Born and raised in the city known as the Big Apple also addressed as a big melting pot of different races and cultures; I never faced discrimination from others except my own. I remember moments when I was younger that totally set me apart from my Dominican associates, but for the most part, I blended in and felt like I belonged to society. 

I was usually mistaken for being a Columbian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Italian, or Jewish (talk about a wide spectrum of the rainbow lol) but people would never think that I was Dominican they were shocked for some reason when this was known.

While growing up I didn’t have Dominican friends at all since they figured I wasn’t “Dominican enough” to hang with them whatever that means, I was accused of not being ethnic enough, dark enough, or my hair wasn’t curly enough Gee Wizz Com’on talk about not living up to people’s standards; however, I grew accustomed to not fully fitting in the Dominican community of NYC. Ok, so we didn’t fit the stereotype of what a Dominican looked like, on the perspecitve of attitude and culture we fit like a glove… Dominican 100%.

Our family get togethers which would  usually fall on the weekends would be a feast of grilled pork, chicken, steak, rice beans, salad you name it we had it there; and of course the family never failed  in the loud, intrusive, and sarcastic jokes department. This is what those gatherings consisted of always. Like many Dominican famlies we would find any excuse to throw a party….I’m serious any reason…ok a little example you say here it goes…like when my Aunt Carmen decided to liposuck the fat from her abdomen everyone thought this was a major milestone and a reason to stuff our faces, drink coffee, and sit to talk about everything and everybody. Or even this celebrating that little Luis started walking I mean you name it we’ve done it (LOL). Thats my family boisterous, rude, and judgemental about everything….  think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” just substitute the Greek for Dominican, and dysfunctional just wouldn’t fit the word of what describes my family’s behavior.

Ok so now you might be wondering what does this all have in conjunction; there’s a point to all my madness 😉 . As Muslims, we are made up of different cultures and countries. We have a system of brotherhood in Islam that protects everyone’s rights and we also have the duty to look after one another sort of like a domino effect. So why is it that when a person converts to Islam some are set aside because they’re not from the same culture pool or are from the Western Hemisphere. This is absurd to me, and I for one, being a convert know of this too well.

As a nation we have become so weak. We have become nationalists or patriots more than Muslims. I can speak for many converts that I have met both friends and acquaintances that in one point or another have been shunned because they are Americans or Europeans or not from the East. This is so ignorant and totally the opposite of what our religion teaches us.

As Allah says in the Quran in 49:13:  “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (i.e. one of the pious). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware”.

We are a nation of humility and modesty who enjoin the good and forbid the evil. So why is it that these things still occur?  Am I or another Muslim really that different? I hope that inshallah with this glimpse of  my background and family it is obvious that we can relate to each other in some way.

Whether it’s that our families are loud, or questions everything in our lives, or that loving grandmother who would make great desserts.  Isn’t it a fact that at one time or another in our lives we have been made to feel like a black sheep whose an outcast from a particular group?

My brothers and sisters in Islam please we must be more sensitive to each other  no matter our backgrounds. Just because some of us don’t know the Arabic language doesn’t mean that you are better than us but like the verse says Allah (Glorified be He) has made us differently so we may know each other, honor, and respect one another.  All our cultures are rich and beautiful. Allah didn’t make us into different nations and tribes to be arrogant and think we are the best of everyone else.

The Prophet (pbuh) also addresses this in the following hadith: `Iyad bin Himar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Allah has revealed to me that you should humble yourselves to one another. One should neither hold himself above another nor transgress against another.” (Muslim) 

It was hard enough not having the support of my family when I entered Islam and that of Western society, but to have your fellow Muslims in Islam make you feel more isolated is just disheartening. Instead of tackling the misconceptions of our religion we’re busy hurting each other for ridiculous reasons.  We are living in a world today that as Muslims we have to strive harder to demonstrate the true teachings of our faith, with all the fallacies roaming the globe isn’t it about time we get our act together. 

 Let’s stop preocupying our time with nonsense. Stand tall and firm as one nation and show the world what Islam truly means and refute those who are making our dawah efforts more challenging. I will leave you with this hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).                                                     

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said, “A faithful believer to another faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall, enforcing each other. “While (saying that) the Prophet clasped his hands by interlacing his fingers. (Al-Bukhari)