Growbaba spotlights provide a space for Muslim fathers to share their voice, reflections, and insights with our community.
Let’s admit it folks, there is nothing more quenching to the embattled soul than long awaited sweet revenge. Don’t worry, no blood or terror here –though there are definitely battle scars.
You see, back when this 44 year-old father of three was in 6th grade, they used to ask me, “how can you just stand there?” and “why don’t you fight back?.”
Day after dreary Midwestern school-day, Massey and Mel (my neighborhood bus stop bullies) reliably delivered their daily dose of angry fists into to my chest and stomach. “Go back where you came from… damn foreigners… don’t build your temple in our town.” This scrawny sixth grader quickly figured out that his fight was far bigger than himself.
With my mother’s gentle teaching and by my own learning from the school of hard punches, I found my own way to hand off the pain to the only One who would dispel justice in its full form. My mother assured me that if I entrusted my pain to Him, then the other side of my transaction with God would certainly one day pan out.
The bus stop beatings went on, but I never asked for help from the other kids. I only cried alone in my room- calling out to Allah.
I endured, and I waited. I grew up. My life moved on and soon enough, my family moved away from the Midwestern town to a new town where I graduated high school, then college, then I got married, and had three kids of my own. It was quickly and abundantly clear to me that God’s many soothing gifts helped me forget my painful 6th grade memories.
On a fate-driven ride to my own 6th grade son’s school here in sunny California, I actually saw my Mom’s promise of sweet revenge sprawled before my eyes. Today, the scenery next to my son’s school is a skyline silhouette of four minarets towering around the bulging unmistakable dome of our local mosque. The 30+ year old knots inside my stomach finally unfurled as I witnessed my long-awaited sweet revenge carved into the landscape of what Mel and Massey explained was distinctly their country and not mine, let alone that of my children.
The Most Merciful, Most Just has exchanged my bullies’ knuckles with a skyline that has permanently defined my neighborhood and my country… not only for me, but for my own 6th grader and for his classmates of all faiths and his teachers, neighbors and our entire country to celebrate. Just as God alone was there to soothe my pain decades ago, here I stand alone once again in a private moment, basking in a celestial hug delivered by The Most Merciful, Most Just to me and my kids and my neighborhood and my entire country. That was worth the wait.
Today, when I’m in my neighborhood mosque and I hear the call to prayer), I too enjoy taking a long deep soothing breath right along with him. For me, that’s the same breath that I was unable inhale in between Massey and Mel’s walloping punches 30 years ago. That breath too, was well worth the wait. What’s even better is that now I can take in all of these treasures alongside my own 6th grader within the embrace of our new skyline. I’m so glad I never punched back, because I would have never dreamed that the revenge I entrusted to God could be this sweet. I’m so indescribably glad I never punched back, because of a Mom whose love directed me to hold out for the long haul.
I know that my neighborhood mosque was not built exclusively for me. God’s mercy and justice are for all. My Mom’s teachings ensured that her struggling Midwestern 6th grader who started out hating his faith for inflicting gut-punches has ended up with kids who love both their faith and their neighborhood. He ended up this way because his Mom directed him to God.
Today’s 6th grade American Muslims have vastly different struggles. But folks, they still have the same One All-Merciful God. And if they are lucky enough to have a Mom, then please know that they are definitely the right age for Mom to direct them to God.
Thank you God. Thank you Mom.
A 44-year old 6th grade American Muslim
As a boy Yaman Kahf never knew exactly what he wanted to “be” other than being a father. He migrated to the US as an infant with his parents and is the second eldest of 7 siblings –growing up in Utah, Indiana, and New Jersey before settling in southern California with his wife and three boys. Career and college degrees pale in comparison to the accomplishments, joy, and education from life with three boys.
(Originally posted November 5, 2012)