Monday, September 14, 2009

9/11 Reflection: A Deaf Encounter

Broccoli: check. Grapefruit: check. Milk: check. Only a few items remained on my grocery list. Next was orange juice. Since I began wearing the hijab this summer, I had not been to the grocery store alone many times. I'm not sure why but I'd always try to bring someone with me when I went. Maybe I was scared someone might make a comment about my clothes, or stare at me, or do something worse. I felt very self-conscious.

So I headed to the aisle with the orange juice, and as I was deciding between the Simply Orange o.j. or the Simply Orange with Pineapple o.j. (such a hard decision to make) I felt a tap on my shoulder. Surprised, I turned around and there was a man standing there holding something out for me. I took the card and said thanks. The card read: "Happy Holidays. I AM DEAF. I LOVE YOU. I am selling alphabet cards. I am doing this for a living for me and my family. PAY ANYTHING YOU WISH. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. KEEP SMILING :) THANK YOU!!!" With pictures of the sign alphabet printed on the back.

Flustered, I replied "Oh, ummm," and I got out some cash and handed it to him. He took it and smiled and tipped his head. Then he signed a message I wasn't expecting.

He pointed to my headscarf and made a motion as if he was wearing one, and then gave a thumbs up. Then he pretended to have a gun and began shooting all around. Then he motioned a building and blew it up with an exploding noise. Then he pointed to me and shook his head, not attributing these things to me. He gave another thumbs up, smiled, motioned thanks in sign language then walked away.

After this incident I recalled 9/11. I remembered my reaction to hearing about the twin towers 8 years ago, to hearing it was attributed to Muslims. "This can't be right," I thought, "How could they do such a horrible thing against Islam? How could they kill innocent people and call themselves Muslims?"

The World Trade Center bombings were an atrocity against mankind and against Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and it does not condone killing of innocent people. These bombings were despicable, and as a Muslim I feel great sorrow that people attacked us and claimed it was in the name of Islam.

But amidst the onslaught of propaganda, disillusionment, and misleading biases in the media about Islam, a deaf man saw through the lies and heard the truth in his heart.

My encounter with him gave me confidence and hope. After hearing lies and attacks again and again toward Islam you begin to question yourself subconsciously. You become apologetic about your beliefs. You seek to justify your ways according to the media's standards. It is a destructive trend because playing by the media's belittling rules you will never win. I now play by the rules of Islam, which felt right since the beginning. The intruder certainly did his damage but now I am definitely stronger because of him. May we all be guided to truth, and protected from the evils of this world.

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