“It has gotten just that bad.”
That was how Sofia Ali-Khan began her viral Facebook post addressing the increasingly hostile rhetoric aimed at Muslims, particularly in the US.
“I want you to know that I was born in this country. I have lived my whole life in this country. I have spent my entire adult life working to help the poor, the disabled and the dispossessed… and I want you to know that I am devoutly and proudly Muslim.”
These are the words of an American citizen. In 2015.
Fortunately, Sofia has some great ideas for how her non-Muslim neighbors can confront fear and hatred with practical acts of love.
1. Speak out.
“If you see a Muslim or someone who might be identified as Muslim being harassed, stop. Say something. Intervene. Call for help.”
“Call out hate speech when you hear it… in your living room, at work, with friends, in public. It is most important that you do this among folks who may not know a Muslim.”
2. Sit next to someone who’s Muslim…and wish them peace.
“If you ride public transportation, sit next to the hijabi woman and say, “Asalam ‘alaykum.” (That means “peace to you.”) Don’t worry about mispronouncing it; she won’t care. Just say ‘peace’ if you like. She’ll smile; smile back. If you feel like it, start a conversation. If you don’t, sit there and make sure no one harasses her.”
3. Check in on your Muslim colleagues and neighbors. Let them know you care.
“If you have a Muslim work colleague, check in. Tell them that the news is horrifying and you want them to know you’re there for them.”
“If you have neighbors who are Muslim, keep an eye out for them. If you’re walking your kids home from the bus stop, invite their kids to walk with you.”
Sofia has more ideas on how you can confront fear with love in her original Facebook post.
The work of unmaking violence begins with us—when we confront the violence, fear, and hatred in our midst. Even small acts can remake the world.
As Sofia writes: “While we, many of us, rely on our faith to stay strong, we are human. This is not an easy time. What you do will mean everything to the Muslim Americans around you.”