Islamophobia is REAL.
Please read this with much discretion, thought and understanding before any conclusions.
Today I met up with my classmate sister in the train on my way to school.
The train was fairly empty and the reserved seat next to her was too.
I don’t quite have a habit of sitting there, unless the train is empty enough.
So I sat there – and it turned out to be the biggest mistake ever.
After some time my sister pointed out to me that there was quite an elderly man standing around the corner.
I hadn’t noticed him earlier so I immediately stood up and tried to gesture to get his attention so he can have the seat.
Strangely he seemed oblivious to my gestures and when there was a seat available across us he moved over to sit there while glancing at us.
I immediately apologized saying I didn’t see him and while sitting down he passed some remarks. Which included things like, “You’re wearing that scarf on your head but it’s all rusty. Permanent brain damage.”
I brushed it off because I have no interest in dealing with such things in honor of this beautiful month, and most importantly, in honor of my religion.
My younger sister was trying to digest her astonishment and it seemed like she was trying to stare at him – which he then picked up and questioned, “Why are you are staring?”
I was standing so I faced the other way but I overheard his remarks with the other commuters – “They saw me coming in and yet they took my privilege.”
It was unsettling for me mainly because I would not have sat there if I had seen him – so when I saw him about to alight – I followed suit to apologize again.
At the MRT station I caught up with him and said, “I’m sorry, Uncle but I swear I didn’t see you earlier.”
After which he shouted and said “I have no interest in talking to Muslims! Please don’t talk to me. It’s Ramadan and you pray five times a day you idiot!”
Everyone turned to look at us and my sister has already broken down in tears from the time before we alighted.
She found it difficult to comprehend the entire situation, and I can completely understand why.
Although what he’s said may appear offensive – I was utterly relieved to know that he wasn’t mad at me for not being considerate enough to notice his presence… But the problem was bigger than this – that he was mad at my religion.
I felt horrible knowing I had caused an elderly man to be unhappy because I had taken up his seat….
But later I found out he was just an unhappy person.
I’m sorry I didn’t find it in me to not take up that seat.
But I’m not sorry for being a Muslim.
Islam teaches me to love you, and to care for you when I can.
I err and forget because I am human.
Islam is beyond just fasting in this month and praying five times a day…
Islam is what made me alight to speak to you, to apologize, so you don’t get angry at me when you don’t have to.
Islam is what made me stand up to give you the seat in the first place – whether or not its reserved seating.
Islam is the smile, the peace I still feel right now after meeting you, the concern I still have for you and that which I convey through my prayers.
Dearest Uncle, may God protect you, and grant you good health. May He place you around those whom you love, so you may find it in you to love even those whom you do not too. May He forgive me and us for my and our actions, and may He forgive you too.
I hope, if you happen to read this anyhow, somehow…
That although I am Muslim, Islam is not me because Islam is perfect…
So it doesn’t matter at all if you are angry with me… But please don’t be angry because there is no reason to be so, there is absolutely no reason to be angry with Islam.
Dearest Uncle, may God bless you always.
Although my sister is slightly affected by this entire experience, I am thankful for it has opened our eyes to observe our conduct more dutifully, to be more considerate and giving, and to always remember RasulAllah salAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam – what he had to go through for us and how we should emulate him.
Dear God, Thank You.
Islamophobia is real. And it does exist.
Thank You God, for this experience – even if I haven’t traveled to places where I have read and heard it is more prevalent.
This might just be inspiration for something good on the future, and may nothing but goodness be a result of this.
Authored by Nazeera Mohamed
To sis Nazeera Mohamed, you have remained calm despite being criticized and mock at publicly. For that, we are so proud of your composure and patience.
It must have been hurtful, but you are truly an example. No one should be treated in that manner especially when we meant well. But human beings are unpredictable.
The grumpy old man is probably bitter because life must have been difficult for him. Just let him be. Don’t let him take away your power, your faith and your good spirits sis!
This incident just further reinforces our faith. As usual, minorities just have to dust ourselves off and move on.
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