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Posts Tagged ‘Islamophobia’

Yesterday (November 4th) I had the great pleasure of being part of a panel discussing Islamophobia and the “Othering” of Muslims at Wesleyan University. It was sponsored by the Interfaith Justice League. Two professors were also a part of the panel, Dr. Ahmed, who teaches for both the Religion Dept. as well as Women and Gender Studies and Dr. Lim, an extremely articulate government professor. The questions were thought provoking and while we couldn’t have possibly answered all of them, I think enough were sufficiently answered to have students reach out and pursue more knowledge in this area.

There were many highlights to the event, but I wanted to mention one in particular which really made me think. Dr. Lim told us that one of the major problems of liberals is that they are too quick to get to the conclusion of remarks as opposed to delineating the premises. When someone says, “I’m just not ready for a black President,” we are quick to either say, “You’re a racist,” or think, “I have to respect this person’s feelings, because people are allowed to have feelings, so I will nod in understanding.” Either way, both reactions are extremely flawed. We should be pushing back and asking, “What do you mean when you say you are not ready?” Whenever people mention any type of discomfort, we should really try to find out what it is that makes them uncomfortable, because while the conclusion will be the same (racism), by having them unpack their feelings, they may be able to come to the conclusion all on their own.

What does it really mean when Juan Williams says, “I get nervous when I see Muslims wearing Muslim garb on my flight.” Let’s push him a little. Does he get nervous when he sees Muslims on the street? How does his nervousness correlate with his fear of Muslims in general? The fact that people actually defended Williams’ remarks because he’s allowed to share “his feelings” is quite frightening. Because this is racism, hidden under the cloud of feelings which usually are not associated with being a threat.

When you feel discomfort, try to unpack it. Those feelings may be a lot more powerful than you think.

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It has been raining for the past three days here in Connecticut. I was starting to get a little stir crazy staying in the apartment, so I had made the intention the night before that Sumster and I would head out and get some groceries.

Big Mistake. Huge.

It wasn’t really because my skirt was dragging along the puddles absorbing water like a sponge, or because Sumi would not stay in the car seat and demanded to be held while shopping (yes, I was maneuvering the shopping cart with one hand). And no, I wasn’t cool enough to be carrying her in a Baby Bjorn or Mei Tai.

It was…okay, to be honest, it was because of the stares. Maybe because Islam has been on the news more-so than ever before, but the stares were piercing. I was joking with my husband that I should make a business card with my photo on it, saying, “Here’s my picture. It’ll last longer. Questions? Email me anytime…”

I think it gets to some people that there is a covered Muslim woman shopping at the same store they frequent and *gasp* she doesn’t have an accent but she does have a child….and it’s a girl ­čśŽ will she be forced to wear that thing around her head too?!

It really throws them off when Sumi is all smiles and Ahmed makes a fool of himself getting her to laugh her head off.

Sigh…I’m allowed one rant post, no? All this so I can buy some baking powder to make banana bread.

Anyway, Sumi finally cried herself to sleep while I was driving home. As I shifted the car into park, the only audible sound was the thudding of the raindrops onto the pavement. I sat there, still,  making dua in the rain, enjoying the quiet moment where no stares existed and it was just me with my Lord.

I sat there thanking Allah that He has given us the opportunity to be like the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sas). Now, if we can only live up to such amazing role models.

At least the banana bread came out nice ­čÖé

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

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