An ayat or verse in the Holy Quran, the book of scriptures for Muslims, reminds believers during times of adversity to remember that it is to Allah that we, mankind, belong and that it is to Allah that we shall all return one day and although these words of wisdom do not always take the pain away, they are a comfort and a means of coping with challenges that arise. The morning of September 11th twelve years ago was alot like any other morning: I had walked my son to school and returned home to do the daily cleaning. The weather was sunny and warm, beautiful for September in Providence, RI, the New England city that I was living in at the time, and I had opened all of the windows to let in the breeze.
I was moving about the apartment putting away dishes or making the beds when the morning talk show that I had been watching was interrupted by breaking news announcing that an airplane had gone off course and was headed towards downtown New York. I didn't pay much attention at first, but when it was revealed that the airplane had been hijacked the mood completely changed. I watched with shock as the airplane crashed into the first building and my thoughts immediately flashed to my husband: he was in New York at the time for business and I knew that he could have been meeting with some of his partners in Manhattan. I tried to reach him on his cell phone but couldn't get through and as I watched the first tower crumble I dropped to my knees in sajdah to offer a prayer for protection: I couldn't believe this was happening.
The family was glued to the television during the next hours and I could finally breathe again when I reached my mother-in-law and was informed that my husband was ok and heading back uptown to the Bronx. As news was released about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, I remember having no idea what that was and being confused about the mention of Osama bin Laden - all that I had ever heard about him until that moment was that he was a rich Saudi, a Robin Hood of sorts, and had no idea that there were groups of Muslims who would actually plot to hurt unarmed civilians. As mother I was horrified and heartbroken, as a wife I was relieved to know that my husband was safe and as a Muslim, I wanted to design and print up pamphlets explaining the peaceful message of Islam to handout downtown in Kennedy Plaza. People had to know that not all Muslims were like that. My husband refused to let me do it, of course, more concerned for my safety than anything else since he anticipated the backlash and anti-Islamic viewpoint that would dominate the media and thus in peoples' minds in the coming months.
Looking back, its hard to believe that twelve years have past and although some things have gotten better, others have gotten worse. My constant, daily prayer, is that God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, to be forgiven of our debts, as we forgive those that are indebted to us, to be protected from going astray and to be granted refuge in Allah's guidance, help, light and victory. I am an American Muslim woman, a believer in the message of the prophets, and I have faith that God will bless and protect the righteous. May the souls of those lost today twelve years ago rest in peace, be forgiven of sins and blessed with paradise, amin.