Muslim Community: “Farid Faruqui: America a Haven for Religious Freedom”

farid.jpgRepublican photo by MARK M. MURRAY Farid Faruqui, of Agawam, is a member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts in West Springfield

Farid Faruqui, of Agawam, is a 36-year-old managing consultant who travels frequently in his work in the health care field. He was born in Madison, Wis., and is a member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts in West Springfield. 

Where were you when 9/11 happened?

I was on a business trip to Kansas City on 9/11. I was 26 at the time. We heard a plane had struck the first tower, and then watched on TV as the towers collapsed.

I was horrified at what I was seeing, and as the investigation unfolded and revealed that this terrorist act was committed by so-called Muslims I remember feeling anger toward those who were misrepresenting my religion.

Prior to the attacks, were you very public about your religion? 

Prior to 9/11, I wouldn’t say that I was very public. My close friends who are non-Muslim understand my beliefs and were supportive when I would step away for prayers, or would eat their lunches away from me when I was fasting in Ramadan.

After 9/11, I would say I actually became more open. It bothered me that Muslims’ reputations were being dragged through the mud due to misunderstanding about Muslims and Islam.

I felt the best way to counteract this and to show the true nature of Muslims was through my actions.

What changes did you see in how people viewed Muslims living in the United States and how did this come to affect you? How have the attacks of 10 years ago changed your life?

Unfortunately there has been a very negative reaction post 9/11. We have seen the rise of Islamophobia, and people pre-judging us as terrorists. We have politicians and talking heads fanning the flames with incendiary remarks.

This kind of showboating, playing off fear, doesn’t do anything toward creating a peaceful atmosphere and promoting the commonalities between Muslims and everyone else. This is especially hurtful to me as a loyal U.S. citizen by birth.

I have a brother who is an officer in the U.S. Navy.

I travel through airports on a weekly basis, and the invasive security checks that we must now endure bother me as much as any other frequent traveler.

The action of the 9/11 hijackers changed the world. They believe murder against Americans and people of all faiths, including Muslims, is justified to create Islamic states. How do you feel these men and others who follow in their cause have used Islam?

Islam does not promote violence. There are those who claim that all Muslims are engaged in a “jihad” against America. However, the violence associated with the word jihad has a very narrow scope – only when enduring religious persecution is it allowed to fight for one’s rights.

There is no religious persecution here in the United States. We enjoy more freedom of religion in this country than any other country in the world, thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

As for those who want to establish Islamic states, they should begin with the Islamic states that exist today. Those countries – Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia – are not within the Islamic model. There is no place for dictators and monarchs in Islam.

There is no place for maiming and killing and raping people who speak out. These states are the worst offenders of human rights. To me, if someone is looking for an example of what not to do, start there at home and not focus on the U.S.

The acts of 9/11 took many lives, including those of many Muslims who died in the Twin Towers, and changed the way we live.

I would argue, though, that 9/11 has affected Muslims more than anyone else. An estimated 3 million people in the United States practice Islam, and due to the un-Islamic acts of a very small minority, we all carry the stigma of “potential terrorist.”

What does living in America mean to you and how do you see yourself as a Muslim and an American?

Being a Muslim and being an American are not mutually exclusive. I was born in the U.S., and have always seen myself as an American. This country has been very good to me and my family.

The opportunities and facilities that we have here are the reason why so many people immigrate here from across the world.

I have friends who are Christian, Jewish and Hindus and, despite our varying beliefs, the commonality among us is that we are able to live in a country that allows us to practice our religion freely.

This is what makes the United States the best country in the world. source