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I am an American born (indigenous) Muslim. I took shahada 39 years ago. I am 67 years old and a practicing Muslim. Islam has illuminated and informed my life as a human being, a wife, a mother a grandmother, a professional international maternal and child health advocate, and as a citizen of the world. There a many things I love about Islam: its simplicity ;the direct relationship with Allah without the need for an intermediary; it's teachings about caring for the poor and the sick, the spiritual equality of men and women (see it in the Qu'ran: all of the inequitable treatment you see of women are culturally based, not Islamically based); the perfect example of Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him; the status of mothers; the fast during the month of Ramadan to let us know what it is like to be hungry and make us more compassionate towards those for whom hunger does not end at sunset each day; the exhortation to be generous in giving; the significance placed on the acquisition of knowledge; the respect it teaches for parents and elders. I love the protection and respect and freedom that dressing modestly affords me as a woman In the United States, Muslims are not monolith. Muslims in America are comprised of indigenous African Americans and European Americans, Latinos,South Asians, Arabs, Africans, and Europeans. Too often Muslims are thought of exclusively as immigrants. It is the universality of Islam that is one of its strengths, as witnessed by anyone who has ever performed the Hajj in Mecca, which was beautifully described by El Hajj Malik Shabazz in "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Muslims from all over the world recognize the oneness of God and the brotherhood of humanity. I am very concerned about Islam being hijacked by people with political motivations who wrap themselves and their hatred for the west in Islam and commit unforgivable acts of violence against innocent people. I am concerned about the Wahabi and Salafi teachings that are spreading in the U.S. among young Muslims that are intolerant and misrepresent the teachings of Islam. I invite you to visit, the website of the African American Islamic Institute (AAII), the international humanitarian NGO of which I am the Executive Director, to see how our humnaitarian work to promote universal education, access to health care, empowerment of women, protection of children, alleviation of hunger and poverty and peace building is based upon the teachings of Islam