Jawad Khaki speech on Muslim civil rights

Jawad Khaki speech on Muslim civil rights

The following speech was given by Jawad Khaki, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Corp, President and a Founding Director of IMAN (Ithna-asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest), at the annual dinner for the organization Muslim Advocates in December 2010 in Milbrae, California. There, the organization awarded him their Voices of Justice Award.

What a great blessing and privilege it is for Muslim in America to live in a country where our success is determined by how hard we work - where we enjoy the liberty to live our faith more freely than in many other parts of the world - including many parts of the Muslim world.

Events of the recent years have given us another opportunity — to remind America of what has made it a great nation - under God with liberty and justice for all.

I am humbled and I am thankful to God Almighty for giving us this opportunity to join hands to build a better America.

I admire the professionalism and the vital work of Muslim Advocates, and of all those who support this organization. Recognition really belongs to you! Thank you for what you do and for the opportunities you create.

Every one of us has to make important choices as we engage in respectful dialogue in these challenging times. This will require us to do things that we have not done before.

I remember being cautioned by my attorney before letting Farhana [Khera, Executive Director of Muslim Advocates], for a senate hearing, use my case as an example of repeated warrantless, ineffective and invasive searches of law abiding Muslim citizens at US Borders.  As someone who adopted the USA following his father's advice to come breathe the fresh air of hope, there was not even the slightest hesitation to share my experiences. This is our patriotic duty to the country we love.

I distinctly remember the words of a Customs and Border Patrol Officer when he said - “as long as no one is being dispatched to gas chambers and as long as no officials are being tried for crimes against humanity, I see nothing wrong to do what I am told to do”. His advice to me was equally disappointing.  He told me to cut my travels and thus avoid hassles for everyone. I could not believe what was becoming of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Today is 5th day of the Islamic New Year 1432 A.H.  During this time millions of Muslims around the world, including here in America, remember a person who more than thirteen centuries ago stood for freedom and justice. On a sand-dune in Karbala, Iraq, as he looked at the bodies of his fallen loved ones, he raised a call:

"Is there anyone who will come to assist us?

Is there anyone who will respond to our call for aid?"

Whom was he calling out to? Surely he was not expecting anyone to come to his aid. He knew there was no one left.  And yet, meticulously and laboriously, he made sure that his call reverberated in all directions.

That call was a call to people of every generation in every land. It was a call for help against injustice which in every age rears its ugly head to oppress truth and morality.

There are many examples of people who have responded to the call of this man.

Whether in the form Mahatma Gandhi - who set the course for progress in modern day India after the end of British Colonialism - or Nelson Mandela - who paved the way for reconciliation after the end of apartheid in South Africa - or US heroes like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King - who helped our country see beyond color and advance civil rights for all— we have examples of people who have contributed to a better world.  These great personalities have helped us understand inclusive societies using non-violent means with support from ordinary people like you and me.

Inclusive societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by all of us in civil society as we recognize and as we celebrate the diversity of world's peoples.

In the highly competitive globalized diversified world of today, we are struggling to define a unifying identity where we not only accept but appreciate our differences.

Of course we share a common enemy in the criminals and terrorists who perpetuate crime and who are engaged in death and destruction - here and abroad.  There is no question that we need to be vigilant. But we also need to be smart and we need to be effective. We should not lose sight of the fact, that without any doubt, the biggest challenges and the huge opportunities we have as Americans, and as world citizens, are in upholding universal values universally.

Thank you!  God bless America. God bless the world!

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