Where were you on 9/11?
Fahina was in her kindergarten class just like any other weekday. Her mom had just dropped her off there and was walking back to her home. Her brother was still in the womb, to be due any day. And her father?
He was atop the North Tower.
At such a point I would think and understand it if with the WTC this family’s faith collapsed too. No one would blame the mother for retreating as a widow into the shadows of her despair. No one would wonder why Fahina became a depressed teenager. No one would question how her brother, who never met her father, became a rebellious youth.
We would understand. After all, have we not faced our own traumas? Have we not considered casting our heads down, turning away from Islam? This family, more than most in our times, would have a good reason to do so. Especially after facing such adversities as losing a husband and father, going into labor two days later alone, growing up never meeting him, trying to grasp how other so-called Muslims could do this, and then facing the persecution by one’s very own community for being Muslim.
Post-9/11 many of us experienced the taunts, being called names, getting cursed at, having our headscarves pulled. We grew up learning about slavery, one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history, and then were subject to similar discrimination.
We spent the last several years feeling mixed emotions, from anger to resentment to grief to shame. We’ve grown up in the past decade fumbling with the confusion brought upon us as Muslims and as Americans on 9/11.
I’m glad I went through my personal struggles in trying to defend Islam and Muslims around the world and then trying to come to terms with my American identity. It was a balance sought by each of us through a painful internal war. It was important for us to go through that but I wish I had learned about Fahina, her mother, and her brother a long time ago. I wish I had read their story and known there was a family out there going through what we were all going through but so much more intensely.
It’s impossible to read the article about Fahina and her family with dry eyes and to walk away from it not learning these lessons:
Help the youth understand. One of the struggles Fahina faces now is how to explain 9/11 to her brother, who was born a mere two days after the attacks which killed his father. Similarly, many of our siblings, cousins, and children were born after the 2001 or were too young to remember and understand what occurred on that grievous day. It’s important for those of us who were there, for us who do remember, to help them understand as well. We need to talk to them before they hear it on TV or in school or read about it online. We need to help them understand their Muslim American identity before anyone else taints it. It is our responsibility to fulfill.
Never deny your faith. During a time beards and headscarves were coming off, Fahina’s mother began wearing her headscarf just two weeks after 9/11. It is in times of adversity that Allah will truly test our faith. Sometimes He may take away something or someone we love dearly to bring us closer to Him and the manners in which we come closer to Him will be through strengthening our faith in performing more righteous acts and internally struggling in His way.
Be kind to all. After 9/11, Fahina and her family were subject to taunts for being Muslim while grieving for their loved one. Despite that Fahina’s mother was kind and tried helping those people and set that as an example for her children. Remember actions speak louder than words and although those people may sneer at you now, they may eventually be guided to the truth and change their ways. You are concerned only with doing that which Prophet Muhammed (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wasallam) taught you to do. Leave the rest in Allah’s hands.
Work hard through hard times. Fahina’s mother found her calling to strive each and every day to raise the best children and instills the same values in them to live by. As Muslim Americans, we’re all facing difficult times, not just around 9/11 anniversaries but year round. It’s important to remember that we all have duties to fulfill and the One we serve is Allah through this temporary life. Work hard through it and you will be rewarded in this life and the Hereafter, insha’Allah.
Serve Allah with hands and heart. On the 9/11 anniversary Fahina’s family sends money to orphanages and works hard to represent their faith outside their home. It’s important for us to remember all acts of worship which Allah loves such as giving in charity and spreading the word of Islam. The best way to spread awareness and open people’s minds to understanding is to educate them on this religion. This teaching is not simply done by words but also in actions, big and small.
So where were you on 9/11?
I don’t just mean where in terms of location or what you were doing. But where were you spiritually?
The CNN.com article was inspiring in the way Fahina’s and her family’s spiritual journey was mapped. They changed so much for the sake of Allah after dealing with the tragedy of losing a loved one in the 9/11 attacks. The lessons to be learned from them hold true for all of us as we’ve all made sacrifices and have struggled in our lives. But the same way it changed Fahina and her family in a positive fashion because they made it have an effect on them for the better, we can use the adversities in our lives to mold us into stronger Muslims as well.
Wherever you were in the past, wherever you are now, the most important question is where are you going? Take to heart some of the actions Fahina’s family took and let’s get there together with our entire family of the Muslim Ummah.
May Allah help us all in pleasing Him, ameen. May Allah make easy for Fahina and her family the struggles they face every day, ameen. May Allah have mercy on Fahina’s father and grant him admission into the highest level of Jannah, ameen.
Please pray for the 32 Muslim victims and remember all of the families who lost loved ones due to the 9/11 attacks, may Allah make it easy on all of them, ameen.