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Fading memories of Islamophobia in classroom ; I will not forget, I will resist

By Soleha Ilyas Nizami

Being from a small Christian school, I didn’t really had much of confrontation with Islamophobia, until I started high school in my city’s one of the most prestigious institution. From initial days itself, I sensed the existence of various problems, which until then I had only read and heard about.

Excited as I was, unaware wasn’t I, though I didn’t had much exposure with people my age, I grew up listening to stories of anti-Muslim riots, of deaths and displacements, of becoming refugees and of poverty.

My father, mother, grandmothers, uncles and aunts all have their own stories of struggles in surviving the pogroms unleashed against them in different parts of the country, in different times, only because of their beliefs. Throughout my little life, I have been taught to stand against injustice and oppression, and speak and spread truth.
As the learning began, it wasn’t limited to textbooks and lectures; I started learning about different people and their beliefs and experienced various prejudices and hatred. Pursuing Arts & Humanities, my classroom was always full of students, talking on various issues, even during breaks and after college. I felt excited to be a part of these discussions. But the more I began indulging in those conversations the more I was alienated and the more I realised the anti-muslim sentiments of my peers. Almost all of those ‘discussions’ roamed around Muslims and Lower castes criminalisation. These discussions were not confined among students only, the teachers initiated them.

Our classroom became parliament with students taping their desks when they agree with someone and hurling abuses when they disagree. Teachers became speaker and hence right wing was ruling party.

The anti-Muslim boldness of right-wing students were balanced by subtle Islamophobia of left-wingers. Of the 200 students in our class, more than half spoke Hindutva and remaining defends, but with time, they too followed their peers. They ranted about their insecurities against Muslims and Pakistan.

Often abusing us, under the cover of Pakistan. The only Muslims were silent, when the prime discussions were all based them. They all used to tune in together, with teachers and students to vilify ‘reservation’. I was there, observing their hate and pushing my limits to speak and defend and offend. I tried to defend all that could be defended, since alike other few Muslims, the few reservation students remained unspoken and I realised my privilege to recognise the hate towards me and my ability to stand for myself. The teachers and peers alike used to throw their lies and bigotries on me; I forget how much was there to defend. I used constitution as the shield to protect myself but it failed. It is too weak to even recognise my mere fundamental rights, I realised. I planned different strategies and used different methods. Sometimes, I tried to stay quiet too, only suffering their harsh words against my existence but my conscience didn’t let me. If there was a way to escape, I would have, but all these discussions took during regular lessons.

The teachers were the enablers and directors of these discussions where my dignity was the ball they threw around. All of that hatred that I had only knew from internet and thought that it was limited to bots only, were the shape of these young teenage minds. The girl, I sit with and call my friend cheers when a guy refuses to acknowledge me as rightful citizen of this country. I got sympathies, but it gave me no comfort since the cheers and hails for my haters were also from those sympathizers only.

A discussion and debate, they called it, baiting if my life is worth their cows. Tough, it was. But I survived. The time between class and home was the most difficult, travelling for 20 minutes in train seemed eternity and thoughts wandered from loneliness, but home. Home always brought me back. After coming back from college, I would cry and narrate it all to my family. They would comfort me and teach me and listened when I ranted and assured me. Home provided solace to my wounds and strength to my tongue.

I wonder about Fatima Latheef often. She urged home and its solace, if only she got. I wish she hadn’t lost strength. However, I can only wish for her and pray for her salvation. But for those who are surviving, I can assure them with that this too shall pass and we will be emerging stronger. This regular oppression will come to an end through our struggles. Only if we struggle. There are times when we feel pale and weak to stand. But those weak days fuel our stronger days, when we stand and resist. The institutions of education which should ensure platforms for healthy discussions have become crematoriums that burn the pyres of our dignity.

Nevertheless, we will rise from ashes and soar high. Have faith. I write this since for the past one year, I have been living in my own space, a little away from the reality. I fear that if I don’t archive this, then the pleasant and warm comfort of my home would fade the bitter realities of life from my memories. I don’t want to forget. I will never forget. Remembrance is the first step to resistance, they say, I will remember and I will resist.

18 thoughts on “Fading memories of Islamophobia in classroom ; I will not forget, I will resist

  1. I think this is one of my stories during lecture hours in hr class room where explaining the identities of being a Muslim and Muslim woman was hard to do! Biased thoughts and prejudices over understandings about Muslims and Islam sometimes weaken your way to achieve your academic goals however being a survivor with that period of time I have learned that it is good that people are unsympathetic towards you, coz it worths your identity to defend who you really are and provide you a platform to be in a black and white!!
    Thanks for writing! You have really been a hero of our time to struggle with this challenge

    1. All praises are to Allah, Who gave me strength. We all are heroes to have survived.
      And, Yes, I do feel the same about the unsympathetic behaviour of peers because these unsympathetic behaviour develop us into unapologetic ourselves and uncompromising of our religion.

  2. Dear writer,
    Unfortunately, your personal experiences in classroom set up have pushed you to the corner where you have pain and develop negativity , is true. Teachers who either initiate or encourage such discussions are responsible for your state of mind today.

    You stood very often alone , salute to you. Remember intelligent debates ,wise knows the truth and need not debate for truth prevails .
    Remember for politicians Muslims, Hindus or caste people are the same .They know to rule ,they must divide.

    I’m worried about the fact that teachers are instruments of this hatred.
    I wish you peace of mind so that you complete your education successfully, country needs you…INDIA NEEDS PEOPLE LIKE YOU…INDIA NEEDS YOU.

    One day you will be a touch bearer for millions of Indians.

  3. Which college is this ?? Who are you ??
    And who is Fatima Latheef ??
    I request Muslim mirror to stop publishing anonymous stories which generalise behaviour of some people as general bigoted behaviour. This is exactly what happens to us muslims, it would be a traversity if we as well started doing this as well.

    1. Behaviour of some people? You are so far from truth. Majority of Indians are Islamophobic. Accept it before it is too late.

      Come out of your farcical shell of Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb. A simple Google Search will tell you who Fatima Latheef is.

      And she isn’t anonymous. You are – Nakli Musalmaan.

    2. @”asli Musalman” aka asli Hindu harami,

      Wrong as usual. Who are you? A dirty Hindu sewer rat pretending to be a Muslim. Smelly sanghi suvars never learn. The writer is beave and has more courage then a million hindus. You cannot silence the truth.

    3. Lol shut up imposter. You can’t keep muslims in delusion anymore. Even after naming yourself muslim you still can’t hide your severe hate against Muslims and Islam. Go take a dip in Ganga

  4. Dear writer friend,
    I can feel each n every word u hv written here ,
    As i was ur classmate in the same class..
    Your thoughts are very good and u wrote well
    But u know, just one specific class and that one specific teacher and some brainwashed students…
    Don’t let them inflence your mind and make u think
    That everywhere is the same… and just focus on ur goals..so that when u someone known tomorrow you can do something to solve this. Hope u will!

    1. Thank you for your words. Revolution starts at home so we don’t need to be someone big to do something to solve this, let’s do with whatever we have.
      All praises are to Allah, Who gave us strength.

  5. A few suggestions to Muslim Students who face such hostile, and hateful situations

    1. Learn Islam, as deeply as you can and develop your faith in Islam with sincerity, and persistence. With Deep and penetrating knowledge of Islam, you’ll be in a dominant position to defend your faith, intellectually and rationally, fron any objection, any obfuscation, any bigoted comment.

    2. Learn effective argumentation techniques. Learn logical fallacies and the way to point them out in the interlocutor’s statements. With this, you’ll logically outface your hostile interlocutors.

    3. Read as many books as you can on diverse range of topics ranging from history to science to general knowledge. Make book reading your lifelong habit. With this, you’ll be superior, and potentially victorious in any discussion and debate no matter it’s nature.

    4. Learn How to call people to Islam(your classmates). Know how you can let people understand Islam in a compassionate and intellectual way. It’s a field where Muslims all around the world have Abysmally fallen short. Muslims have comprehensively failed to call People to the Divine Truth with knowledge and wisdom.
    It’s a great failure indeed the consequences of which we feel everyday.

    There are definitely many more suggestions that can be given, but for Students i think these suggestions pretty much encapsulate the means they can use to temper the hostile situation. It’s basically KNOWLEDGE you use to assuage, mitigate, and take the edge of the Muslimphobic and Islamophobic juggernaut.

    1. That is the paradox, the Divine Truth itself is a logical fallacy. As a matter of fact, all organised religion itself is a logical fallacy. You can’t defend any, and I mean any religion using logic. Because belief in religion itself requires a certain disbelief in logic.

      1. Hahahah, nice try. But a failure, off course. How’s Divine Truth A Paradox, a logical fallacy? How!? The entire Atheist-Theist Poliemics is based on Using Logic as one of the main tools of arguments, and as a matter of fact Theistic Logic is almost always superior to Atheist one, if it exists any ways. Your entire comment is a typical, classic atheist rambling. Let me ask you a question, Since Using Logic fundamentally involves using intellectual faculties, how much can you trust your intellectual faculties as an atheist? As an atheist, how do you prove or justify that Your Intellect is reliable ? What proof, evidence do you have, if any? Isn’t it the case that you, as an atheist ,start off with an ASSUMPTION that Intellect is reliable, that it gives true perception of reality? In view Of Your comment, the human intellect is “logically” Unreliable,as it involves the assumption of reliability?

        1. “”As an theist, how do you prove or justify that Your Book is reliable ? What proof, evidence do you have, if any except a book? Isn’t it the case that you, as an theist ,start off with an ASSUMPTION that the book is reliable, that it gives true perception of reality ?”‘

          1. Hahaha 😆😆😆😆 again a typical atheist outrage and TU QUOQUE fallacy when faced with the simple yet very potent logical question?

            Didn’t you start off with the “Logical” ramble and tried to detract from the Religion? And now when i just asked you to justify the reliability of your intellect, you lose your LOGICAL temper!

            Well, there’s a lot evidence, proof, information, substantiation, corroboration and demonstrative objective facts to Show the Truth Of Qur’an. I’m willing to answer that question of yours once you provide me with the evidence and proof of reliability of Human Intellect?

            No, Islam is a not a personal set of beliefs(shows your ignorance on Islam). Islam is way of life, guidance, light, mercy, and philosophy of life from THE CREATOR to His Creation.
            If you can’t, then period.
            Good Day to me

          2. Hahahaha😂
            Again a failed try.
            Classic TU QUOQUE fallacy.

            Any ways, why are you answering my question with a question? We’ll discuss the veridicality and undeniable reliability of Qur’an ONCE you establish, with evidence and proof, the reliability of Human Intellect on the atheistic paradigm. Go ahead, and demonstrate the logicality of your worldview.

            Until then, Good Day 😊

        2. It is not a atheist rambling. It is the rambling of someone who sees people bringing religion into each and every part of their lives. Religion is personal, let us keep it that way.

  6. Great article but very unpolished. Plenty of grammatical and usage errors, the editorial team should guide young writers and help them improve rather than letting such mistakes pass and get published in the article.

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