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 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.
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