A Pagan, an Atheist and a Muslim Walked into a bar …

A Pagan, an Atheist, and a Muslim walked into a bar …
Salam, guys! I am so tired today; I went out with some friends for a birthday last night. We scooted around Downtown St. Pete, chatted over cheap cocktails, saw a local band and reminisced over our 20-year friendship. 20 YEARS!! I love my old friends. One is Atheist, and the other is Pagan. I am Muslim. You would be unable to tell by just looking at me. I don’t fit the MO. I have tattoos, and I go out with friends to places I probably shouldn’t be. We share fireball shots, and we laugh louder than anyone around us. I am a ‘split personality’ Muslim: I abstain from eating pork, I pray, I tend to dress modestly (except on occasions that call for a little black dress). I am always reading about Prophet Mohammed (SAW*), I play verses from the Quran over speaker throughout my apartment a few times a week. I sometimes drink; even though I say I won’t anymore. I don’t wear a Hijab even though I say that I will one day. I haven’t gotten rid of my tattoos, even though I made it a goal. I am not perfect, God is. If you’re an Internet Sheikh, the exit is at the top right corner of the browser 😃.
My Muslim friends try to be understanding because of my culture  (I am American: 100%, and let’s face it, we Americans like to drink, party, have co-ed friendships, hug those of the opposite sex, etc.) I talk to them regularly about the things that I want to change in myself. I think they get it, and if they don’t at least, they are still my friends despite my spiritual short comings. Every day feels like a personal Jihad in my head. I go back and forth with the things that I do wrong as a Muslim. I give myself pep talks. I set goals. I put them on paper and even sometimes put them into action.
My Non-Muslim friends try to be understanding during Ramadan. They don’t wince when they see me in a Turban or a scarf. If I need to pray they will stay quiet for the few minutes that it takes for me to get it done. One of my favorite couples said they ‘wished all Muslims were like me.” I pardoned their ignorance since I am probably the only Muslim they know on a personal level. They are Marines who served in predominantly Muslim countries, so in all their experience, “Muslims” have always been shooting at them. What they, and many other people, don’t realize is that there are a lot of Muslims that are like me. People often mistake them for Spanish people. Even if they wear a scarf and don’t drink or go to clubs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t like you. They have dreams. They share recipes, go shopping, send each other funny memes, and go to brunch. They have Christmas, Birthday and dinner parties constantly. Just because we are Muslim doesn’t mean we are Alien. It doesn’t mean we are oppressed. Do I look oppressed? I have a neck tattoo, and I am drinking a Latte in the greatest country in the world. What is oppressing, is YOU trying to make ME feel like my friends and I are oppressed. The problem is people mistake culture for Islam. They let the want for power, get in the way of the message.
Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago. Rights that women in the West weren’t afforded until the fucking 1930s. BUT ONCE AGAIN, people are mistaking Islam for culture. Religion isn’t dangerous, people are. I’ve met plenty of White male Christians who slap their girlfriends around, but it doesn’t mean Christianity promotes abuse.
I am sorry that you haven’t spent any real time with Muslims. I am sorry you haven’t sipped coffee and smoked hookah with us on Friday nights. I am sorry you think we are so foreign and evil. You want us to ‘go back to where we came from, but I was born in Orlando, Florida. You think I am ‘just like you’ when you see me pushing a bottle of wine around in my Target cart but when you see me on Fridays before or after Jummah (Friday Prayer. Christians go to Church on Sunday, we go on Friday),  you treat me like a spectacle. You look at me like you fear me as if I am the enemy. When I go to breakfast with my friends you look at them from the corners of your eyes like you are uncomfortable. As if we shouldn’t be in Cracker Barrel because they are wearing a hijab paired with matching heels. They are the nicest people I’ve ever met and your looks of disapproval/fear make me disgusted. It makes me want to curse you out, cause a scene, make you feel stupid. I can’t, though, I must mind my manners. I have to smile at you. I have to make it a point to have a good time with them in public. I feel as though I am some type of liaison between the White Suburbs of America and the local hookah lounge.  I have to display our friendship because I couldn’t possibly be Muslim, too. We are all Human. Believe it or not, we have a lot more in common than you all think.
A Muslim, a Pagan and an Athiest walked into a bar, they took shots and remained best friends, despite their completely different beliefs on the ‘Hereafter.’ This is America ❤
Also, for you young Muslims that may be reading, I am not condoning the consumption of Alcohol. It’s not worth it. It dries your skin and makes you act like an ass. Stay the path and pray for me.
Also, Check out this spoken word poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II42IpzskRI
Xoxo,
Hali
*SAW is an acronym for the Arabic phrase “SallAllahu Alaihi Wa’Salaam.” It translates to ‘Peace and Blessings unto him.’ We say this after mentioning any prophet. Including Isa (Jesus, SAW).

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