surely we fear that he may hasten to do evil to us or that he will transgress all bounds (against us).”
The Lord said: “Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see (everything).
In these verses God says “speak with him in a gentle manner.” Too many times when we encounter someone who is different we start with assumptions and either hurl insults or just avoid any conversation. We’ve got to find ways to come together to work for what’s best for all.
How about if the next time we see someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat or someone wearing a pink knit hat with ears, instead of making negative assumptions, ask them; “What does that mean to you?” Then take the time to really listen to what they say.
In doing so we may find (like I have) that we have a whole lot more in common, or we may learn something that makes us say, “I’ve never thought of it that way before.” Even if we end up thinking, “That person is wackadoo,” at minimum, we’ve heard someone else’s perspective and we’ll be better informed for future conversations.
It may be scary to approach someone we fear, but think about that last verse where God says “Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see (everything).”
Right now there are a lot of people who are afraid of what the future holds. Although we should be alarmed, we shouldn’t be afraid, and we shouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction of rejecting whatever the “other side” proposes. We must remain watchful and informed and do what we can; including contacting elected officials, marching or at least speaking up “in a gentle manner” when someone does or says something egregious. The key is to come together and listen to each other.
As a Muslim American, I’m troubled by Trump, but I’m not afraid. If Moses had the faith and courage to stand up to Pharaoh, I have faith that we the people will stand together for freedom and justice for all.
For more columns by Rose Hamid visit www.MrsRoseHamid.com