Being A Muslim On A Social Network

Posted: March 21, 2015
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Terrorism. How do we deal with it? Read an author’s personal account of her struggle with terrorism. She is a Muslim, but terror is not her friend.

The blood shed and the imaginary shrieks of Dec 16th 2014, the black day, made me shudder. Just before the attack there was a Sydney Siege and 2 people were killed by a deranged man. I was just getting back to feeling normal after inquiring about the safety of some of my friends who work in Sydney. I had let out a sigh of relief when I came to know that it was not a terrorist attack, but pretty soon after that, the terrorists attacked the Peshawar school mocking me, killing 140 + children, which appalled me. Due to some virtual experiences around me, neither #I’llridewithyou nor the #IndiawithPakistan relieved me, even if those acts highlighted the compassion some people actually have in their hearts!

Added to that few Pakistanis blamed India for the attack when Talibanis themselves agreed that they are the people responsible for attacking the school, which agitated me more. I am a Muslim and like you all I was groping in the dark for a solution. I was worried that these a***holes might be quoting Allahuakbar and reciting versus from the Quran before killing innocent people.

What was bothering me much more were peoples’ questions. They kept asking questions like – Why do your folks not condemn? Why don’t Muslim leaders raise their voice? Why don’t you raise your voice? Why are you a coward? 

I, myself, am nonplussed thinking why and what shit goes in to their brain, which makes them nonchalantly do all this.

Why will any sane person support such acts of blood shed? I, myself, am nonplussed thinking why and what shit goes in to their brain, which makes them nonchalantly do all this. Like always I started brooding. What can possibly be done to uproot this? To eradicate this? Yes, I too want to get rid of the terrorists. Will I get that chance? What can I possibly do by sitting in my safe haven? 

I had a heated argument with a lady on Facebook after she had put up a long status, after the Peshawar attack, the gist of which is that many of the Muslims are indifferent and cowards. Islamists are killers and they don’t react to killings was the summary of her update. After losing my sleep over this for 3 days and long discussions wherein I tried to explain to her how her status message can be misinterpreted, I un-friended her for my own mental peace. However, the hatred continued in fresh status messages where she totally spiced up and presented a contorted view of what I said and how I said and made her friends pray for my mental peace. I could only wish her get well soon. During this fiasco many people supported me irrespective of their religion, but there were many who kept jumping the walls. Too many opinions and updates again did a parade on my mind and most of them who shared their opinions are authors, fairly educated and knowledgeable people, who in the other times say empathy is more important than a religion.

A small excerpt from her long status message after I unfriended her on Facebook: “Just because we need to live in peace, does not mean we bury our heads in the sand like ostriches, as if all is well. A Muslim friend of mine unfriended me on Facebook for a discussion over Islamist Terrorism. I generally always speak brutal, because I don’t fancy any nonsense placating or playing victim. But it’s a shame that she took my so-perceived hate tone as a reason to stop talking to me, rather than coming to the point and discussing Islamist Terrorism! “

…most of them who shared their opinions are authors, fairly educated and knowledgeable people, who in the other times say empathy is more important than a religion.

 

I am not sharing the entire update, as it will take the space of this post and as it will spoil many others’ minds.

I did not reply. I did not retort. I knew angst was building up in many around me due to increasing fanaticism and due to the mere fact that 60% of the killings are due to Islamist terrorism. “I and many Muslims like me are suffering more due to relentless opinions, bashing and hidden hatred towards normal people like us. But we are helpless. This message is to many people who thoughtlessly put up statuses and who think we are born with the tag to kill anyone and everyone. I can only say congratulations as you feel lucky about your origin. With the brush stroke of a single status update many people like me can be painted in the same color.” – I actually wanted to reply with this status, but I couldn’t as I felt I can no more face the wrathful tongue and project my vulnerable side to her or many like her!

I reacted to her post as this was not her first status message of the kind. I have ignored her words so many times when she mocked, ridiculed or insulted. When she went into technical and logical details I too waged a war on FB to put forward my thoughts [this was the first time I did something of this sort and I repented, almost immediately]. She is not used to smooth talks, so she was spitting venom in all directions, but I tried to end it on a peaceful note saying, “Your rage is good, but during these times it will be better if you are slightly compassionate towards the living as much as you are compassionate towards the dead. Give your angst a proper direction and use your words wisely.”

I failed to understand how her harsh ways towards all, in general, is going to resolve this global issue of terrorism and she failed to explain it to me and give me a transparent picture as to how her arm chair activism is going to help. Facebook, during times of rage, does bring out real intentions and ideas! I wonder if the same ideas will be disclosed when s/he has to do it face-to-face! We must to condemn terrorism and also, the leaders who fuel it instead of curbing it. It is alright to express anger as it is tough to suppress it. It is fine if you are violent and harsh towards the extremists. It is justifiable, but when you are doing what ever you want to, it will help if the act is not used as a reason to show the hidden hatred towards all Muslims! The border lines between apathy, empathy and sympathy always vanish on social network.

“Your rage is good, but during these times it will be better if you are slightly compassionate towards the living as much as you are compassionate towards the dead.”

I embraced my self to stay away from many on social media who were and are suggesting that many of us are merciless, ruthless and non-humans. My silence does not mean I am with the killers and I feel fine. Many like me cry and our hearts bleed too. My only response through this post, to all those who are furiously updating statuses and who are generalizing that we, Muslims, are all filthy is that they need not worry. Even if I am pissed off, upset and feeling distressed, I am tolerant enough to not kill them. Unfortunately every time something like this happens, we are mostly silent as we have nothing to say. We are sad, terrorized, victimized and numb too.

I thought of writing this post since many literally live in the social networks and believe that the reliable source of condemnation are the status updates or online write ups. Those who kill are mentally deranged – yes, and every time I see that some massacre happened somewhere, I get scared of the tag more than others. I get burdened more than others when I see them mentioning their reason behind taking innocent lives as Allah or the religion. We are burdened more than the others as their actual motive is demeaning the religion and not avenging the prophet, which they announce as the agenda. But I will continue practicing my faith. Yes, we do have killers who say they follow the faith I follow. But I will continue believing in Allah, doing Namaz, reading Quran and reciting kalimas because that is what I have learnt to do and will do it till I die or get killed.

I have unfollowed/unfriended many for my own peace. I felt if a person cannot be compassionate to others who just want to live and let live like s/he does and feels unsafe and thinks that I might be one of “them”, then it is better to stay away from him/her. As humanity is dying a million deaths, I don’t want directionless rage and negativity around me .

Charlie Hebdo was indeed a sad incident. Humanity died million deaths after children were killed in Gaza and Peshawar. Any kind of killing done by humans is a blot on mankind and makes me question the almighty’s existence. Any kind of killing cannot be justified. It troubles me that the barbaric act of terrorism is multiplying with each passing day and when people die, you lose hope in life, but some people give us hope by proving that even in the harshest circumstances, the religion of humanity will be alive. Thanks to Roshan for penning this post – The world is not a bad place.

As humanity is dying a million deaths, I don’t want directionless rage and negativity around me .

The scenario is not like the lady who stated that many Muslims are apathetic when it is a non-Muslim who dies and sympathetic when a Muslim dies. She argues that she did not say so, but her intentions seemed clear. Her caustic tongue, angst and fire were being bombarded in every direction and she was at ease performing this act continuously and mindlessly thinking that she is reforming the world and her friends and followers supported her cause. However, some other people who were tolerating her from long thanked me for speaking up! I know, Islamophobia is ruling the world and I know that the U.N. has coined this term ‘Islamophobia’ too, but when you see that people around you take this as a reason to hate anyone and everyone, you will feel distressed of course! Muslims also die in these terrorist attacks and sympathy or compassion doesn’t vary based on religion!

Friends who seemed like they supported me at some point, also have kept similar status updates shortly after this stating things like muslims are merciless and that s/he thanks god that s/he is not a muslim and that they have foolish god men in their religion, which is better than having killers like in my religion. This post is my reply to all of them.

If fearing for my own life, my friends’ and loved ones’ lives makes me a coward then so be it. If I come across some extremists in my vicinity I do not hesitate to them give my piece of mind. If some one is spreading dangerous motives in the name of religion, I am always the first to identify and get rid of them or report them if I feel they might create a bigger problem. I try to imbibe sense in them if I can. I am not Malala and I can’t muster enough courage when bullets are being sprayed all over the world. I can be compassionate but I can’t be a staunch arm-chair activist. Unfriending people is not a solution, but my mental peace comes above every thing to me. I am not burying my head like an ostrich, but I am definitely saving my head from Facebook terrorism which just keeps destroying my days, nights and my productivity!

My small suggestion to whoever is reading this post is to use words carefully when you are angry. Yes, we all understand that the world is in rage, but when you talk to a larger audience, think twice before you speak or pen down your thoughts. Having said that I pray for all the victims and the families of he victims, I know it will never be the same again. Let us pray that we will be able to curb terrorism in the coming days and instead of spreading negative vibes, I hope we stay united !

Amen.

This post has already been published at the author’s blog.

Image of open hands via Shutterstock

This is Afshan. The meaning of my name is "bright" or "radiant" :). I work on

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2 Comments


  1. I am glad Women’s Web has published your post, Afshan. Well done and your last para says it. Contain the anger and hope for the negativity and terror to be curbed in the near future.

    • Afshan Shaik

      Thanks for ur comment and for ur time Shail. Ya I hope just a thought is given to people who want to live a normal life too with out making them face unanswerable que and ya directionless rage + negativity is always dangerous.
      Thanks again for reading 🙂

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