Fear and Freedom

By Mohammad Mia
 
“We will test you with fear and hunger, loss of wealth, life, and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Those who when disaster strikes, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Them we will return.’” – Surah Al Baqarah, 2:155/156
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I was welcomed to the United States in 2002 by american flags draped across pickup trucks, George Bush’s declaration of a “global war on terrorism”, and a giant 3rd grader named Andrés who bullied me daily. One afternoon Andrés called me a sand nigger before knocking me to the ground. He towered over me, demanding I return to my country. Perhaps that was where I received my first lesson on what Audre Lorde called survival in the mouth of this dragon called america – that silence would protect me if I kept my head down, didn’t cause any trouble, worked hard, took my hits, and made dua. These lessons were echoed during Friday prayers, where imams delivered khutbahs divorced from the reality of being Muslim in america. After prayer I remember men engaging in heated debates over biryani, not with the hushed tones of fear but anger. My dad would launch into impromptu lectures on the CIA’s history in Afghanistan, analyzing the economic reach of the Saudi government while decrying the moral hypocrisy of america. Over the years I noticed these men stopped coming to the mosque, as my dad slowly shifted to talking sports. Only later did I learn our mosque had been under

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