How to begin? First off, it's been one of the most rewarding Ramadans in Tucson under the summer sun. Rewarding, because of the inner reality checks and balances one goes through. And rewarding still, with the outer reality of a dry intense heat blessed with food and water to sustain ourselves throughout the days.
It's also been one of the most challenging, with visions of a hate rally to be held at the Islamic Center of Tucson on the second day of the Islamic holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr, on July 18, and its counter rally.
The hate rally, hosted on Facebook by a "Dean Remington," is the "Let Freedom Ring Free Speech Rally." It claims it is not meant to be filled with hate, yet protesters are encouraged to bring arms to the event.
There's not a whole helluva lot one can say to the craziness of this event other than, 'WTH?!?'
Sure, we can discuss the First Amendment rights, and we should, especially in this context of hate-filled rhetoric towards Muslims and Islam which has been a growing money-making industry geared towards fear, xenophobia and Islamophobia for years.
Such a rally is no more than ignorance masquerading as "freedom of speech." It's an abuse and manipulation of our constitutional right to defend the First Amendment.
The cray cray does not stop there. The counter rally, also promoted on Facebook, "Stand Up Against Hate," is nothing more than the same of the Hatriots rally. The organizer of this event, a "Sumayya Dawud" of Phoenix (aka, not a Tucsonan and not a member of ICT) fails in her attempts to defend the First Amendment as well.
How does she fail? By implementing a rally in front of a mosque with no support of its members, magnifying the situation to a potential hazard for its members, neighbors, and anyone who attends, with an utter lack of knowledge of the concept of shura, or consultation, in Islam.
While the hatriots are just as much to blame for the potential harm to anyone in the area, their excuse of ignorance is more valid than that of Sumayya Dawud's.
Take for example the hate rally in Phoenix recently (which brought about the upcoming rally in Tucson) and its aftermath.
Just three days after that rally, Azra Hussain, of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, held an inspiring event to promote peace and tolerance, "Love is Stronger Than Hate," at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
Azra received numerous calls from throughout the Phoenix Valley from interfaith organizations to ask, "What can we do to help?" This moral support gave her the idea to hold a counter event, but first, she sought '*shura' or consultation with the imam and the board of trustees of ICCP. And while the imam and the board of trustees of ICCP gave her the go ahead, Azra went through every detail with them via texts and phone calls to ensure a hopeful outcome of the event. She used diplomacy, respect, and consultation, a key ingredient to follow and practice. Something which Sumayya Dawud sorely lacks.
As we are near the end of Ramadan, the uncertainties of what the outcome will be for the two rallies is ahead of us. From all indications though, Dean and Sumayya will be face-to-face. Exhibiting their similarities as cut from the same cloth; and as well, one hatriot vigilante across from a Muslim vigilante.
As a member of ICT for 36 years I am dismayed, disappointed and extremely embarrassed by the actions of Sumayya Dawud. She does not represent my community, a community of loving and caring people, of families. She does not represent me, as a convert, and as a Muslim woman. She only represents herself, a renegade, seeking a shouting match with the hatriots at the expense of ICT, using them as their pawn.
One can hope though, that Dean and Sumayya will stand alone, on a street in Tucson throwing verbiage towards one another under a monsoon filled southern Arizona sky.