“I noticed that there were so many Muslims from all different countries and walks of life. It opened my eyes up a lot.”
I got married around 1990/2000. My husband is North African and I’m Thai.
I was raised Buddhist. When I married my husband, I converted to Islam. My husband and I were both basically new to the religion.
Even though he grew up with it, he wasn’t that observant, he wasn’t doing his prayers, he drank alcohol. So, once we got married we both learned about the religion, we don’t drink alcohol, we started doing prayers, we observe Ramadan. In the beginning, Ramadan was hard, I cheated sometimes, but now, after 18 years, it’s fine.
When I first got into the religion, I was doing a lot of reading, I read the Quran. Then, I noticed that there were so many Muslims from all different countries and walks of life. It opened my eyes up a lot.
When 9/11 hit I was really nervous because that was the first really big terrorist attack that I experienced. My mom called me up, she was afraid they were going to corral all the Muslims and put them into some type of concentration camp.
She was thinking about what they did to the Japanese in World War II, so she was nervous. I was a little nervous too because people were angry against Muslims in general.
We just kept our ground and did what we could to help out. It was such a bad act that I think I think it helped us all learn more about what to do, just as citizens.
My husband has a Muslim name so we’re always afraid that he’s going to be targeted. When we travel, we allot extra time just in case they suspect him or stop him for any reason.
At my old job, when I was leaving, one of my supervisors said: ‘Be very careful’ and I was thinking: ‘Does he think that my husband is a terrorist or something?’. I took it as an offense. I think people didn’t know much about Muslims until 9/11.
Prejudice is a harsh word, but I think in some parts of the country, people are ignorant or might not be exposed to Muslims. Here in Harlem, you see women in the burqa and it’s just seen as a normal woman pushing a baby stroller and shopping, but, if it was in a different town where they’ve never seen that before, there might be prejudice.