"I don't want to offend you but can I please ask you a question? It must be hard to tell people you're a Muslim; I mean they are the ones going around the world killing people. Aren't you ashamed to be a Muslim? "
When an acquaintance asked me that question out of nowhere, I was totally upset. I automatically got upset and said in an angry tone "No, that's not true!" We ended the conversation abruptly, when I made a dumb excuse and walked away. I was so angry I was shaking.
Once I got home, I started to think about the comment and many more that people had made to me or my friends over the years. I had flashbacks from September 11th, when, like all Americans, we were watching our TV screens in horror. We were shocked at this horrific act of terrorism. That day, we lost thousands of human lives, but in the Muslim community thousands of disheartened Muslims were born. Disheartened because we were Americans also, and we felt the same pain of losing so many lives, yet overnight, we became" those people." People judged us for our beliefs.
I was one of them; someone who was religious, but not to the extent where people saw my religious side. I talked to God five times a day through my prayers. I believed in being a kind compassionate person and volunteered in my community. But after this fateful day, something inside of me died.
I couldn't understand: How could these so-called Muslims really believe they were doing the right thing by killing so many people?
They were many like me who felt sad and angry and wanted the world to know that "we are good people." We became people who constantly had to defend themselves. We thought we were proud Muslims, yet we hid behind our American accents and our western lifestyles. We were treated like outlaws, yet we had also lost many of our friends, family members and people we loved on September 11. It was a time when I became a skeptic of my own religion. When my son's teacher in 6th grade started to make racist remarks in class, that's when I decided to move to Dubai with my family. I eventually came back home to Orange County and life was good until I was asked the question:
"Aren't you ashamed to be a Muslim?"
The comment by my friend brought back many memories. I decided to do some research about "terrorism "all over the world. I came across many people belonging from different parts of the world and hailing from different religions. It wasn't just my people that were barbarians and had misconstrued religion. There was Joseph Stalin, who was responsible for over five million deaths, and then there was Attila the Hun the barbaric warrior, and of course Adolf Hitler who shamelessly persecuted Jews because of their religion. Just between these three individuals millions of humans lost their lives. These villainous people belonged from every religion, every race, and truly believed they had the right to do this. Was their perception of their belief system just as messed up as that of the 9/11 bombers? Were they plain evil?
After my research, I ask myself the same question again:
Am I ashamed to be a Muslim? No, I am not at all ashamed of being a Muslim, I am, however, ashamed to be born a human being. As I belong to the species that kill its own kind because of their race or the color of their skin, humans that are destroying the very planet that they call earth, humans that blame their evil practices on religion and who can kill millions in a blink of an eye.
Yes, I am ashamed.