From the top of the World Trade Center towers you felt that you could see the curve of the earth. You knew that you were standing atop a building on an island in one of the world’s largest cities, but you were subtly aware that where you stood was less a point on a map than it was a spot on a globe: a big, curved, diverse world.
By the afternoon of September 11th, 2001 one could sense what felt like a change in the country: a widespread feeling of concern people expressed to one another. There was a palpable sense of caring, of reaching-out.
Much has been written in the nine years since — about the reaction by the White House, about the best way to memorialize those who lost their lives that day, about the efforts to clean up Ground Zero and the Pentagon, about America’s place in the world, and its sense of injury and the case for seeking justice.
Sometimes, perhaps often, in all this talk, there’s an “us-them” dichotomy that lies at the heart of the argument. Many Muslims in the U.S. feel that dichotomy acutely. It’s not uncommon on talk radio to hear people speaking out of a profound ignorance about Islam, about the Muslim experience in the U.S., and about the possibility for dialogue, coexistence, and peace in our own country, founded on a principle of religious liberty.
Religious leaders gathered in Washington this week to decry the plan of a Gainesville, Florida pastor to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. Politicians, military leaders, and other citizens joined in the condemnation. As we take time to memorialize those who were killed nine years ago, we do it as a nation distracted, conflicted, and seemingly ill-at-ease with the place Islam has in the American landscape.
An uncommon Guatemalan, an uncommon Muslim, a perfectly common man.
David Gonzalez defies stereotypes and expectations. At a time when America is struggling to accept Islam, Gonzalez sticks out as someone who became a Muslim because he found it to be a religion of peace. Gonzalez is Guatemalan and was raised in a Roman Catholic household, as many in that country are. But he was unsatisfied by his spiritual experience and had questions that remained unanswered. His quest for answers led him to Islam, which he has embraced.
Recently, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community gathered outside Washington DC for a conference. The Futuro Media Group’s Yasmeen Qureshi met David Gonzalez at the conference, and asked him to tell us his story of being Latino and Muslim.
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