Show them you’re a Muslim by our love
Omar (not his real name) is around 9 years old, a third grade boy attending Islamic school. His mom Fatima (not her real name) and I had plans for a girl’s afternoon out by treating ourselves to a facial. Oooh, a facial is so soothing and relaxing. While Fatima answered a telephone call, I asked Omar how was the new school year so far. Wonderful, he said, as he rattled off a class schedule of reading, math, social studies, science, language, history and Quran reading. Of course, he’d join the soccer team again. The skinny boy has his eyes on competing in the World Cup in the future. One afternoon, as he waited with his buddies outside school for their fathers to drive them home, the boys rejoiced in their blessings. Omar reiterated how their education is excellent. Each day they eat three healthy meals. Omar and his friends are surrounded by loving, kind and caring families. The boys share a tight bond. That’s not the case for children like them in Syria, Gaza, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and other nations ripped apart by war, internal strife and crushing poverty. Every day children face imminent danger from exploding bombs or constant, nagging hunger. Omar said their hearts ached for the pain and suffering of others. Such compassion from nine year old boys touched me. It also reminded me of the weekly sermon at the mosque I heard the day before, which I shared with Omar. The imam reminded worshipers about the special greeting we Muslims have for each other – assalamu alaikum, which means peace be upon you. The imam encouraged everyone to always greet a fellow Muslim with our special saying. Be an example to others. Show them we are kind and merciful, not the frightening terrorists portrayed by the media. Kindness begins at home, in our Muslim community, and together we can spread it beyond far and wide. They’ll know we are Muslims by our love. Maybe others won’t understand what assalamu alaikum means but the late Mother Theresa said peace begins with a smile. Everyone appreciates a smile or a gesture of good will such as holding a door. A simple hello can make someone’s day. It costs nothing to be kind. To achieve peace, we change the world one day at a time and that change starts with me, it starts with you. Say assalamu alaikaum, peace be upon you, and see what happens. Peace really does begin with a smile.