It’s Ramadan. The scorching month. Month of fasting. Month of peace. Month of forgiveness. Month of making amends. Month of love. Month of helping those who cannot help themselves. Month of humility. Month of kindness. Month of harmony.
Who would kill during this most sacred month? Who would hurt Muslims when they’re at their most vulnerable? Who would kick us when we’re on the ground, prostrating and praying, forever bowed in reverence?
On June 28th, a bomb attack in Istanbul left 45 people dead and hundreds injured. On July 1st, we were met with a hostage situation at Dhaka, Bangladesh, which left several more dead. July 3rd gave way to a truck bomb in Iraq, leaving 165 living people with families and friends dead. While deaths in the Western world have been met with Facebook profile changes, illuminated buildings, and candlelight vigils at every corner, these deaths seem to hold less leverage over society’s conscience. Muslims are never perceived as the victims. It’s impossible for our narrative to stray away from the face of terrorism.
Today is July 4th. A suicide bomber wandered into Medina with one sole purpose.
Let us explain what Medina is and what it means. It’s “the radiant city,” home of our prophet’s mosque, burial site for the prophet (PBUH) himself. It’s second in holiness only to Mecca. It’s a beacon of faith and piety, a sanctuary from hardship, a place of reflection and enlightenment; an attack on those sacred grounds is an attack on the core values of Islam.
Although we observe from the comfort of our homes, hearing that an explosion rocked Medina hurts. It hurts because it feels like our home has been attacked; it hurts because it shows the enormous reach of terrorism; it hurts because, despite the series of crises that have occurred, we are still ignored.
If there’s one good thing that’s to come out of all this tragedy, we hope it’s this: the realization that Muslims are oftentimes the victims of these terrorist attacks. We’re the ones who get hurt the most. For all intents and purposes, what’s been happening these past couple of years has been an attack on two fronts. Radicalized terrorists target Muslims living in Islamic countries, and Western countries, in their face-blindness, hold no sympathy for us. For many, the word “Muslim” continues to be indistinguishable from “terrorist.”
Terrorism has no religion. This should be obvious at this point. But it isn’t. What scares us the most is that this might just be the beginning. What scares us the most is that there will be another attack, and it’ll be in a country that doesn’t have a predominantly Muslim population, and there’ll be a severe backlash aimed at Muslims all over the world. What scares us the most is that we will continually be punished for crimes that we did not commit, for crimes that we condemn.

It’s Independence Day, but, honestly, it feels like the cage we’ve been trapped in all these years has just gotten smaller.

By Sarah Arshad and Raefah Wahid