Apparently Invisible

Ayesha Sultana

 

Look how she’s oppressed and abused
Stuck behind walls how could she refuse
Smothered in the heat, not at all amused

The poor thing silent and ugly
Left without a voice after being treated so roughly
Left without a choice
A weak terrorist acting toughly

A stain in the crowd, a menace to society
Look how she smiles horridly
What plot is she scheming as she passes so calmly

It seems as though Halloween must’ve come a little early
As the children scream monster and point horrifyingly
Adults burst with laughter or anger as they glare accusingly

Demonized by the very journalists who were supposed to show sympathy
Reveal the truth and leave aside all mockery
But they used freedom of expression to spew hatred and agony
When it was only supposed to be used for spreading compassion in humanity

She’s right there but they can’t see
Not because of the veil she wears but because of the ignorance they adopted blindly
Refusing to question, or hear her side of the story
Dumbfounded when she speaks, that’s not her voice in reality!
She is supposed to be silent so her voice is just imaginary
Warned about her kind in the news so she is more than what she seems apparently
It’s only a lie, look how she tries to prove otherwise so cunningly

It’s the 21st-century, must she be so backward?
Publishing fake stories claiming to free the caged bird
Only harming humanity in the name of moving forward
Too headstrong to check for facts
Too brave of a coward

It’s not your fault, forgive me, I’m sorry
Apologies for not being there to explain
When the media bashed my cause with disdain
I forgive them for the animosity they could not contain
And from the fear-mongering from which they could not refrain
I’m sorry you had to hear everything that was wrong
And took it to heart as you sweared at me but for God, I stayed strong
I made excuses for you because it’s not your fault
I’m sorry you were fed with lies that surrounded you like a vault

You couldn’t escape what you were surrounded by,
As your glares dug deep, though I know you didn’t try
Like innocent lambs, you conformed to the news of the wolves and silently you stood
As she was stabbed to death and her scarf portrayed red riding hood
In a world screaming for justice how sad was her fate
But the continuous ignorance is an even sadder state

The very platforms that were supposed to raise awareness against hate crimes made them go viral
Now many hide their faith only for survival
Like Aasiyah (Upon her be peace), the true believing wife of Pharaoh
Who rescued baby Moses (Peace be upon him)
Her life was an example
As she stood up for the truth and refused to be trampled

I hold no grudges nor do I blame
I speak for every woman who chose modesty as her name
Who chose to let her intellect speak before her body
Who decided to break free from the immoral shackles of society
And live a life that was inspiring and Godly

Let go of the false notions I plead
In a dark world, only the enlightened one will succeed
Ignorance is truly the greatest cancer
Just walk up to her and ask her
So respectfully she will give you an answer
That will free your tortured heart from its anger
And perhaps save another life in danger
Another beautiful stranger

I will stand with you to condemn, mourn, and share the pain
I refuse to apologize for every demon who uses my name
Who uses Islam to shame and defame
A plague on the earth about whom our Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) warned and prophesied
Informing that he who stands against them would have surely done a great deed
Your concern is mine so please take heed
And every time evil things on the news you read
Just remember, that we share the same needs

Believe me or not I wear this veil independently
To preserve my dignity
For my God loves a modest lady
Those who follow in the footsteps of Mary (Upon her be peace)
The mother of Jesus (Peace be upon him),
They tried to tear her to pieces
Attacking her chastity
While she was the pinnacle of piety

Khadeejah (May God be pleased with her), the wife of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), the epitome of faith and loyalty,
A lady of nobility
Beautiful and brave she sacrificed everything she had for God willingly

Fatima (May God be pleased with her) daughter of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) who gave precedence to others over her own life
She remained patient and grateful through every strife
The perfect daughter the perfect wife
She donated her only bread for the next beggar at the door
And she continued to give every time she received more

Women so beautiful and selfless
A reminder for those so selfish
Women remembered for their beauty but whose actions made the world prouder
So applaud them and the through your actions applaud louder

Now Forgive me if I chose role models who were not plastic
Over airbrushed models with lifestyles so drastic
Whose actions and features weren’t edited and painted
Pioneers of women’s rights
Pushed behind the unrealistic models that are tainted
And teen prodigies who forced girls to conform to body images that out of starvation they fainted

Accept me for who I am and not for what you’ve seen on the news
So what if it hits one billion views!
The millions watching a movie doesn’t make it real
Hear my story from me, for I endure and I feel
I will never be defined by the expectations of society
For I will always give the Lord priority

Empowered to spread light even in the bleakest of times
He granted me freedom to live as I choose in a world that’s not even mine!
I hope that my message will not go in vain
And as I continue to speak up for all those in pain
I pray my determination will never wane

Let the world hear
My voice so loud and clear
That I am free
This is me

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

About the author:

Ayesha Sultana wrote her poem as an autobiographical spoken word piece based on her own real-life experiences growing up as a veiled Muslim woman in the United States. The poem is meant to raise awareness about the false images and misconstrued ideas that surround Muslim women and their roles in Islam. This is the full-length version of the poem, and a condensed version of the poem was published in the print edition of Kelsey Review 37.

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