I am not a Muslim!

Nancy Vijo
Thursday, May 2, 2019

I was having my breakfast on the couch, browsing through fb when a friends’ post caught my attention. Her post was about racism against Muslims and how it lead to the suicide of a 9 year old Syrian girl. I browsed further and got to see the angels face. I can’t express how I feel now. Is it helplessness? Is it rage? Is it grief? Or… is it GUILT at having done nothing for the likes of her?

That innocent angel, that beautiful child ended her life because she couldn’t face the emotional trauma that the so called “high life’s”; the so called, “bullies”, the so called “racists”, the so called, “I’m-better –than- you- coz- I-am – not- a- Muslim” hate breeders, the so called “young-brainwashed-humanity-destroyers” who were her same age put her through. “I am not a Muslim, but they are the kindest souls around; and I stand in solidarity with Muslims”.

I was born in a hardcore Muslim country – Saudi Arabia in 1986. My parents worked for years in the country. We stayed in apartments where my neighbors were Muslims. I played with Muslims, ate with Muslims and lived as one amongst them. It wasn’t “their” Eid or “My” Eid; but “OUR’ Eid. My first best friend – Tehseen Fatima – is a Muslim and she made my school life a heaven. We played at each other houses, ate the same food and supported each other. I remember the old grandpa and his family who lived beneath our apartment. He would bring my brother, new cute little dishdaashas during Eid and share “meat” with my whole family. He would come and take my little brother over to his home and treat him like his own grandson. I remember how his wife would take off her “burqa” once it was just me, my brother and her husband at home, I remember wondering at how beautiful the woman was, I remember the taste of her “kunafa’s” as she hand-fed me and my brother, I remember how her home smelled of aktar, oud, and delicious food at the same time, I remember the wrinkles on her face, I remember how her face was kind when she smiled and when she swept me and my brother up in an embrace and kissed our foreheads telling us to visit again tomorrow and promising us that she would cook more food and that would expect us. I remember how she and her husband cried and held us in a tight embrace when we had to move to a new apartment – quite far from this one. I remember their Love. “I am not a Muslim, but they are the kindest souls and I stand in solidarity with Muslims.”

I remember how my papa used to struggle between his shifts to ensure he was there at home to pick me up by the time my bus returned from school. I remember how he couldn’t make it on time sometimes and how I’d wait in the hot sun, in the bus stop looking for signs of his car. I remember that he was very late that day. I remember the Salon that was in the bus stop and the kind “Barber Uncle” who called me in and asked me to wait in his salon as it was hot outside. I remember how he gave me cold water to drink and how we could sat on the couch; sharing his food and looking out of the glass panes of the shop. I remember asking him what the writing in Arabic on the walls meant and him explaining that it meant “Allah is magnificent and benevolent” and how he explained that he was a Muslim and that he believed in Allah. I remember my papa’s frantic search for me, jumping out of the car and running like a madman coz he couldn’t find me.
I remember how “Barber uncle” ran out seeing this, caught my papa’s hand and brought him into the shop and showed him I was safe. I remember how my papa hugged him tight after he hugged me. I remember asking my papa on the way back home, “Why don’t we have Arabic writings in our home” and him explaining that we were Christians and that our beliefs are different. I remember him telling me, “Our religions don’t matter. Islam and Muslims are all about kindness – just like the “Barber uncle” who made sure you were safe.” That day started many more days when I would run to the “barber uncle’s” shop and talk all about school and my friends until my papa came to pick me. “I am not a Muslim, but they are the kindest souls and I stand in solidarity with Muslims”

I did my Bachelors in a metropolitan city in India. Like any other university, the first year was difficult, as it was quite the norm “’to get ragged (bullied)”. While my very own people, from my very own religion and other religions” bullied me; I had a group of Muslims brothers and sisters protect me from the bullies. I had the Muslim group adopt me and my friends as their “little sisters” and protected me for the whole year until I was a senior myself. It was there that I met my next best friend – “Sushmi Siraj”; a Muslim who was the “epitome of Friendship”. Soon my family and hers became “soul” families. She and her family were closer to me and my family than most of our blood relatives were. We don’t talk every day or even for months now, but if I need her or if she needs me, our families will stand for and with each other. We are both married and we both have children, yet we make it a point to have a stay over at eachothers place every vacation and trust me – even our husbands respect our bond - infact they join in with us and make it more fun. “I am not a Muslim, but they are the most kindest souls and I stand in solidarity with Muslims”

I live in another Muslim country now – Kuwait. I am surrounded by Muslims. Me and my family are safe. My daughter plays and goes to the same school with Muslims. I work with Muslims. I take care of Muslim children. My best friends are Muslims. Trust me, they are no different from people of any other religion. If they are; I would haughtily say that – “They are one step above us – one notch kinder.”

Before you start to think and get irritated with my statements and brood concepts in your head like ,” Do you mean that we as Christians / Hindus / Buddhists / Jews / Jains are any lesser than Muslims?” “Are you “saintifying” them?”, “Have we never done anything good?” “Are they the only ones who suffer?”– hear me out. “No!” I’m not saying that we are any less. I’m saying that we are more “fortunate” to live in a world that “includes” us and “accepts” us and “does not see us as a threat”. I’m saying that “our brothers and sisters in Islam” need us and our support now. They need our help and we need to stand in solidarity with them now.

Think of the innumerable times when a Muslim has helped us in the least subtle way? – Like our childrens bus driver, the guy who sweeps our roads, the lady who takes care of our children, the teachers who teach our children, that doctor who tended to us and our family when we were sick, that nice man in the Bakala….and the list is endless. Then think of what other likes of them suffer in the rest of the world. Then think about how we could make a difference in their world, when we stay in the other part of the “fortunate world”. If your mind and your being wants to “try” to help, read further and let’s share thoughts.
The power of social media: Publically proclaim that you stand in solidarity with Muslims

I believe the power of social media is underestimated. If I can write and share a few examples from my life where Muslims have positively impacted me and my family; so can you.
You can write in your social media or share posts that foster religious harmony, posts that “publically state your support towards our Muslims brothers and sister”. There is no limit to the power of positivity and solidarity. Your post can reach the other parts of the world where Muslims are not very fortunate and possibly another “bully” might have second thoughts. You post might be read by another 9 year old and her family who sees and starts to have hopes that – someone out there or a few people out there - are starting to stand in solidarity with us – and that those few people are not Muslims. Think of the impact that can happen when a non-Muslim stands up for a Muslim rather than when a Muslim stands up for another. Before you shake your head and think – “This is not going to work. This is childish”; my dear friend – “Atleast I’m trying. Would you please try?” If it doesn’t work, its fine – but atleast we can go to bed in peace thinking,” Dear 9 year old Muslim angel and other Muslim angels out there; I tried”. Just take a look at the picture of the 9 year old Angel.

Educate our younger generation to stand up for each other regardless of our religion
Our younger generation has much power in their hands, for tomorrow; this world is going to be theirs.
My little one – Eva – pointed to the mosque and asked me on our way back from the Mini Gulf Mart in Salmiya Block 10. “Mamma, why don’t we pray in this Church?”. She dint know that they were “Mosques” and not “Churches”. And there I saw “Hope”. Because that mind was so pure and innocent, she dint know the difference… and she dint know there were other people from other religions who believed in another God. And here in such young minds is OUR HOPE and OUR FUTURE.

I explained to her as to how her friends were all the same no matter which religion they were from. Well that opened up a crazy load of questions like, “Why don’t we pray to their God/” “Why can’t they pray to ours? “ Why can’t we pray in “their Church”? “What is religion, mamma?”... the questions were endless. And dint stop that day. Now she doesn’t mind and she wants to see what’s inside a “Mosque” to which I’ve promised her that someday when it’s allowed, she can visit a mosque and a temple or whichever place of worship she’d like to – when it is allowed. She knows now that her friends and her might not be of the same religion, just like how some speak Hindi and some speak English or some speak Malayalam ( she only knows the existence of 3 languages now), she knows that their language and religion doesn’t matter, but being friends matters. She asked me many times as to why some of her little girls who play beneath our building wear the ‘burqa” and why she doesn’t? It was difficult to explain the concept, so I found it easier to say, “ Would you like to wear one too? You can if you want to?” - to which she said, “So who’s going to see my hair” (She loves her hair, btw). And then I could tell her, “That what she likes to wear, just like how you like to wear beautiful crowns on your hair. Does it matter baby?” She asked me if she could play with her and I let her go. Let’s educate our children, our nieces and nephew to be kind and inclusive. Let’s educate our little ones that just like languages can differ, so can religions and that it doesn’t matter. Believe it or not, children from the age of 6 to 9 drove the little 9 year old angel in burqa to end her life. Take a look at the picture of the 9 year old angel.

My dearest readers, some of you would have known me and my writings by now. Some of you would know by now that I only write when I feel truly within and that I wrote anonymously earlier. And that when I write, I write with purpose. My purpose for this post is clear – “I’m not a Muslim, but they are the kindest souls and I stand in solidarity with Muslims around the world”.

My simple plea to you is – “Will you stand in solidarity with me for our Muslim Brothers and sisters around the world?” Before you reply, please take a look at the picture of the 9 year old Angel.

Nancy is a creative art person,a writer and a motivational speaker. After almost 7 and a half years of her career in HR and Corporate Training in various hierarchical levels; she decided to turn to Applied Behavioral Therapy, trying to make a difference in the life of Autistic kids. She loves designing and choreographing and has anchored various shows in an out of Kuwait and India. She believes in Karma - that what you give is what you get. She writes with the belief that if her writings brings about a positive vibe in the life of a person who reads it - even if it is for a fleeting moment - she would be blessed. Being a vivid observer, she only writes on true experiences.
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