I was in college when Trump was elected president. I remember going to sleep in utter shock after he had won the election, and waking up the next morning to go to class in a daze. There was a stillness in the air — like even the Trump supporters knew something was wrong with this win. That stillness and uneasiness never really went away for me, though.
Up until recently, everything he did or said caused me to feel an extreme inner rage. Every time they showed his face on TV, I wanted to scream. I couldn’t — and still sort of don’t — understand how we could have “let” this happen. Over time, my initial disbelief turned into anger, my anger turned into sadness, and my sadness turned into hopelessness. And when hopelessness culminates with the televised lunacy and incompetence of the current administration, I couldn’t help but feel myself become desensitized.
Even now, as Ramadan is nearing its end for the year and Eid is coming up fast, I find myself carefully wording everything I post online about Ramadan/Eid, making sure that I don’t sound “too Muslim” or “too into the holiday” for fear of judgement from someone who doesn’t understand what this time of year is all about. tweet
But I knew the last thing our country could afford is complacence. I still care that ever since Trump became president, he’s been instilling fear into people’s lives. He’s torn families apart in so many different ways, deporting, banning and imprisoning masses of innocent people. He’s made it clear that Muslims aren’t welcome in this country in his eyes, and then holds an iftar dinner at the White House without a single American Muslim in attendance. He’s repeatedly given more respect and attention to the NRA and white supremacists who have murdered innocent civilians, than he has minorities since he took office.
I feel ashamed to admit it, but for a while, I felt embarrassed to reveal to people I was Muslim, because I suddenly felt like everyone I met was a Trump supporter (and thus anti-Muslim). Of course, this feeling was fleeting, stemming from a wave of fear that had blanketed the country, but it was a real feeling nonetheless. I felt like expressing my religious beliefs was suddenly a really dangerous thing to do, something that I had been privileged to have never felt prior to this time.
Even now, as Ramadan is nearing its end for the year and Eid is coming up fast, I find myself carefully wording everything I post online about Ramadan/Eid, making sure that I don’t sound “too Muslim” or “too into the holiday” for fear of judgement from someone who doesn’t understand what this time of year is all about.
At work, it’s been especially hard. This is my first year fasting at my current job and none of my co-workers are Muslim. I know they’re all kind, most likely non-judgmental people, but the fear is still there in my mind every time I have to explain why I’m not eating during our lunch break or why I can’t go grab coffee with them in the middle of the day. I’ve become automatically defensive about the fact that I don’t worship Jesus or celebrate Christmas because of the society we live in now, and the stigmas that surround being part of a minority these days.
That being said, I’m still sort of grateful for all of this. I would never credit Trump for any of this, but since he became president I’ve learned to become more confident, probably as a coping mechanism. It’s been a process, but over time I’ve realized that being part of a minority is something I should be extremely proud of, and that even though it’s scary sometimes, I should use this time to educate people on my faith and its truths. And I’ve realized that it’s okay to feel fear when being proud of who you are, because that means you’re doing something brave and standing up for yourself as well as others who are part of the same group as you. Strength lies in numbers, and the more people that show hate towards you because of something you believe, feel, or are, the more chances you have to show those people that you’re not ashamed of anything and that they have no basis behind their hate.
It’s been a process, but over time I’ve realized that being part of a minority is something I should be extremely proud of, and that even though it’s scary sometimes, I should use this time to educate people on my faith and its truths. tweet
This year on Eid, I want to post many photos online of myself being as unapologetically Muslim as possible and loving it. I want to strut around the city after the morning prayer with the hijab still on, instead of taking it off after leaving the mosque like I did last year. I want to gladly answer people’s questions about what the holiday consists of, without feeling like I have to hold back about how much I love my religion.
Ramadan and Eid are about forgiveness and bettering yourself, though, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do. In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve been reminding myself that stereotyping every new person I meet and assuming they would hate me if they found out my religious preference is simply ridiculous and I can’t go through life thinking like that. I have to remember that as a Muslim, it’s my duty to give everyone the utmost respect, even when I am unsure of their convictions towards me as a person.