I didn’t leave my house today. I woke up to the news – my day was a write off. My heart breaks for Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan.. It broke for Paris on the 13th of November 2015, and it broke for Brussels today. My heart breaks for the lost lives, those injured, their families, and the people left with fear in their hearts. But every time something like this happens, my heart sinks for all my Muslim brothers and sisters out there. I know what’s coming…
Apart from the impending duvet day, I know that there are 1.6 billion muslims in the world and many of those living in the West are about to go through yet more discrimination, torment, and abuse. To be frank, I am completely baffled by the idea that there are people out there that believe that Muslims – all 1.6 billion of them – believe in mass-murder. That Islam breads hate. A religion followed by almost 20% of the planet. That we’ve come to YOUR precious country (because you own it, right?) to steal your jobs, rape your women, and kill your children. All 1.6 billion of us. Do you think that me and my Muslim family and friends are sitting around watching the videos of the disaster, over chips and dips, non-alcoholic beverages and laughter? I think I’m correct in believing that a lot of people who know me well (and those who don’t) probably wouldn’t believe that I was here for the last 19 years on a hidden agenda to destroy infidels. “No Sahar!” you say? “…but you’re sound. You’re the exception.” I am no exception.
We are all human and we all come in evil or good. There is no such thing as an exception. Islam, is a list of rules. A way of life. A very specific way of life. Whether you follow them or not is up to you. Whether you follow them the right way, is up to you. Whether you have the audacity or the arrogance to justify the killing of hundreds of innocent people… again that is up to you. These are not errors found in Islam but these are errors found in humans. Jihad does not mean “bomb the white man”, it means “struggle”, for some it’s trying to survive in Gaza, for some it’s trying to raise a family, for some it’s a fight for a made up cause in their own heads. For some of this, putting up with this – the hate, the misrepresentation, the misconceptions – this is our jihad. A real Western jihad.
Here are two people. Two muslims. Oooh look how radical they look. Are they good people? Can you tell by looking at them? No! Well for one… they are cartoons but most importantly holding a label of a certain religion does not mean that you are a pinnacle for everything that religion stands for, It does not mean that you are a good representative and it certainly doesn’t mean that beneath that label you are not a hate-mongering asshole.
It absolutely BAFFLES me that I have to say this. That it’s not completely obvious. That there isn’t a young catholic female ranting on her own blog about how catholicism is not a religion that breads paedophelia… The amount of hatred on social media today is gut wrenching. The hashtag #stopIslam was trending today and the tweets behind it were some of the most uninformed and hateful things I’ve read in my life. Backed by the likes of Katie Hopkins and the honourable (cough) Donald Trump – they were enough to confirm that I have made the right decision deciding on a duvet day today.
I’m writing this now because I am so full of sadness, it numbs me that there are people who think that. As a Muslim in the West who is expected to be a representative for 1.6 billion other people (dare I say that the same would never be expected from the average practicing Catholic in Ireland?), it’s a lot of pressure. The hate being thrown in our direction? It really isn’t easy. You can’t avoid it. For most people, if you want to find the hateful pit of the internet that targets you, you have to go looking for it. For us, it’s everywhere, right in our faces, right outside our mosques.
It scares me that the media has the voice to speak against 20% of the population. A mass misinterpretation of myself, many people I love, and 1 billion others. It scares me that this media-led world gives a voice to the aforementioned Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins. A media-led world that is too arrogant and too uninterested to think for itself or grant a voice to the people that can make a change. A world that would never give Malcom X, Martin Luther King, or James Baldwin a loud enough voice today. Not like back then. Never again. In 2015, over 100 unarmed black people were killed. 100 voiceless people. I don’t know if the social-media heavy world is bringing to light opinions that would be otherwise kept silent, or if it is fuelling them. All I know is that the world is hurting. A voiceless Jihad…