Dear Mum, I miss you so much. I love living in Spain, the place is amazing, the food is great, the people are awesome, I get to travel almost everywhere. I constantly wish I could have you here to share the great memories with me. But there are sometimes, I feel like I go into a deep dark place; a place that makes me question if I should stay strong or just do what’s easy. One of my earliest memories is hearing your beautiful voice as you recited the Quran every morning during subh (Morning prayer). I could hear the passion and love for Islam just by your recitation. I felt your passion when you taught my siblings and I about Islam even when we were rebellious to learn at times. How you made it seem easy.
In college, I had my roller coaster moments. I was in a semi-real world. After 2 years of internal battle with my deen (religion), I had finally began to accept who I was. I never thought, I would be able to say this but “the teachings you instilled in me as a child were what I had used to stand strong and defend my beliefs.” Being around others like me gave me additional strength.
Now I am in the real world, moving to Spain by myself without really knowing anyone. Majority of the Spanish locals here are not really aware of my beliefs and practices. My fellow English speaking expatriates here are not really versed with it either. I feel completely on my own with my beliefs. I get along well with both the Spanish and English nationals but there is always a moment where I am placed at the fence. There are places I can’t go, activities I can’t do, foods I can’t consume and events I can’t participate in. I feel bad when I have to continually turn down some of their invites, they probably think I judge them. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is I am going through my own internal battle. I keep saying to myself “Do I just go to this place, I wouldn’t do anything haraam (forbidden) ,It is just to socialize?”, “Do I just do this activity, I mean it’s not that bad, or is it?”; “How cute is it that Jessica met Miguel and eventually got married, too bad I can’t have that story”; ” Oh God, why can’t I just be like everyone else? or why can’t everyone else be like me? I finally ask.
I find myself having to give an explanation or reason for what I do, why I can’t do certain things, why violent groups aren’t Islamic despite what they claim, why I believe what I believe. I am the only source of what a real life Muslim is to most of these individuals. Sometimes they nod with mutual understanding and respect, other times they just agree to disagree. All these are overwhelming for me. It’s like I am the only different one going through an internal and external battle in the midst of a sea of people with similar values.
At this moment, I ponder and think of you Mum and say to myself ” Why is it so hard? Being different, standing up for your belief despite what the world thinks and despite the tarnished image by a dangerous few”. How you made it seem so easy Mum, raising us with Dad being strong for us even when times were tough. I wish I had both of your strengths.
Occasionally, I think to myself “how would my life be if I weren’t a Muslim?” I would get to do whatever I want almost without considering the repercussions. But then I resolve to the fact I can’t imagine my life without Islam. There are so many attributes that I have learnt with time because of Islam. Islam taught me perseverance, self-control, selflessness, kindness and hope. Although I struggle sometimes, I could never wish for a better faith for myself. And although it is sometimes overwhelming explaining to people about my faith, I am glad they get to hear it from a real live Muslim. Not the fabricated story on the television. As for now, I will try to stay strong and be true to myself.
Your loving Daughter.