I intended to write a totally different post today, but in light of what happened at Christchurch in New Zealand, I feel that this would be more appropriate.
Growing up, I always had questions with regards to my faith, I never had many muslim friends and those friends I had, well they weren’t really good friends (a conversation for a whole different day). As far as I can remember, my parents and family always ensured that we knew our roots and where we came from. Most of my friends had families that were very active in the local community, though my parents were not as vocal or well-known in the local mosques, they were always out helping in the background at fundraising events and showing us ways to find our faith in our home first.
As I grew older, the questions grew, some out of teenage angst, and some because I too felt a different connection to my faith. See, growing up, as with anything, you get taught differently by different teachers. Like a math teacher who made your life hell in primary school ,grows into a dislike of the subject as you grow older. There was a moment when I was about 13, I was in Muslim school, we were discussing death, and being 13, I used the movie Final Destination to fully explain the concept of death as I understood it. My muslim school teacher and the entire class laughed, thinking about it now, he may have done it innocently and I was just being a hyper-sensitive teen but it really affected me as I was super introverted and I was loathe to go back.
Fast forward to my high school years and I remember my mom hammering me to attend Islamic studies at night. At first I really did not want to go (cause being a teenager meant I had no time to do nothing) but I am forever thankful that my mom insisted I go. was exposed to Islamic teachings that were sooooo different to what I was I taught when I was younger. I was blessed to be taught by Sheikh Abdurageem Salie, he taught us about Law regarding Childrens rights, Womens rights and even the rights of both parties in marriage. Even more so by Mualiema Nazeema Jansen, if ever I have met a powerhouse of a woman, it was in her. She was amazing, she taught me how to recite the Quran that was melodious, and even re-taught me some basics in a way that made it seem simple. She made a love for Allah (God) seem simple and not just an automatic case of “you’re going to hell”.
Now you probably wondering, now how is this relevant? You see, traditionally, you learn the basics and that usually sets you on your way. This goes for any faith, but to me, a 16 year old who had questions, this started my foundation of learning what it truly meant to be muslim. See, growing up, you don’t ask questions, black is black and that’s that. Now, I found myself in a scenario where asking questions were okay and I wanted to know more.
In Cape Town, I can honestly say, we take being muslim for granted to an extent. With such a large muslim community, we don’t need to go out searching for mosques or halal eateries, because they all within a 5km radius, in some cases, two mosques in the same area. That being said, I also feel that at times we lose what being muslim means to us too.
About 5 years ago, I started wearing the hijab (by choice, calm down), it was about the time when influencers like Dina Tokio, Yaz the Spaz and Nuralailalov were blowing up on Youtube. I had a drawer full of scarves and a style for every occasion; but something bothered me, even though I looked the part, I still had lots to work on, on the inside; and more and more of those who were considered hijabis in Cape Town, turned it into a fashion statement and that was not something that I wanted it to be.
Today, I have 2 growing little boys, and I want to start them off right. Regardless of what the world now thinks, the safest place I have ever felt to be, is prostrated in mosque, the most calm I have ever felt was during the taraweeg prayer during the month of Ramadaan, and when I was at my lowest, it was in sitting up in the middle of the night in prayer that I found solace.
Being muslim has been my peace, it only teaches peace, it has taught me about community, being humble and never taking anything or anyone for granted and that is what I want to teach my boys one day. That standing for something means more than standing for nothing and falling for anything.
See, I only really saw the dark side of what some people thought about Islam in Cape Town a few years ago, as naive as that may sound, it was in the comments section of iol that it shone to light. Yet, despite that, I know more people who will stand in solidarity regardless of faith, race or social standing and to me, that is enough.
The best part is that we can proactively raise our children to be good people, muslim, christian, atheist, whatever you believe in because the truth is, evil is evil, it has no face, it has no race, it believes nothing.
May those affected by the tragedy find peace and know that our prayers are with them.
Always with Love & Peace