I am just a Muslim mom (and I am probably a lot like you)

This weekend I was sifting through my inbox and I came across a message that made me want to respond. Really respond. It was from a woman named Amber who said she feels scared and alone. Her message was a response to the New Zealand shooting.

She is Muslim.

She lives in Pakistan.

We started talking, and I realized something. We are so very different and yet we are so much the same. So I asked her to do something I’ve never done before. I asked her to write the first guest post I have ever shared on this page. It was scary. I had no idea what she would write. But what she wrote is beautiful and perfect. 

I am just a Muslim mom

By Amber in Pakistan

I heard the news at my mom’s place. We are very lucky since the free babysitters live very close to us. We just had my mom’s awesome biryani and the babysitters were entertaining the kids while I tried to study for an upcoming exam.

“There has been an attack on a mosque in New Zealand,” my husband said.

I looked at him and neither of us said anything.

Why would somebody attack people while they prayed? Why would anybody kill somebody who greets them with a “welcome brother”? Why was one of the safest countries in the world not safe for us? Both of us looked at our kids and then put on a brave face. We knew we had to tell them one day that life won’t be simple for them. Today wasn’t that day.

Let me tell you what you will see if you see my family. We are practicing Muslims. My husband has a beard. I wear a hijab. We look like the people some amongst you are uncomfortable around. Now let me tell you what you don’t see on the surface.

I am a dentist. This hijab I wear is by choice. My father never forced me. He was actually worried that I will face discrimination due to it. My husband never forced me. He was scared for my safety too. But I am pretty stubborn when I want to be, so both these men stood by me like the way they always had in all my decisions.

My husband is an engineer. He is an amazing cook. He is actually a better cook than me. I suffered from the worst morning sickness with both my pregnancies. He did everything around the house while working a very demanding job too. And when I cried how I was being a burden to him (I can be pretty dramatic too) he just laughed and said, “The best amongst us is the one who is the best to his family,” saying of holy prophet Hazrat Mohammad PBUH.

My son is 6 and obsessed with space nowadays. Mo Williams and Oliver Jeffers are his favourite authors at the moment. He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. Let us see what he wants to be the next week.

My daughter is 4 and she just wants tobaberries (strawberries) and all the make up in the world tonight. Let us see what happens tomorrow. Oliver Jeffers is her favourite author too. She wants to be a dentist when she grows up.

Why am I telling you all this? Seriously I don’t know myself. I guess I am just trying to normalize myself. I guess I am just trying to normalize my family. I guess I am just trying to reach out to you. I guess I just want you to know that we are more alike than we are different. I guess I am just scared and I want you to tell me it’s going to be okay. I guess I am just trying to tell you to please don’t be scared of me or my family.

I know there are people who do terrible things in the name of my religion. Let me assure you those people don’t represent me or my religion. No religion teaches hatred. That’s why when a terrorist kills my brothers and sisters in a mosque I don’t blame Christianity. I blame him. I just ask for the same courtesy.

You know what I did when 9|11 happened?

I cried.

I sobbed and bawled like a child for all those kids who won’t see their parents again. I cried for all those families who were separated by people who didn’t deserve to be called humans. Just the way I cried when more than 100 innocent children were killed in a school in Peshawar Pakistan by the same group of terrorists.

I am crying today too. I am crying for the innocent people who lost their lives in a mosque in New Zealand. I cried the same way for the people who were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

I am worried for my kids’ future. I am worried for our kids’ future.

I am worried that our kids are growing in a world where hatred is becoming a norm. I am scared that our kids will see a tomorrow where it will be considered okay to hurt the people we don’t agree with. I don’t want that world. I am willing to educate myself. I am willing to educate my kids. I am willing to teach my kids that being different is okay.

Being different is awesome.

Please, you do that too. Living our different lives together is okay. Not letting each other live is not. It will never be.

If my difference scares you, try to learn about me and my religion. I am willing to help. Please take the first step and I will take two towards you. Next time you see me on a flight or in a parking lot just know I am as scared as you are. I am as confused as you are. I am as desperate for change as you are.

I am just a mother like you.

Help spread this important message. If you liked this, please don’t forget to like and share this. Thank you. 




There are 48 comments for this article
  1. Beth A.Leahy at 10:23 am

    Thank you, Amber. Sending you and your family love. We all hurt the same, bleed the same and love the same. Here’s Hope for a better world for our little ones.

  2. Jim Fields at 10:31 am

    Karen (I hope you don’t mind me using your first name), for your first “guest column” you picked a wonderful piece.
    As a dad with two young daughters (3 & 6), I worry about how to introduce them into a world that often scares me. Thankfully, the girls still have the “color-blindness” of children and haven’t begun to notice silly things like a different skin color or way of worshipping. Their friend is their friend, full stop. Nothing else matters. My challenge is nurturing that in face of a world that wants to do nothing more than point out those differences and vilify them. It actually helps to read that I am not the only one experiencing this challenge. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Crystal Hamaker at 8:21 pm

      Amber I cry with you lovely lady. My daughter in-law is first generation American, her parents are immigrants from Ecuador. Two years ago she was living with me while my son was deployed for a year. She and I were in a store and a very aggressive young man stomped toward her and growled “go back where you came from.” In that moment I saw my tall, statuesque gorgeous daughter fold in on herself, she looked much smaller, younger and terrified. I am a pretty rough Wyomingite and not afraid of much so I stepped all 5’ 2” of myself between her and this low life and growled back; “where; back to New York?” To my surprise he walked away without it escalating any further. Perhaps he saw in my eye the love of a mother willing to die to defend their child. Because in that moment she was no longer my daughter “in-law”; she became my child and I was not going to allow any more harm to come to her! But I also learned in that moment that the MOTHERS of this world are who have the ability to change this world. IF WE ALL believe that EVERY CHILD IS OUR CHILD we can teach our children to LOVE ALL THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. If we do that; we will change the world. It may seem simplistic and I may have scoffed at it myself two years ago; before I had to defend my own daughter.

      • Crystal at 10:54 pm

        Amber I cry with you lovely lady. My daughter in-law is first generation American, her parents are immigrants from Ecuador. Two years ago she was living with me while my son was deployed for a year. She and I were in a store and a very aggressive young man stomped toward her and growled “go back where you came from.” In that moment I saw my tall, statuesque gorgeous daughter fold in on herself, she looked much smaller, younger and terrified. I am a pretty rough Wyomingite and not afraid of much so I stepped all 5’ 2” of myself between her and this low life and growled back; “where; back to New York?” To my surprise he walked away without it escalating any further. Perhaps he saw in my eye the love of a mother willing to die to defend their child. Because in that moment she was no longer my daughter “in-law”; she became my child and I was not going to allow any more harm to come to her! But I also learned in that moment that the MOTHERS of this world are who have the ability to change this world. IF WE ALL believe that EVERY CHILD IS OUR CHILD we can teach our children to LOVE ALL THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. If we do that; we will change the world. It may seem simplistic and I may have scoffed at it myself two years ago; before I had to defend my own daughter.

  3. Shelley at 10:33 am

    Oh Amber… we are soooo much more alike than different…. all the same fears as parents and as humans…. please keep on as you are doing.. teaching love and respect… I will do the same and hope we can make the change this world desparately needs…

  4. Ashlynn Gray at 10:33 am

    I am sitting at my desk, reading your words, with tears in my eyes. The world is crying with you. All we can do is love each other through the atrocities going on in our world. I have to believe that one day, finally, the love will banish the hates that seems to be so prevalent to the darkest depths where it belongs. We will stamp it out like a flame and no longer allow it to threaten our families, our children, our lives. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your bravery.

  5. Sarah Sebby at 10:50 am

    Oh Amber, thank you for sharing! We are so alike. It is such a scary world we are raising our children in. I am working to teach my children love just as you are. Thank you and sending you a hug from across the world…

  6. Rebecca Hathorn at 10:52 am

    Thank you for sharing your truth. We all need to do this. We need to see and accept, appreciate and celebrate our differences. Sending much love to you and your family. My 6 and 4 year old love Mo Williams too!

  7. kathleen cawley at 10:59 am

    It is so important that we take the time to look past surfaces and know the deeper truth. To know people “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin” or religion or clothes or any other surface feature.

    Let’s get this post out there. I posted it on my FB site and forwarded to all my friends.

    Thank you Amber and Karen, all peace and comfort to you both.

  8. Steffany Overstreet at 11:07 am

    Well, now that I’m ugly sobbing in the middle of a coffee shop, you are so loved and if y’all are ever on this side of the pond in the Lower Texas area, my family would love to host y’all. You definitely have our support and thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  9. holly carter at 11:41 am

    what a great post! i cried through most of it. its sad that there is so much hate in the world. thank you amber for sharing, & thank you baby sideburns for posting this beautiful letter

  10. Leslie S. at 11:44 am

    What a beautiful guest blog! My 12.5 year old daughter has several close friends from a wide variety of backgrounds and it is wonderful to see them all learning from one another about their nationalities and religions. And I have enjoyed getting to know their parents. I think we all need the reminder of your words, Amber — “we are all alike more than we are different”. Sending lots of love, prayers and hugs from my family in Indiana to yours. <3 🙂

  11. Jennifer at 11:46 am

    This is beautifully written. Hello, Amber, I live near Chicago and I too am a mom. I didn’t really have a clue about Muslims (particularly hijabis) until I met one on my block and we became friends. I hate the stares and discrimination that she and others often face in this country. It is crazy how people blame entire religions for the acts of a few sickos. Best wishes to you and your family.

  12. Cheryl Saltzman at 11:48 am

    Amber,

    As my best friend Nadin Hamoui taught me only one Arabic phrase, I use it know knowing it is the perfect moment. Mashallah for your beautiful testimony and family. It is fear that keeps people apart and allows hate to enter. If we all feared less through communication, hate wouldn’t have the ability to thrive. Thank you, and wonderful wishes for all of us.

    Cheryl

  13. Allison Bader at 12:05 pm

    Amber, thank you for sharing. When I found out about the shooting in New Zealand I was confused too. People don’t seem to realize that there are good and bad people in the world and they come from all backgrounds, not just this one or that one. When people do senseless things like this in response to the acts of the few, it makes them no better. It’s not justice for anyone.It keeps the cycle of hate going around and around. That does not make the world a better place, it contributes to the worsening of it.

  14. Erin at 12:07 pm

    What a wonderful message – thank you for sharing it with us. I think we are all scared as mothers about the direction this world is heading. Too much hate. Too many people who allow it. I am raising my daughter to understand and appreciate differences, but also to find the similarities. I know as an 8 year old, she sees those similarities very easily – and I want to encourage that in her and her friends. Let’s all strive to understand.

  15. Bryna at 12:31 pm

    I’m not scared OF you, I’m scared FOR you and for everyone else that terrorists of all colors and “religions” (I find that I cannot think of extremists of any ilk using their beliefs as an excuse to kill as truly religious) are targeting and for all those killed and injured as passersby. I have always said/felt/believed that MOST people of any belief system just want to live their lives…do the best they can for themselves and for their children, eat, drink, be merry, celebrate joys, and mourn sorrows…just like me…just like you. Thank you for your lovely guest entry, Amber. Blessings to you and yours.

  16. Angela at 1:15 pm

    I am crying! I love this. This hurts my heart for her and Muslims around the world. I can only do my part to educate my children and hope others will do the same.

  17. Anita at 1:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing Amber. I too have a six year old son, he wants to be a you tube presenter when he grows up. We live in a small town called Lincoln on the outskirts of Christchurch NZ. I wanted to share with you that within hours of this happening social media was full of love and support for our Kiwi Muslim communities. There have been Halal food drops, offers of accommodation and transport for people travelling here to mourn and so much more. My favourite was seeing the offers to accompany Muslim women going shopping if they didn’t feel safe. People have taken the time to quickly learn as much as they can about this religion so that no offer of help is offensive and our government has brought in extra help to ensure the bodies of the deceased can be returned as quickly as possible to the families. We are a diverse little country here and at the moment my son does not see other children as being anything other than children. He doesn’t really care about what they wear or if they take time off school for prayer, he just wants to know if they are friendly and if they like Minecraft. I don’t want to spend any more of my time worrying about the world our children are living in, I want to be part of the generation who implemented changes for the world to be a better one for them. Much love from me here to you over there.

  18. Meredith at 1:51 pm

    Wonderful and agree on all points! Moms worry about our children, their futures, each other. Perhaps world peace summits should be run by mothers!

  19. Charlene M Rippy at 2:10 pm

    Beautiful. All of it. Thank you for writing this, and BS, thanks for doing this. I read it with tears in my eyes. I wish I could hug you both. Thank you.

  20. Alecia Watson at 3:16 pm

    This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.
    My favorite paragraph was this one:

    I am worried that our kids are growing in a world where hatred is becoming a norm. I am scared that our kids will see a tomorrow where it will be considered okay to hurt the people we don’t agree with. I don’t want that world. I am willing to educate myself. I am willing to educate my kids. I am willing to teach my kids that being different is okay.

    I think we should all teach our children that being different is okay. We can change society. We can make love be the norm. I feel this to my core. But we all have to stick together to make it happen! I am the kind of person who talks to everyone. I can meet a person in line at the grocery store and know a ton of things about them before we’ve even paid. My husband just rolls his eyes at my tendency to be a social butterfly. But I think this is important. People need to talk. To be polite and engage others around them. There really are great people in the world. And you never know, maybe that person was having a rough day, and your conversation was the one bright spot of the whole day. Isn’t that cool to think about? That because of YOU a stranger’s day was not as bad? What does that really cost you? a few minutes of time? Make the time to make a difference.

  21. tldarker at 5:25 pm

    Beautiful message….I posted to my facebook in hopes it goes viral…..My first husband was pakistani and my daughter looks alot like him…enough so that strangers assume she is adopted….I have spoken to her with regards to society today and the challenges she will face….it is so unfortunate that in the matter of 30 years(when I was a teenager lol) that society has become so out of touch with the basics of humanity….I am not a religious person but I hold out hoping that society will recognize its failings and become harmonious again

  22. Andrea at 5:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing. This brought tears to my eyes. We are all so much more alike than we think. Thank you Amber for writing this!

  23. Joanne S-R at 5:50 pm

    In every person, in every life there are more similarities than differences.
    My heart aches for the communities who are hurt. All of the communities.
    Thank you Amber for writing these words and Karen for sharing them. Both brave, compassionate women

  24. Katherine at 8:22 pm

    Beautiful and inspiring words! Thank you for sharing and know that there is a family in in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA sending our prayers to you and yours.

  25. Mary at 8:35 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! We all need to be reminded that we really are all the same! Beautiful words that we all should LIVE

  26. Rachel Snowden at 8:55 pm

    I have no words. That was beautiful, and so important. I’m so glad you shared this! Amber, thank you for gently reminding us that for all our differences, we have so many similarities. Thank you for your willingness to share a brief glimpse of your life, your fears, your family, and your faith with the rest of the world. You are so loved.

  27. Christy at 9:30 pm

    Amber- thank you for sharing. Yes, in our would today we need to choose love over hate on a daily basis. Fear will only make fear grow. Love will help to make it shrink. Thank you for sharing and showing how important it is to alway show love.

  28. Jodi at 9:49 pm

    Thank you, Amber, for sharing your thoughts. Like you, I am also a mother; my children are now older and I am so proud of the kind, respectful people they have become. Last Friday a middle school not too far from our home had a riot break out during the final moments of a basketball tournament. Teams from several schools were playing, and it appears racial slurs were exchanged, starting the fight. No one was seriously hurt, but this is middle school … still young people. Three different law enforcement agencies were forced to respond to regain control. As I read the comments on Facebook about the event, people were repeatedly asking “Where are they learning this behavior?”

    As adults — as moms — we need to hold the mirrors up to ourselves, our families, our communities. Hatred is taught — it is learned, and we must teach our children better. I firmly believe one person can make a difference, because one plus one can add up to many. I am not afraid of you. Please don’t be afraid of me.

  29. Lis at 12:56 am

    Amber, when you are a Mum you are never alone; your nationality may be different to mine, your religion may be different, you may have a son and a daughter whilst I have twin sons, but you are a fellow Mum, and even more importantly a fellow human and together we all cry for the senseless horror that is happening in the world… Your words were powerful and have touched many readers- try to keep believing, as I do, that there is more good in the world than evil. 💜

  30. Barb at 8:06 pm

    A beautiful post. I am scared too. I help birth babies & every day wonder what kind of world they will grow up in. Praying for strength for all of us to navigate our difficult journey!

  31. Dana A Bozeday at 10:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and family story here. We too enjoy Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers. Two of my favorite authors. We are alike. It’s nice to meet you.

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