This is a letter I was forwarded that was written by a sister who was the victim of some harassment for nothing more than being Muslim. This should serve as a wake up call to us. We must work together to prevent these types of things from happening. The letter is unedited (except to remove the location as to preserve the anonymity of the author).

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

On July 22nd, 2007, a trip to the neighborhood pharmacy turned into a life-changing experience.

On this Sunday afternoon, my husband and I took our baby and went shopping. We stopped at the Walgreens in [location removed], to purchase an infant thermometer. My husband stayed in the car with our baby and I went into the store on my own.

I had stopped in an aisle to look at some items on the shelf when I noticed a couple, possibly in their late forties or early fifties, approaching where I was standing. There was an employee packing goods behind me and she asked them if they needed any help. The lady said yes and all three started heading to the next aisle. The gentleman, however, seemed to linger behind a bit. He then came up behind me and said to me in a low voice, “I do not appreciate people who wish to cut off my head!” I was appalled to say the least. Words cannot describe my shock at such a statement. I felt as though the devil himself was whispering in my ears. Though my thoughts were still reeling from the statement, I responded that I do not cut people's heads off. In response, the man then insisted that I do, saying that he knows this because my religion teaches me to cut peoples heads off. He said, “Islam teaches you to cut peoples heads off!”

Islam does not teach me such heinous behavior, as this man insists. Islam teaches me of the sanctity of life and the great value of each soul. The Qur'an states in Chapter 5, Verse 32, “On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

He went on to insist that he knows the “Qur'an” and knows all about Islam. His obvious ignorance and disrespect was infuriating and appalling. He walked off to catch up with his significant other and the employee. My mind and emotions were spinning. What he was saying was so wrong and I greatly wanted to respond. But in that fleeting moment there was too much to say to a mind so wanting of truth. I wanted to point out the fallacies in his statements, and to derail his insistence on knowing about Islam and its teachings.

His mispronunciation of “Qur'an” made me think that he did not even know Arabic and given that the Qur'an is written in Arabic, this language deficit – in my opinion – barred him from any scholarly attempt at truly understanding Islam and its Holy Book. English translations of the Qur'an can often lose much meaning from the Arabic – a poor translation can misrepresent the true meaning altogether.

Moments later the employee returned to the aisle and asked if I needed anything. I responded that I didn't but I added that I did not appreciate how their customers were treating me. I proceeded to tell her what the man said to me. Her response was that she did not hear it so she couldn't do anything. She dismissed me and continued to pack her goods. I was surprised at her disregard and lack of action. I could not believe it was acceptable for customers to be harassed in this manner. The emotions were beginning to take its toll and tears slipped from my eyes. I walked away, wanting to just leave the store. However, I refocused and realized that I could not let this ridiculous situation prevent me from functioning. I had come to the store to purchase something for my baby and that was what I was going to do!

Not knowing where to find my item, and refusing to further converse with the unsympathetic clerk, I headed towards the pharmacy counter to ask for assistance. I found my thermometer just before I spoke with the pharmacist, so I took it to the register to check out. Unfortunately, as I approached the line, I noticed the same abusive man in line ahead of me. He saw me and turned away. The woman with him continued to avoid eye contact with me.

It was not long before the man started off again. He decided it was necessary to blame me for “murdering the thousands of Americans on 9/11.” This personal accusation was unbearable. I wondered how anyone could blame me for horrific events of such magnitude. The tragedies of 9/11 were caused by individuals who had their own agenda and misrepresented Islam, distorting the peaceful teachings of Islam. Leaders and Scholars of Islam in our community and all over the world have condemned the tragedy of 9/11 and clearly stated that Islam forbids acts of terrorism and violence.

His malicious statements continued and became more aggressive than before. He was now loudly voicing his opinions in front of the line of customers and the cashier. He kept repeating that I wished to cut his head off. Any rebuttal on my part, saying that he was wrong, only got a response from him that he knew Islam and the Qur'an. I could not help but notice the lack of response by those witnessing this barrage. I only heard a woman behind me say softly, “How mean!” Was I less of a person, less of a customer, so much so that he could treat me in this way with no one objecting? I couldn't help but wonder if the tables were turned, and I had spoken such words to him, if I would have been arrested and taken in for “further inquiry.”

He paid for his items and walked towards the exit continuing his tirade, telling me he knew so much about Islam. And when I asked him if he knew my religion better than me, he said yes, arrogantly reiterating his self-acclaimed vast knowledge. He left the store only to return shouting to me, “Why don't you go back to Saudi Arabia!” At this remark, my mind went through a whirlwind of thoughts. I wasn't even from Saudi Arabia. I am from the Caribbean, but it should not have mattered anyway. There was so much hypocrisy in his statement since all Americans, with the exception of Native American Indians, came from somewhere other than American soil at some point in their ancestry. I wanted to make this point and emphasize that I had as much right to be here as he did. I wanted to say that there are many “American” people who are “Muslims.” If all Muslims were to go back to where they came from, as he suggests, then where would my “Caucasian American Muslim husband go? Was he to go back to “America?” Or more specifically, was he to go back to Texas?” This man obviously couldn't see that people who were different than him had the same right as he did to live peacefully in this country. And to suggest that I leave was as ridiculous as me telling him to leave. Unfortunately, the only words that could fall out of my mouth were, “Why don't you go back to where you came from?” He paused at my surprising response. But my point still must have eluded him. He walked out the store.

I was beside myself, barely able to complete my transaction at the register. The cashier handed me the bill to sign. With shaking hands I signed and gave it back to her. Not knowing if I was coming or going I asked her if I was done as she handed me my bag. I didn't even know if she gave me my receipt or not. I walked out to the parking lot, only to be more alarmed that the man was waiting for me. The woman with him was already in the car. He stood at the rear of his silver Thunderbird waiting for me to go to my car. As I approached my vehicle he continued to make aggressive remarks, much of which I barely heard. I was too shaken to even hear him anymore. I got in the back seat of my vehicle and broke down, to my husband's shock. He was on the phone and quickly hung up. I told him what the man had been doing. My husband consoled me and then got out the car to go speak with the man. But the man had already gotten in his car and, seeing my “white American” husband approaching, drove off.

In the midst of everything I looked at my baby boy in his car seat and there were tears in his eyes as he watched me in confusion. I had scared him with my burst of emotions. He was upset because I was crying. It broke my heart. When my husband returned to the car, I asked him to console my son while I gathered myself. After we were all a bit more composed my husband asked if I had told the people in the store. When I told him that I did but got no help from them, he went into the store himself. Not surprising, they apologized to him and the manager even called the police. I could only think that they responded to him instead of me because, unlike me, he fit the “typical” American stereotype.

Moments later the police arrived and spoke with us and the employees. The cashier finally responded in a sympathetic manner. The manager never spoke with me. The police heard my story but said they could do nothing since they had no information on the man's identity. They recommended that if it happened again that I should alert the employees and have them call the police.

I found it ironic advice since I had indeed alerted the employees, and they even stood witnessing it all, yet nothing was really done to help me. The officers were apologetic. They indicated that such an incident had not happened there before. This fact was reiterated by the store employees. And it certainly was a first for me as well.

The police asked if we needed to do more shopping and pointed out that they would remain in the area for a while, but I was too shaken and needed to go home. It is difficult to explain how I felt about the incident. It left me with a sickening feeling in my stomach. I wanted to cry. But over time I realized there was no need. This man was too ignorant to cry over. I had done nothing wrong and had no reason for tears. The fault this man saw in me was that I was a Muslim. And that is no fault in my eyes. I feel blessed to be a Muslim. This man has a great misunderstanding about Islam. My fear is that there are many others like him. He spoke as if he represented all of America but I know that just as he cannot judge me for other's actions, I cannot judge other people in our community based on his actions. When the incident began I knew that he targeted me because I wore “hijab” with its tell-tale head scarf. In spite of malicious comments, I have no regrets or fears about wearing it. No one can ever make me stop doing something good that I do to please God.

This man, unprovoked, verbally attacked me. Did “Love your neighbor as yourself.” escape his vast knowledge? I am hopeful that this is not, and will not be, a normal occurrence in my society. I do, however, feel that it is important that I speak about it so other Muslims and non-Muslims alike will be aware that it happened. I trust that this awareness would prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. My hope is that those in our community with true scholarly qualifications will step forward and address these misunderstandings and perhaps prevent other innocent individuals from being subject to such prejudices.

If future instances of such harassment and prejudice continue to occur however, the following is a suggested course of action.

  1. Immediately contact the authorities.
  2. Notify the management.
  3. In the case of unresponsive or apathetic management, establish witnesses and gather contact information. Inform police of the management's lack of concern and file complaints and grievances against them with corporate headquarters and the authorities.
  4. Attempt to gather and confirm evidence to establish the identity of the harasser, such as name and license plate number.
  5. And very importantly, as they say, “Keep your head up!” Always remember that you have done nothing wrong. It is the harasser who is wrong and ignorant. Never allow hatred to fill your heart, because it is evil and dark. Instead, feel pity for those of such ignorance and narrow-mindedness and take positive measures to stop such incidents from reoccurring, like writing this article.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (saas) said, “Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet. (i.e. abstain from all kinds of evil and dirty talk). Sahih Bukhari: Vol 8, Book 73, Number 47

44 Responses

  1. Malik

    Holy Quran -85:8
    And they ill−treated them for no other reason than that they believed in Allah, Exalted in
    Power, Worthy of all Praise!−

    Holy Quran- 85:10
    Those who persecute (or draw into temptation) the Believers, men and women, and do not
    turn in repentance, will have the Penalty of Hell: They will have the Penalty of the Burning
    Fire.

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  2. Umm Layth

    May Allah reward you sister (whoever it is you are). You stood and though you broke down, you took it. You were more honorable to have taken such a situation and deal with it the way you did, than he was. Of course, my sister, you are soft and fragile and so you broke down, but I have too, and so have many others. When the kids laugh at me and point fingers and the parents just ignore it and join along, when the caucasian girls in their 20′s call me names in front of my face -thinking that I speak or understand nothing, or when the cashier and her other co-workers behind the window in the pizza parlor make fun of me for ordering breadsticks – I have hurt inside and found myself shaking, but just like you sister, I realized that feeling anger could blacken me and so instead I respond with something to let them know I am human and ask Allah to guide them within my heart.

    I applaud you for being a Muslimah and for not giving up. And I applaud all of you sisters out there for being who you are. You are blessed for being who you are. And just like you and I need Allah, they, too, need Him. May Allah protect you and guide you and love you always.

    (I know… I had to write my comment like this… I just had to…)

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  3. brnaeem

    “I am hopeful that this is not, and will not be, a normal occurrence in my society.”

    Alas I am not as optimistic as the good sister.

    Br. Tariq posted on the trend of certain big-name right-wingers setting the table for possible internment camps.

    Here is the link. Be sure to watch the video on the Japanese interment camps. Truly amazing and extremely sinister.

    May Allah protect us from a similar fate.

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  4. Ummaziza

    I had a similar experience. My advice to sisters (no matter how much it hurts or how unfair it seems), especially if you are alone is:

    1. Do not respond (perfect the art of pretending to be deaf)
    2. Stop what you are doing
    3. Leave the area calmly
    4. Make dua that Allah will guide the person
    5. If it is easy and you can wait, watch from the safety of your car for the person’s plates-you can try to report

    You never know how things can escalate out of hand AND witnesses, authorities etc. are rarely enough to stop such things from reoccuring. After all is said and done it will be your word against theirs (as to who started it), but the record is with Allah.

    Dua is the weapon of the believer…in the meantime keep yourself out of harms way.

    Wallahu alim.

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  5. MR

    I’d probably start yelling back unfortunately. The sister in the story is much stronger than me. May Allah (swt) reward her for perseverance. Ameen!

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  6. ...

    May Allah swt reward us for any hardship we go through for his sake.

    Every time you come across such people, just remember that Prophet pbuh ans his companions went through worstttt and yet it made them more firm in their deen (it should do the same to us inshaAllah)

    alot of comments and similar incidents happened to me as well but i just remind myself that its a very very minor test and i need to be patient through it -inshaAllah

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  7. Abu Muhammad

    Al hamdu lillah.

    You’re chanelling your anger/emotion in a positive way. Barak Allahu feek.

    I know it was quite an experience for you. But I think that we can learn from this and turn these events into dawah opportunities.

    If we are mentally ready now and learn how to express ourselves and control a situation then insha Allah in the future if such an altrecation arises we can respond in a stronger way.

    Now go and pray some nawafil and thank Allah your still alive and that your ordeal was verbal.

    A brother was beaten in Leeds UK recently by fifteen (allegedly white BNP/NF) guys and shot multiple times with a pellet gun until his leg was nearly severed. He was in intensive care and now has to have metal pins put into his body so that he can walk.

    Make dua.

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  8. Amad

    My wife and I had a similar experience, but I was with her… the guy started shouting about how there are no mutawas here and so my wife doesn’t have to cover! {Thanks bud, I never knew that.}

    Usually these people are uneducated and uncouth. They read a couple of things on LGF or jihad watch and they are on their own jihad. Usually they pick on women or even on kids! Just shows how “brave” they really are.

    Back to the incident, a little shouting match ensued between me and the guy (who was with his wife too), but later I thought hard about my reaction. Should I have just gone to him and calmly ask him if he would like to discuss the issue? Should I have not stooped to his level? I don’t think the cops can arrest someone for shouting at you, so really what do you do in this situation?

    And I will tell you that I agree with the sister. It is quite startling because you don’t know quite what hit you… its completely unexpected.

    Another common one, I heard at least one or two other times, is “go back to your country”. I often think of what a humorous and apt reply would be? Could we say, “why dont you go back to yours, this land belongs to indians” … not that funny, is it? Any other ideas?

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  9. ibnabeeomar

    ive been thinking for a while with how to respond, but i’m not even sure what i would do. is it best to just ignore and stay quiet? i dont think someone like that would be favorable to a rational discussion so i don’t know that would work.

    should you take out your cellphone and take a picture of the person and send it to the cops and post on the internet? i think getting the license plate number and calling the cops is a good idea.

    but as for the actual incident, again i dont know what i would do short of asking him if he got up on the wrong side of the trailer park, or left his white hood at home.

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  10. ibnabeeomar

    also a sister i know who works in a medical lab had a patient come in to get blood drawn. when he saw her (in her scarf) he said can i get someone else to do the tests, i dont let muslims touch me. the only other person there was another muslimah (who wasnt in hijab) and she told him i can take it but i am a muslim too. so he took his paperwork and left saying he’s going to go somewhere else..Allahul musta’aan.

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  11. Hassan

    My friend once was told by African American lady on wal mart counter rudely, (on 1st anniversary of Sept 11), why do not you go back to your country, my friend said, we came here ourselves, “you guys” were brought in. Ouch, I do not think fighting racism with racism can help though, but it shut her up.

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  12. Hassan

    Also I want to know where these incidents occur? I have always thought north east being liberal and open minded, but most of the incidents I heard were there. Is that right? My wife when she was there, some white guy told her go back to Iraq, and my wife just said “go to hell” to him and moved away quickly. I would not be surprised if he got scared of my wife, I can not blame him. :)

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  13. ibnabeeomar

    hassan congratulations on your last comment, i think its the first thing on muslimmatters that actually made me LOL hahahahah

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  14. aarij

    Amad bhai,
    If they say “Go back to your country”, we can perhaps say “Yeah, I’ll eventually go back to where I came from (heaven), but I’m not sure if you would!”

    Perhaps that’s an angry response because i’m quite st irred right now, but wAllahu alim what I would do if I encountered this situation.

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  15. aarij

    “Many of the people of the Scripture wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of jealousy from their own selves, even after the truth has become manifest unto them.

    But forgive and overlook, till Allah brings His Command. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”

    [AlBaqarah:109]

    The root cause of this behavior? Hasad, and perhaps even some genuine hatred.

    The solution? ‘Afu (forgive) – this is the medicine for our hearts, it’ll calm us down – and Asfahoo (overlook as if nothing happened) – this is the medicine for their heart, it’ll make them either:
    a) realize your kindness and their silliness and thus stop, or
    b) it’ll make them stop because their abuse doesn’t seem to affect you!

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  16. Amad

    Hassan: I am glad you have recognized your wife’s prowess… it takes men many years to figure that out, so you did well to recognize it in a few years! As for other statement to the African-American lady, that definitely has problematic undertones. We definitely don’t need to resort to statements with racist undertones, otherwise it will make us look worse than them.

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  17. mootsie tootsies

    A woman in our community was driving to attend jumuah and was followed by an angry man in his car all the way to the masjid. He got out of his car and hurled insults at her, despite the fact that she had three little children with her. After jumuah, she saw that there were cops out there. Still, she felt unsafe and she asked if one of the brothers could escort her to her car. None of the brothers offered to do so. They said since the cops are already here, we will just watch you from inside the masjid. The woman felt rejected and hurt, as her husband was not with her at the time, and she was sincerely afraid. When questioned about this incident, the brothers said they would not walk with her, because of th mahram issue, and that she was being unreasonable. Was this fair?

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  18. Medinah

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    The sister handled it very well, probably the way I would handle it. Speak good or remain silent. Ignorance is contagious, and its spreading. May Allah help us to stay strong, Ameen! May Allah bless you sister, who ever you are!

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  19. Amad

    When questioned about this incident, the brothers said they would not walk with her, because of th mahram issue, and that she was being unreasonable. Was this fair?

    What a lame excuse! I mean for God’s sake, its broad daylight and you are walking a sister with her 3 kids to her car! Its really a shame when Muslims resort to this sort of nonsense… just shows a lack of understanding of our deen. Its probably the same people who wouldn’t give you salam if your pants were below your ankles, yet they wouldn’t mind dealing drugs on the side. And if you think I am kidding, you haven’t been up i the Northeast.

    If I were that sister, I’d talk to the Imam to see if he can verbally smack the brothers in the Masjid… if the Imam is equally loony, then I’d recommend the sister to change Masjids, esp. if she is concerned about that particular neighborhood….

    Really, this sort of BS drives me crazy!

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  20. Yaser Birjas

    [Say: "O People of the Book! do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?"] AlMaaedah 5:59

    I know it is not an easy thing for a sister in such situation to keep her cool or display prowess in defending her position and her deen. But I admire what the sister did as a great job considering the circumstances.

    May Allah reward you for your patience and perseverance.

    If we read the seerah of our beloved Rasoolullah, we would find a great example to follow and adhere to. No one ever suffered for this deen, for no other reason but saying ‘Allah is my Lord’ like he did.

    As for the case with the African-American community, we should realize that many of them come originally from a Muslim background and ancestry. Their disengagement from this legacy was a result of generations of identity theft.

    Similar to this situation is the identity crisis many young Muslims are going through these days and especially here in the west.
    This is not the first time in history Muslims are forced to question their identity. The Andalusi experience was indeed an appalling one.
    To learn more about this stereotype, and how to remain steadfast in similar situations we should read more about the experience of Muslims in Al-Andalus.

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  21. konfused mom

    jazahAllahu khayran!may Allah reward the sister,subhanallah inspiring story for all of us inshalah.

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  22. ibnabeeomar

    ahlan wa sahlan shaykh yaser birjas!! we hope that you will come benefit us here more often insha’Allah jazakallahu khayran!!

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  23. Samir

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    It seems these ignorant people always pick on our sisters. Its pretty pathetic that they don’t even have the courage to confront Muslim Men.

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  24. Amad

    assalaamalaikum Shaykh Yasir… welcome to our humble abode and jazakAllahkhair for your valuable advice.

    P.S. If I knew you were going to be reading the comments here, I’d be a little more reserved in my dramatizations out of deference for you :)

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  25. AnonyMouse

    After reading and hearing about many of these incidents, I’m starting to think that someone should write a short book on how to deal with these kinds of situations!

    Different scenarios such as the above, or actual physical attacks, or maybe just ignorant comments and remarks in general… we should have different responses to them all, to fit both the particular situation and the personality of the Muslim involved (i.e. serious, funny, gentle, etc.).

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  26. Abu Muhammad

    @Amad: I wear my trousers above my ankle but I’d give you salaam. And I’ve backed people up more time sthan I can remember.

    @all:

    Anyhow if it gets any worse we might need to start a Muslim Human Rights movement. I pray Allah gives us many Malcom X’s.

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  27. Ibn al Huda

    Assalamu’alikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh!SubhaanAllah sister,make Allah SWT grant everyone such courage and patience.I know its difficult to think even on how to respond when such incidents occur unexpectedly.Silent Da’awah was our beloved prophet (S A W)’s practice if he was harassed by the unbelievers,and that worked out most of the time.The silence with a smile for Allah SWT ‘s sake will make the abuser think second time over his act inshaAllah.Remember the story of an old lady who used to throw garbage over our beloved Prophet SAW and how later on she declared Shahadah.
    Surely these incidents are a great test from Allah SWT for the believer,because He loves him/her,He wants to check and strengthen more his/her imaan.
    well thats my view.And Allah SWT knows the best. Waffaqakillah!

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  28. nazimul

    As-Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah Sister,
    This is indeed terrible, but with Allah’s help you and your family left the situation without physical harm. These incidents seem to be occurring very often and most people just stand by and look on, as if these ignorant men and women have a right to vent their frustration on the Muslims. These altercations and injustice need to be more in the open, it needs to also be heard by people outside of the Muslims circles.
    May Allah, the All Knowing make it easy for us.
    was-Salaam
    Nazimul

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  29. Umm Reem

    It is difficult to judge whether one should remain quite or answer back. The problem with remaining quite is that these people already think we are ‘oppressed’ women, and if we stay quite at their abusive remarks, it confirms their doubts since remaining quite in this society is considered ‘oppressed’.

    I think if it is just one time interaction then perhaps answering back may help, whereas in a long term interaction a Muslim can show through his/her patience and politeness, the real picture of Islam, wAlalhu ‘alam.

    For instance, after I moved to a new neighborhood in Houston, I went out to say hello to my neighbors. Two of my neighbors were sitting outside. I walked up to them and said hey to the first one, who replied back. Then I turned to the other one and said ‘hello’, she completely ignored me, picked up her chair and walked inside her house!!

    And another day my son started playing with the same neighbor’s son’s toy. I knew she wouldn’t like it but even before I could get to my son, she rushed towards him, snatched the toy and left him crying!

    I never said anything to her because I wanted to be polite to her especially because she was my neighbor too but she kept her ‘grudges’ as long as she lived there.

    But on other occasions, I wouldn’t be as patient. I was at the mall the other day, and an African American man saw me and started laughing then he turned towards the other man next to him, whispered something in his ear, pointed towards me and both of them started laughing. I ignored them and walked away.
    A few minutes later, I was sitting down with my kids eating ice cream, when the same man came there and pointed at me and said ‘this is slavery!’.
    I got really mad and said, ‘look who is talking’.
    He stared at me for a second and then walked away. I think he was shocked that how could a ‘poor oppressed woman’ reply back!

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  30. Ibn al Huda

    Well,in that case I agree with you sis.
    This just reminds me of the Hadith of our Beloved Prophet S A W : “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”
    Many times in many situations the people that follow the religion of Allah feel a sense of not belonging, of being out of place, of not fitting in, and, in other words, of being strange. This feeling could occur in a gathering of non-Muslims especially.
    Why Have They Been Called “Strangers”?

    Allah says in the Qur’an, “If only there had been, in the generations preceding you, people having wisdom, prohibiting others from evil in the earth; except a few of those whom we have saved from among them.” (Hud 116).
    This verse speaks of the few people on earth, the “strangers”, who prohibit mankind from evil. These are the same people the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke about when he said, “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings [ar. Tooba. This is a tree in Paradise. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) is giving the good news of Paradise to these strangers.] to the strangers.” It was asked, “Who are those strangers, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Those that correct the people when they become corrupt.” [Reported by Abu Amr al-Dani, from the hadith of ibn Masoud. It is authentic according to al-Albani. Another narration says, "Those that correct my sunnah which has been corrupted by the people after me."] In another narration he said in response to the same question, “They are a small group of people among a large evil population. Those who oppose them are more than those who follow them.” [Reported by ibn Asaakir. It is authentic according to al-Albani.]
    These praiseworthy people are called strangers since they are a small minority among mankind. Thus, Muslims are strangers among mankind; the true believers are strangers among Muslims; and the scholars are strangers among the true believers. And the followers of the Sunnah, those that clear themselves from all peoples of innovation, are likewise strangers.

    In reality, however, their strangeness is only because they are the minority and it is not because their actions and beliefs are strange. This is what Allah says in surah al-Anaam,[COLOR=red] “And if you obey most of the people on Earth, they will lead you astray” (al-Anaam 116). Allah also says, “And most of mankind will not believe, even if you (O Muhammad) desire it eagerly” (Yusuf 103); “And truly, most of mankind are rebellious and disobedient (to Allah).” (al-Maidah 49); “But nay, most of mankind are ungrateful” (Yusuf 38). Therefore, Allah, the all-Knowing Creator, knows the most of mankind will not follow the truth. Instead, only a small group of people will be set apart that truly and correctly believe in Him, the strangers from among mankind.

    The strangers in belief, however, and the strangers in character and actions are in reality the majority of mankind, for they are strange to Islam and to the laws that Allah has revealed. Thus we see that there are various types of strangeness, of which some are praiseworthy, some are blameworthy and some are neither praiseworthy or blameworthy.
    You should know, may Allah have mercy upon you, that strangeness is of three types:
    The first type of strangeness is the strangeness of the “People of Allah and the People of His Messenger” (peace be upon him), which we mentioned previously. This strangeness is a praiseworthy strangeness, as it has been praised by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Therefore, this kind of strangeness should be sought and its people must be supported. This strangeness occurs in different times, in different places, and among different peoples. These strangers, then, are the true “People of Allah” for they do not worship ought save Him, and they do not take support from any path except the path of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and they do not call to anything except that which has been brought by the Prophet (peace be upon him). These are the people who left mankind when they (the strangers) were in need of them the most. For, on the Day of Judgment, when all other groups will go with that which they used to worship, they will stay in their places. It will be said to them, “Will you not go as the other people have gone?” They will answer, “We had abandoned the people (in this life), and we were more in need of them then we are today, and we will wait for our Lord whom we used to worship.” [Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim]

    Thus it is apparent that this strangeness does not cause its bearer any discontent. Rather it is a comforting strangeness, a solace to the believers. This is because he knows that his helpers are Allah, His Messenger and those who believe [This is a reference to verse 55 of surah al-Maidah], even if all of mankind left and abandoned him. These strangers are again described in a hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “It is possible that a disheveled, dusty person, with not many belongings [Literally, "with two headdresses"], who is not noticed among the people, if he asks of Allah, Allah will fulfill his prayer.” [Reported by at-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim. Al-Albani said it is authentic.] Al-Hasan al-Basri [a very famous Follower – tabi` - known for his piety, asceticism and knowledge] said, “A believer is a stranger in this world, he is never afraid of its humiliation, and he never competes for its glory. The people are in one situation and he is in a different situation. The people are content with him, yet he is in turmoil [Literally, "tired"] with himself.”
    Hence we should feel blessed to be such strangers .
    And Allah knows the best.

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  31. Ummaziza

    I sincerely hope this discussion will not turn into a bragging display of “the clever things I’ve said to people who’ve harrassed me”!

    ==================================
    We really have to deal with these people with wisdom (and sometimes kindness). They are “miskeen” in many instances, having no knowledge or mis-knowledge.

    It is not wise to try and fight ignorance with ignorance. Use it as an opportunity for huge blessings.

    What about keeping pamphlets with us that tell about Islam and the next time we face a situation where we really feel we have to do or say something or we will burst…we can say (if the person doesn’t appear hostile or dangerous) “I’m happy that you are interested in Islam…can I give you this to read? It will explain what we believe.” This will count toward the good deeds and perhaps Allah will guide them through this.

    Most local masajid have free pamphlets that you can take for such purposes.

    Believe it or not, I know from experience, people who are most hostile are often very genuinely curious about Islam…only when they reached out for information about the religion and Muslims the only information they could get was watching Muslims fighting each other, terrorizing innocent people, abusing their women or being desperately impoverished under unfair rulership. This is what the evening news shows.

    In this society people are conditioned to believe whatever they see or hear on television. As long as they can continue to go to Wal-Mart, they really don’t care that there is another side to Muslims. Then they see one of us and approaches in the only way they know how (ignorantly) and we confirm that we angry and hostile, just like them. We must show them the real nature of Islam and Muslims. That thirty second encounter is a golden opportunity!

    If we cannot bring ourselves to give the person something…at least give them the charity of a smile and just walk away. This will go a longer way toward dawah than retorting with an equally hurtful comment.

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  32. Muslimah

    Salaamalaykum sis,

    I’m really sorry to hear your story. I’m sure it must have been really hard to think of what to do in a situation where you least expected it, especially since we don’t often imagine these things to happen so close to home.

    Well, as Muslims, we must remember we will always be “Strangers” in this world. People who see us from the outside will never quite understand our morals or standards, the way we dress or why we worship the way we do. We should stand proud that we have guidance from Allah the Most Merciful and we can only pray for their guidance, too.

    I was recently debating this with my husband – how should we react to those people who attack us or our Islam? The best thing to do is to do what Allah has shown us to do with the example of all the prophets before us – especially our beloved Rasool (salalahu alayhi wasalam.) We can’t even imagine how much they were tortured (physically and emotionally) on a daily basis just for being Muslims. The Prophet never ever asked his Companions to retaliate, instead he just remained patient and ignored and taught them it was best to remain patient and ignore too.

    Once a man came up to Abu Bakr (r.a.) in the presence of Muhammad (saw) and started cursing him, and his family. Abu Bakr remained patient until the man finally insulted the Prophet upon which Abu Bakr couldn’t remain patient anymore and he spoke back. Immediately, the Prophet got up and walked away. Abu Bakr ran after him and asked him why he was upset. The Prophet replied, “While the man was cursing at you, an angel was responding back on your behalf. As soon as you started to argue back with him, the angel left, and I do not sit in a gathering where angels are not present.”

    It is hard when we are put in an emotional test, but not answering back is a wisdom Allah knows will work. Not responding makes another person feel silly after a while, and to onlookers you definitely look more composed, more respectable (which is the image we want as Muslims.) Say you do respond back – what will you say? Most likely something insulting or something just as silly as they did (always better to remain silent in any argument.) Imagine they come to their senses later on and ask themselves – whoa, was I totally wrong for what I said? Then they’ll see that you are unlike others, and us Muslims are not like them, because we are patient and kind – not insulting and negative.

    I know it’s hard, but that is what we are taught to do. If Allah wills for them to be guided they will, but I can assure you that this is a test for you – so Allah is seeing how you react, rather than the ignorant person. Remember we have to be firm in our character as Muslims, that is what will change the view of others. They want and expect to see us react (and react violently if anything.) We know that is not Islam, so words often do little to help, we need to SHOW them through our actions that we are indeed peaceful people. If you noticed, the lady that man was with remained at a distance from you – she probably did not agree with the man (could have been her husband) and he probably had some kind of problem, possibly a mental problem or some bad past experience – most likely, it was just a bad day for him and you happened to be the victim. May Allah reward you for making us aware of this issue and for being patient with the man. Inshallah this will weigh on your scale of good deeds and may Allah guide us as well as those who are ignorant about our deen. Ameen

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  33. AM

    A non-Muslim man I knew once told me he knew my husband from before I married him. At first, he thought because my husband had a beard and was “religious” that he would have the tendency to be hot-tempered (I guess to fit the persona of a “Muslim” man.)

    He said they were all playing basketball together when one of the players started insulting my husband and even got physical with him. It seems my husband hadn’t done anything wrong, and he kind of just stood there not responding and taking the beating (which I think is unlike him.) Either way, the non-Muslim was very impressed and told me that he was wrong about me marrying a religious Muslim man. He said my husband was one of the strongest and most patient men he had seen.

    I was impressed. I didn’t know that about my husband and here I was getting a first-hand opinion from a non-Muslim (totally unaware of Islam except for its misconceptions) and he and everyone around him could definitely appreciate my husbands actions and because he acted that way, they saw just how unfair the other guy was being (and ignorant.)

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  34. Umm Layth

    Umm Reem, that is what I would have said. Some of the people that I have really noticed that tend to mock me while in public are african american people. Why would a people who have been oppressed, have a history of being oppressed – go on and behave in such a manner with us? I mean yeah fine assume that we are oppressed, but that doesn’t mean make fun of us.

    What kind hearted person would see an oppressed child and mock him? If he/she was truly concerned they would ask us, try to talk to us but not treat us like we are not human beings.

    Just recently, I was walking to the clubhouse of our apts, and I passed the pool. As I approached the pool, in my niqaab, with my baby on the carrier, this african american guy, his girls, just looked at me and would not stop. They made a sound like they were scared, and their jaws were dropped for like 30 seconds! I decided that this was silly and I told them, “Why are you scared of me? I am wearing a piece of cloth but I am a human being just like you!” They were shocked that I spoke but the man responded by telling me, “We’ve just never seen such before.” And they turned the other way and didn’t look at me again.

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  35. Alexandra Lynch

    I’m very sorry that happened to you. Though I am not Muslim, I’m also a member of a minority religion in the USA.

    I’d like someday to feel free to speak my religion in public, just as I hope someday the Muslims here are safe from stupid people harassing them. The more I have learned of Islam, the more I deeply respect the beauty and strength of both the faith and those who follow it.

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  36. DrM

    With all due respect to the sister, these sort of things tend to be happen to Muslim woman when they are by themselves. I strongly advocate that Muslims, particularly the sisters get into self-defense classes. Lets not forget the good ol’ second amendment.
    My sister was harassed when she was in high school, and proceeded to beat up the boy and drag him off with the principals office. I was so proud.

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  37. mcpagal

    Mashallah, I think the sister dealt with that situation brilliantly, with a lot more patience than I would have had. Horrible as it was, at least through her words she’s inspiring others to have sabr.

    The worst I’ve had is people walking past and calling me a terrorist or whatever, but alhamdulillah I’ve never felt threatened. At school I used to get into fights with ignorant girls who just made fun of anyone different – in the end the best way to deal with them was just to laugh. And when they said ‘go back where you came from’ I’d just say ‘what, Glasgow?’.

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  38. muslim girl

    assalamalaikum

    My heart goes out to the sister..May Allah ta’ala reward her for being patient. Ameen.
    If I were her, I’d have probably told the man calmly ” since you claim to know the ‘Koran’ so well, why don’t you recite just one verse from it? Show me the line that conveys cutting off people’s head, if you succeed I will denounce my faith right here in front of everyone”. That sure would have shut him up!

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