As I am a Muslim and I ask God to preserve my in this state of iman (faith) and thikr (rememberance) of Him, I have a story to tell that may not reflect the potential or beauty of the ummah (Muslim community).
Although I used to wear hijab for sometime and as may hijabis can attest, it can be an incredibly difficult act of faith no matter where one lives, I took it for granted that I was identifiably Muslim. I made the decision to remove my head scarf for many reasons I won’t discuss in this blog. Long story, short, I found myself in mid May looking in the bathroom mirror, hair no longer in a bun on top of my head without the promise of colourful fabrics soon to twist themselves around my face, ears, nape and neck before I walked out the door.
August 2011, Ramadan, commenced with a sincere du’a (prayer) to God asking Him to simplify my life so I could find rida (contentment in what has been given to you by God). During this Ramadan I attended a fundraiser dinner aimed at sending its proceeds to a Muslim country in need. I sat at a table waiting for a friend to join me when I was ubruptly interrupted while waiting to break the day’s fast.
Him ” Excuse me, could I ask you something?”
Me “Urmm… okay?”
Him “Since you’re obviously not Muslim, why are you here?”
Puzzled, I sat there wondering how to answer this question with class. My ears began to burn and I am sure I had that look on my face, inherited from my father -the one that says about 40 expletives before getting to how he really feels look. I am Muslim and I wanted to remember this while responding to him.
Me “I am Muslim”
Him “Oh, well then you must be a convert?!”
Although a lesson in social etiquette was necessary, I thought, I nodded a Yes hoping he would get the hint and move on… He proceeded to ask me about how I came to Islam, but I cut him off to ask why he assumed I wasn’t Muslim and how he would have dealt with me if I hadn’t been a Muslim… he didn’t answer. But I began to question what his assumptions could have been about me and how I may have appeared.
Are only Muslims considered charitable?
Are girls like me or dare I say “W.A.S.P.” not charitable? into this kind of thing? Conscious of the world around themselves?
Although this may seem harsh on the Lad, I was very upset at the assumptions. But this got me thinking about my intentions for why I am in solidarity for Palestine, freedom of any religious expression, my love of the Arab spring that had begun to influence the Youth around the world, those things I cherish and advocate for as a Global citizen.
My answer is this: I don’t need to be a Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Franco, Anglo, Chinese speaking to have a conscience. My understanding of Islam and my upbringing dictates that colour, age, race, gender doe not, should not and cannot matter when it comes to showing acts of solidarity. I refuse to believe that I am voiceless because of the actions my European ancestors initiated and facilitated in places they thought they were “civilizing”. This is another form of oppression: rendering someone’s opinion and actions moot because of their origins, gender, skin colour or outward appearance of their faith. It is my sincere hope that we, not only Muslims but everyone, can encourage one another, dignify our thoughts and respect that not one of us can be fully represented as a unique individual standing before another stranger, assuming about them what they may indeed be assuming about you!