The Good American: An American Muslim Reflection of 9/11

september 11, 911, racism, discrimination, prejudice, muslims, muslim perspective

Image Credit: Flickr / Viktor Nagornyy

The Good American: An American Muslim Reflection of 9/11

I really wanted to write a post for next weeks’ 9/11 rememberance but I had a very hard time deciding where to start or to even process my feelings.  When discussing this subject I alternate from anger to sadness. As I look back and remember when it happened life was so different than it is now – I’ve experienced so much in the middle, swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Ten years ago I was a junior in high school.  I remember that day vaguely.  I remember being walking to Chemistry class and people talking about a bomb in New York.  I remember my Chemistry teacher wouldn’t let us watch TV to find out what was happening even when people said a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers.  I often think back to that and remember how mad we were.  I think he was trying to downplay things and keep us focused but really I don’t know if he was ready to handle what our reaction might have been.

We were a long way from New York in the middle of the Upper Midwest where clearly nothing was going to happen to us.  What I do remember is being stuck to the TV for days and giving an announcement on September 12th over our schools’ PA system.  I can’t remember for the life of me what I said.  But then life went on and because we were so far removed it really wasn’t applicable.  My life was not that changed.

In 2003 I never thought twice about traveling to a Muslim country.  I had a moving religious experience while there and by chance met my now-husband.  When I converted to Islam in 2004 I really didn’t think my life would be that different.  Maybe it was because I was so removed that I thought no one would really care.  But they did care and I really understood the impact that event had on the Muslim community within a short time.

As I reflect on the 10 years that have passed I stand in shock at how divided we are as a people.  I am afraid of the numbers of people who have such a strong fear and hatred of Muslims for something that most of us had no control over and no part in. I am afraid of those in power who seek to pull more of our rights and privacy away.  I am afraid of the future my children face.  But, instead of living in this fear I use every opportunity I have to reach someone else.  I make every interaction count to show others that Muslims are not the enemy.  We don’t want to take over and run the US, we just want a seat at the table.  Even though my thoughts and feelings on this holiday have been compromised by years of discrimination, I still am as patriotic as ever.  Maybe it’s my apprehension and questioning that help me to remain a good American instead of just towing the line without question.

I’m sad this week that thousands of people had to lose their lives over the misguided ideologies on both sides.  What happened on 9/11 shouldn’t have happened and the wars that happened because of 9/11 shouldn’t have happened either.  I don’t think anyone wins this fight.



    • says

      I've found that the only way to help people see things is by interactions.  My mom told me I was the first Muslim I ever met – I treat every opportunity to meet someone as though it's their first interaction with a Muslim as well.  We all know how important first impressions are!

  1. Vicki says

    Your mother is one amazing woman, Amanda. That was such a profound thing to say, one that I am sitting here thinking about and realizing how true it is, and how true your words are. Thank you for this.

  2. says

    This is an excellent piece, Amanda. I agree 100%: nobody wins this fight. It alarms me that there is so much blaming and stereotyping. People forget that there are extreme factions of all types of groups. There is a very long history of Christian terrorism, from the KKK and Army of God to the recent attacks in Oslo. Most of American society doesn't express prejudice against Christians for their extremist factions in the same way it has done to Muslims. The many should not be punished for the crimes of a few. I truly hope that as your children grow up they are able to live without fear, and I thank you for sharing and writing about your experiences. I definitely believe that you are helping to diminish the hatred.

  3. says

    Amanda, I'm sorry that I'm so late reading this. Thank you for expressing your feelings on this topic. I can't fathom what life has been like for you and your family with the narrow-mindedness and misinformation that permeates our culture. There needs to be a voice of reason and calm that teaches without chastising. Thank you. I have a very good friend whose family I'm close to. They're from Jordan and are devout Catholics, not even Muslim. Life for them became a living hell post-9/11.