During these difficult and historic times, when we all face various challenges, we strive to find the silver lining and see the glass half full. The time is ripe to count our blessings and be grateful for the wonderful things in life. On the Fourth of July, I wish to show gratitude for having the privilege to live in this great country, where my religious freedom is respected. I am free to wear my hijab in public, to worship in my mosque and even share my beliefs with others. I may not have been so lucky had I been living in certain other places in the world.
My religion of Islam is sometimes misunderstood to promote violence and extremism. The reality, however, is quite the contrary. Even a simple study of Islam will show that loyalty to one’s country is an integral part of faith. What does that mean? It means that not only does my faith require me to be a law-abiding, peaceful citizen, but I should show gratitude by going one step further and actively work towards the betterment of the wider community.
I must fulfill my religious obligations and positively contribute to the well-being of this nation by volunteering where possible, taking care of the environment and teaching my children the necessity of doing so. I must pay my share of taxes and exercise my duty to vote. Showing loyalty also means that I must respect my neighbors and bring my children up to be good citizens.
In addition, my community — the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — manifests this teaching by running national campaigns such as “Muslims for Life” which has organized thousands of blood drives nationwide. Another campaign, known as “Muslims for Loyalty,” shows our love and gratitude to this country.
Why should we do all of this? This great country has granted us rights and freedoms. In return, we owe it our loyalty and respect. God bless this great country!