A Story of Winning

Let’s skip to the happy ending: A group of Muslim professionals saw a problem with a City of Houston employee spewing hate speech in an attempt to block a Muslim from becoming precinct chair of his community, took our voices to City Hall and had the employee fired from his position with the City.

Rewind to how this started – but wait, when was that? Was it when these young Muslims decided to take a stance? Was it when this man engaged in hate speech? Was it when Trump announced his candidacy for President? Was it when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers? Hate speech and fear-mongering has pervaded our society so far, so deeply that we can’t even put our finger on any one cause of what has led us to where we are today. But we’ve learned from what these young Houston Muslim professionals did, is that with united effort, we can incite change in a world deranged with anxiety against anyone who looks, acts, talks, walks, and believes differently.

In the Qur’an, Allah says in chapter 49, verse 13: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

Islam celebrates diversity. Islam welcomes differences. Islam cherishes all life, whether it be human, animal, or plant. There are numerous evidences of these faith teachings in the Qur’an, the words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and the examples of Muslims throughout history and in present day. Exploring these subjects are for separate articles entirely. But the Sparknotes version is that all living beings have God-given rights and all those rights are due to them and no one has the authority to take them away.

This means the right for Blacks to vote, the right for women to have equal pay, the right for couples of the same sex to marry without governmental interference… Wait… what? Yes, that right too. Please hold the story of the people of Prophet Lut (PBUH) at bay as it comes rushing up in your mind and I’m going to abbreviate my spiel to just what I learned from Wajahat Ali at a recent benefit dinner for the Texas chapter of Emerge USA: Our civic duty does not begin with voting and end with holding political office and making changes. That’s the feel-good, easy stuff. Our dedication to our civic duties is challenged when we are in a position that causes some discomfort and makes us stop, if even for a fleeting moment, and rethink the next step we’re about to take. That next step is

standing up

for the rights of all people

regardless of race,

creed,

gender,

ethnicity,

age,

sexual orientation,

and sexual affiliation.

Standing up for LGBTQIA rights is not a pause for reflection on our faith. Standing up for LGBTQIA rights is an act of practicing our faith.

A Muslim affiliated man murdered 50 innocent souls in a gay club and now, finally, (unfortunately after such a grave tragedy) we are caused to reflect on our role in the lives of other marginalized minorities. Our religion teaches us to look outwardly, to serve others in our service to Allah. Right now is our time to build long-lasting friendships with the LGBTQIA community, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, in order to counter the hatred that has crept into the rifts of our communities, embedded itself there, and multiplied as the disease it is in the hearts of people of all backgrounds. This is a contagion we have to eradicate from its source – it cannot breed if it does not have the rift within which to proliferate.

Even though the issue with the City of Houston employee was resolved, that did not keep us from attending the City Hall meeting once again. This time, it was to thank the Mayor and City Council for their support and understanding in that unfortunate situation, to invite them all (including the removed ex-employee) to our masajid to meet with Muslim Houstonians, and to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA community.

And insha’Allah, we will keep joining in on efforts to protect the rights of all. This situation was never about Muslims just like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was never about the LGBTQIA community. It’s about us all as a collective community. So there’s no such thing as Muslims winning, gays or transsexuals winning, or Blacks winning. It’s about knowing that we don’t know how this will end for all of us, but that at least we have a beginning. It’s about knowing that the only thing that matters, is that #lovewins.