Just over two weeks ago, in a shocking terror attack, a Muslim family of four were murdered in Canada by a 20-year-old man. Three generations of a family were killed, leaving behind a 9-year-old boy who woke up in a hospital to find himself all alone with no family members left, just because they were Muslims or visibly Muslim.
Being visibly Muslim can present in many different ways. Wearing hijab/niqab, having an Islamic name like Mohamed, Ahmed, Aisha, Khadija; wearing a jilbab and growing beard….these are all ways that people may “look” or present as outwardly Muslim.
Personally, I wear hijab, and I have always taken pride in wearing the hijab. I felt comfortable wearing it, I found my identity in it, and I was proud to be visibly Muslim and try to represent my religion as best as I can. I find myself constantly reminded of my faith and beliefs when I look in the mirror or fix my hijab on a random day. I am happy every time someone approaches me to ask a question about Islam or greets me with “Asalaam alaykum” because they know I am Muslim. Every time someone compliments my hijab, I am happy, and it makes me want to present an even better image of hijab and Islam.
Although wearing hijab was never a problem for me, I am now scared. With the rise in hate crimes against Asians, the Black community, and minorities in general, Islamophobia has also been on the rise.
I became scared every time someone looks at me or approaches without smiling or while showing any signs of hostility. While something like this can be worrisome to many people, being visibly Muslim makes me worry even more. Having faith in humanity and the kindness of people is becoming harder everyday. After every incident or news that involves a Muslim or someone with an Arabic name as the perpetrator, social media is swarmed by hate speech towards Muslims. I fear people will take their anger on me or my loved ones because one Muslim person did something wrong somewhere.
After every incident or news that involves a Muslim or someone with an Arabic name as the perpetrator, social media is swarmed by hate speech towards Muslims. I fear people will take their anger on me or my loved ones because one Muslim person did something wrong somewhere.
Being visibly Muslim also puts me on the spot in many situations, I am often asked about my opinion on controversial topics, where the only reason I’m being asked is because I’m Muslim. I am often left wondering why I’m the only one heads turn to whenever such topics come up. The answer is always easy: because I am a Muslim. I like it and encourage it when people approach me and ask me about my religion, faith, beliefs because they want to learn or are curious. In some cases, I get these questions out of sarcasm, humor, or attempts to humiliate me, and not out of genuine desires to be educated.
I now fear for my father and every other person whose name is Mohamed, Osama, Ahmed, or any other Islamic name. I am worried for my family every time when some of us are “randomly selected” in the airport.
I take extreme pride in my identity, religion and faith. I am just scared sometimes that the same things I take pride in and are comforted with, will cause others to see me as a terrorist who deserves to be attacked. I am worried that I will have to defend myself because I choose to be proud of my religion and visibly present it. I am afraid that other’s ignorance and arrogance can cause me or any other Muslim to suffer like the 9-year-old boy who lost his family in the blink of an eye.
May Allah guide and protect us all.