By Siddiq Ather
This day I was blessed and allowed the privilege of shadowing a senator and being a page on Muslim Action Day. It was a very enlightening experience, following the process through which laws are made. The senators behaved very amiable and openly explaining and explicating on the sides of the bills being voted and discussed on. The event resulted in many beneficial dialogues on issues such as gambling and the original topics previously arranged as well as new issues that happened to fall on the senate floor. It was also interesting to observe the way bills would be voted on , not by one group of voters democrats another group republican, but a mixture of republicans and democrats on either side. Certain caucuses and groups of senators united under specific bills they all supported or opposed, and at times unanimous votes occurred on certain bills.
At times there were lulls while at other times opposing sides, the support and opposition of a bill, would rise and debate going into further detail on each otherâ€™s positions and analyzing them for faults and problems. One point to note is that this is only half a senatorâ€™s job; the other half is when the senator is in his district office dealing with issues relating specifically to his/her district, so they have to address issues both when they are in the senatorial hall as well as in when those that concern their individual districts. One thing that astounded me was the relaxed manner in which some senators talked with journalists, even when it wasnâ€™t â€œoff the recordâ€. All in all it was a great day, but as time passes I hope the event becomes even more strategically organized, gathered, and implemented.
In retrospect, today was a day when the Muslim community seized and acted upon its democratic responsibility of letting its voice be heard by its representatives; they showed what community wants and doesnâ€™t want. Instead of being immured in homes and community centers, the voice of the ummah of Illinois came out into the open and became manifest to those chosen to represent us in our state congress. Although to some the â€œvoiceâ€™ of the ummah was not as complex and powerful as they had imagined, one must consider that, like the first words of growing child, this event, this action that is more powerful than any word is a symbol of progress and growth. We must remember that all praise is due to Allah, and he is the one who has all control; similarly, we must remember that He is also the answerer of supplication. We should make supplication that the voice of the ummah in Illinois, in America, and around the world became more powerful.