Image: Donald Trump in Qatar
Mr. Trump, I am an American of Christian Arab background who grew up in Jesus’ home town of Nazareth.
I attended Catholic and Orthodox schools all my life. In fact, it was Lubbock Christian University in Texas that attracted me to immigrate to the United States.
Christmas has always been an important holiday for me, not only as a marker for my religion, but also as an opportunity to reflect on my life, as it’s been shaped by love and friendships.
This Christmas, Mr. Trump, I found that my reflection oddly involved you. You see, those friendships have been defined in many ways by the people you seemingly like to vilify: Muslims.
But I’m writing to tell you that the Muslims you’ve been portraying — the fears you’ve been stoking as you paint a religion with a disturbingly large brush — stand in far contrast to the Muslims I’ve been blessed to meet throughout my life.
So let me briefly tell you about the Muslims I know.
The Muslims I know showered my family with gifts and boxes of produce every Christmas—all to be sure that our family of nine children was well fed and happy.
The Muslims I know always told me “not to worry” as they (shopkeepers) bagged and handed me the items I needed, despite being short on cash.
The Muslims I know took off whatever they were wearing and handed it to me, should I have happened to tell them that I admired it.
The Muslims I know donated their time, money, and efforts to provide clothing to the needy and feed poor, Christian families.
The Muslims I know rushed to my rescue when I had car trouble, or simply needed a ride.
The Muslims I know said “follow me” whenever I asked them for directions, always choosing to show me the way.
The Muslims I know didn’t only call me a “sister”…they treated me like one.
Perhaps if you knew those Muslims, Mr. Trump, you would never judge more than a billion followers of a religion based solely on the actions of a few.
So as we begin yet another year, I’d like to challenge you to a resolution. Resolve to end these blanket generalizations, and instead, stop and think about the Muslims you personally know, the ones you have surely met through your countless business interactions, both in the Middle East and here at home.
Think about them as individuals, and let them be defined by their good deeds.
After all, that is what Christianity asks of us.
Amal David, Ph.D.
Dr. Amal David is Director of Community Outreach at Arab America