Bismillah (In the name of Allah)…
I was not born into a Muslim family; my family members are either Rasta or Christian minded. I am the only Muslim in my Family.
I remember in Sunday school being told stories and they just didn’t make sense to me. For example, when Cain killed Able and ran off to the land of Nad and found a wife.
“If a two man pickney alone and two a dem live, where him find wife? and the land of Nad mean wanderers so how that come een?”
“Stop question the ting, stop question God!!!”
A no him mi a ask a you. A you a tell me suppn’ so u mus know the details.
From there I realized that we as a people tend to think on a straight line and once you take them off the line, you’re bad or you’re the devil. An’ me love ask questions and if you cyah ansa the questions then it means you’re only regurgitating what someone else told you- you’re not thinking for yourself.
So when I started doing my own research and found Islam, I was puzzled and wondered why America always painted a bad picture about Muslims. I went further into my research and realized that the things they said, were not true- that they were made up.
I remembered in the Bible it told us that Abraham ( Ibrahim as said in Arabic), had two sons and one was sent away into the desert. That’s where I thought Islam came from- the desert. So maybe that’s the son that started the religion. Then when I went to the mosque and they showed me the same thing and where they originated from. I realized that it is the same people like Christianity, it’s just that when it comes to Jesus and Mohammad it’s separate.
So when I started going to the mosque I asked if they believed in Jesus and they said:
“Yes, but he’s just not the son of God”
“OK, what do you basically believe?”
“We believe in one God, a messenger and angels”
“OK then, it’s similar to Christianity where you have the Father, Son and Holy Ghost but you use different terms”
“We are waiting on Jesus to return”
Muslim a wait pon Jesas to return??? Fus mi a hear dis!! Mi no tink a Mohammad(Assalaamu Alaykum (peace be upon you) I have to say that after I say Mohammad) alone unno say???
“Oh, basically a the same thing”.
Muslims show brotherly love and as much as people discriminate against them they still love each other. So the family bond that I never had with my family drew me to them. Once you’re a Muslim, colour does not exist; your race and socioeconomic status are of no importance the Muslim brothers and sisters. For example, if I want to go to Africa tomorrow I don’t have to worry, I just let them know at a mosque there that I am a Muslim and I am accepted. Thinking of the Christian religion where in some churches, you have to be re-baptized to join the church. I looked around the mosque and saw how open it was; nothing like how Christian churches were set up. I was skeptical and said:
“How is this possible?”
“Everyone is a watchman for themselves, no one is better than another Muslim other than the good deeds that they have done”
This cyah real, anything without rules and regulations is bound to fail.
So the brotherly love and equality shown to everyone, even if you are not seen as a brother in your own family are some of the factors that encouraged me to be apart of the faith.
I’ve faced discrimination as a Muslim in more ways than one. Through my experiences I’ve concluded that I prefer to be Respected than Loved. I remember at my workplace when people first heard that I was a Muslim, they treated me differently. I was told to clear my throat when walking into a room. Someone called me once, because they heard that I was a Muslim and asked if they should come to work the next day. I remembered another instance where there was the bombing in France by a Muslim group and when I got to work, I was confronted about it saying what my brothers did was wrong. Because I am one of them immediately I was seen as the enemy.
Many persons show respect for people out of fear. That is the same for me; whenever they do something wrong they stop themselves and say “see Muslim deh” – I’m not even called by my right name. This is considered a sign of Respect letting that “bad” person know that I’m in the room so they should behave themselves. I have to be reminding them that they are adults and free to do as they please, once it is not directed at me.
There are only few people that try to understand me; most persons claim to but in their actions I notice that they don’t mean it. For those who try to understand me, they try by learning about the religion and my lifestyle. I share books and they read and we discuss what was read, anything that they hear, they come me to and we talk about it.
“Never worry about when things slow down, only when it stops”.
That is a Japanese quote that I live by. My interpretation is as long as you’re making a headway just keep moving.
“You are not what people say about you but you are what you say about yourself”.
The most important things to me are my religion, praying, reading the Qur’an and observing the life and adjusting where necessary. Those are the things that motivate me- those are the things that I live by.
****Name withheld to protect Identity