Words can’t capture the grief I feel about the 49 innocent people who were murdered yesterday, while worshipping, in New Zealand. The barbarity is astounding and I can’t wrap my head around what makes anyone want to kill.
When I first converted in 2010, Nan was terrified of this happening to me. She had no problem with the fact I changed my religion because she (and my father) taught me that people are people, do no harm to others and treat them with love and kindness. She was more afraid of other people killing me because of the religion I chose to follow. I stopped following for five years and picked it back up two years after she died and sadly, to Nan’s fears that nowadays it doesn’t seem to matter which faith you follow, it’s open season.
I am really afraid now. I do not belong to a mosque, but sometimes when I travel, I visit and attend services. They have all been welcoming, I have met with the imam beforehand, introduced myself, and all was fine. Since men and women pray separately, often the women take me under their wings and include me. I have only experienced love and kindness from mosques and the Muslim communities I’ve met. I really hope I can still experience this.
The last time I went to mosque was when I was in Toronto. The night after I arrived, I decided to visit Danforth Avenue and meet with the imam of that mosque. I met with him after the evening prayer, we talked for a bit, and he showed me around, then showed me where the women enter. He was very friendly. I thanked him for his time.
Ironically, as I was waiting for the TTC to go to Danforth Avenue, I ran into a Muslim young woman. I said hello, introduced myself, she introduced herself, and I asked her for some help with my hijab. She said she was going to a service at another mosque and I was welcomed to join her. I did and I made a new friend: Aisha. She helped me with my hijab and she agreed to a selfie.
I have this photo tucked into a photo album. ❤
After we washed up (wudu), she showed me around and led me to the prayer room. I met with the other women and since I am still learning, they helped me along. They were very kind and afterward, the women included me in their afternoon tea and lunch. This was Friday, the Muslim day of worship. The lunch was simple: a date sandwich and cardamom tea. They gave me some books and welcomed me to their mosque and couldn’t wait to see me again. I wish I took more pictures, but I will remember the day for the rest of my life.
I know I didn’t have to share my story, but I find joy in this experience, I find joy and happiness in my spiritual journey. I can’t wait to return to Toronto and add more to my story.
I just hope that I can continue to visit, I’m not looked on with suspicion and I really hope that after this tragedy that we can all come together, as human beings, and light this very dark world with love.