This year, we attended two community iftars during Ramadan. Both were at the same masjid that we attend on a regular basis, the same place where my children study Quran and we frequent on different times during the year for lectures that are interesting and applicable to our lives.
The first time we went this year, it was a positive experience. We had a nice time, our dessert was well received and I felt like I had finally made some headway into the accepted framework that makes up the Muslim Sisterhood.
A week ago, we went a second time and it wasn’t so great. I felt let down and bruised. I felt like that girl who the popular kids humor and allow to tag along and then once they are away from the group, they talk behind her back…while laughing. I wasn’t going to talk about it with you because I wasn’t sure I’d dealt with the situation in a good way. It was embarrassing.
Then last night, I was talking with a friend and I confessed the altercation to her and told her what happened. She applauded my stance and said she was proud of me for standing my ground.
I felt like I had back-peddled two years of putting myself out there. Two years ago, when we were in line for the Iftar dessert and the women cut in line in front of us, I was unprepared to deal with her rude behavior and unsure of my place in the community. I was trying too hard to fit in and ever since then I’ve regretted not standing stronger against her behavior.
Last week we were invited to the community iftar. We brought pineapple upside down cake to contribute to the dessert tables. My ladies prayed with the women and I waited outside the door of the women’s prayer room for them. The Imam’s wife ushered us into the dinner service line to make plates quickly after the prayer ended. The ladies stood in front of me with their plates patiently waiting their turn while the line behind us was soon out into the hallway. A woman (not much older than me) reached between my ladies and took a plate from the end of the buffet and proceeded to step in front of Pea.
I gently tapped her on the shoulder and said, “excuse me, but the line is this way. (pointing to the end of the line)”
She turned around and ignored me, and continued to push ahead of Pea.
I gently said again, “Excuse me, but you are stepping in line in front of my daughters and this is not right. You need to join the line.”
She responded, “No I’m not.”
I said again, “You cannot cut into the line in front of my daughters. You need to get in line like everyone else.”
She mumbled something in Arabic to the lady right behind her and rolled her eyes.
At this point I raised my voice. I know I shouldn’t have, but when someone rolls their eyes at me and acts like we don’t belong, It sparks my inner mama bear.
I said, “Astaghfirullah!* (yes I actually pulled out some Islamic jargon at this point.) My daughters have fasted as long as you have today. You have No Right to step in line in front of them!”At this point, she huffed and mumbled and stepped away from us and joined the line somewhere behind me. I wasn’t concerned if she went to the back of the line or not, I wanted this altercation to end.
Then, the woman who was standing next to her (again, not elderly) tried to do The Exact Same Thing!
My voice was not calm. When I said, “Excuse ME. You. Can. Not. Do. This.”
She answered me, “Yes, I know…Your Daughters!” and threw up her hands and took her plate to the end of the line.
Of course by then, Kate and Pea were mortified. I was mortified. I couldn’t believe we had to deal with this rude behavior again. AND not one person stepped in to help me. NOT ONE PERSON. I knew a lot of people there, and no one said a word.
By the time I got back to the table, I replayed the whole thing in my head and even told my table mate what had happened when our ladies stepped away to get some dessert. She didn’t respond.
If it was me by myself, I wouldn’t have even taken any food until everyone else has been served. It really isn’t that important to me to eat at the mosque. Aside from the fact that I was not fasting, I don’t do buffet food in public places. But this was about Pea and Kate being dissed by women who are supposed to be welcoming them into the community of those who Fast Ramadan. By those women cutting in front of my daughters, it was like they were negating the ladies’ place in the Ummah.
I am busting my ass to make sure that they are not punished in any way because of me. I’ll be damned if I am going to allow my daughters to be treated in this manner at a place where they are supposed to feel comfortable, by people who should be welcoming them. If they have a problem with me, it can be all about me, but not my sweet girls.
Not my babies.
So, I came home and told Khaled what happened and he didn’t know what was the right answer. It is different when you are a born Muslim. It is different when no one is questioning if you belong there. He won’t get it because He Belongs.
I thought about this whole scenario this week and finally came to peace with what happened. I don’t regret standing my ground, but I still don’t know if I handled it the best way. I hate that I embarrassed my ladies.
And then my friend said she was proud of me for standing my ground for what is right and setting a great example for my ladies.
After that, I knew I needed to share this with you so you know, if it happens to you…You are Not Alone.
*An Arabic phrase meaning “I ask Allah forgiveness.” A Muslim says this phrase many times, even when he is talking to another person. When a Muslim abstains from doing wrong, or even when he wants to prove that he is innocent of an incident he uses this expression. – Islamic-Dictionary.com