Blank space

I come from a background of women whom have seen their people burned alive right in front of them, whom have had their innocence taken away from them within the matter of minutes at the hands of men whom felt entitled to their bodies.

I come from a background of women whom have suffered from severe trauma from a young age, at the hands of the British empire and Pakistani military. I come from a background of women whom were told to ‘just deal with it’: deal with the continuous monstrosities of colonialism and imperialism, and ‘carry on’.

I come from a background of women whom were expected to ‘stay silent!’ about all that had happened to them, because if a man outside of the family had found out that ‘your body was no longer innocent and clean, no man would want you.’

I come from a background of women whom migrated, and when migrating, carried their trauma. I come from a background of women whom didn’t know how to deal with their trauma because their community back home didn’t let them, because they themselves didn’t know how.

I come from a background of women whom never ever knew or know the phrases ‘I am depressed, I am anxious, I feel suffocated’.  I come from a background of women whom are severely depressed, anxious and suffocated but they get on with it because that is what they know and all that they know.

I come from a background of women whom are courageous and strong beyond your eyes could ever imagine but because these women are elderly, and their tongues do not speak English the way a native would, you wouldn’t see them as strong and courageous. You would see their small petite frames, hijabs and wrinkled faces and think of words such as frail, passive, submissive and obedient to describe them as.

I come from a background of women whom projected their issues on to me, and yet, I don’t blame them. They weren’t made aware of mental health issues, but they slowly are now. It’s difficult for some to listen and understand. And those who do listen and try to understand, struggle nonetheless.

I am a woman who will teach my children the history of their women, and teach them what it means to be strong women through my words and my actions. I will teach them that when everything isn’t okay, that, that’s okay, and that they can speak about how they are feeling.

22 years of living, and yet, I do not know my mother’s story fully. At times, randomly, she opens up to me and reveals snippets and I’m able to form jigsaw pieces. I have some pieces that show the overall narrative very briefly, but the precise details, the centre and the edges are very much a blank space.

“Muslamic ray guns”


Defining Islamophobia

Islamophobia is so much more than just a simple ‘dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force’ (Oxford English Dictionary Online). It is an intense hatred for what encompasses the unknown. Islam is foreign. It is violent and it is threatening. Look at the rise of terrorist attacks in the contemporary. Muslim bearded men are radical and fanatical. Veiled Muslim women are medieval. We are submissive and passive. We are the epitome of oppression itself. We have yet to embrace our liberated white feminist sisters who have freed themselves of their patriarchal shackles.

The media

Gathering from the above statements, it is no wonder why Islamophobia is on the rise. Newspaper report after report after report of terrorist attacks, the rise of terrorism, the war on terror, Asian grooming gangs, ISIS, radicalised British teenagers, Hamas, the Syrian conflict, Muslim women’s illiteracy rate, Muslim women’s unemployment rate. Quite frankly, the media has a fetish for Muslims. They have an obsession with focusing on Muslims, and a compulsion with the ‘demonic rise of Islam’. It is manic. And this mania shapes and has shaped the way in which Muslims and Islam are perceived within the present.

Xenophobia unwrapped

Islamophobia however, is not merely just a hatred towards Muslims and Islam. No. It is xenophobia. It is racism wrapped around the fabric of religion. Simple as. Anyone who ‘looks’ Muslim, who ‘sounds’ Muslim, who has a ‘Muslim sounding name’ are the victims of islamophobic attacks: non-Muslim and Muslim blacks, Sikh’s, Hindu’s, Muslim, Christian and Jewish Arabs. Numerous physical attacks carried in the name of harming a Muslim, harming a terrorist have been perpetrated based on physical appearances and characteristics. The fact that individuals try to perpetrate who is Muslim and who isn’t based on physical appearance shows the profound level of ignorance prevalent in society towards minorities. Ultimately, these islamophobic attacks reveal society’s constructed ongoing racism and cyclical obliviousness to those who form the underclass. If people well and truly hated Muslims, and wanted to attack Muslims in the name of ‘protecting society from Islam’, then only Muslims would be the victims of these attacks. But they are not. Islamophobia is so much more than just people having negative stereotypes about Islam which are then manifested into attacks on Muslims. Islam is no longer just synonymous with the Middle East, Muslim men with violence and Muslim women with oppression. Islam has become synonymous with race and ethnicity and physical appearance.