What American Muslims Are Doing Everyday

Everyone wants Muslims to stand against violent extremism. Day in, day out, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

In the days following the attacks in Paris, the American Muslim community has been under a lot of scrutiny. Everyone from Bill Maher to Rupert Murdoch has been fixated on what statements Muslim organizations have put out and what average Muslim Americans are doing and saying. While such attention is often driven by the paranoia that peaceful American Muslims support the violent actions of terrorists, I wish the media paid this much attention to the American Muslim community all the time.

If they did, the broader public would know that Muslim organizations do great work and that Muslim Americans say inspiring things every day — but nine times out of ten, the public isn’t listening. So instead of shifting attention away from American Muslims when the tragedy in France no longer dominates the news cycle, Americans should keep paying attention.

Through both my academic research in religion and my work with faith-based non-profits, I have had the privilege of working with many American Muslims. Because of this, I get to see the incredible work that many American Muslims are engaged in every day. For example, I think of a Muslim colleague working tirelessly on progressive social issues in New York City, another Muslim colleague working to improve support for people with disabilities in her community, and yet another who opened a clinic in Maryland for anyone in need of low-cost health care. I think of the Muslim organizations and communities that spend time, money and effort to provide food and shelter to people in need in their cities. I have learned vast amounts from Muslim scholars and professors who have taken the time to help me think through challenging concepts. I also think of the numerous Muslim teachers and doctors that I know are, like so many Americans, working diligently day-in and day-out to better the communities around them.

And I know that these colleagues, along with many Muslims across the country and around the world, were called by the public to table their daily work in order to make sure no one could accuse them of being anything but vehemently against the violence in Paris.

People have said, and will continue to say, that Muslims should condemn the attacks. While some never get past this assertion, despite the mounds of evidence that Muslims do condemn acts of violence, many go on to say that to condemn is not enough: Muslims must demonstrate in their actions that they are committed to freedom, equality and justice. What they fail to notice is that many, many Muslims around the world are demonstrating in their actions that they are committed to freedom, equality and justice — and not in spite of their Islamic faith, but because of it. The world just isn’t paying enough attention.

As my email inbox was flooded last week with statements of condemnation and condolence from countless Muslim organizations, I thought about the number of individuals in those organizations whose weeks were usurped by writing and releasing a public statement. They know all too well that the world doesn’t usually pay attention to the important work they are doing on an average day. Rather, the world pays attention to whether or not Muslims have something to say on days like the one after the Paris attack. Certainly any human person, regardless of his or her religion, should condemn the attack as an affront on humanity, but most are not asked to put their lives on hold to do so.

I know from personal experience and conversation that the impetus behind the violence is just as far removed from the values and beliefs of my Muslim colleagues as they are from my own. I hope for a world in which my Muslim friends are able to continue their work bettering society with a little less focus on reasserting their opposition to violence and a lot more focus on the contributions they are making to create a better world everyday. The best way to combat both anti-Muslim bigotry and the rise of extremism is to recognize and celebrate the profound investment that Muslims have made in our communities and the excellent work that they do on days with and without violence.

Image via Shutterstock.

Catherine Orsborn
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  • http://www.worthynews.com/ Joe DeCaro

    Pew Report: 1/3 of US Muslims Support Al Qaeda, Suicide Bombs
    By Debbie Schlussel

    “Despite the fact that extremist Muslims leaders, including Ihsan Bagby and Ingrid Matteson, served as advisors to massage the results (in 2007 and reportedly again in 2011), the study still shows that a high number of U.S. Muslims support Al-Qaeda, deny that 9/11 was committed by Arabs, and admit that being a devout Muslim conflicts with a modern, Western lifestyle. The study also shows a disturbing number of young U.S. Muslims who support the use of homicide bombings to achieve goals.
    They are the future of Islam in America …”

  • Lilyrose

    What a bunch of bleeding heart BS. I know moderate muslims and they think stoning a woman for adultery is okay. They also think music is evil and should be banned in public places. Once someone advocates Sharia law, they are free to leave the U.S.A. Sharia law is a rival government, and that is treason. So it’s time to make a choice, U.S. law or Sharia. If someone wants Sharia law, they are free to evict themselves from the country.

  • Sam

    I know it’s true. You know it’s true. And there will be those who insist, no matter what is said or done, that it isn’t true.

    The only thing that can be done is to follow the guidance provided in the Quran and the example of the Prophet and to let these things pass. To patiently persevere and to stand up for freedom and peace.

  • Kelly Clover

    Some very uncomfortable facts about the Quran(Koran) cannot be conjured away. This book is very militant and warlike, far more so than the Bible or most any religious text. This book even contains a scripture that threatens Muslims with punishment in hell if they refuse to wage war against non-Muslims. This book contains a scripture that authorizes men to beat up their wives if they fear disobedience. There are multiple scriptures that talk about striking off men’s heads or cutting off their fingers. There are scriptures that authorize extremely savage whippings. If you want to know why organizations like al-Qaeda exist or why life is so brutal under sharia law all you have to do is get a copy of the Quran from a public library, book store, or download it off the internet. The terrorists and various Islamic governments are simply doing what they think has been commanded in the Quran.
    Those who say terrorists have hijacked Islam or they’re not practicing Islam, miss the point. The terrorists think they’re practicing Islam correctly. The fundamental problem is what this book actually says and the belief that a supreme being has somehow authorized these horrible evils. One painful fact that our leaders need to admit is that there are too many ways that a “good” Muslim can be radicalized. The Boston marathon bombers were supposedly harmless until they became radicalized. It happens all the time.

  • Steve Samples

    As an American I do try hard to understand Islam. I am here on your site to try to get understanding and here is what I find; In this article I hear about Islam’s community involvement and the good things you do. Nobody is questioning that Islam doesn’t do good things in our communities. I never hear that argument. Our problem is you rarely, or do not speak out loudly, condemning terrorist acts on a regular consistent basis. When something happens you may make a statement, but I do not see a regular consistent stand.I do not find anything ‘organized’ to stand up against it. For example; When I came to your website just now, the first article I see is the Chapel Hill shootings. I get that and understand it. I feel the same way and we stood up with you. But, I don’t see anything prominent on Charlie Hebdo, the Kosher deli incident, Copenhagen, or the burning of the Jordanian pilot. Why not?