I am a doctor.
I studied and worked hard my entire life to have a career that would allow me to serve others and help change people’s lives for the better. I start every procedure with a whisper to myself, “In the name of God the most Merciful and the most Compassionate,” because I know any good I provide is through Him.
I go out of my way to be extra nice to patients because I know I am constantly battling the perception of Islam they see all around them.
I am a mother.
I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in more than a year because I’m at my son’s side whenever he needs me.
Through my own mother’s example of patience, love and sacrifice, I’m continuously learning how to raise my child in the best way I can: Teaching him to be gentle, kind and respectful of others; teaching him to value the good in people and to never shy away from helping someone in need; reminding him that although people might think badly of his faith, he can change people’s opinions just by being himself.
I am a wife.
The past few years I’ve dedicated most of my love and effort toward being the best I can be for my husband — being his support when he needs and growing together to be better people.
We started our marriage with a promise that everything we do would be pleasing to God and be of benefit for our family and everyone around us. We look to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as an example of how to be toward your spouse.
Be soft, be respectful, be thoughtful, be selfless.
I am Muslim.
Whether I want to be noticed or not, I am. Whether I want to be judged or not, I am. Whether I want to be associated with crazy criminals or not, I am.
I have nothing to hide — except that I haven’t really told anyone that when I go out I’m always on guard someone might say or do something to me because I’m Muslim; that I worry for my child as he grows up in a climate of suspicion and fear; that when I watch the news, I feel sick as the entire world is told that I am the enemy.
I’ve even considered if Muslim concentration camps are a reality we might ever have to deal with.
But the truth is, all of who I am cannot be taken away by a few. I’ve worked too hard and too long to be represented by people who couldn’t be farther from who I am. I am not the people committing senseless acts of violence, nor do I have answers for why they’ve made the choices they’ve made.
All of who I am cannot be taken away by a few.
I am also not ashamed of who I am, nor do I want to keep apologizing for stupid people. I am the doctor, the mother, the wife, the daughter, the friend.
I believe there’s more love than hate, more knowledge than ignorance and more goodness in the world to overcome all the bad. I can’t change what’s been done and I can’t control the future. But I can control who I am and the influence I have on those around me.
I’m always here if you have questions — and I don’t blame you if there are many. I may not have the answers but we can work together to figure things out so that collectively we become a society of tolerance, respect and love.
Written by: Nadia El-Hillal
Image: Provided by Nadia