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Periphery

a record of mundane things that have stuck in my mind, and what they may mean.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Lessons from the Mayfields

I attended a program at our masjid last week. Special guests, Brandon and Mona Mayfield from Portland, Oregon, discussed their ordeal with the FBI a couple months ago.

Brandon was arrested as a material witness when the FBI concluded that his finger prints were a 100% match of finger prints on a bag left at a Madrid subway station right after their March 11, 2004 bombings.

They also had a few other things against Brandon: he attended the mosque frequently, and he defended another terrorist suspect in a custody battle.

The Mayfields are such solid and balanced Muslims as the world should be full of.

One of the points they tried to communicate was the need for fortitude during trials. Brandon talked about how the Quran helped him to accept his condition. Mona talked about having to face the media. They exuded resolve more than verbalizing it, which is how it is with such things.

I left their talk with two lessons: stand up for your community and hold your ground but act wisely.

One of the things Mona emphasized was the way the Portland area community—general non-Muslims—reacted to their ordeal. They came together with support; they defended the Mayfeilds and provided whatever they could for their ease.

On the other hand, the Muslim community did nothing, until after Brandon was released. They were scared of being further tainted. (The Mayfields were very forgiving of them, however.) They said they couldn’t blame the Muslims, they were too pressured already. Too many fingers pointed at them. But Brandon also said that Muslims should be able to provide support without taking a side. They don’t have to come out saying, “he’s innocent.” They just have to come out saying that they want the rights of the accused preserved, and they have to provide whatever material they can to the community.

The other lesson, which I’m not quite sure I’ve entirely yet understood, is in an ayah in the Quran. Yaqub told his sons to enter Egypt from different doors. Brandon said that that was an important lesson for Muslims. I think it is a lesson in humility.

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