This week’s blog is a departure from my norm.
I started to write a Facebook status about this and realized that there was no way to honor three lives lost that way. This blog will never be enough. But the words are filling up my mind and my heart won’t let me stay quiet.
Three innocent Muslims were shot and killed (execution style) in Chapel Hill, NC last night.
Every Muslim killed is too close to home but this is literally too close to home. Chapel Hill is twenty minutes away. I have Muslim family in Chapel Hill.
I have no idea what prompted this. It’s too early to tell. Actually it’s too late because three lives were lost. Three lives are being judged by everyone that reads about them. Three lives won’t get the same prayers and thoughts that three non-Muslims would. The common theme I have seen over my lifetime is how damaging the idea is that Muslim = terrorist. The one thing I think most people will agree is that terrorists are terrible Muslims. If they were “good” Muslims seeking God they wouldn’t BE terrorists. The only way to solve this is to change the definition of Muslim. That means teaching our children to be tolerant of people who may believe in God differently than we do.
Growing up Muslim, I learned quickly to be quiet about our faith.
Children can be assholes, especially when taught by adults who can be assholes. Seemingly innocent questions of, “Do you even believe in Jesus?” Became, “But do you believe that he’s GOD’S SON?” Followed by, “Then you’re going to HELL,” which was always said with a degree of joy that they had discovered their souls were more pure than mine.
I’m not saying all Christians teach their children this. I’ve met and love many Christians who seek to understand and practice love.
But it was odd how these children knew exactly which questions to ask that would reveal me as a heathen. I stopped answering after a while and then they would jump to the conclusion that I didn’t believe as they did and thus was an appropriate garbage can for their disdain and nasty comments. A childhood memory I will never forget: Girls yelling “Moose-lim” while they pretended to have giant moose antlers with their hands around their faces and the entire playground chanting along with them. And (I apologize for even writing this but I’ve heard it so many times) I was called “sand-nigger” when I was a teenager.
I learned to stay quiet.
My mom didn’t force us to cover at school or at home, (just at the mosque) but there was NO way I would ever have covered at school and put a giant flashing “tease me for having a tainted soul” target on the back of my head. But I would silently celebrate every covered woman and girl I saw. I knew that they were getting far more abuse and judgment and that they were much stronger than me to be able to take it.
I will never NEVER be ok with hearing people talk about terrorism and say that all Muslims need to die.
NEWS FLASH just as there are Christians who teach their children to judge using the Bible, there are people who use the Quran to propagate hate. My mom taught us that we can’t judge someone else’s soul. Each person’s spiritual journey is theirs. But if they’re using the Quran to hate and kill, they’re not Muslim. Are Christians who use the bible to hate and kill really following Jesus’ example? NO.
So today I couldn’t stay quiet anymore.
I’m giving the frame of reference as an American who has studied both Islam and Christianity. I straddle the two worlds. At times I pray in English. Other times I pray in Arabic. My soul is between me and God. I love people who go to mosques and I love people who go to churches. And neither religion promotes killing or hating or judging at all. Yet we as a society hold so tightly to judging others. That’s what has to stop.
These three lives are lost. No words. No words. No words can ever begin to make that make sense.
Three people trying to live their lives. Three people who got more negative judgement in a day than you do in months or years. The only way to honor them is to question the judgements that come so easily because “Muslim” has been stereotyped into something warped. All Muslims are not terrorists. And terrorists are terrible Muslims.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, ImanWoods[dot]com.
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