America the beautiful…

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America the beautiful…

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Sitting under a bright light as your eyes suddenly dart to the brightness above. In the yellow glow of the bulb, you see a glimpse of the life you are to have if you continue with the piles of paper in front of you. Turning back from your daydream, the ghostly white sheets rustle against your pen as a fine blue streak is inked into the crevasse. The rows of words line after one another, never ending, spiraling. The letters conjoined continue down the line and onto the next, the following, and evermore. It was as if these words were marching towards the gates of your fate. Follow them, you will be rewarded, though, if you stop you loose your way. The golden hand moves towards the left one notch and you think: I’m running out of time. You scramble, the words grow bigger, more formidable than the ones before. Your pen barely clutched to your sweaty palm that seems to hold only a simple object; yet it holds much more.

A feeling of satisfaction emanates from you, as the clock strikes the next full hour. You sigh heavily and let out an unexpected breath that you had been holding this whole time. Reaching to turn off the desk light, the screen of your phone lights up with a single text message. This is not only like all the others you have received, but it will change your view on how society undermines the minority. Up until this point, we think of a minority as either group(s) or individuals that posses inferior traits compared to a dominant party. Sometimes the word “minority” is utilized in a proactive fashion meaning to bring awareness to a cause. Nevertheless, in this moment, focusing my gaze at the two words: Merry Christmas! I don’t know how I reacted at the moment, for I was rendered listless. My body became numb with a sense of trepidation. My friend knew that I was not a Catholic nor a Christian, though, she choose those two words to say to me before the long winter break. I was not mad, yet rather taken aback by the norms that we have ingrained among our people.

You see, I do not celebrate holidays that you may be familiar with. This may come as a shock to you, but in the Ewing Public Schools district, there are many Muslims. These range from staff to students and even to the community around us! Before I go onto my next point, I want to paint you a literal picture. You have heard of the analogy of trying to find a needle in a haystack. Imagine that you have a golden brown roll of hay with a silver needle deep in the middle. When you first glance at it, do you see the needle? Well, unless your superman with impeccable x-ray vision, you cannot. You only see the surface. Though, if you took the time to break apart that hay to accomplish to goal of finding that needle, then you can see it.

What I want to get across here with this interlude is the fact that we don’t take the time to inquire or dig deeper into what we see. This is one of the reasons why the dominant parties that intimidate our minorities are succeeding. I am here to break that bounded haystack by which within lies a plethora of things that you may not know about the Islamic minority of America.

I do respect the people who celebrate Christmas and even wish them a merry one at that, but you rarely hear someone say, “Happy Eid! Happy Ramadan! Ramadan Mubarak!“. Why? Because we only focus on the whole picture instead of making an attempt to learn. Many citizens don’t knows what date Eid is on or what Ramadan may be because we don’t hear about it as much as we should. If it was advertised in the media like other holidays, then we may get a well wishing or two. Yet, even if we make an attempt we are then set back by the voices of others. A Christmas song like Silent Night comes on during dinner or candy canes being sold for a school fundraiser ostensibly including those who don’t celebrate the well-known holiday during winter break.

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was infuriated at a press conference on December 5, 2019 after being asked if she hated the president. By this time, her time was up and she was exiting the stage she so gallantly stood on moments before. Her head lifted while her feet turned to the reporter at the bottom; shaken from her dark hazy eyes. Pelosi’s explanation for not exactly hating the President, however, to an extent disagreeing with him, was that she was a “…Catholic…”. When first seeing the video of the press conference, I thought that she would have used a rebuttal considering that as a person she could not bring herself to hate anyone, but no, she said as a Catholic.

At this point, all that was known about the Separation of Church and State had crumbled into tiny pieces burying us all alive. This concept is to ensure that religious values do not steer the course of political establishments. This woman, democrat, Speaker of the House, second in line to the presidency after the vice president, had just stated that she didn’t hate anyone because she was Catholic. This may not be a big deal to you, but as a Muslim living in the United States of America and hearing this being used as defense, just brings me to lose hope in our leaders as well as the inclusivity they are supposed to represent.

I am not afraid to speak against what I believe is wrong. However, I do try to keep a partisan tone during the expression of my feelings. So, let me say this, bluntly, without sugarcoating the facts: Muslims are underrepresented more than any Abrahamic faith. Catholicism and Judaism are both represented on calendars across America by having days off for their students. Don’t believe me? Go take a look at our own school calendar. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are days we get off for. Christmas and Easter are scheduled around winter and spring breaks! Clearly, we can see the big picture here as we have lived throughout our school career taking off on these holidays continuously.

We have identified the haystack, now lets take some time to break it apart and find the underlying needle. I have always stayed home during the holiday season, hearing how my friends received presents or are going to go to church in a while. Since I was a little girl, I always pestered my parents about putting up a tree with shiny lights in addition to the glassy ornaments on the pine branches. Ensuring my happiness, my parents did just that because they saw the excitement in my eyes when I got back home from elementary school after making cards to good old Saint Nick and his elves. The tree was no more than six feet tall and had survived season after season of putting it up and away, up and away, up and finally away- for good.

Last year, it had come to my attention that during our holiday such as Eid (meant to celebrate Ramadan- a month long fasting event), no one will put up crescent decorations nor would they house an Arabian lamp. This isn’t in any way their fault at all, yet this is how you can find the needle. Putting up that Christmas tree surrendered a part of my identity, one that I couldn’t bare to give up. This is why it is crucial that you educate yourself! Explore other cultures as well as their customs. Don’t be afraid to detach yourself from the majority! That is one of our problems as humans in general; we have evolved to the point of staying close in groups. Individuality is now a rarity these days on the basis of branching out to explore new concepts that had previously been seen fallaciously.

America is a unique country in and of itself. Forged from trail blazers and individuals who dared to envision a union in which people put out by the powerful, can come together to carry out a legacy. But, that purpose- no- our purpose has started to be clouded by a misleading interpretation of that exact goal. We can choose to come together, although an equilibrium has to be set. Not one group(s) or person may stand out if we are to move forward as a society and as a democracy.

As of now, as a Muslim, as a woman, I do feel put out by our society’s actions towards following such empty voices. These voices are of the people we know hold power today in addition to abiding by the rules. These rules that have held up every decision we have made thus far, are indeed outdated. It is time to move forward. As I am typing this, know that I not only write these words, but I mean them. We say so much, but do so little in the end. I have come to the epiphany that my purpose is to evoke action and lead with a perspective so many have, though overlook.

America oh, America. God shall shed his grace on thee, mend thine ev’ry flaw, for purple mountain majesties, amber waves of grain, confirm thy soul in calamity, and restore those fighting for thy liberty in law. May you come to see the beauty underneath the O spacious skies, the women and men working on the fields of these grains, the individuals trekking these purple mountain majesties, the minorities with as similar a patriot dream as you, trying to become recognized in these alabaster cities gleaming.

America the beautiful…

Our America…