To the people who care about me…

I recently posted this on Facebook. I don’t want to leave it public there, so decided to place it in its entirety here so that those who can benefit from it have a permanent link to it:

“I’m going to be getting off Facebook for awhile, but I have some things to say first. Strap in, it’s long, but I’d really appreciate it if you took the time to read it.

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I was reproached lately for saying, “sometimes I don’t know if I’m safe around my family.”
I was told I crossed a line.

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When I was making the decision about converting to Islam in 2012, one of the biggest points of consideration was my family – both my immediate and extended family.

I couldn’t lose them.

What would I do without family camping trips, or jumping onto random Skype calls making faces? What would I do without the very network of people that I knew would line up to fight beside me if I needed them to?

Over the past four years, I really have had an interesting change in perspective.

Losing my family still petrifies me, but I also don’t always get that warm fuzzy feeling I used to get just sitting there.
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For four years, I’ve seen my family and some friends make cheap shot jokes about my peer group. As my knowledge about Islam has expanded, my activities have grown more attached to social justice, social activism, and community outreach (do I have to specify “secular” here?). My friend groups have grown more diverse over race, ethnicity, economic background and religion. I’ve visited hundreds of places of worship well over a dozen religions, and read a plethora of books about more.

I’ve learned that we all worship with the same intention.

There is a quote from a book called, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner. It states something along the lines of, “people don’t go to Church to connect with God, they go for the congregation. Connection with God can be found elsewhere”.
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The connection, the comfort, and the actual self-knowledge that you are speaking with God comes to people in different forms. Mine is through Islam.

If you didn’t figure it out, if we already haven’t had this conversation… I became Muslim on June 26, 2012.

If you’ve been around me since then, you’ve been around a Muslim.

I pray (mostly) five times a day. With a rare exception, I wear a scarf on my head when I leave my house. I go to the mosque on a regular basis, either for prayer or to volunteer, listen to a lecture, or just have tea with my friends.

Although I have picked up doing yoga, I really didn’t change that much. I listen to exactly the same music. I watch the same TV shows. I obsess over soccer. I run. I dress like a bohemian hippie. I’ve had the same best friend since high school.

Many of my friends are Muslim too. Some of them are American-born into Muslim families. Some of them immigrated here, just like my family did at some point. The majority of them are exactly like me – American born, Christian raised, converts to Islam. We found something here that we did not find somewhere else.

Many of us came to Islam in a similar way – we came from families who believed the media on Islam. We saw the movies and cartoons; read the newspapers. Muslims were bad, Islam was demonic.

At some point, we decided to read about Islam with one of two purposes in mind:
1) Because we’ve seen Muslims in the streets and want to know how they can believe such a cruel religion when they seem to be such nice people.
2) Because we wanted to be certain about how demonic this terrible religion was.

The odd thing about it is, each and every one of us had the similar thing happen. We found out the media was wrong.
Islam doesn’t promote beating your wife.
Islam doesn’t say to kill all the Christians and Jews.
Islam doesn’t promote lying to any non-Muslim to trick them into converting.
Islam doesn’t…

You get the idea.
When we realized that what we were brainwashed as young children for generations to believe about Islam was wrong, we were encouraged to dig deeper. If the people in power are THIS scared about Islam, what is it that is scaring them? Why do they want to divide humanity to this point, on baseless, manipulated charges?
Over the years, I’ve sat quiet during the random jokes, jabs, and slights towards Muslims. I’ve ignored the urge to want to stand up to people who were reinforcing wrongful statements. I’ve ignored it for the sake of family.

I’ve continued to read books on religion and spirituality across the board. From the Tao Te Ching to the Book of Mormon, to books on the psychology of religion to the ways to address tragedy from the Torah, I’ve read them. It has only made my personal faith stronger, yet herein lies the issue.

If you need a reminder, every election cycle sees a rise in fear-mongering about the ever-present “Muslim problem”. Muslims are bringing Sharia Law! Cities in Michigan are being taken over, women have no rights! Go back to the Middle East!

This election cycle is on steroids.

In the past year, hate crimes against Muslim women have gone up approximately 87%.

EIGHTY-SEVEN.

Do you see the problem?

I’m one of those women. I’ve had people walk up to me and tell me to go home. I’ve had people imitating bomb noises at me as I’m riding my bicycle down the street. I’ve had patients at work walk straight up to me and ask me, “what do you think of the Paris bombing last night?, as if I must have some insider knowledge about it.
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Dear family and friends, when you post those hateful images about Muslims believing this and Muslims believing that, or about how Muslims should be deported, disallowed from carrying guns, hanged for treason, or even commenting that it WOULD be a good thing if Muslims had to register in a special government database…

Just remember, you’re talking about me too.

Yeah, Donna and Joe’s daughter, Amanda. You’re talking about me.
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So when I correct what you posted, when I post the actual verse from the Qur’an, when I tell you “that isn’t what Muslims are taught”… I’m telling you first hand. That isn’t what I was taught. That isn’t what any of us are being taught. I’ve been to a hundred mosques across the world. I’ve sat with high scholars and Sunday school teachers. I’ve read dozens upon dozens of books.

The 1/3rd of the world that follows Islam isn’t taught to “strap bombs” or “teaching their kids to shoot kafir before they can walk”. There ARE people who do that, but they do not follow the teachings of Islam. Titling themselves as they wish does not make it true.

I’m not trying to convert you. I’m not trying to preach to you. I’m simply trying to tell you that what you say about “them”, you’re saying about me. And frankly, it hurts.
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Now, don’t go to my mom about this post. Don’t go to my brother or my sister, don’t go to Brandon. You can come to me. If you don’t want me at your house, tell me. Otherwise, I’m going to go on with life as normal. I am who I am, and I am who I’ve been. If knowledge of a label or a piece of fabric on my head makes me unwelcome, just let me know. I won’t make a big deal out of it, but that’s on you.

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3 thoughts on “To the people who care about me…

  1. Lots of love to you, Sister. May Allah SWT make things easy for you and protect you. Ameen.

    On Monday, October 3, 2016, The Girl With A Face wrote:

    > amandajacz posted: “I recently posted this on Facebook. I don’t want to > leave it public there, so decided to place it in its entirety here so that > those who can benefit from it have a permanent link to it: “I’m going to be > getting off Facebook for awhile, but I have some th” >

    Like

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