By Allison Knight-Khan
I am hurt. I have lived in the United States for thirteen years and I hoped that righteous Christians would feel a kinship with me as a Muslim, but that didn’t happen. I thought we had something in common. According to Cobb County Social Studies, there are three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
My father was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy during World War II. His father served in WWI. He taught us that hard work, honesty and a belief in God would get us through.My mother’s father was a lawyer in Michigan. They were nominal Christians.
When I became Muslim, I wondered why they became nominal. After all, my great grandfather was a missionary. His job was to convert the Muslims of Turkey in the 1850s.
What happened to the staunch Christian backbone that got my ancestors to America in 1650?
Anti-Muslim critic Pamela Geller believes that a “letter to Ahlima” will make Muslims out of Cobb students. Alas! I hate to burst her bubble, but this is a dubious fear at best.
No one should worry that their child will become Muslim because of a 20-minute lesson. It’s never happened before to my knowledge and if it had, Pamela would have told us.
I have a Masters’ degree in English and a degree in education. When I learned about Islam, I read the Quran and books about the Promised Messiah. I asked a lot of questions and learned the Arabic prayers before making any commitments. I prayed to God to find out if Islam was the true religion, because I couldn’t change my life for anything less. I met Caliphatul Masih IV and had true dreams only my Creator could give: Ahmadiyyat is the true Islam. It was a three-year journey.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is different from all other sects of Islam because the Promised Messiah declared that the Jihad of the Sword is dead. He also believed that Muslims must be loyal to the country they live in and serve mankind. This year we raised 10,000 units of blood with Red Cross to honor the victims of 9/11. We build schools, hospitals and wells in third-world countries.
I am married and I have three children. It has not been easy. By my resume, employers can tell I am educated, but when I arrive at an interview, it’s a different matter. There is a cold silence that tells me something is wrong. At one interview, the lady stared at my scarf as she asked question after question. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
You see, by believing people like Geller and MDJ columnist Laura Armstrong (blog Oct. 2, “Don’t trust a Muslim”) you never find out if you can or not. Their articles are the toxic waste of the Internet. All they have to do is drum up suspicion. That makes me guilty until proven innocent. And what’s more, there is no court of appeals. They reach millions of people and I may not change anyone’s opinion by writing this.
I was on Staten Island at 9/11. I saw the grey ash falling. It clogged my 1-year-old’s lungs until she got asthma. I spent the next year running to doctors and emergency rooms, not even connecting her sudden onset of asthma to the ashy 9/11 skies until after we left New York.
The Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, warns us that: “It is small and apparently insignificant issues and minor suspicions that lead to major problems… they actually hinder the progress of the entire country.” (German Jalsa, June 25.)
I am so used to suspicion that one day at Walmart, one of the checkout ladies said: “Don’t worry, we know who you are!”
I felt afraid. Really, I did. After a trip to Home Depot where I was accused of having a gun under my coat and another incident at Baggett Elementary where the driver spat at my car, I don’t pretend to know what people think.
“You’re a good mother,” she said. “We see that you buy healthy food. That means you cook for your family.” I must have looked dumbfounded, because she continued. “We notice what people put in their carts,” she explained. “You don’t buy junk food.” Was it really a compliment?
But the statement I will never forget is the policeman on Staten Island. I asked him if he wanted me to prove that the car was mine. He said: “With that thing on your head? Do you think I doubt your honesty?” So people do notice. …
My coat and scarf may seem strange, but it is my statement that I believe in God. His name is Allah. Mary, the mother of Jesus, wore a scarf. When I see her picture on a Christmas card, it gives me hope that if Christians and Jews ponder Mary’s hijab, perhaps I could get respect instead of derision.
Allison Knight-Khan of Powder Springs taught for Cobb County as an English/ESOL teacher and assisted in special education. She also taught at Kennesaw University.