To Answer This Higher Calling

By: Remziya Suleyman, Director of Policy & Administration, The American Center for Outreach

Drost Kokoye, board member, The American Muslim Advisory Council

Being on the frontlines of combating Islamophobia in Tennessee, we have seen the worst of the worst. In these defining moments, our multifaith relationships were put to the test. Through these tragedies, protests, lawsuits, and ongoing attacks, comfort came from seeing friends of other faiths rise to the occasion despite backlash.

As we stood in the parking lot of a mosque that was fire-bombed to the ground, as we painted over “Muslims go home” on the wall of a mosque, as we sat in court rooms and hearings while our faith was vilified, and as we fought back tears as children asked and continue to ask, “Why do they hate us?” — our strength has flowed from our faith to stand for justice.

Our faiths call us to stand for justice, even when justice is inconvenient. “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor” (Quran, 4:135).

Those entrenched in multifaith work for justice did not hesitate to answer this higher calling and stand with their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in the fight to protect religious freedom in Tennessee. However, there is plenty of room for growth. We continue to work towards creating an environment that honors leaders for answering that higher call, even when that isn’t the convenient choice for their own community.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” So let’s ask ourselves, are we truly serving our communities? Are we on the frontlines advocating for issues of justice even when they do not directly benefit us?

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