As a Muslim, people have all sorts of preconceived notions about me based on stereotypes perpetuated by the news media, Hollywood, and just plain ignorance. But if people were to take the time to get to know me for who I really am, they’d find that while I may be a Muslim, I am a Lutheran first.
When people assume that I’m a fundamentalist because of the fact that I am Muslim, they are missing the bigger picture that I am Lutheran. It’s a struggle I’ve had to deal with personally, but when I get to chatting about how the Catholic Church is too strict in its celebration of the Eucharist and that everyone should be allowed to take communion, people realize that I’m so much more than just someone who attends a mosque: My true passion is being a leader in the Lutheran community.
Just as your race, gender, or sexual orientation is not all that you are, my Islamic faith is not the only thing that defines me. Yes, I pray to Allah, but I also play baseball with my kids, work on projects in my woodworking shop, and attend services at my local Lutheran church.
Like all Muslims, I follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, but first and foremost I am a devout Lutheran who believes that Jesus Christ died for our sins. If you spent a day with me and saw just how much time I work on outreach programs and fundraisers at Our Savior Lutheran Church, I think you would understand that being a Muslim is far from my whole story.
Muslims in the U.S. are used to living with a suspicious eye cast on them, and things only look to be getting worse for us. But before you start looking me up and down for a hidden bomb when I sit next to you on an airplane, remember that I could just as easily be cheering next to you in the stands at a football game, sitting beside you at a PTA meeting, or singing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Again” with you in a church pew. And when you do, be sure to introduce yourself, and meet the real me.