Don’t Diss my Ability

It’s interesting how there are times when I come to write this blog, I am in need of inspiration. That doesn’t happen often, thankfully. It’s usually the case that an event or a passing conversation with someone will set my thoughts into motion which, in turn, transpire into sentences on the screen.

I try not to let current affairs take precedence in my blog as this is a personal space for personal reflections; global news is just an extraneous interference. But I am not one who is immune to what is going on around me at home or abroad. With all the media focus recently locked onto Ukraine, on the opposite stage, there is equally animated talk about the unfair bias towards our Caucasian brethren when so many other groups of people in the world continue to suffer immeasurably. This is the insidiuous side of the human reality. It is people who get to choose the worth of one life over another. I take no pleasure in seeing anyone suffer which is why I also do not understand the factors which determine the value of an individual’s life. Yet, I am not naive to believe that iniquity doesn’t prevail in all societies. I have had first hand experience of it and still do.

When Silence Doesn’t Pay

Just this week, I experienced (yet again), what racial profiling feels like. Whilst I was waiting to pay for my groceries and had prepared my empty bags in my trolley, the cashier, herself of Eastern European origin, gestured to ask if she could take a quick look in my bags. I obliged as I had nothing to hide. However, it dawned on me later and irked me no end that I was subjected to a degrading request. The first rude assumption was that I couldn’t speak English (hence the hand gestures); the second rude assumption was that I was a petty thief. I hadn’t reacted immediately as I was still in silent shock. However, I went home playing the incident out in my mind and realised what I had just experienced was a flagrant but subtle display of racism. I did end up later making a complaint to the company in question.

What this incident made me realise is that someone such as myself – a woman, a person of colour, a Muslim – can be and do all I want in this world, but there are times when others’ perception of me will dictate how far I can go. Of course, I know Allah is the one has the final say. However, biases, preconceptions and misconceptions belong to people and not to the Creator. So, the battles, known or unknown, that I have to fight in my life to earn my rights are very real.

It is very disappointing that humans can be so crass and insular. All it takes is a little time to get to know one another and understand that deep down, we are all the same. We are all vying for our space in this world but with a little cooperation and understanding, everyone can claim that space. Yes, there are layers to our identities and monotony would be boring. However, I know as a Muslim, that preconceptions about another are inherently opposed to my beliefs. I have myself lived in different societies and cultures to know the wonder of being amongst them and having the privilege to have an insight into their world. I have learnt to unlearn arrogance, as if my way of doing or seeing things is the only correct way. I can disagree with decorum. I can disagree without derision. The value systems I cherish may be alien to others and vice versa. Yet, that does not give anyone the right to denigrate simply because we do not see eye to eye.

My own unsavoury encounter earlier this week makes me pity the narrowmindedness and arrogance of those who cannot see past their own insecurities. Because that is exactly what it is: too often people refuse to recognise their own personal shortcomings and like to find a scapegoat.

Alhamdulillah, I have learnt to hold many unwanted characters at a healthy arm’s length. I continue to have hope in humanity as hopelessness is not in keeping with my beliefs. InshaAllah, one day, those who have wronged me without justification will find out for themselves the sickness they carry within. The diss-ability is something they themselves have and ultimately will hurt them more than it does others.

Keeping Safe

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