Among All, Muslims Are ISIS' Favorite Target
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Among All, Muslims Are ISIS' Favorite Target

So, please, next time, when you see me wearing my head scarf and want to think that Islam is a religion of terrorism, remember this.

Among All, Muslims Are ISIS' Favorite Target

I never imaged that just the sight of me sitting in a public place would provoke a conversation about ISIS. That the scarf on my head was a symbol of terrorism and death, but that is exactly what happened when two gentlemen were discussing an irrelevant subject switched to talking about ISIS after seeing me crossing down the streets.

ISIS, claiming that they stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has terrorized homes and cities. They spread fear into the hearts of many countries and nations by committing acts that are both inhuman and unjustified by any reason let alone claiming that it’s all the teaching of Islam.

Because before the infamous Attack in Paris, November 2015, before the massacre in Orlando, Florida, ISIS killed Muslims. ISIS murdered anyone that had the smallest deviation from their own set of rules, and I happened to be one of their favorite targets.

Born in the East of Saudi Arabia, I was raised as a Shiite Muslim. One of the two main sects in Islam which also happens to be the minority as well. Since I was raised in that area that had both sects, we learned to coexist. This by no mean meant that each person would be vocal about their beliefs and such, it only meant that the untold rule is that you can never ask nor speak about it in public. Like any normal land with such differences, discrimination existed. As a child, I heard a lot of stories about how relatives from my town or close towns that are Shiite got denied the offer because of where they come from, how in many positions, only a Sunni supervisor would always end up taking the lead. It was all annoying of course, to hear that a person would be denied something they deserved only because of where they come from and what they believe in.

Regardless if some of these stories that I heard adults whisper about as a child were true or not, I never thought about pondering too long on such incidents. Yes, they were infuriating. Yes, sometimes I’d feel self-conscious about how I may be viewed due to my last name or my own beliefs, but I could live. I was safe. I had my rights, and my family and friends are all safe. Why would I really complain?

Then the first attack that I can recall happened. A mosque, fifteen minutes from my house, was bombed on a Friday afternoon. Tens of people killed, children included. My heart wrenched because I remembered a past attack that happened in Al-Hasa; it screamed with fear because everyone around me indicated that this seems like the start of series of attacks, and they were right. The next Friday, something similar happened but this time to a Mosque that most of my friend’s family members go to in order to perform prayers. At that time, it struck me, this wasn’t another incident that I hear about in the news; this isn’t just another story that my aunts were discussing; this is something that shook my own town. I was attacked because I’m a Muslim by others that claim that they are doing this to spread Islam. How does that make any sense?

And then, for a period of time, on every Friday when the clock approached Dhuhr prayer, my little sister, my cousin, and I would take a moment of silence all thinking about the same thing, but never saying it out loud. Will there be another suicide bomber in the Mosque near us? Does Dad really have to go perform Jumu’ah prayer in the mosque this Friday? Maybe if I close my WhatsApp I won’t know about what’s happening and I can ignore the facts? Only until about fifteen minutes after the prayer finishes, and our family members return home do we release our tight fist. Only after we have the fleeting reassurance that we might be safe until another Friday.

But this doesn’t end here. We can’t go to public places in our own town; we can’t attend celebrations and festivals without having to be checked at the door because someone might be a suicide bomber in disguise. Worse than that, in Muharram, the month that many Shiite mourn the death of Imam AlHussein, we know that ISIS is planning an attack on any possible part of the world that grief the martyr of Imam AlHussein, just like the one that caused the death of my friend’s sister. In this time now, far away from home, it’s exactly like what I read on Facebook post: It’s no longer the time that our family members fear our well-being because we are in a land that’s far away from our native one; this is rather the time that we fear for our family in our own homeland.

When I think too much about all these series of events, I feel paralyzed. What if a time comes and I can’t protect or defend my own religion? A time when I break under the pressure of someone asking me too many questions, and attacking my principles, and under all the circumstances that are happening I can’t find a way to defend what Islam holds true for.

Then I remember how as a child I was taught was Islam is. Islam is the religion of peace and kindness. Islam is about morals. It’s not about killing or accusing or forcing; it’s about guiding us all to be better people. It’s about that time I lied to my mother about who broke her precious watch but then telling her the next day that it was me because a Muslim has to tell the truth. It’s about that time that I wanted to hurt someone with my words but refrained from doing so because being a Muslim is about being kind to people and guiding them rather than hurting them and judging them. It’s about these nights when I crumble down, and lose all the hope I have in the world, but then I remember that as long as I am alive, I must not lose faith. It is about the 1:30AM conversation that I have with my non-Muslim friend, and we discover that in both our religions and beliefs, it’s rather the universal truth that if you have hope and keep faith, everything is alright.

I know it’s easier to judge. It’s easier to put me in a group or a category. It helps in keeping the order of this world and in justifying all the wrong doings of others and yourself, but before you do that, remember

Before you, I was accused by ISIS of being a non-Muslim when Islam was a huge part of who I am. By ISIS, my identity as a Muslim was ripped away even though Islam to me was the cornerstone that I never thought any one would question. By ISIS, the religion that taught me so much was stained with blood and misconceptions when I was sure of what it meant in its essence, and it was not the closest thing to what they claim.

So, please, next time, when you see me wearing my head scarf and want to think that Islam is a religion of terrorism, remember this:

About three months ago, when I went back to my country after a year abroad, I walked passed the Mosque adjacent to my house, and I was shocked. The women’s section was closed in fear of any ISIS attack. I never thought that someone would prevent me from freely performing my prayers as a Muslim. You can disagree with my beliefs, you can condemn my rituals, but ISIS cannot claim that they are Muslims nor can they say that I am not one. So, next time please remember, that among all, Muslims are ISIS’ favorite target.

A friend asked me once:

Is it harder to talk about Islam in America? Or about being a Shiite in your country?

I’d like to tell her now that neither of these might annoy me as much as someone saying that I’m not even Muslim, and this is what ISIS is exactly doing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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