Under Attack; Inside and Out
Dear Muslim Community,
I pray that someday I won't find myself writing a letter to you at 2 AM in the morning. Despite what you might think, I don't actually like writing these letters to you. After all, we're not pen pals that are just checking in. Although, this is somewhat of a check in. So here goes nothing:
I used to love you. I thought you were the greatest there ever was, a consequence of living in a cult-like environment as a child where I knew only you, and after I left, everyone paled in comparison. The Muslims in Canada were nothing compared to you, and don't get me going about Jordan. I searched my entire life to find a community like the one I grew up in, but then I realized that it didn't exist. I still loved you then, I just thought there was some work to be done in those other communities, something my king in shining armor of a community could've easy dealt with.
Then I grew up, some trauma here, mental illness there, mixed in with Suicidality, being kicked out of mosques because I didn't look right, and a few other things and I moved away. Then, finally, I went home, to the home I thought I had, and I found out that I would not have survived had I stayed. As great as you were, you would've easily been the end of me. My PTSD would've been triggered, and I would be dead today, because there was no way you'd ever listed to a story like that. You see, the truth is, you were brilliant when it came to prayer, fasting, charity, and even selling the theory behind human interactions. But in reality you were an Ableist, Patriarchal, Capitalist, and White Supremacist community that upheld every form of systemic oppression. Figuring this out changed my world entirely, and I will never be the same. Unfortunately, my childhood community finally had things in common with the majority of Muslim Communities, as they also had bought into these same systems of oppression.
Last year, I was finally sick of it. I was done hearing you uphold these systems, and being triggered after every gathering. Last march, I retired from Mosques, the only home I have ever known, and I have not entered a mosque except to run events since then. It breaks my heart that I can't drive ten minutes to the mosque and be at home like I used to feel as a child.
So why am I bringing this up? Because as much as people hate Trump, he showed individuals, living in denial and holding on to system of oppression (as if their lives depended on them), the reality of what many of us have seen for years, and what social justice warriors have been fighting for hundreds of years. I had hoped that you'd finally listen to the rest of us, and instead of telling me how terrible I am for not going to Jummah prayer, I hoped you'd finally ask how you can support me, and that you're going to be doing intersectional work to combat all forms of social justice. Some of you did wake up, but unfortunately not everyone. Today, just like last year, I saw the results for an Institute for Social Policy and Understanding survey that showed that Muslims, although dealing with the most discrimination are the most satisfied with the US.
Now, I am not anti-US(Why I need to be making this distinction bothers me), but if systems of oppression hide behind borders and a flag then I will speak out against that oppression, it's that simple. The US has done some horrible things throughout its history, and not a single day of it's history has passed by that it did not oppress individuals in horrendous ways, things continuing on today. Not only is Islamophobia at an all time high, but our sisters and brothers from all communities are continuing to face persecution, and although it's not a drastic increase than before, today we have access to everything that happens. We have access to things that we would've never known about. Yet, here we are. The most satisfied.
When you look at the most satisfied number, and look at the fact that 60 percent have faced some form of religious discrimination, 38% fear for their lives, and 1 in 5 have plans to relocate if need be. When looking at all those numbers you not only see how inaccessible many Muslim communities are to minority Muslims, but how separated we are as a community. The reality is that within the Muslim community the majority, not by numbers but power, are clueless to the reality that so many of our community, the majority, by numbers, face. We are one of the most diverse communities out there, with individuals from every single country out there. We are doctors, cab drivers, teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, social workers, able-bodied and disabled, part of the LGBTQIA community and so much more. We are beautiful in the best of ways, and yet when you look at our leadership for communities you don't see that. We hide behind a diverse group of celebrity Muslims and never address the critical need to change the leadership on the ground.
I pray that I can find my way to a Muslim community again, and feel as at home as I did as a child, but that'll require social justice to enter the hearts of the communities, just as Islam has prescribed. I have hope that someday we will get there, but if you think we're there already then you need to check yourself, and your community, because we are in crises Sisters and Brothers. We are under attack from the outside and have no allies on the inside but Allah.
If you'd like support in starting some of these conversations with your community please feel free to reach out to me, I'd be more than happy to help.
Comment below and tell us how your community makes safe spaces, or doesn't.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days, Inc. He is the co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.