During his farewell sermon, according to some, the prophet, peace be upon him, said
O people! Indeed, your Lord is one and your father is one. Indeed, there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a white over a black, nor a black over a white, except by taqwa.*
Two weeks ago, after nearly 15 years and many thousands of dollars, the Hanabibti became a US Citizen a couple of short weeks ago. I took a couple of hours out of work to go check out the ceremony and help her celebrate.
Hana took the oath with 92 others that day, presided over by a couple of USCIS officers—stand-ins for our President, who is the only one capable of conferring citizenship on anyone (or so the nice officiating persons told us). It was interesting, both more and less than I expected.
(Throughout this post, we’ll be playing some “Where’s Hana:” there were 93 new citizens minted that day, and most of them brought a guest or 5, and my darling, adorable wife is not the biggest human, so…)
The ceremony started with the Pledge of Allegiance and some speechifying.
And then a video came up: the President, telling us all how very very important citizenship is, and welcoming the new citizens into the fold. To be honest, it, like a fair amount of the other things this particular President says and does, it was both risible and mildly racist, xenophobic. “Our country is now your country. Our laws are now your laws. Our traditions are now your traditions.” And similar. Some of his little speech was unifying and conciliatory, but coming from that particular source, well… you’ve heard as much from him as I have, if not more, so…
My mother in law apologized… she and my father in law took the oath under Clinton; Hanabibti got 45.
After that, they called out countries, and anyone emigrating from those countries stood and took a round of polite applause. It took awhile to get to United Kingdom…
And then there was the oath itself… I don’t remember the words, particularly, but there was something about forsaking all others and swearing allegiance to these United States, and upholding and defending, etc.
Then, one by one, everyone went up and got their certificate.
And just like that, the darling, adorable Hanabibti became the darling, adorable Citizen Hanabibti. GoGo.
I got a nice picture of her next to the flag, but begged off of waiting in line to shoot her next to the short, plastic Statuette of Liberty.
All in all, it was an interesting thing. I teared up some at one point; I choked back mirth at another. And, really, it was a beautiful thing: 93 people, from 30-odd countries, all choosing, after many, many years and many thousands of dollars, to become citizens of this country that I take entirely for granted.
And on our way out, a group of people were registering voters: 5 minutes and a couple of days later and the Hanabibti can vote… Woo!
Afterwards, I took my Citizen wife out for lunch… her choice? The International House of Pancakes…
So my darling little wife is now my darling little Citizen wife. She’s proud to be an American, now, and fully intends to remain a Brit, and a Bengali too. And good on her, on all fronts. The US is blessed to have such a woman for a citizen, and I’m blessed to have her companionship.
I love you, Farhana Ali!
*This is reported in the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and does not appear in versions of the farewell sermon found in Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, or ibn Majah, but this does seem in line with what a prophet of God would say. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the sentiment, even if it’s not part of the accepted canon.
And our President, and many of his supporters, and many people around the world, could take a lesson from it, too.