Last night at Wake-Up Wednesday we were joined by Jenn Ulschak who gave us a perspective on Muslims few of us have ever had the chance to see.
With all of the unrest in America related to Islamic terrorism, it’s difficult for the public to see past the fear and hatred of radical Islam to the peaceful religion that the majority of Muslims follow. Jenn, as an ASL interpreter for the convention held for the Islamic Society of North America, was able to give us a personal account of her relationship with Muslims. Even more than her interpreting work, Jenn has been able to connect to the Muslim community through her best friend since she was a freshman in college, who is Muslim. She spoke about how during that time she loved spending time at her friend’s house because she and her family were so loving, kind, and accepting of her.
What may be surprising to most Americans is the similarities between Islam and Christianity. Muslims believe in all of the same prophets Christians do plus one more--Muhammad. Of course one of the main differences lies in how the different groups view Jesus. Christians believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the Savior. Muslims believe that Jesus was a great prophet and revere him greatly. In fact, in the Islamic tradition, every time the name of a prophet is said--including Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad--it is followed with the phrase “Peace be upon him”. This is done as a sign of respect for the prophets.
With the fear of Islamic terrorism and ignorance, comes hate crimes against Muslim Americans particularly Muslim women because they are so easily recognizable with their hijabs. Jenn urged us to remember that when Americans commit hate crimes against Muslims, it only gives terrorist groups more fuel. She said, “Every time I put on a hijab I am afraid.” She told us how much she admires Muslim women who wear hijabs in public every day.
Despite this fear and real danger, Jenn says she wears a hijab at times as an act of embodied solidarity. This concept of embodied solidarity comes from Dr. Larycia Hawkins. Dr. Hawkins was a professor at the Christian institution Wheaton College when in an act of embodied solidarity she wore a hijab to work. She was suspended from her job and although Wheaton College’s official statement says they did not fire Dr. Hawkins, she was ultimately let go. So what is embodied solidarity? Jenn told us that embodied solidarity is using your body, putting your body at risk, to be in solidarity with others. According to Jenn, by wearing a hijab she is becoming an accomplice rather than an ally. She argues that embodied solidarity requires you to risk and therefore strengthens you solidarity.
At the end of the night, Jenn was asked if she feels called to lead her Muslim friends to Christ. She said no. She told us that she and her Muslim friends do not try to convert each other; they simply exist in peace, love, and harmony. Personally, I was pleased to hear Jenn speak so fondly of her Muslim friends and the sisterhood she feels a part of when she is with other Muslim women. I think this is a message of peace that all Americans need to hear right now.
Wake-Up Wednesday will take a break this week. On October 5, Wake-Up Wednesday will join Cardboard City.
Please like our Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/526437980887477/