The Past and the Future

It has been a while.  This last school year was my roughest yet, and I had to turn my focus to my classes.  My attention could not be towards anything else.  During the first week of the summer I was still studying, however, that was only for a couple of SAT Subject Tests. Now my summer is truly beginning.  All of that is done now and I am ready to get back into my writing.

First off, I would like to give a shout out to my professor from the University of Chicago and a dear friend of mine, Dr. Michael Subialka. Earlier this year, he had emailed me explaining that as he was going through old files in preparation for his next class, he stumbled upon my blog. He had told me that he was glad and excited for me as I was getting more involved in the political process and hoped that I was continuing my writing and sharing my experiences. This simple message really hit home for me.  It made me take a step back and appreciate that others were noticing what I was doing. To know that one of my mentors and an individual that I admire so greatly was commending me for my work was truly humbling.

To be in a position to volunteer for political campaigns and meet my local, state and national leaders has been eye-opening and educational. I know I am quite fortunate.  These experiences require putting in the effort and the drive so you can benefit from the experience and knowledge you receive. To be completely honest, I have not been putting in the necessary work towards those endeavors lately. Things were popping up during the school year and extracurriculars continued to impede any progress I made. But one thing Dr. Subialka has reminded me of is that writing of any kind is something you can truly make your own.

So with this, I would like to explain what the future holds for the Muslim Moderate. I plan to attend the ISNA Convention again this year and bring more content such as interviews and my thoughts on speakers and lectures I attend. I also plan on staying updated on my work in the political field, specifically with the new Mayor of Rockford, Tom McNamara. And of course, I hope to continue to share my thoughts on the world and any ideas I have to make it a better place.

Thank you to all of those who have shown continued support in my absence.

What it means to be politically active

I have had the opportunity to volunteer in a campaign again. The mayoral election for Rockford is coming up and I have been canvassing for Tom McNamara, the Democratic candidate.

This is the second time I have given my time to a political campaign. Although I am only a teenager, I think I have had some meaningful experiences.

But what do these experiences mean? How is knocking on doors helping someone like me? The youth are the future. Everybody knows this, yet our nation’s government has seemed to have forgotten the important needs and wants of young people. We, the youth, as a demographic, need to start becoming more politically active and making our voices heard. And although I am guilty of this myself, we need to stop arguing amongst ourselves, hidden behind our laptops and on Facebook. Sharing things and spreading information is great, don’t get me wrong, but when we actually go out into the streets as a unit and fight for what we believe in, then we can affect change.

It all starts with grassroots campaigning and local activism. Going from door to door. Getting into contact with your local officials. Making phone calls. Writing letters. Protesting injustice. Doing these things may not seem like a lot in the beginning, but when the movement begins to grow and take shape, our voices can be heard.

 

I want to share what I have been doing with my time in campaign work. The gentleman I worked with today explained it in a few simple steps. If you are ever working on a campaign, you need to start building lists of people you need to establish contact with. This means researching their voting history, party identification and any other information relevant to a campaign. Next, you start going to the streets and actually getting into contact with the voters. When you are first starting out, you want to target people who are on the fence or undecided on who to vote for in whatever election is currently happening. The hope is to persuade those folks to vote for the candidate you are advocating for. Finally, you encourage people to get out and vote. This means making sure all of the constituents are still in support of your candidate and telling them to go to polling places to cast their ballot on election day.

The political work I have done has truly been eye-opening for me. I have interacted with friendly, enthusiastic people and those who are not interested in the election process at all. It gives me a genuine feel for how the political process works for us all. I  want to go into this field when I am older and hope to make a name for myself.  This is simply a step in that direction.

Lastly, I want to share my feelings on why being politically active is important. Many people nowadays are unhappy with how the country is being run, especially with Agent Orange at the helm. What I want people to know is that you can be proactive and have your voice be heard. I am a fifteen year old brown kid living in Rockford, Illinois and I try to get my voice out there. You can, too.

 

Representative Bustos Internship

img_7513I was very fortunate this summer and fall to be an intern for Congresswoman Bustos and help in her re-election campaign for the United States Congress. The political experience I have gained has given me new insight into how our country operates, as well as what other people in my community think about this election. My work for the campaign included making phone calls to constituents and canvassing local neighborhoods. I enjoyed the canvassing the most. The work allowed me to explore parts of Rockford I wouldn’t normally enter, as well as meet interesting people and hear their thoughts and ideas on the election. I also had the opportunity to work alongside some great people me who have become my good friends. It is kind of cool to note that I was the youngest intern working for the office.

I actually have a pretty funny story I would like to share. One day, I was at school eating lunch with my friends. My cell phone rang and the caller ID said unknown caller. Normally, I would never answer a call like this but for some reason this time I decided to pick it up. Much to my surprise, Representative Bustos was on the other end. She called to thank me for the support and help with the campaign. It was probably one of the coolest experiences I have gone through.

I even got the chance to formally meet and talk to her. Dr. Muhammad Harunani and his family, good friends of my family and fellow Muslims in the Rockford community, and also the ones that got me in contact with the campaign in the first place, are strong supporters of Representative Bustos. They hosted a dinner at their home for her where she came to speak and meet members of the Muslim community. While I was there, Dr. Harunani properly introduced me to her and we had a nice conversation about the work I had been doing for the campaign. That experience is definitely something I will remember for a long time.

Becoming an intern for a campaign has been one of the best opportunities I have has thus far. The experiences I had and the people I met have impacted me greatly as a person and I will always be thankful for that. I highly recommend going into any political work possible. Being able to share ideas and meet like-minded people has helped me become the politically involved, passionate person I am today.

Update

It has been a long time since I have posted on this blog and I want to start off by apologizing for the inactivity. For all of July, I was at UChicago taking a class called Awakening into Consciousness: Intro to Collegiate Writing. As soon as my class finished up, my family went to Canada for vacation. This trip lasted the first couple weeks of August. Also during this time, I applied for (and received) an internship in the office of US Representative Cheri Bustos. My sophomore year started on August 17th, and I hit the ground running. Between my four AP classes and my varsity soccer schedule, I haven’t had much time for anything else. However, my soccer season and the first marking period for school are finally done and it’s time to turn my attention back to my blog.

I have a lot of interesting stories and experiences I want to share with you all, and these posts will be coming in the very near future. I look forward to sharing my experience in Chicago with a summary of how my class went and what I learned. My Bustos internship will be the topic for quite a few posts, including a story of my first interaction with her. I will also post an interview I did with a scholar at this year’s ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) convention. Expect more Muslims of Rockford segments. Finally, I am going to be very active in writing my thoughts on this year’s election. With only a few weeks left until we elect a new president, I want to put down my thoughts and impressions for all of you to ponder.

Thank you for all of the support you have given me during my absence. I hope to turn things around these next couple weeks and push out great content.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. And so many more.

Racism is real. It is the most prominent issue of our generation. We have been brainwashed to think it was over since the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King would be devastated.

This blog may be called the Muslim “Moderate” but this is an issue I cannot be moderate about. People’s lives are being taken away due to excessive force and unjustified fear. Police officers killing innocent man. What do they have to fear if they are the ones pointing the gun? I am not saying everyone situation is like this. There are instances where the person who is shot was at fault or had attacked or assaulted in some way. But the two most recent cases are nothing like that. Both men had nothing in their hands. One was even reaching for something the officer had asked for. The other down on the ground and beaten. Both gone from this world.

If they were white it would have been different. We all know it’s true. We all like to think this prejudice is gone. But it’s really only gotten worse. If you’re brown, your labeled a terrorist. Black, a thug or gangster. Hispanic, a drug dealer or illegal immigrant. Racism towards white people is also very much alive, but when was the last time you saw a white person labeled as one of these terms?

It breaks my heart and pushes me to tears when I hear stories like this. Why do police officers have to shoot? Six to the chest and back for Sterling. And for what? Selling music?

A man was shot to death in front of his fiancee and her four year old daughter. He was a law abiding and respected man in the community. But because he was black, the officer was afraid that Castile was going to pull out the gun instead of the registration that LEGALLY ALLOWS HIM TO CARRY THAT GUN.

The whips of racism and thorns of prejudice continue to tear this country apart. If we really are the “ideal, free country of the world”, then why do people die every day in the streets of South side Chicago? Why are people killed by our nations supposed protectors?

We aren’t free. A good friend of mine said that being a minority is hard right now. She could not be more correct. We are constantly held responsible for crimes we didn’t commit. Why must our entire group of people clear our names for the actions done by a few? Why can’t we be treated the same as the white people of this country. You never see them being called terrorists or being shot at by police.

In a free world, racism was gone. America is no where near free.

I am sorry if this topic is controversial and if it raises some questions. I am sorry if I have offended anyone. But I need to say this.

Eid Mubarak!!

Salaam and Eid Mubarak to all my brothers and sisters! In this blessed time, I ask for Muslims all over the world to rejoice. But, do not forget the lessons learned and pray that the ibadat performed during the blessed time of Ramadan is accepted.

I, for one, never want Ramadan to end. The endless blessings and sleepless nights sitting in the musallah filled me with the most joy I have ever experienced. To stay consistent in prayer and fill your heart with the sincerest of du’aas are among the greatest feelings in the world. I hope we can all live the rest of our lives like how we do during the blessed month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, it breaks my heart beyond repair to know that some of my Muslim family around the world will not be enjoying the amazing day of Eid alongside us. May Allah (SWT) grant Jannat to all of the victims of ISIS and violence in Istanbul, Baghdad, Syria, Medinah and all over the world. No one deserves the fate they received. But in a time like this it is important for Muslims all over the world to stand together and stand strong. With ISIS increasing its influence and Islamophobia growing by the second, we must all work to clear our names and spread the peace that Allah (SWT) assigned to us all.

Everyone enjoy yourselves tomorrow and remember Allah (SWT) in your prayers. 

Muslims of Rockford: Morad Suliman

Muslims of Rockford: Morad Suliman

Morad Suliman is a Sudanese-American teenager living in the Rockford community. He attends Auburn High School and is in the Gifted Program there. Although only 16 years old, Morad is very educated and informed about the world and issues surrounding our generation. I asked him what the biggest problem our world faces at the moment and he gave a deep and insightful answer. He said that the lack of concern and knowledge regarding  countries such as Syria and the people of Palestine are an issue in themselves. Morad also explained that the media twisting stories to show Muslims as enemies while we are persecuted just as much, if not more, as everyone else shows that our communities in America need to the truth about Muslims.

This was the first interview I have done for this segment of the blog. I know I have a lot of work to do but if you have any suggestions, please contact me.