07 Jul How did you deal with being a Muslim during tough times?
How did you deal with being a Muslim during tough times?
As Muslims we aren’t supposed to focus on the bad or dwell on the negative. It would be helpful for me though if I heard more stories of how a Muslim successfully dealt with a bad time or experience. I know your dad has one leg, did that ever embarrass you when in public? What about your terror-tastic sounding name? How did you overcome the teasing/isolation growing up? It couldn’t have been awesome all the time, right, so how do you deal with the bad exactly?
There is a delicate balance that we have to strike between talking about what bothers us, the negative, etc so that we can express ourselves, so that we do not compartmentalize our feelings, which is different to dwelling upon those things.
To quote Vince Lombardi, “It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get up.”
I have to underline that my ability to cope with problems is rooted in the rock-solid foundation that is my family. My parents have supported, challenged, chastised, advised, and loved my siblings and I in a way that has allowed us to overcome anything. I understood that environment and those actions as reflections of my parents’ practice of Islam, which guides my thinking to this day.
I have never been embarrassed by my father about that, he wears a prosthetic so no one notices, but, beyond that, masha Allah, my father has a dignity to him that is incredible. He never speaks about his achievements, and masha Allah, he is an incredible human being, and I strive to be more like him, and while he is very funny and engaging, he has a reserve I hope to have, whereas I am simply loud and abrasive, he is calm and collected.
He is a wonderful father, alhamdulilah, and I don’t remember even thinking about my father’s handicap growing up, because he just was so engaging. I think it was because of how he was as a father, he loves us so dearly, that we’d do literally anything for him, and when you have that sort of basis to a relationship, nothing can shake that.
As far as my name, I think a little humor helps, but I think having confidence in who you are is really important.
I just never understood the need to be shocked at prejudice, maybe that is a product of the cynicism that emerges when your name is Osama, but, I guess I found my way to deal with it and that was to make those who would say something uncomfortable in their prejudice without feeling the need to directly address it.
I mean, let’s be honest, I look like some All-American quarterback, who should be named “Hunter,” with little whales on my pants. Therefore, I made sure to introduce myself to everyone as “Osama,” no “Sam” no nicknames, always “Osama,” because I wanted them to see me, meet me, and probably make their brain melt from meeting a blond Egyptian Muslim.
The point is that you need to understand where the prejudice and problems come from, and you have to accept it for what it is. I don’t mean that you go along with it, I’m saying that you accept the reality (the bad), that it will exist, and decide how you will deal with it. It does you little good to be like “if only racism didn’t exist,” well it does, so what are you going to do?
I guess just be realistic about what you can and cannot do, but also, make sure to value yourself, because that’s what is going to get you through those tough times.
My mother would always say: “Don’t beat yourself up, people will do that for free.”
So, when you ask about my father, he lost his leg at 26. He was a superstar athlete (masha Allah) and here he was, in America, thousands of miles away from everyone he knew, and he was now handicapped. He thought his life was over, and he was recovering in the hospitality school of the university he was attending, and the dean of that school was a WWII veteran who lost his leg. He showed my dad how his life wasn’t over and that was massively important in my dad being able to move on from that time.
There are too many people to mention who helped me in that way, but you can’t rely completely on others, you have to also have that resolve within you, harden your mindset, brace yourself for the bad times, and know where and with who you can relax.
It was through my tough times that I realized the centrality of Islam to reaching that inner resolve. You might not have someone like my father did, but remember that you have God, truly, because I feel like in tough situations there are choices you know you can/have to make, but the difficulty is in getting over your fears when making them, and trusting in God goes a long way in overcoming the fear you’ll have in deciding what needs to be done.
It is just extremely important that in facing tough times you do not embitter yourself towards others, because you must realize that that pessimism and cynicism, does little to improve your situation and will ensure that you deal with others with the same ignorance and horrid assumptions you were subject to.
As a Muslim you shouldn’t only see your faith as relevant during bad times, but also, from the good. Both are tests, and when you look at that, your faith will help ground you, so that you can push aside lavish praise or hurtful condemnation and focus on what is most important.
I’m not sure if this was very helpful, and I’m certainly not the best person to help people through trying periods, but if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask me, insha Allah.
I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.