Monday, May 24, 2010

Are You Muslim? !!!

A few weeks after I arrived in this village hell to take up a teaching position I was sort of invited to a party.

I knew there would be the usual drinking copious amounts of alcohol while folks stood around listening to corny R&B tunes from back in the eighties.

About four minutes into my arrival I was introduced to a serious looking coloured man in his late fifties or maybe even mid-sixties.

Word was that his wife was a politician and that the shiny Mercedes at the gate was his car.

He seemed reluctant to speak to me. It took about three or four "come and meet Ridwan" calls before he stood directly in front of me with blood shot eyes.

As I smiled at him a woman shouted in my direction, "Are you a Pakistani?".

"No I was born here," I said in her direction.

"Are you Muslim?, the blood shot eyes man said directly into my face.

"Yes I am Muslim," I replied.

"Ya but he is an alright kind of ou (guy)," one of the guys I knew added to what was becoming a tense situation of accusatory eyes and nervous shifting feet.

"I hear you teach politics," the blood shot eyes man said. "I do," I replied.

"Well you betta be teaching dem that Iran is the devil and is going to destroy the world because they are fanatics. They gonna blow up Israel and the whole world will suffer because it will be world war three," he added.

At this point I knew it was important for me to find an exit. The nervous laughter around me indicated that if I was to take a stand it could grow ugly.

I turned to talk to other folks. I left a smile across my face not because I was happy but because I had been there before.

Once in downtown Baltimore a white man 'accused' me of being Puerto Rican. I did not back down or even correct his racist ass.

"Yep I am Puerto Rican and proud of it too," I remember saying.

"Well you should not be. This is the United States and not Puerto Rico," he howled back at me.

I looked at him in utter disbelief. I wanted to tell him that Puerto Rico is part of the US, if only a colonized territory, but I did not.

My eyes had barely left his face when his female companion shouted "Get out of this establishment, you are not welcome here."

I looked over the counter at my white neighbor who ran the little hole in the wall eatery as if to say "help me".

He just looked away in silence. I walked to the door and left. It was 1997 and my head was spinning.

I made my way away from blood shot eyes. A kinder face started talking about this and that and my Muslim identity and presence was 'excused'.

The night progressed too slowly. I left in disgust about two hours later and vowed never to be around drunk folk ever again.

My childhood friend who invited me never really grasped what happened that night. I never said anything to him and when he called me this past Saturday to join him for another party I declined.

The Qur'an speaks to the manner that incidents like this should be handled when God says: "show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant." (7:199)

I'm working on the forgiveness part. It is not going to be easy.

Very few Muslims will be left unscathed by the rising anti-Muslim sentiment that defines our current historical moment.

Just last night my mother related to me that a Christian woman she met days ago at the bedside of a very ill friend took her aside and told her that she was not allowed to use the words "God" and "Lord".

"I was confused to hear her say this to me but I did not want to make a scene," my mother said.

Instead, my mother let the incident boil in her being for a week.

"How dare a Christian tell me that I cannot use those words, God and Lord do not belong to Christianity only. It belongs to all the believers," moms argued.

True to form me moms called that ignorant heffa up and laid into her.

"She was shocked by my confrontation. I told her never to tell me another word about my religion until she read the Qur'an. Do you know that she has lived among Muslims all seventy years of her life and has never ever even read a verse from the Qur'an?," my mother said.

"Yeah I do mummy," I said.

Many anti-Muslim bigots who are Christian are not even aware that Islam is the third Abrahamic religion and that Islam grows out of Judaism and Christianity.

For those who would want us to be the new devil it matters little.

Being Muslim is an accusation in itself.

AnyHowze, I gots to go ... got some bombing to do before my workday is over ;0)


Image Credit


Erica said...

You do know that I'm fuming. I don't think I could have been that nice. You know my wouldn't have been pretty.

Glad mom put the "heffa" in her place!


Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Erica.

I was hurt when I listened to her talk about the incident over the phone.

It was uncalled for and yeah I know you would have tagged teamed that heffa alongside moms.


Be good now!


Dade said...

Wow! I sure can relate to this post.

Excellent stories.

What I find most discouraging about the whole thing is that the owner of the eatery in Baltimore didn't take a stand. That was very cowardly.

But, then again, there is a similar occasion in my past when I took the easy and cowardly way out when I could have made a stand.

Tough post to read. But very important.

Thanks, Ridwan.

Ridwan said...

Thanks Dade. I remember you writing about the occasion you make reference to.

The difference was that you were young and still developing your consciousness.

"We live and learn" hey?

I confronted my neighbor about his silence and he blamed me. His name was Mickey I remember and was about in his mid-thirties at the time.

He was obviously too afraid to step out of his 'comfort' zone of denial.

He was not the last and certainly it is not only a white thing.

I have enough experiences with so called folks of color who would rather not rock the boat ...


Be well brother Dade!


Eugene said...

Reading this fills me with the urge to beat the crap out of people. People are so "If you ain't for us, you're against us." If you ain't Christian, you are with Satan. Folk are so willing to define others because then they don't have to look at their own offensive to humanity and the spirit world behavior. Do their gods really want them to behave like that? WTF Arrgggghhhh!

Ridwan said...

Thanks Eugene for your comment.

You are absolutely right to be angry like me moms was.

It would seem that the purpose of believing is so that all of humanity would be included.

Sadly religion divides. The institutions of religion divide us even further.

Remember the Pope and his broadside on Islam? He essentially condemned one fifth of the world's populations with his thinking.

Islam too is hardly unified. In South Africa some Muslims avoid mosques where Somali communities are predominant, for example.

Malay Muslims and Indian Muslims too often have separate mosques, graveyards, etc.

In these contexts the teachings of Islam are lost.

Peace Eugene. Great to see you back on the blog.


Anonymous said...

I am Jewish and I am very Aware of what Islam is. Check out my Blog ether you will Love it or you Will Hate it. I do ask that if you check it out; to Read My Posts on Judaism and Islam first, before you Make any Judgments. I am very Misunderstood.
Really Like Your Blog it's very Bold and Strait forward You seem Sincere that's Good BTW I am Mideastern BUT MY OLD FRIENDS ARE Ken folk and Black Power.

Ma'3 Salaama Peace Out

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Yiddish_Wizzard!

I have looked at your blog and I am impressed.

I will be reading more for sure and hope some of the regulars here will drop in too.

I have been accused of being anti-white and/or anti-Semitic here from time to time but that is not my intent or purpose.

Islam and Judaism as you point out are intimately connected and the religions have more in common than not.

The same is true for the followers.

We need however to press pass platitudes. From what I see on your blog that is what you are doing.

Thanks again for looking in. Hope to chat more.

Peace to you and your daughter,

Faridah said...

I love this entry.I just sent you a message on being Muslim (doubly harassed if you are a scarved Muslim woman).

I really think you need to work on that monologue on identity.We'll find you an audience somewhere.Let me know when you are ready! :)

Ridwan said...

Thank you Faridah!

I am going to work on that monologue for sure and would be interested to see how it is received in Malaysia :)

I keep telling myself that I must go back to Malaysia and really spend time there ... my trip in 2006 was too short.

I trust you are very well.

Please send me your email address to


being_there said...

Peace, Ridwan.

Interesting blog.

You might be interested in checking out the Bandung2 blog.


Ridwan said...

Thanks being_there and peace to you too.

I have looked at your spot and will be reading more for sure.

Please stop by again.