This Fourth of July, American Muslims across the country will be celebrating the birth of our nation and its political freedoms. I will personally be hosting a traditional halal barbeque with my friends and neighbors that will be capped off with some festive fireworks – a benefit of living in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.
Inshallah (Arabic for “God-willing”), this will be the first Fourth of July cookout that my four-year-old son will remember as he gets to eat glazed honey smoked ribs, chicken tandoori, and red, white and blue layered flag cake* with sparklers atop. This year we will make sure to have the National Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day Concert playing on the background. On this day I am usually found listening to the Boston Pops in a small coastal town just south of Boston at my mother’s house, but wanted to spare my family from Interstate 95’s holiday traffic.
What my son won’t see behind everyone’s smiles and laughter is the anxiety and fear that many American Muslims have on their minds – worry over reports of increasing anti-Muslim violence; hate crimes; acts of vandalism and arson against our houses of worship; bullying of our children in school and discrimination as they enter the workforce; anti-Muslim hate rallies across the country; government sanction discrimination like President Trump’s Muslim Ban, to be decided by the Supreme Court in October; religious questioning of American Muslim travelers by CBP; a return to the FBI placing Muslims that travel abroad on the No-Fly List, effectively exiling Muslim citizens; anti-Muslim hate groups training sheriff departments across the country; and, local city councils and zoning boards denying Muslim communities permission to build new mosques, schools and community centers.
Having to surmount these social and legal challenges that threaten our nation’s shared principles, values and constitutional rights, American Muslims and their many allies take refuge in the very foundational document that gave birth to our nation, the United States Declaration of Independence.
Published on July 4, 1776, its preamble declares in part “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is an inclusive ideal that has not always been lived up to and every generation of our nation has uniquely struggled to work towards.
Every Fourth of July – as we celebrate our national independence – we get a chance to recommit ourselves to supporting these certain unalienable rights regardless of race, religion or creed. Like our founders, “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
This Fourth of July, many Muslims will be celebrating the holiday with the understanding that whatever threat exists to our rights and liberties, or looms over other communities, it will be overcome by our nation redeclaring its commitment to what makes America great, that everyone from shore to shore is welcomed and provided the guarantee of equality before the law.
U.S. Muslims like all other Americans really do have a lot to celebrate this Fourth of July.
*The Red, White and Blue Layered Flag Cake recipe can be found here. I hope that I get it right.