My Beautiful, Dear, Muslim Daughter,
We both knew after what happened in Paris what would come. We knew that, although you and I don’t need to have this conversation, many other people do. As I hear the opinions, almost all based in ignorance and fear, I realize that I may very well become hated by people who once loved me because I will stand up in defense of Muslims simply because I happen to love a few Muslims and know that what happened in Paris was not caused by Islam.
You and I know this is true. Unfortunately there are many who are ignorant and don’t know this is true. Most Westerners who are Christian don’t have any close friends or loved ones that are Muslim. Often, their only knowledge of what Islam is about is what they hear in media reports, pounded from their preacher’s pulpits or discussed around the water cooler at work in hushed tones so the Muslim co-workers won’t hear.
As for this Jew, I happen to love a couple of Muslims and soon, any day now, there will be one more little Muslim for me to love. That is why I don’t listen to what others say about Muslims. I ask you and your husband when I have a question. I am incredibly curious and you are so eager to share.
As people are screaming, “No more refugees!” I can’t help but think about this little granddaughter that will soon be welcomed into this world. I think about your plans to travel to Saudi Arabia so your wonderful husband’s family can meet her and bless her. I think of your lovely mother-in-law who has been so good and kind and generous to you. I think about the possibility of you never being able to return here because you and your husband are Muslim and he is Saudi. I can imagine the interview in a holding cell at the airport and how your beautiful mother-in-law would wait, so fearful, and then be the one to embrace and comfort you when they deny you entry into your own homeland because you are Muslim and married to a Saudi. Perhaps they might let you come home, just not with your husband. And I know that because of the deep love the two of you have for one another, you would choose to stay.
When people look at me with shocked and judgmental eyes as this Jewish mother mentions that her daughter has converted to Islam, they automatically react as if I need to be comforted. It makes me mad. I return the shocked look wondering why they would assume you would be such an idiot as to make a choice of free will that would somehow make you miserable. I then tell them that you met a wonderful man, a Saudi, and he loved you with such a sweet love inspired by his faith that one way you returned his love was with the act of religious conversion.
I then get the eye-rolls as if they think I am a deluded mother grasping at straws because I just don’t want to believe an uncomfortable truth about a daughter I love. Then I get madder. Still, I try to have patience with such ignorance and use it as an opportunity to gently explain the facts. I explain to them how your faith has transformed your life for the better. How all the sweetness that was always within you is now cultivated and channeled through generosity and service to the poor. I tell them that your life that before was so unstable and without direction has coalesced into a loving marriage, stable home, and baby on the way.
When they see that it is pointless to try to get me to see the big mistake that my daughter has made, they home in on criticizing my son-in-law. I mean, really, what mother-in-law really likes her son-in-law, right? They think this is an argument they can win. As they recap all the stereotypes western media and religion has brainwashed them into believing about Muslim men, I sit quietly with a polite smile plastered on my face because by now I have a very strong urge to clap them upside the head. But I don’t.
When they finally are satisfied and smug that they have had their say about what a religious Neanderthal my son-in-law must be, with extreme self-control I then set them straight, dear daughter. I explain to them that, no, he doesn’t beat you. In fact, he doesn’t even raise his voice as far as I can tell. That he’s just about the gentlest creature that passes for a man that I’ve ever met.
I also have to reassure them that he doesn’t “force” you to wear a veil. I tell the truth that, yes, there are times when you do wear a veil but that it is one hundred percent your choice and often for the purpose of respecting the feelings of others who are more conservative in their beliefs than you and your husband. That, in fact, you have as much freedom as any other wife, are a college graduate partly in fact because of his loving support and encouragement, and are continuing your education even further. You work when you please and you leisure when you please. Good grief. Such ignorance drives me crazy!
When the well-meaning ignoramus finally accepts that you and your husband do not line up with their imaginary Muslim guidelines, rather than admit they are wrong about Islam, the well-meaning ignoramus chooses to believe that you two are the exception to the rule and the proof is that these “other” Muslims pressure you to wear a veil against your will and personal convictions. I then ask them if they have not done the same thing, such as, “Well, you don’t wear a bikini to church do you? A strapless gown? A tube top? Hooker heels?” I mean, why is it so hard to understand an action motivated by a charitable spirit and desire to respect another’s feelings simply because it is performed by a Muslim?
We cannot use a broad brush to sweep across great swathes of humanity and say they cannot be trusted and are to be feared and suspected and rejected because they are Muslim. Do people not understand that these terrorists are not really Muslim? Do they not understand that they use a label but do not practice a faith? Do they not understand that the strategy behind using this label is to continue to divide two distinct groups of people? Do they not understand that if these two distinct groups of people actually come to realize this truth and become true allies in spirit, not just politically correct words, these murderers would then have no hiding place or pool of young people to recruit from? Do they not realize that by rejecting refugees who are running for their lives, have lost everything and are crying out for the charity of others to offer them a safe haven where they can rebuild a life for their families they are condemning generations of children to a non-future, no hope, and nothingness? Do they not realize that such an injustice will eventually, within the hearts of many, coalesce into anger and resentment creating the perfect condition to be recruited by murderers and thus perpetuate the cycle?
Wake up world! True Muslims are also the victims of the slaughter perpetrated by murderers who falsely use the label Islam. Many face not so much a physical slaughter but a slaughter of their hopes, dreams and futures. To truly help is to embrace these terrorized people with no homeland, love them, accept them, support them, encourage them and live beside them proudly and protectively.
Dear daughter, you and I have nothing to fear from one another. The only people we have to fear are the murderers who use the label of Islam in order to stir up trouble between folks like you and I and the ignoramuses who fall for it. This Jewish mother loves you, her Muslim daughter, and your husband, my Muslim son-in-law and our little Muslim princess granddaughter that is expected to arrive any day now. I love you with all my heart, the rest of the ignorant world be damned.
Forever, your loving Jewish Mother