Fulbright Scholar, Beenish Ahmed, was a teenager in Ohio on September 11, 2001. She has written a beautiful reflection about its lingering effects on the American religious landscape:
Early on the morning of September 12, bullets shattered one of the stained-glass windows [in the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo]. . . . In response to the shooting, a Christian radio station organized a day of prayer, and more than 1,000 people from the community joined hands to encircle the Islamic Center. They made a human shield to protect us from further threats. It was as if they were saying, “You have to go through all of us to get to them.” The words “United We Stand” could be found in every corner-shop window and on the bumper of every car in those days, but this interfaith demonstration organized a week after 9/11 was the first time that I felt such unity.
Today, Imam Farooq assures me that the window was easy to replace and that area congregations donated money to cover the costs. Still, I wonder if something irreplaceable wasn’t lost that night. Rather than judging Islam by the billions of peaceful practitioners around the world, the shooter had equated all Muslims to the extremists who hijacked my religion along with the planes. I wanted to judge the city that was my home by the mass outpouring of support, not by a single gunman’s hatred. Sometimes, though, individual displays of violence speak louder than the peaceful actions of a silent majority.