You woke up today. Brushed your teeth. Prayed. Got dressed for work/school. Maybe even rolled back into bed. It was a normal day today. Until you looked at a calendar. Put on a hijab. Said good morning to your non-Muslim colleagues. Classmates. Friends.
We all know the frustrated, heart-aching feeling of waking up Muslim every year on Sept. 11. If you’re scrolling through social media, buying key chains, or even holding a conversation, 9/11 remembrance will flood your timeline, design print, and dialogue. How can we ever forget the tragic and Islamically condemned fall of the Twin Towers when marketing teams have branded and monetized the slogan “Never forget.” How can we forget the emptiness Ground Zero radiated in the atmosphere when our morale was just as lifeless after our own nation blamed us for the terror. How can we forget the time(s) terrorists hijacked our religion to execute political revenge attack(s).
In truth, I don’t think any of us want to forget. I don’t think we ever will forget. Many of us did lose friends and family during that attack. Almost all of us experienced some form of trauma/threats/abuse from 9/11 simply for being/looking Muslim. Frankly, we shouldn’t, in any case, forget events like this that cause terror on nations and result in civilian casualty.
So why is it so easy for us to forget a U.S.-Led airstrike in Syria? U.S. invasion of Iraq? Vietnam? How about the Rwanda Genocide? Anyone remember Burma? Ethiopia? What about the recent crisis in Rohingya? Any catchy slogans attached to these tragedies yet? Are they too international/Muslim for us to remember? That’s okay, let’s see if we remember what happened in American Slavery? How about what we did to the American Indians? Too outdated for you? How about 917 active hate groups in America today? Are we spending as much time learning about these terrorist attacks/terrorists as we did for 9/11?
In one way or another, we are all connected to someone that has been impacted by one of the events listed above. However, why are we picking and choosing which one’s to mourn for? Why are there yearly anniversaries for some while others don’t even have proper, deserved news coverage? I am tired of those around me that become activists and patriots in their community once a year to remember an anniversary of one out of the hundreds of terrorist-led attacks. These are the same individuals that refrain from keeping up with worldly news because it is draining. These are the group of people that will buy the damn key chains and visit the Freedom Towers yet ignore the rest of the country’s/world’s pain.
Individually, we cannot drain ourselves stressing over who doesn’t care for the entire world’s peace. What we can do is spread our awareness, resources, and knowledge to those in our reach and pray we not only remember other tragedies around us but also work together to implement solutions in an effort to prevent further events like this. In keeping an open eye, mind, and heart, remember the following hadith translated by Shakir from Verse (4:75) in the Holy Qur’an:
“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
So go ahead, continue on with your day. Hold dialogue with those around you about 9/11. Cry for the individuals that were killed that day. Cry for the families that lost loved ones on those planes. In those buildings. On the rescue teams. But please don’t stop there. Cry for the rest of the world too. The other rescue teams. The White Helmets. The beaten protesters. Think about everyone we’ve lost in warfare. In terrorist attacks. To hunger. Health disparities. Help them. Spread awareness about them. Donate to organizations that can directly assist them.
If we want to show solidarity, we must have it with all humankind. Dedicating one day to remember one event does not make up for an entire year of your ignorance and lack of care. I urge us to actively engage in dialogue about disparities, displacement, terrorists (both domestically and abroad), etc. Learn more about the world and it’s seemingly endless supply of catastrophe. Love purely and equally. How we move forward is our responsibility. Let’s own up to it.