A Letter to an Anti-Islamic Extremist called “Faithless” or as I call them Atheist Jihadist
*This all came about as I was in a jihad myself against some people who attacked my faith and really knew so little of it.
I write this letter for you–the Faithless. I hope you will have the decency to share this post with others, so they may fairly be presented with another side to Islam. I am a convert to Islam who was at one time an atheist, myself. We do have a lot in common, I am not some under-educated, brainwashed hippie as your post suggest. I hold degrees in human sciences and received awards for my work regarding sexual abuse of young girls and boys in the US (non-Muslim country) mind you. I do care about humanity and improving the quality of life, everywhere, quite opposite of how you hatefully describe us “crazies” and other Muslims. Let me start by telling you my story.
My convert story, a perspective in relation to Western Extremism
First, I should give you some background on myself. It was at about eleven years of age that science was truth for me –as it is for you. Before this age, I was brought up in a very strict Catholic based environment. (I still respect the Catholics that I know, very much.) When I acknowledged this religious path was not for me, I got slapped a few times for being an outspoken atheist by some of my own friends and family. I did not complain about this, dwell on the verbal lashings, or physical ones of my childhood. I took a licking and kept on ticking–as the saying goes–trying to keep my head high in a world where I was a little eccentric. I eventually got cozy in the atheist lifestyle that I kept quiet about, becoming very much introverted and withdrawn in my youth.
Eventually, strange things began to happen in my life that only fell short of a miracle. (Those things I hold dear and private.) I also learned and developed more, mentally, as my education progressed. I felt the need to look at both sides of the scientific and creationist point of view. This was for complete balance; and to be true to myself and others; those who are creationist and those who are not. Important was to be objective in my search for truth, a Yen and Yang point of view I guess you could say? I saw science was not always 100% correct and religion alike, yet both held some truth and change was not impossible. Both faith and science were crucial in my understanding of the world and how I would serve humanity. I started thinking on simple things, like how gifted humans were at times to have this special thing called “faith” unlike all other animals in the animal kingdom–who I love as well. Faith became something profound for me. I really could not explain it in a few short words. I came to admire religion and more important the idea of a Creator. Although, at one time in my ignorance, I could have cursed God. I totally hated the idea of being a conformist in my younger years; which is why, till this day, I have no room to judge anyone. That someone, especially you Faithless daughter, could have been me 10 years ago. However, I give all those who come into my life a chance to develop into their own masterpieces–without hate. Hate has always been a big obstacle to overcome throughout my life, and I would hope that you will someday wake up and seek to do the same.
I went through some traumatic stages in life, since child hood and especially after 9/11. I began to focus once more on my spirituality–a place I was often afraid to rediscover. I saw many Muslims abused in US society by these extremist and uneducated ideals that Islam was a “cult” or an “enemy”–whatever you Faithless, anti-Islamic extremist might call it. A few days after 9/11, I was working as a cashier when the girl in front of me refused to check out a group of Muslim men and women. The Muslims traveled in large groups at the time because of targeted hate crimes. The cashier walked away and refused them service she was Mexican American. I thought of all the struggles Mexican Americans had endured, very similar to that of middle-easterners; hence, I felt her behavior to be obscene and hypocritical; considering, Chicanos were forced to drop their values, culture and religion by the “white man” not long ago, which is still a struggle for them today in US. I was stiff, ‘dead’ when I heard her say in an arrogant manner, “what makes them think they can just walk in here? I can’t believe their even out of their homes!” She evil eyed them as I checked them out. I felt a need to be extremely polite, the hyper-sensitive woman in me could feel their suffering, with this treatment. I could, somehow feel it all and I hung my head down holding back my anguish, ashamed of the behavior of some people in my country. The prejudice cashier’s piercing gaze followed them all the way out to the exit of that store. That night I got home all the news on the television repeated words, almost hypnotically or subliminal like “Islamic threat to Merica”, “Osama Bin Ladin”(some man I never knew of), “Al Kayda”, and “W”. Muslim hate crimes flourished throughout the USA, but went almost completely unnoticed. People lacked empathy in those times–I recall. Crimes against Muslims evolved mostly from simple misconceptions. Many victims, like some attacked violently and beaten in my town, were not even Muslim but Hindu. Because of the color of their skin, they were assumed to be Muslim. Even at this, it was sad to think that innocent people are being targeted in the “free country” on the basis of their religion; let alone, racially categorized as Muslim by inferior minded people if they had a dark complexion.
One of my worst nightmares emerged, in my head, at the time. Everything MLK and all my ancestors had sacrificed for a type of freedom and equality, was again transparent in American society; Muslims, Africans, middle easterners/central Asians were targeted–“browns”. I was sad to find myself reliving the same hatred that non-whites had to endure in the US during the civil rights era. It reminded me of my child-hood, where I often stood up for those being bullied because of racism. I made little sacrifices for reputation and friendship my friends were often targeted because of race or ethnicity, in my elementary school years and beyond. One friend, I held dear, was called many names because of the color of her skin. A story my mom once told me flashed before me, when I watched my friend going through all the horror on a play ground. Mother once told me about a friend she made. She did not know, in her day, what “black” was at the time. She was about six years old when the incident took place. Mom did not know what racism was, or the impact it had on society. Well my mom was growin’ up in Nashville, which was almost at the core of racial tension in the 60’s. She brought a new friend home, to play with her, she was an African American girl; they sat on the steps all day playing with dolls. My grandmother arrived and was furious–according to my mother. She sent the young girl home and quickly, afterwards “beat the hell out” of my mother, telling her never to speak or associate with “colored people” again. My mother left home at a young age and was very supportive of the civil rights movement, as well as involved. I often wondered if that beating had something to do with it. If all the hatred she experienced, led her instead to love. The beating was something my mom never really talked about. It was a traumatic memory, but possibly an event that led her to marry a Native American male–who became my father years later. These actions of my mother put a huge rift between her and her own mother. But her interracial children (my siblings) were very proud of their struggles and ability to combat fears and stereotypes at this time. And as time fleeted, it became less of a struggle for interracial couples like them to marry. I wanted to be like my mother in some ways. I so admired her taking that beating and setting out to make things right. So when these misconceptions and stereotypes were thrown at this young girl and they whispered words in my ear–words I never before heard (something they learned from their parents)–I walked away from these young, naive, racist girls. I went up to my new friend; I asked to play with her; and she smiled at me, the same way she does today. I wanted to cry for her, but instead I found joy and beauty as we played with one another, we have continued a friendship that has now lasted a life time. I also knew I did not have to worry about what our mothers did to us. Our mothers became friends at a time when there was yet, a lot of racial tension and misconceptions the African American community in our town had to combat. I saw how something so negative can bring out something so positive: she began to call me her best friend. From then on we sat together all throughout middle school, “making trouble”. I had flashbacks of those days, with my best friend, when I saw my Middle Eastern friends attacked not only for their religion, but some practices that come from their culture, race and tradition–it was an ethno-religious struggle for them. This gave them more Jihads (Islamic word for struggle) to overcome.
As the hate grew in US, among all radical and extremist groups, so did converts to Islam. Several old memories crept up on me as I saw Muslims being branded, or anyone who dressed different singled out as “terrorists”, “OBL lovers” and an array of racist, anti religious labels–you could not imagine. Actually, very much like all those other names, you and your hate groups use to call Muslims–Miss Faithless; and all the other labels and misconceptions your extremists believe about Islam, I have heard. I could never understand how people say, “we do not believe in Islam” yet they believe in all the negative ideology and doctrines of Islam. So, there is some belief in Islam after all, and perhaps it is just fear of your own beliefs that drive you to hatred. I let go many friends, in disgust of their anger and treatment towards Muslims. I began to take up more Muslim friends mostly male, and my interest grew. There were not many Muslim females in US, till the Middle East became more endangered and unstable–due to our countries mission to bring them “Freedom” and bomb them with “Peace”. My Muslim friends were beautiful souls from all over the globe; India, Iran, Pakistan, other parts of the Middle East. I could chill (spend time) with these guys along with my girl friends. We could all smoke from a hookah, laugh, stare at one another in curiosity (some wore traditional Arabic clothes) and they kept their hands to self, as well as their distance. The men rarely tried to pursue a relationship with me; rather they treated me as a valued human and sister. If we were at the pool in our swimsuits, they avoided looking or just left our presence all together. There behavior was nothing that bothered me, it just left me curious. There were moments I sat and would listen to their horror stories; as they would say, “you do not know how it feels, how cornered we feel here.” I would not know till later, when I began to wear hijab as a Muslim.
My relations with my Muslim friends in those days, were so unlike the American experience I had lived with. Most Americans (not all) that I encountered in society objectified women, had no respect for them, and we as women were expected not to respect self. Women were expected to show skin and be “sexually free”. Often women are coerced or pressured into sexual behavior by peers, males, and friends at a very early age. Sometimes you could not help but feel lost and damaged in this environment. We were expected to look as the “sexy women” on TV and in magazines; it became a circus, rather a social beauty pageant that keeps women competitive over exterior beauty. For some, the inner beauty seemed to fade, exterior was the only thing that mattered. It is a way of life for many today as they applaud, reward, and encourage women–even Muslim women–to strip their way to “freedom”; hence, shaping them into objects of Western sexuality. There is nothing new or dynamic about a woman in a burka showing skin or breast, as you have presented on your post with hashtags of “feminism”. This does not take away abuse on women in any society–it never has. In fact some argue ‘sexual freedom’ causes more abuse and assaults on women, while neglecting the root cause of these issues. I’v seen many of my friends abused by the western males, some of my family members abused, and beaten down by them too. At times, I have seen girls with no choice, take matters into their own hands, gang up and literally fight men off, real fights to preserve their rights, safety and virtue. Men often drug and rape girls here–an epidemic in US. It turned me away from the American male altogether, at one time. Which is why I understand when people hear or witness things about Middle Eastern men they are programmed to grow hatred towards them (due to their own experience with men in general) and target all of them, despite their religious virtues or how good they are. But, even I did not stoop to such dangerous and childish standards. I knew it was not right to judge all religions, entities, and groups according to what others have done. Perhaps, I was hanging out with the wrong crowd or these types frequent certain atmospheres; clubs, school locker rooms of minors, authoritative positions and parties, where they find vulnerable women to target. Did I blame the American Christian and Atheist male for all my problems, or all the problems of the world and among women? No I did not generalize. I am not like you. I know many good Western religious men, as I know many good Muslim males who are shaped by their beliefs. And I know women in US very close to me some, if not most have experienced or more of the following: lost their lives to abusive males (R.I.P); lost their virginity by force; have children of rape; have been raped and too afraid to confront these issues (because of threats and a gender biased justice system); some had been seduced, sold and threatened as children into sex slavery; had their children taken from them (because a patriarchal justice system in US). Women in US also have children they support and work hard to feed single handed(with the absence of the male), some have had a father, cousin, relative or stranger sexually and physically abuse them–they all just had a shitty experience with some of the Christian/Atheist/Jewish American male. Because of these things around me and what I learned from my environment, I trusted the Muslim man more. I was respected as a woman, as a friend by my Muslim friends. All were not perfect, some had the same issues as the American males I had come to know, so is it religion that drives people to abuse women? Or is it man who will use many excuses and sometimes, sadly religion to abuse women? Much like the gun debate, a gun does not shoot someone on its own, someone behind it must pulls the trigger. I rest no blame on the religion, rather I blame those who manipulate it and create ideologies for the wrong reasons. I know that many Muslims, Christian and Jews are true people of God and care not to harm a soul. Perhaps it would be better of hate groups like yours to serve a purpose not to harm a soul?
So let us go back again to 9/11, what did all the hate for Muslims and misconceptions do? Well it played into OBL’s plan; he wanted to bring attention to Islam and the Middle East. Today 25,000 Americans or more convert to Islam a year, since this tragic event. This number does not include Muslims from other nations who migrate to US, that have suffered since 9/11. They had to abandon dangerous lifestyles only to get targeted once more by a hate movements like that of “Faithless” in the USA. Knowing this, should I assume OBL and Faithless are virtually on the same side? Faithless: a leader in division; only allows uneducated people to harp on negative and false aspects of Islamic doctrine. Faithless conjures up the negative emotions and hatred within people, just as OBL did towards Americans and non-Muslims. She also seems to believe the practices of OBL represents all Muslims; as she believes these “Wahabi” doctrines, which most Muslims reject to be true. She lies to the public with her skewed ideologies and generalizations. Meanwhile, those with sensibilities towards the sufferings of others, willing to bring light or balance in times of darkness; the ones with courage to walk in another man’s shoes; those who are being drawn to an understanding Islam are channeling the behavior of peaceful figures. So “Faithless” simply channels the hateful footsteps of Hitler, Satan, KKK, OBl–with all their general understandings and misconceptions–of what they think Islam (adopted from other hate groups, of course) is. They channel these men with their aggression, spread of misconceptions, and lies on peaceful people and figures. This hate can provoke anger and lead to possible death, lynching, or beating on innocent people, creating outcomes no different than their fantasies of what all Muslims are like. Is this how far humanity has not come? Ultimately their beliefs (faith) are based on false ideologies that stem from religion though they are not willing to accept that reality yet-they call themselves “Faithless”. While intellects, scholars and religious converts take on an approach of those greats who sought reform, unity and peace avoiding hate speech, force, abuse and disunity like Gandhi, Jesus (PBUH) MLK, and Mohammad (PBUH)