Here I am a grown woman. A mother to a daughter who will be raised in a Muslim household, God willing. On many a days, too many that I am ashamed to admit, afraid to walk out my home with this thing on my head – a hijab.
I am an educated woman. I am a privileged woman. I can speak three languages. I have gas in my car, food on my table, money in my pocket. I can read the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. I can read the Quran: let there be no compulsion in religion.
I know to raise my voice and yet here I am, full of fear because I am constantly confronted by an all-consuming hatred for me and my faith. Here I am paralyzed, unable to tell someone that it’s not kind or right to call me a terrorist even if it’s spoken under the breath. Here I am conflicted whether to walk out of my car for groceries because it has been a long day and I don’t have the strength to endure the stares.
If this is my experience, I can only imagine what this hatred must feel like to the woman who is without documents, or can speak only broken English, or can not drive, or is unable to raise her voice because it is just too risky for her. If this is me, helpless in the face of senseless fear, I can only imagine how she must feel when most people she encounters show only disdain for those not like themselves. If this is me, unable to get out the car on a bad day, I can only imagine how she must feel when her child gets in a fight because his class-fellows kept calling him terrorist in school.
Believe me it’s onerous. I am in awe of her courage. I am inspired by her faith and how she carries herself with such grace.
Don’t get me wrong – there are more good days but these days those bad days are robbing us of our humanity.
I now plead to those of you here who love and fear God and are conscious of him – do not allow the leaders of this country to use speeches to defraud you into believing that Muslims or for that matter Latinos or African Americans or other minorities are here to hurt this country or undermine its position in this world. We know in our veins that this kind of thinking is indeed what led to the greatest and the most horrific atrocities and wars the world has ever seen.
Please reach out to all of the terrifying “others”, those who are notably not like “you” and get to know them, try to understand them. I promise you that you will find in them the same kind of compassion and love and culture and humanity that you believe resides among your people.
The fear of another must be called out by its name. Every pulpit, every bullhorn, every gathering, every conversation, every moment you and I must call out, shout out: No hate–not in my name! My name is Khaula Hadeed.