When I was in middle school, I attended a public school where the majority of the students were Christian. There were literally less than ten Muslims in the whole school. In my class of around thirty students, there were only two Muslims, me and another boy whose name was Mohammad.
Because my name is Michelle, a lot of students did not know that I was Muslim, but they all knew that Mohammad was. Mohammad did have a lot of friends and was outgoing, and his friends would joke around with him a lot.
Every so often, I would hear them joke around about Mohammad’s family and religion. I once heard his friend ask if it was hard to fast for a whole month, and at first, I thought comments like this were coming from curious students. However, I noticed that as time went by, I heard his friends say things like, “Don’t bother him, or his family will bomb you.” or “He follows the religion of terrorists.” I would even hear some of his friends repeatedly yell “Allah” out of nowhere. His friends would always make terrorist jokes, and although he did seem bothered by the comments, he never said anything to defend himself. I could tell from his face that he was annoyed because his friends would yell these comments out loud, and they would get the whole class to laugh along with them.
I was shy in middle school, so I would just observe and keep quiet. I never did anything about it, but I will never forget these days. Looking back, I regret not speaking up. I wish that I stood up for Mohammad because even though, the “jokes” were geared towards him, it really affected me to. It bothers me even today that I never said anything to clear the misconception of Islam that the media portrays.
Although I did not do the right thing back then, I did learn a huge lesson, which is to not only stand up for my beliefs, but to also take action when I see abuse. The Prophet once said, “If someone among you sees wrong, he must right it by his hand if he can (deed, conduct, action). If he cannot, then by his tongue (speak up, verbally oppose); if he cannot, then by his gaze (silent expression of disapproval); and if he cannot, then in his heart. We should all learn to stand up when we see someone getting bullied, or if someone has a misconception of Islam because words can make a huge difference. Just as their words still affect me today, imagine if I spoke up. My words may have still stayed with them today and may have even changed their perception of Islam. May we all learn to stand up for what is right, and may we all learn to forbid what is wrong. Ameen.
Did kids ever make comments about Islam at your school? Share your experiences in the comments down below!
“Stand up firmly for justice, as a witness to God, even as against yourselves or your parents or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor. ” [Quran 4:135]