Often, in the United States, there are only a few times when activities of Muslims are reported. Most of these stories tend to involve terrorism, suspected terrorism, or violence, such as 9/11 or the recent attack in Libya. However, there are many positive, as well as heroic, stories involving Muslims as well. This list hopes to show a few more positive examples of Muslims, at least for a day.
10. Shanna Bukhari
Shanna Bukhari may or may not have realized how brave she was. Her dream was to represent Great Britain in the Miss Universe pageant. But while Bukhari was born in Great Britain, her parents were from Pakistan. Competing in the pageant, especially the swimsuit competition, riled up some of the hard-line fundamentalists in her religion. Shanna said most people do support her, including her family in Pakistan and that she wouldn’t be wearing a bikini but a one-piece and a sarong.
Bukhari actually received death threats for her choice to compete, but participated in the 2011 pageant anyway. Bravely, she weathered the storm to not only show her own beauty, but also the beauty of her culture. Women such as Bukhari are inspirational, especially to young girls, to follow their dreams, even if that path may lead to disagreement from others.
9. Muslim Tipster Stops Terror Plot
Farooque Ahmad had every intention of becoming a terrorist, joining Al Qaeda, and participate in a plot to bomb a subway. How do we know all of this? A Muslim, within Ahmad’s own community, tipped off the FBI that Ahmad was an Al Qaeda sympathizer. This led to a sting operation in which FBI agents recruited and captured Ahmad. Though the tipster was not identified, they had an inspiring level of bravery to bring a potential terrorist to justice in their own community. If they had been found out, their life would have been in severe jeopardy. In many ways, their life remains in jeopardy to this day, as they are always in danger of being exposed.
As for Farooque Ahmad? He just recently began serving a 23-year prison sentence.
8. Men Get Purple Hearts For Assisting America in Afghanistan
Shah and Nisar are young men who could have had much easier lives, had they simply done nothing. However, the young Afghani men could not longer tolerate terrorism in their own country. At great personal peril, they helped the United States armed forces, by becoming linguists during the war in Afghanistan. Shah and Nisar were repeatedly targeted and injured. In recognition of injuries incurred in battle, both men received Purple Hearts. Even then, they continued to serve with the Americans. They never wavered from their resolve, or their Muslim faith. Today, Shah and Nisar are in America on a Visa to continue their education. Sometimes, doing the right thing means having to stand up to those closest to you.
7. Mohammad Salman Hamdani
On September 11th, 2001, Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a student at Rockefeller University who heard an explosion. Hamdani possessed no official authority capacity, but that did not matter to him. Hamdani rushed to Ground Zero to try and save people hurt by the terrorist attacks. For this, the 24-year-old Muslim lost his life, and his body was later found in the rubble.
When the United States Patriot Act was written, Hamdani was mentioned in the Act as a Muslim-American who boldly risked, and ultimately gave, his own life for his fellow Americans. In a world that would focus on Muslim extremism for a long time after 9/11, Hamdani managed to show the world the other side of the coin, that very same day.
6. Mirza Masroor Ahmad
Mizra Masroor Ahmad is the leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. In 2011, Ahmad and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community started a drive among the Muslim community, to give back what many Americans felt was taken on 9/11. They challenged Muslims to give their blood to save lives. More than 11,000 units were raised in the first year of what became known as Muslims For Life. Hopefully, more will be raised in this continuing yearly effort.
Ahmad has also gone out of his way to decry any type of terrorist attack. He has called for peaceful temperance whenever a situation arises that might lead to violence in his own community, and continually tries to stave off the violence that he believes might well be inevitable.
5. Auda ibu Tayi
Auda ibu Tayi , like the fictional Conan the Barbarian, had a sword that could turn the tide of a war. T.E. Lawrence considered Tayi to be instrumental in the Arab revolt. On that point, the Turks tried several times themselves to recruit Tayi and his considerable fighting prowess. Tayi ultimately sided with Lawrence against Constantinople. He took part in raids for years, but would often give the spoils of those raids to others. With that, Tayi grew in legend as something of a Bedouin Robin Hood.
He not only inspired his countrymen of the time, but also those of future generations. In the end, Tayi would die peacefully in his home, inhabiting a country that he helped create.
4. Anwar Al-Sadat
A man who chooses peace over war can often do so at great peril to himself. This was the case with Anwar Al-Sadat. For years, Sadat, as the leader of Egypt, worked actively to destroy the state of Israel in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In the end though, Al-Sadat turned his attention to peace, and not war. Al-Sadat put his signature on the Camp David Accords, the first post-WWII peace treaty between Egypt and the state of Israel. For this, Al-Sadat earned both a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as a target on his head. In 1981, Al-Sadat was assassinated while conducting a military review at the site in the Suez Canal where he had once sent soldiers to attempt to destroy Israel. Al-Sadat’s legacy remains that he died a martyr to the ideal of peace, in a region that desperately needs it.
3. Tawakkol Karman
Tawakkol Karman knows, all too well, the dangers of a woman speaking her mind. As a journalist and human rights activist, Karman risks retribution, as well as death, on a daily basis. In recent years, Yemen has become the focus of recruiting efforts by Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Karman, through outlets such as her Women Journalists Without Chains organization, continues to speak up about such hotbed topics as the suppression of women in her own country. For her efforts, in 2011, Karman became one of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureates ever. Karman continues to serve as a voice, as well as an inspiration. She often spends her days protesting out of a small tent, and will hopefully keep that voice for many years to come.
2. Shirin Ebadi
In 2003, Shirin Ebadi became the first Iranian, as well as the first female Muslim, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi rose to the position of judge in Tehran before the Islamic Revolution in the 1970s. After the Revolution, Muslim clerics considered her to be unsuitable for a judgeship, on the basis of her sex. Ebadi continued to fight to try and establish a private law practice, taking on many human rights issues (particularly for women and children) that many other lawyers were scared to confront. The Iranian government has been antagonistic towards Ebadi’s efforts, to say the least. She is the first Nobel Laureate to her medal confiscated by her own government, and had her bank accounts frozen due to taxes levied on her $1.3 million prize. Despite literally decades of persecution, Ebadi has still managed to write, lecture, inspire, and litigate in her own country.
1. Albanian Muslims Save Jews In World War II
If there was ever a time when Muslims could have enthusiastically taken advantage of anti-Semitism, it was during the reign of Nazi Germany. All European Muslims had to do was turn in Jews, or people suspected of being Jewish sympathizers. Adolph Eichmann and the SS were more than happy to take care of the rest. Albania, however, boasted a curious stat after the second World War. It was the only country in Europe that saw its population of Jews increase.
Since a majority of its citizens were of the Islamic faith, Albania felt it only right to take in, and hide, Jewish refugees from all over. In one documented case, a Muslim woman was unable to breast feed her baby, so a Jewish woman that she was protecting fed the child for her. There was no hesitation on the part of the Muslim woman, over a Jew feeding her child. In the time of most serious need, people like this forgot about their differences, and simply came together as human beings. More importantly, they both saw each other as children of God. When people who are thought of as natural enemies lie down together at night, you can’t help but be inspired by the thought.