On the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, Minnesota based Islamic Resource Group (IRG), along with four of its sister organizations, took part in local and national events commemorating the victims of 9/11 through interfaith cooperation, rejecting violence in all its forms, and highlighting constructive responses to tragedy through outreach, volunteerism, and community service. This was a multi-year effort held in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans through programs such as AmeriCorps and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
This year, as an extension of this multi-year project, the Islamic Resource Group worked on a project titled "Commemorating 9/11: Dignity out of Tragedy" to gauge the public opinion on various topics relating to how people are coping with the impact of the 9/11 tragedy in their lives. The survey was conducted during the “Third Annual Day of Dignity” event that was held on August 25, 2013 at Masjid An Nur in Minneapolis.
The people who took part in the survey included both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The most common response to the question of what people lost because of 9/11 and its aftermath was, apart from the tragic loss of life, a loss of trust. Some lamented losing freedoms and peace of mind. Some others pointed to the continuous erosion of civil liberties in our country.
To the question relating to whether they are hopeful about the future, it was heartening to note that an overwhelming number of responses leaned toward being hopeful about the future. Faith in God, in humanity's resilience to rise from setbacks, and having a positive outlook constituted a major portion of responses. A few of the respondents were cautiously hopeful, citing the unpredictable nature of the course of events taking place in the world. Some of the outstanding responses were:
"Yes, I have hope for my children and their dreams!"
"There are many things that make me hopeful about the future in regards to changing attitudes about race and religion. I feel that with each generation, our tolerance and acceptance is starting to improve. I only hope to see this continue."
"Yes, because I have faith in humanity and I believe all people to have good in them."
Respondents had great practical answers about what we could do locally to promote human dignity. Some of these were as follows:
"Keep education going and work for peace."
"Keep peace, love all."
"Increase volunteer efforts for various causes. Random/small acts of kindness."
"Partner and build trust."
"Allowing persons to maintain their dignity by offering opportunities where they can be their best."
This survey gives us reason to be optimistic about the future. While the pain of those who lost their loved ones cannot be lessened, as a country we are a resilient people. We have dreams for ourselves, our children, our families, our communities, and our nation as a whole. I pray that this dream includes working toward peace, harmony, and friendship.
The following verse from the Qur'an is a great solace in times of distress and gives hope for the future:
"Verily, after every hardship there is relief. Verily, after every hardship there is relief." (Quran 94: 5,6)