Evolution of a Canadian Muslim
Imagine for a second, that you walk into a Masjid for Salah, and the people look at you with a surprised look as though you are not supposed to be there.
Imagine that you show up to an MSA event for the first time, and one of the brothers approaches you to give YOU dawah.
Imagine you are with your Muslim friends and you bump into one of their parents for the first time and are greeted with a ‘Hi’. And when you give them Salam, they think it’s cute that you tried to learn.
For me, that’s real life.
For so many years I had trouble fitting in as a Muslim in the Muslim community. I would find myself regarded as a convert, or that weird child who seemed to have a lot of Muslim friends. After a while I began to find humor in the way Muslim people acted with me before realizing I was Muslim; born and raised just like them with the values of Islam instilled at a young age- except for the fact that we didn’t look alike.
Despite the fact that I would joke about it with my friends, I often felt like an outsider. Someone who would never really fit in with the Ummah. Being a visible minority in the non-Muslim world is bad enough, but when you are treated as such within your own community, it can be close to unbearable.
I eventually came to a conclusion. I realized that if I wanted to be accepted and recognized in the Ummah I would have to also do my part. Become the undeniable CANADIAN MUSLIM. That transformation doesn’t mean that I traded in my winter boots for a pair of leather sandals, or my canada goose for a kamis (I don’t actually own a canada goose). Rather it meant pulling up my jeans so that they sat on my waist, and growing out my beard so that instead of just being a normal thug wearing an Expos hat, I became the guy with the beard wearing an Expos hat.
I wasn’t sure these changes would make a difference, but what I knew was that I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror, and recognize myself as a Muslim, even if no one else would.
There are a lot of Muslims who throw aside the importance of the beard in Islam, without realizing that it is our gift. The Prophet saws ordered us to grow a beard so that we could be different from the others. By Allah, I never understood the wisdom of this until people began to greet me with Salam during my everyday activities. At the gym, at work, at the grocery store, walking down the street. I was even recognized as a Muslim when I walked into a Halal store 2 hours away from home.
I had wanted to be recognized as a Muslim for so long and for years I had placed the blame solely on my community, only to realize that I too had my part to play. Once I did my part, Allah put the rest in motion for me.
Little do those strangers know, that every Assalamu alaikum (Peace be unto you) touches my soul, and brings peace to my heart.
May peace be unto you and the Mercy and Blessings of Allah.
The Canadian Muslim.