Today marks the final day of Ramadan. I just broke my last fast, and by now I should have butterflies in my stomach. At this exact time, I should be setting an early alarm for tomorrow’s first Eid namaaz; I should be planning my outfit, carefully selecting pieces of jewelry to match; I should be wishing family and friends, sharing love and spreading happiness. I should be doing so much more than sitting here with a gaping hole in my heart.
But how am I to celebrate amidst such devastating tragedies? In this final week alone, my heart bled almost daily. Istanbul. Dhaka. Baghdad. Medina. How uncomfortable of a feeling it is to say goodbye to Ramadan this year as the world continues hurting. Now, I am wishing for 30 more days of purification—more time to heal our wounds.
But then I wonder, is there a remedy for our pain? Is there a treatment for our wounds? With each new attack, public rhetoric regarding Muslims continues to smell strongly of religious intolerance. News headlines propagate hate while innocent Muslims are attacked on the streets. We ask, “Where do we belong?” as families contemplate the risks associated with celebrating our beloved religious holiday in public spaces.
The public discourse surrounding the recent tragedies in Muslim-majority countries is devastating, even sickening. Is it too much to ask the civil society to at least pretend to cry over bloody Muslim corpses? Because yes, we do notice your selective grieving patterns, and they hurt us. You dismissed this week’s event in Baghdad as “just another bombing in the Middle East,” but you wept for Paris, for Belgium, for the Europeans whose complexion matched yours.
And then two-hundred innocent Iraqis are blown to pieces in what could potentially be the bloodiest Ramadan, but your profile picture still daunts us with blue, white and red vertical stripes. Who is responsible for determining the value of a human life? Many of these 200 victims were children who counted their ages by the number of tragedies they lived through, killed in a country already in shambles trying to recover from an unjust foreign invasion.
But apart from being hurtful, your discriminatory mourning is destructive to our goal of an all-inclusive society—one where coexistence prevails and, when combined with tolerance and acceptance, eradicates violence and extremism. We, too, wish to advocate against terrorism. Please don’t silence our voices.
I was in third grade when I first felt my religion was wrongfully stolen from me, and I have lived every day of my entire life trying to get it back. To the dearly departed, our brothers and sisters, I am so sorry we couldn’t reclaim our faith in your lifetime. I’m so sorry that our world could not keep you safe, that humanity could not protect you. May the hereafter be as blissful as a million peaceful sunsets; may it be as happy as Eid used to be—once upon a time.
Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakeel.