Reflections on the Inauguration
We at MPAC spent the last three months of the 2008 elections on a whirlwind of events across the nation. From New York to Virginia, Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, Ohio to California and many states in between. MPAC organized over 40 election forums in various communities with one glaring goal in mind; Muslim American Empowerment and Engagement in 08. This historic election cycle awakened a sense of urgency that was rooted in the understanding that the Muslim American community must engage at all levels of civic and political life to fully realize the idea of positive integration and to retake the discourse regarding our community into our own hands.
So as I stood in the freezing cold on January 20th in the midst of over a million people in Washington DC, I couldn’t help but remember each community center, Mosque, and house that we visited. The inaugural week was a historic week for the Muslim American community. Starting with the first ever Muslim American Gala, which brought together Muslim American leaders, community organizers, elected officials and various public officials to celebrate the participation of the community in choosing a new direction for our country.
As I attended each event including the Gala, opening ceremonies, the swearing-in , Western Ball and the prayer breakfast a sense of urgency repeatedly rippled through each handshake, introduction and conversation. Each experience reminded me that this moment that we individually and collectively live in is a glaring opportunity, an opportunity that will only translate into “real change” if our collective experiences and voices are heard as a community. An opportunity that requires a sustained and conscious effort by women and men, young and old, indigenous and immigrant. An opportunity that will have to be rooted in the Quranic and constitutional values of Freedom, Justice, Mercy and Equality, an opportunity that will require civic engagement, coalition building and reaching out to millions of our fellow citizens.
While President Obama was delivering his acceptance speech I stood next an elderly African American gentlemen. I couldn’t help but noticing first the tears that continuously rolled down his cheeks then the sudden sobbing that overtook him. As I started to comfort him the President’s timely words reverberated in my head “Our country is made up of Christian, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and non-believers” a reference that only reinforced the idea that an opportunity has come upon us and our destiny surely lies after God, in our hands.