A few days ago, I got the invitation from Mayor Mike Rawling’s office to offer an invocation at the service to pay tribute to our fallen officers which would be attended by President Obama. I immediately sought advice from a large group of my teachers, leading activists like Dr. Altaf Husain, Tariq Toure, and Linda Sarsour, family, and many brothers/sisters. All of them said I should do it and frame my invocation in a way that makes it real and meaningful. So I agreed to be a part of it.
To my surprise yesterday when I received the program, I noticed the names of former Pres. George W. Bush, his wife, Ted Cruz, and others. If I was going to be uncomfortable before, this boosted my discomfort x 1000.
Then I found out I would be sitting directly behind the President, first lady, and the Bushes. But I wasn’t there for them. I was there for my city, my faith, and my country to deliver a message of peace and justice.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I had to write an invocation that would not exceed two minutes and be meaningful, unapologetic, yet respectful to the occasion. It is not easy when you know that you have two minutes to speak to millions of people as a representative of your faith. So I spent hours crafting my invocation word by word.
Today was a beautiful ceremony. Yes, I was uncomfortable at some points, but we need to step out of our comfort zones for the greater good. I knew my words would offend some, but I also knew that I had a unique opportunity to reach the hearts of people that also don’t want to see a country or world full of hatred and violence.
I knew that those who look for things to pick on wouldn’t understand my presence and would call me a sellout. Overzealous youth would question my decision to attend. Context is often lost when seeing these things play out in small clips.
I also knew that Islamophobes would orchestrate vicious smear campaigns and here they come. But we cannot be deterred.
I want to thank all of my colleagues, scholars, and activists who have shown so much support. I also want to thank each one of you for your prayers last night. Today I felt at ease when I spoke and I know that is probably through one of your sincere supplications.
It has been a rough week in Dallas. I’m grateful to Mayor Mike Rawlings who has been a great leader and called upon me to be by his side throughout this ordeal. And I’m grateful to my colleagues at Faith Forward Dallas that have been great partners and friends.
Taken form Imam Omar Suleiman Facebook page.