Bi-Lingual Privilege?

Greetings my lovely people,
Please pardon my recent absentee status. My family just moved to a new city and it has been stressful to put it mildly. But, alhamdulillah we are settled now and all is well. My constant ‘migration’ from country to country, home to home and city to city has brought about a new idea for my blog. I’m going to be writing on the peculiarities, woes and perks of being an immigrant and a Muslim.

I noticed that one of the ‘perks’ of being an immigrant in this country is the fact that I have my native language, which could be a barrier or a fortress for me depending on how I look at it. What I didn’t quickly recognise was the fact that it was an instrument of backbiting and cowardice. Speaking a different language to the general one could be a blessing in that you can have private conversations on the phone in a bus without having people listen in. However, that same language turns a lot of immigrants into occassionally backbiting people who make snide remarks about someone within an earshot of them without flinching. I know, because I have been there. I feel ashamed about the way that I call a cab driver ‘slow’ or ‘geriatric’ because I am in a hurry to get somewhere or because I’m having a heart attack over the sprinting meter on the dash board! £7! Already? “she Kia iwo baba yi” (“hurry up you this man”) “ma da mi ni gbese” ( don’t run me into a debt)

I stop to think about how cowardly and totally unislamic my behaviour was. I could never say that to the man in his language nor would I ever say that to a cab driver back home. There have been countless occasions where I have fallen into this habit of having absolutely no filter and saying whatever comes to my mind just because I know no one will understand a word I have just said. The pathetic thing is, there have been a number of times when I have said a distasteful thing about maybe a scantily clad girl or an overly tattooed and pierced guy and I see a head of kinky African curls turn my way and give me the slightest look of disdain because he/she has understood what I said. It is then, that I feel ashamed of my self and I ask myself:should I be ashamed that this person heard me or that Allah heard me?

I know people have thoughts about other people and sometimes I see a lot of natives who are absolutely disgusted by the looks of me: Black AND Muslim! What a combination right? Lol. But they haven’t said a word right? Although, if looks could kill, I’d probably be dead now from the looks I have gotten from some elderly ladies in this city.
I would always find some things absolutely distasteful as long as I am alive, but I have to always remember that I am held accountable for what I say and so I shall try to hold my peace. I’m still a work in progress though..

There is a Hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W) that says that if there are three people in a gathering, two of them shouldn’t whisper in the ears of each other while the third person is still there.** Subhanallah, Islam is a religion of compassion and transparency, we always have to think about the feelings of other people. I have decided that I will not speak to my husband or friend or whoever in our native language when we are in the presence of someone who doesn’t understand our language, except it is necessary. Islam is beautiful, forget what you see on t.v or read on the Internet, get to know the true religion and you will love it!

On a totally unrelated note, I didn’t know what I was missing in Leeds until I moved to Southampton. Each time I see an African face here, I feel just a little bit more relieved and part of a community because the population of Africans here is very low; as opposed to Leeds where I see them almost everywhere. I feel like a fish out of water here but i guess it’s just one of those things that makes being an immigrant fun and challenging! Till next time y’all!

** Not exact wording, check Sahih Bukhari for correct and exact wording**

5 Comments

  1. khadijah Mojirayo

    May Allah (SWTA) help all of us in this and other matters. Jazakillah khaeran for the reminder! Wsh you n your family a happy stay in your new city!

    Like

  2. Ummu waladain

    Nice piece, may Allah save us from the evil of ourselves.

    I guess we all experience this when we are in a multilingual environment, everyone or sometimes a group of people is “safely backbiting” the other using his/her mother tongue right in their presence.I guess it would have been difficult for the white ladies to speak ill of you in your presence cos virtually everyone speaks/understands English.

    Well, lets save ourselves from this evil, by constantly reminding ourselves that we are going beyond bounds when we backbite one another, which is a major sin in Islam and not speaking in a manner the other person doesn’t understand which also is disliked in our precious deen. The vice in this is, the other person feels you are speaking ill of him/her even when you are not, since he/she doesn’t understand what you are saying. Avoid any misunderstanding, speak clearly in a language you all understand.

    Like

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