The Face of Islam

These are the faces of Islam. Our friends and family.
What a week it's been since President Donald Trump was sworn in. He's created more turmoil in a week than anyone I've known in my lifetime, and the latest ban on Muslims coming into the US brings us one step closer to world recrimination and further away from peace.  I don't see it making "America Great Again."  He has obviously never spent any time with real Muslims, and the people who support his ban are largely fearful of something they don't know. I wonder if they've ever met a Muslim. Shared a meal with a Muslim. Prayed beside a Muslim.

So let's put a face on Islam. I'm married to a Muslim. He's an American, but he came from one of the Trump banned countries, Somalia. He left and brought his family here after the country he loved was put into civil war.  He was an honor student at Marquette University where he got a degree in Civil Engineering. He owns a business. He employs Americans.  In fact, there are some Trump supporters who work for him. But he keeps them anyway. Because we are a country of tolerance, acceptance, and diversity.
My husband Abdulhamid and Me
 Abdulhamid recently spent a weekend with his siblings. I used to be quite intimidated by them.  Not only because they dress differently, but I felt kind of inferior.  They speak multiple languages.  They have college degrees- some of them advanced.  His youngest brother just opened his own eye surgery. His sister is married to an Italian-Somali heart surgeon and she has a business degree.  His sister Amina is a chemist. His sister Halima Sadia is a doctor and is married to a surgeon who does research about blood pressure and cholesterol.  There's another brother who is an actuary in Minneapolis. In his free time, he tries to help Somalis still in Somalia create successful businesses.  This is an amazing family, but they had a couple of great role models in their parents.  With a father who was Secretary of State, and a mother who held the family together when he was thrown in prison after a military coup, they saw a great deal as they grew up.  They learned to study hard, work hard, and found success. This is the face of Islam.
Abdulfatah, Abdulhamid (my husband), Jamila, Amina, and Halima Sadia 
My stepsons are Muslim. They are college educated, but born here in the US. They work for their father. They enjoy sports, tailgating, good music, and movies. My youngest son Omar is learning to pray beside his dad and has just figured out he's a Muslim.  He wants to know why Donald Trump doesn't like him. He has a double whammy because he was born with Down syndrome and like many others, he requires special consideration with health care and school. The decisions President Trump makes about public health and public education will affect him directly.  So these are all Muslims. They are also Americans. They are the faces of Islam.
My stepson Ahmed and his Somali cousin

My stepson Yusuf and his wife Ashleigh

My son Omar and his big sister Melissa
We've traveled a great deal, spending time in countries where the population is predominantly Muslim.  You know what we get asked? "Where's your gun?" They perceive US to be the dangerous people because of the movies they see on television.  And Americans have misconceptions about them because of the movies we see about Muslim terrorists.  Let's put those fears on both sides to rest.  I remember little of the buildings we've seen on our travels, but I will always remember the people.  We shared meals together and prepared food side by side.  We are Facebook friends. They taught my son to feed goats, surf, dance and play cards. We bought things from them. They were tour guides.  In every situation, they made our lives better by being with us for even a short amount of time.

Meeting people from different religions and cultures is incredibly important if we are to have world peace, open trade, and solutions to the big problems in the world.  In Milwaukee, I've met Muslims from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq who come with green cards and study at our universities at advanced levels.  The things they are researching are much more complex than I understand, but I certainly appreciate their efforts. Some of our Iraqi friends worked with Americans during the war.  We've hosted them in our home. They are funny, intelligent, and kind.  I wish all Americans knew them they way I know them.

I invite you to look at these faces.  These are people just like you and me.  They have families. They believe in God. They want a safe place to live, work, and play. They want the freedom to practice their religion. They are the faces of Islam.

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