Monday, 28 August 2017

I Embrace Being Muslim, Mexican & Pakistani; I’m Better for It

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I grew up waking up at 7:00 A.M. on Saturdays to the sounds of Spanish music as my mom opened my bedroom door to find my sister and I hiding under the covers in our twin beds. She would yell, “Vamos a limpiar la casa, vamos!” And boy, did we clean.
My mom was born and raised in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico; one of the most beautiful places in the world. With the sounds of Vicente Fernandez, Alejandro Sanz, and Alejandro Fernandez in our house, it reminded me of the early days (when I was like, 5) in Mexico. It made the cleaning a little more tolerable.
Every afternoon we would get ready and head to my tio’s house where at least 60 family members would gather for pool parties. Tacos and ceviche were obvious to the eye, but so were Coronas and Pacificios in the ice chests near the bar.
We also had a Qur’an teacher come twice a week to teach us how to read, pray, etc. I began reading the Qur’an at the age of 3 or 4 and finished it by the age of 5. I still remember the look on my father’s face when I recited Surah Yasin to the entire mosque. He smiled so bright that day.
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I grew up with a lot of people who were also mixed; however, a lot of people were judgmental toward my family because my mother was not “raised Muslim.”
My parents always placed a huge emphasis on religion and I always wondered why. I wondered why people looked at me different because I was not fluent in Urdu (and yes, I’m talking about the “aunties” whose daughters were fluent in Urdu.)
I could tell Rasmalay from Barfi and understand my dad when he spoke. I was even fluent in Urdu and Punjabi when I was a kid and would run outside when the airplanes would fly over our house and yell “Ja’has” to my parents in awe. Later in life, I dropped the Urdu and picked up the Spanish.
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We would not get invited to many parties and as I got older and I understood why. It was because my parents were one of the first mixed-ethnic couples in our area where the wife actually converted.
Though my mother converted to Islam, she never compromised her culture. She still cooked Mexican food, listened to Spanish music, and we would go to church sometimes with our Mexican side of the family. My mom wanted us to understand that although we were Muslim, we had to respect all faiths.
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