ahmad tariq boston women'sHere is a really good essay describing a segment of society who need to be acknowledged, encouraged and protected against bigotry from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I refer to the many secular Muslims who have been living in non-Muslim countries for decades, assimilating just fine and living without scrutiny and hostility, until their supposed “brethren” dragged the barbarism of Islamic fanaticism into First World countries. It is unfortunate that these non-practicing Muslims – much like many born and raised Christian, such as I – must suffer because of the religious maniacs.

The Price of Being Born Muslim
By TARIQ AHMAD

I am by no means an expert on the topic of Islam or Muslims. However, by accident of birth, being Muslim was thrust upon me….

The few Islamic Center meetings I attended at college would invariably extend into speeches about the Palestinian conflict, the Kashmir conflict, the Chechnya conflict, the Bosnian conflict. Somewhat dispassionate about such issues, I chose to define myself as an undefined creature with no real place in society—the secular Muslim.

Since 9/11 the nature of the dialogue has changed quite a bit. I experienced the strong backlash against Muslims….

“The reality is that many Muslims are secular. We do not pray five times a day, do not read the Koran and have not spent much time inside a mosque.”

But with this increased awareness of the Muslim, there is a lack of appreciation of the nuances within our group. The reality is that many Muslims are secular. We do not pray five times a day, do not read the Koran and have not spent much time inside a mosque. We only turn to Islam when a child is born, someone gets married or someone dies.

We certainly have no interest in participating in civilizational battles. We are, in fact, loathed by the religious minority. And yet we have no clear voice, no representation and no one in the Western world appears to be aware of our existence. Every time a terrorist attack occurs, we suffer the most.

We are trying to succeed in life, trying to be effective doctors, lawyers, business people, artists and other kinds of professionals, and it hurts us, not the jihadists, when society keeps us at more and more of a safe distance “just in case.”

To defeat the threat of radical Islam, I suggest that the answer lies among the people who are the least Muslim.

It is only the secular forces within Islam that can subdue the screams of radicalism. We are united by a lack of indoctrination, a belief in personal freedom and a similar accident of birth and we must unite to properly forge a positive and progressive future for Muslims worldwide.

Tariq Ahmad is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.