A customer walked into my job and said
“Happy Good Friday.”
I said, “I’m a Muslim.”
“Oh…HAPPY EASTER then!”
I just stared at her and mumbled thank you.
I did not want to continue this conversation because I might accidentally insult her.
America is a melting pot of different cultures and religions especially Los Angeles. Diversity is everywhere. My group of friends is a mixture of youngsters from different cultures and religions. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Muslim friends. I did have a couple back in high school but I never felt like I belonged. I always felt judged constantly. Every little thing could be held against me or it could be twisted into something I never meant. I was always scared of my own kind because there was so much pressure to be perfect. Simply, using curse words or having friends that might not be angels caused judgment. So I learned from a young age to avoid middle eastern and Muslims. In college, I had a few Muslim friends from my intro to Islam class but again, I didn’t feel like I belonged. I joined MSA, which I think stands for Muslim Student Association but it just seemed like a waste of time. There was never anything going on and I was uncomfortable. I had a Muslim math tutor but that was weird too.
Although I might not have Muslim friends, as I have said before, I have always felt like a Muslim at heart.
But, it can be hard sometimes.
I have lost friends because I have a different lifestyle than them.
I am not here to judge anyone. I don’t care if my friends want to party but I expect them to respect my lifestyle. But, it is not always the case. I have been questioned for not taking a drink. I have been looked at strangely for having to be home by 11 pm. I have been judged for not wearing the sexiest outfit.
I feel like no matter who I am surrounding myself with, I am always being judged.
My family is constantly reminding me of my flaws as a Muslim. During family get-togethers, I have been questioned about my outfits, which has caused me to never want to dress up around them. My butt is too big and needs to be covered. My shirt is too tight and shows off my breasts. It is never enough. Being comfortable in my own skin was impossible when I was young.
And if you do dress up a little, you are questioned about your intentions.
Regardless, I am still a proud Muslim.
During the holidays, I have been wished Merry Christmas more than I could ever count by strangers and friends. I have been told “well, doesn’t everyone celebrate Christmas? It’s more of an American holiday.” I could understand this but it isn’t an American holiday. It is a Christian holiday. It is the celebration of Jesus birthday. And Easter is the celebration of Jesus resurrection. I think it is pretty insulting to those people that practice Christianity and Catholicism when folks say “Merry Christmas or Happy Easter.” It’s like if a non-Muslim wishes another non-Muslim Happy Ramadan. I would feel insulted. You don’t believe in Islam. You don’t observe Ramadan and you don’t know what it means. It is one thing to wish one Happy Ramadan out of respect to a person that believes. For example, my best friend, Maera, comes over my house every year for Ramadan dinner. She wishes my family a happy Ramadan and is very respectful. This is different.
Unfortunately, I am always wished Merry Christmas but no one bothers to ever greet me during the holidays I do celebrate.
I wish I could make “Eid,” which is a Muslim holiday, as a day recognized but my community. We actually have two Eids throughout the year. Other religions get days off for their holidays but Muslims don’t. It really isn’t fair.
I guess my point is to be conscious of your surroundings. Say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Ask someone if they celebrate Easter before jumping to conclusions. Accept each other and realize that not everyone is going to be like you. No one is superior. We’re all human.