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April 25, 2006
Microphone Check, One, Two, One, Two

by Muhammad Irfan Shariff

The other day, I had to give a speech at an event where there were two senators, one congressman, and a bunch of "influential" people speaking, including the French Consul General. The event was about hate crimes and it boiled down to anti-Semitism and the politics behind it. It was international discourse, with much publicity.

I recall a United States Senator mentioning Hamas and the president of Iran as people of terror. Next thing I knew there were facts quoted by AIPAC and the ADL. There were a few Muslims in the stands listening to the speeches and they suddenly became dismayed with the topics reiterated by the "respected" speakers and looked at me as if I was I was not doing the right thing. There were some speakers who talked about hate as a universal problem but this notion was not mentioned throughout the series of speakers.

So I’m sitting in the stands getting ready to speak. And I think to myself that for the past 45 minutes all I have heard are indirect attacks on Muslims, sprinkled with the dream of a utopian society and that this great American country is one that loves Israel. I think about all the speakers, and the purpose of the event. I think about the speeches that were given and how everything they say is taken for gospel. And that everyone was clapping. There were television news cameras and journalists from a number of newspapers.

And all of them listening to all these speakers about how hate is primarilly fueled by anti-Israel discussion, and how Jews are victimized worldwide and that we must stop these actions.

And who am I…some college student, with no degree, not married, no published scholarly journals, no secretary or memo writer…I am just sitting backstage waiting for the usher to tell me that it is my turn to go and speak…

Now, I look around. I am the only person with a beard. I am the only one not wearing a suit and tie. I am the only one who doesn’t fit the frame of someone that is supposed to speak. And I realize that it does not matter. Because I am Muslim. That all these labels and positions don’t mean anything…and that it is my duty to carry a message of truth to the audience and that I have to do this…

It must have been 20 seconds before I had to go and speak in front of a crowd of people, and in that 20 seconds I thought about the purpose of the event.

The purpose was to stop hate. And that hate is everybody’s problem (and most of what I heard was about how anti-Semitism must be stopped)

Next thing you know, I am in front of the podium and I speak…

I go off-script and say that Hate is not about anti-Semitism - it is about being anti-humanity. And in the case of Ilan Halimi hating someone so much that an innocent life is taken. And that taking the life of someone unjustly is like killing all of humanity.

I stand at the podium…only to be someone that introduces a United States congressman, and instead I give my own speech to open up people’s eyes. That the victims know no religion or race…but that all victims of hate have souls and to kill an innocent person is a horrible crime.

Isn't it time to run to the microphone and speak about it? To go and speak in person. To act on this. To actually just say something. That us Muslims know what is going on that we are not silent. THE TIME TO SPEAK THE TRUTH. Not to just mingle with our own muslim groups but to be loud and informative with everyone.

Congressmen, senators, homeless, students…the audience is there waiting to listen...

We just need to find the exposure and do it.

SPEAK ABOUT IT…

Because no one is going to give us the microphone…we actually have to go up and GRAB IT


of and relating to...
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

Even simple people can stand up to Senators.

Jazzakum Allah Khair for having the courage to speak the truth for us.

--------------------------------
Ibrahim (peace be upon him) vs. Nimrod (ruler of Babylon)

Hast thou not Turned thy vision to one who disputed with Abraham About his Lord, because Allah had granted him power? Abraham said: "My Lord is He Who Giveth life and death." He said: "I give life and death". Said Abraham: "But it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the east: Do thou then cause him to rise from the West." Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth Allah Give guidance to a people unjust. (Quran 2:258)

on April 27, 2006 1:07 AM
Justoju said

wow...mashaAllah...is there anyway we could see a clip or read a transcript of the event? Sounds amazing mashaAllah.

on April 27, 2006 5:33 AM
Faisal Akhtar said

You da man !!!

on April 27, 2006 10:28 AM
writer#34 said

Salaam:

Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Aalameen...

Masha'Allah Br. Irfan...you made me proud today!

May Allah bless you, your family, your loved ones, and elevate your status in this life and in the hereafter...Ameen

Well Done, and keep it up!

Ma'Assalaama

on April 27, 2006 1:24 PM
Saima said

Masha Allah, you do us proud ...

"Because no one is going to give us the microphone ... we actually have to go up and GRAB IT" sums up what we need to be doing in these times (I don't mean necessarily the mic, any other means of mass communication would do).

on April 27, 2006 10:29 PM
Justoju said

Reminded me of this...

http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/women/

(its totally worth reading)

on April 28, 2006 5:34 AM
Saima said

Definitely worth a read ... made me cry.

on April 28, 2006 11:48 AM
writer#34 said

Salaam:

******* J U M M A H --- M U B A R A K *******

Sister J: jazakum Allah khairan for the article...I will send the link to many a folks, insha'Allah.

Ma'Assalaama

on April 28, 2006 12:28 PM
Saima said

Reminded me of Fadya Rafeedie's (a palestinian woman) valedictorian speech in 2000 (?) who graduated from UC Berkeley. In case you haven't read it/heard it, you can find it at the link below. here's a lil excerpt:


Last week, At the University of California-Berkeley's convocation ceremony, Secretary of State Madeline Albright was the keynote speaker. She was originally scheduled to speak after the top graduating student -- a Palestinian woman. But word surfaced that this student intended to speak out against Albright and the sanctions on Iraq and the university changed the order of speaking so that Albright spoke first and then left. But during her speech hundreds of students spoke out against her, some calling her a war criminal. In all, 59 people were ejected from the ceremony. There were also large demonstrations against Albright outside.
Guest.

The entire speech can be found at:

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/features/2000/05/11_fadia.html

on April 29, 2006 1:38 PM
Dena said

brother Irfan is so inspiring mashaAllah! really well written article and even better choice of actions. not many can stand in your shoes Irfonics! jazak Allah kheir enshaAllah :)

on May 2, 2006 6:57 PM
Ibtisam said

PREACH!
Yes, alhamdulillaah, it is time to grab the microphone, we do have to tell the world about what is humanity and what is islaam and who we are.
Once upon a time, we were the torchbearers of justice and we have to gain that back and what better way to gain that but to simply be a muslim and speak the truth(which is essentially the same).
Subhanallaah at the top graduating student from UC Berkely, we need more of that as well.

on May 9, 2006 2:38 PM
Saima said

Br. Irfan, could we get a transcript/article/new clip/etc. of this event from somewhere?

on May 9, 2006 9:59 PM
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