My father is one of the most influential people in my life. Therefore, there are things that he has said that have stuck in my head over the years. One saying being around the time my brother had passed away, nearly 11 years ago. He said, with sorrow in his eyes, ” the death of a child is something I don’t wish on my worst enemy”.
Having children of my own now, I understand how powerful that statement truley is. I couldn’t imagine losing a loved one, especially my child. Watching the news becomes hard when unfortunately it is flooded with tragedy; kidnappings, death, and illnesses.
So of course when I heard the tragic news on Wednesday, February the 10th, that three Muslims, Deah Barakat (23), his wife Yusor Abu-Salha (21), and her sister Razan Abu-Salha (19) were murdered in their Chapel Hill home, my heart ached for their loss and I continue to pray for their family to get through this tough time.
I can’t stop staring at the picture of Yusur as a bride and her father twirling her around the dance floor. Her smile is contagious. And although I can’t see her father’s face, I know he’s smiling. It was the happiest day of their lives, just two months ago.
It takes me back to my wedding day, and how my father kept asking me, “baba, are you happy”. A father only wants his daughters to be happy … and safe.
As a mother, I empathize.
As a human, I grieve.
As a Muslim, I worry.
America, the land of the free. Where religion is practiced freely and race has no color. But that is not exactly true is it? Because although there are good people, there are bad seeds, in every country, religion and culture.
In my post, Why I Decided to Wear the Hijab … Again, I explained that one of the reasons I wore it was for my daughter. I want her to look at me, who proudly wears the hijab, a visual representation of a Muslim, and be proud.
Not to be afraid, but to be proud. How will I explain that hijab is indeed a beautiful act, when many find it threatening and disgusting?
In light of Black History month and the past events that rose questions about some American’s tolerance for Islam, I, too, have a dream. I have a dream for my kids and for your kids, and the generations to come, that not only do we coexist, but understand and respect one another. That Muslims don’t have to apologize for the acts of terrorism. That a woman wearing hijab doesn’t have to constantly convince people that yes, we are just like you. That we can pray in our mosque, without being threatened.
I get it now, dad. Is that why you lectured me when I trusted too freely or if I came home past Sunset. You just never know who the bad seeds could be, even a harmless neighbor.
I resented my father for worrying entirely too much. Last Wednesday, I understood why.
Change starts with you. Whether you are black, white, a Muslim, a Christian or an atheist; let us all respect and understand. Parents, you are the most important, it starts in the home. Teach your children tolerance. Start by visiting a local mosque. Together we can cure ignorance.