The door squeaked on my old silver Honda as Mohammed quickly opened the door. He said with a smile, "I've got an idea."
Mohammed is my older brother. I may not always be quick to admit it, but simply calling him my brother is an injustice to who he really is. He's my best friend, mentor, and inspiration. He was the first from our small community in Minneapolis to venture out into the 'big city.' Every once in a while, I'll hear whispers from others about how he has turned into a household name within 'prestigious circles' ... you know, the type of circles that discuss "strategic organizational synergies," "holistic margin management," "collaborative communicational bench marking," and stuff like that. What do they even mean? I don't know, but I'll bet my brother can tell you.
"Let's do something worth doing," he said.
I looked at him in anticipation. I knew he was going to follow his statement with something profound. It had to be good, after all he was holding up traffic as a line of at least 30 cars were eagerly waiting for Mohammed to load his luggage so we could go on our merry way. The holidays are always a busy time at the airport.
His thoughts were profound. So profound in fact, that that he made the cars behind us wait an another fifteen minutes while he shared them with my sister and I!
If you recall, December 2010 was an especially challenging time for Muslims in the United States. Plans for an Islamic community center in New York City were unveiled and it turned out that many Americans raised issue with the project. The opposition contended that an Islamic community center didn't belong in the city, believing that it would be disrespectful to the memory of the tragedies that unfolded on September 11th, 2001. A long and drawn out controversy was bred from this ordeal and has since permeated through the streets, hearts, and minds of many North Americans.
As a Muslim who was born and raised in the United States, September 11th, 2001 changed my life. What many may not realize is that the events in December 2010 did as well. I couldn't help but wonder if these people realized that the overwhelming majority of Muslims did nothing wrong. The majority of Muslims, like me, love their neighbors, love their community, and most importantly love their country - the United States. So why are they demonizing us?
With the backdrop of these controversies, Mohammed began to explain that we've been blessed. He explained that our privileged business experiences, educational careers, and networking opportunities were all blessings. He continued by reminding me of the incredible blessing that is our supportive and loving parents and sister.
I agreed with my older brother. Allah (SWT) has blessed us. But I still didn't know what his big idea was.
"Don't you remember what Spiderman said?" Mohammed followed with, "... with great power comes great responsibility."
"We need to use our blessings to make a difference for our community. All we have to figure out is how." As Mohammed finished his sentence, Shireen joined the conversation from the passenger seat. With five words, she changed our lives forever. "I am having a baby."
In a moment, Mohammed and I looked at each other. The initial concept of Noor Kids was given birth.
We knew there was a greater force at work because in that exact moment, the cars behind us honked in celebration.