Last Friday afternoon, I donned a head scarf and joined the congregation at a local mosque for Jumu’ah prayer. I open the door with the small red sign that read “Sisters’ Entrance,” and was greeted by a giggling, joy-filled, barefooted, wide-eyed three-year-old child. I took off my shoes, placed them on the rack, and followed her into the women’s section of the mosque.
It took Donald Trump behaving outrageously and threatening to close our borders to Muslims for me to decide to visit a mosque. I chose to stand in solidarity and support with Muslims who are friends and colleagues.
With my friends and colleagues at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, we dedicate ourselves as individuals:
To promote peace in our homes and communities.
We pledge to work with others: To eliminate the causes of hatred, to honor the dignity of all people, and to dare to understand.
We pledge to be instruments of God’s peace: To make our homes and neighborhoods zones of peace, free from fear, filled with respect and marked by deeds of kindness.
I also signed an open letter from faith leaders to Donald Trump. The text of the letter is below:
“As leaders in America’s faith community, our institutions do not engage in partisan politics. We do, however, speak to important moral and ethical issues facing our nation.
In this spirit, we write to express in the strongest possible terms our deep disappointment and even disgust with the proposal made by you to stop allowing Muslims to enter the United States. Our faith traditions demand that we extend a welcoming hand to those in need. America is an immigrant nation. We know that many have come to our country, and continue to do so, seeking religious freedom and an end to persecution. This is true for Syrian refugees fleeing ISIL today, and many others displaced by war, conflict, and disaster.
We remember that too many religious leaders stood silent as Jews fled Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, some religious leaders and politicians argued that Jews should not be allowed into the United States during that period. In that same timeframe, too many religious leaders stood silent as Japanese-Americans were interned into camps as their patriotism was questioned. Bigotry and discrimination prevailed.
Muslims serve this nation in offices of public service, in our Armed Forces, in law enforcement, and as community builders. These are our neighbors, our friends, and children of God. We cannot remain silent as political leaders seek to divide Americans along religious lines for partisan gain. Your language and proposals serve only to divide our nation and bring comfort to ISIS and their allies.
Mr. Trump, as leaders of many faiths we ask that you reflect on your proposals and repudiate those that you have made, that our country may be a beacon of hope and not fear.”
Rather than close our borders, we can open this door. We can choose solidarity over fear. We can introduce ourselves and engage in conversations that matter. We can model for our children options other than hateful rhetoric.