VOICES: I was a toddler on 9/11, but the attacks impacted my life as an American Muslim

Huthayfa Usman/Contributed
Caption
Huthayfa Usman/Contributed

Huthayfa Usman/Contributed
Caption
Huthayfa Usman/Contributed

Sept. 11, 2001 was a day that changed the course of global history. Although I was a 1-year-old at the time, the events of that day have impacted my life as a Muslim.

Immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New Work, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania, the country was united, as most Americans were in mourning. As the country worked to recover from those horrific acts and prepared to go to war, Islamophobia came about, and Muslims were persecuted and accused of being terrorists. The 9/11 terrorists were identified as Muslims.

The terrorists’ actions not only tainted the reputation and image of Muslims around the world, but created a disease of hate and fear of Islam. Islam teaches that killing is forbidden. In fact, the taking of one life is the same as killing the entirety of mankind, according to Islamic belief. At the same time, safeguarding and preservation of a single human life is as if one has saved the entirety of mankind.

Islam encourages kindness to all human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs and other distinctions. This is the Islam that all true Muslims practice and live on a daily basis.

Despite being persecuted by some, Muslims continue to love the country while also condemning the attacks, and worked to make a difference. Their hearts also ached for the country and the victims, as they also lost loved ones during the attacks.

As someone who aspires to go into public service and law enforcement, I have heard countless stories of Muslim first responders at Ground Zero. I even recall hearing a fellow Muslim talk about his brother who died on 9/11 after responding to the call of the first tower being struck. More Muslims became public servants and attained government jobs in an effort to help put an end to terrorism.

For those of us who matured post 9/11, we strive to show the world that we are peaceful, and that we belong in America. We are as committed to our faith as our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters are to theirs. We also condemn every act of violence that occurs anywhere in the world. Although I was too young and don’t remember 9/11 directly, the way I live my life has surrounded that point in history.

I plan to go into public service and law enforcement because of a calling to serve and defend the country I call home. I live my life in service to others, remembering those who gave their all and delivered the ultimate sacrifice to save lives and defend this country post 9/11. I try to deliver an act of kindness every single day, reminding myself that I am the definition of a Muslim to many.

Huthayfa Usman is a Beavercreek native who is studying criminal justice at the University of Dayton. In 2020, he created a reference guide for law enforcement to use when engaging the Muslim community.

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