An Open Letter From An American Muslim After A Terrorist Attack

An Open Letter From An American Muslim After A Terrorist Attack

We are people just like everyone else. We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, students, makers of change.

I sat in front of my computer as I typed this article away with trembling hands. Before this, I was busy watching the last of the Halloween movie marathons and handing out Halloween candy to the neighborhood kids. But, all of that quickly dispersed as my phone blared a notification from The New York Times announcing breaking news. I don't know what made me check my phone. I always ignore these notifications.

That's when my eyes widened in horror as I finally grasped the words of the headline. There had been an attack. In Manhattan. Before I could pray that this act was not one carried out in the name of terrorism and that no one was seriously hurt, I was already too late.

The mayor had already deemed the accident as a terrorist attack. And lives had been lost.

I quickly scrolled through the article with tears in my eyes. What had happened was horrific. No one deserved that. But what disturbed me more were the comments that were plaguing the comments sections on most, if not all, platforms airing this horror. They deemed all Muslims as the center of this conspiracy. They blamed the fact that NYC was a sanctuary city as the reason for the attack. But this had nothing to do with all Muslims; it had something to do with his own personal decision.

He was a man from Florida. And a U.S. citizen.

The attacker being Muslim was merely one of the identities that made him a person. A person, especially a psychotic person as this one, needs to be seen as a whole and not a part. His Muslim identity is not the only thing that defines him, but unfortunately, the media chooses to focus on that. Had he not uttered the so seemingly Muslim words after running out like a coward, he would've been deemed a madman instead of a terrorist.

It scares me to think that instead of standing up for one another, people choose to cowardly sit behind their computer screens and spew hateful remarks that assign blame to innocent people. It's sad that these people choose to divide us, instead of standing as a united front in the face of adversity.

As American Muslims, that's what scares us.

Being blamed for someone who we are not even remotely connected with. We are Americans just like others. We have earned our right to live here and make our lives as promised by the American Dream. We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, students, teachers, artists, and the makers of change. We stand with America, although it is quite stupid that we have to keep proving our patriotism for the country we have chosen to reside in; a country which we have given our rights to and a country which has gifted us with a new life.

So here goes. My name is Rubia Shahbaz. And I am an American Muslim. I (and all the other American Muslims) do not support his heinous crime. We are Americans before we are citizens of any other country. We swore our oath to America when we were granted citizenship.

God Bless America and all the humans that reside here.

Cover Image Credit: astoller / Flickrastoller

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I'm Tired Of Trendy Christianity

Life with Jesus is so much more than one big coffee break.

Okay, you're a Christian. After all, you have all of the tools you need.

You have your densely highlighted and underlined Bible, your Eno, your Chacos, your Patagonia backpack and of course, your beloved Camelbak or Nalgene water bottle that is covered in name-brand stickers.

Your days consist of going outside, chilling in your Eno and blasting "Oceans" by Hillsong and "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin. Your room is decorated with lots of inspirational quotes, maps with variations of "send me" close by and probably some pictures of your last mission trip. Your Instagram page is full of pictures of your friends that are "gems," captions of how thankful you are for certain things and pictures of the last country you visited that say "take me back."

Oh, and you might have a tattoo in Greek.

Okay, if you know me, you know that I literally just described myself. So, when I say what I'm about to, I'm not bashing anyone at all. I am guilty of all of these things and God has really laid these things on my heart that I've found myself doing time after time.

It seems that in the time we live in, if you're going to be a Christian, you have to have all of the right things, and I'm tired of it. Christianity is not about having a certain look or personality, but about having a deep, meaningful relationship with Christ. I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about what being in a relationship with Christ actually looks like. I'm here to tell you that it's not anything like what I described.

Being in a relationship with Christ is not easy, and it's certainly not the most trendy thing out there (maybe on your college campus, but not in the real world.) It's about surrendering everything you have to a God who sent his son to be crucified for things you've done wrong.

It's more than just drinking designer coffee and Bible journaling and "being intentional."

It's about finding peace and joy in spending time with our creator. I know a lot of people just like me who fit the stereotype perfectly who have some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships with Christ, but I also know a lot of people who fit the stereotype who are just faking it.

I'm so tired of people who do not know Christ thinking that they have to have a certain look or personality about them and it hinders them from running into the loving arms of Jesus. We've made Christianity a club, and that's not okay. We have taken God's beauty and grace and made a fad out of it.

So, friends, I'm not saying that we can't have these things and still be Christians (because honestly, I like the way I live life with these things I've been given, and this is just who I am,) but I am saying that having these things are not what makes us Christians. So, be careful how you live out your walk.

Are you just doing it to be trendy, or do you have a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ?

Walking with Jesus is more than just a big coffee break.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr/Psalm Thirty Seven Four

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From The Christian Girl Who Visited A Mosque And Had Her Perspective Changed

Getting to know your neighbor...


In today's current political climate, it feels as though it's harder than ever before to understand our neighbors. We often cannot look beyond the headlines we read in the news and actually talk to each other: it is difficult to separate political propaganda from the people we encounter daily.

One group in America that faces particular discrimination is Muslims. Whenever ISIL commits horrific acts, people in the United States suggest extreme measures such as banning all Muslims from entering the country. While I understand the skepticism, I think that it is of the utmost importance that we all recognize that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and ISIL does not represent their beliefs.

The KKK calls itself a Christian group, but they represent the exact opposite of Biblical teachings; the same is true of Muslims and the Quran. ISIL has completely distorted the teachings of Islam and misrepresents Muslims around the world.

I am currently taking a class on the Middle East, Arabs, and Islam. Over the weekend, my class and I visited the local mosque in Waco. The people there were generous enough to let us partake in their breaking of the Ramadan fast along with other Christian churches and members of a Jewish temple. It was a moment where we were all able to come together and see each other as people who simply have different beliefs.

I identify as a Christian, so I obviously do not believe the same things as Muslims. However, I have discovered that many of our beliefs and teachings are similar to those in the Muslim faith. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Noah, and even Jesus are all mentioned in the Quran. There are striking differences between Christianity and Islam, but there are also several similarities.

At the end of the breaking of the Ramadan fast, I left with a feeling of peace and reconciliation. I realized that events like this that involve sharing our cultures and religions with each other is a start to ending bias. Our neighbors may not look like us, or even have the same beliefs as us, but we are all people in search of happiness and a better life. In the end, love will always trump hate.

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