By Maram Behairy
I have never been scared to speak. As a teenager, I was really vocal. And as the young tend to be, I spoke my truth as if it was the truth. This closed-minded, hyper-focused, probably arrogant way of mine gave me such power. Now I find myself in a different place. Now I find myself able to argue multiple points of view. In a way, this feels closer to truth. However, I miss that strength and conviction my teenage self had. I miss the certainty and clean lines. I miss the energy generated by holding such a strong opinion.
I don’t know what changed me. It seems as the number of my convictions grew, it became more likely that I would be on the wrong side of something. Seeing my own fallibility, maybe. Or being an academic possibly. I don’t know.
I long for that reckless decision of who I am and what I believe. Righteous indignation, some people would call it. An unapologetic, brazen voice in the face of the most educated and more experienced. I look at my little girl and see that fire. On one hand, I love it and I want her to have it so badly. I want her to know her power. I want her to speak her truth always. I want her to never let anyone silence that ferocity. On the other hand, I want her to hear the voice of the others. I want her to connect, to understand, to empathize without always placing anyone who disagrees in the seat she so readily labels as “enemy.” I try to explain her brother’s feelings. I find myself explaining all the possible emotions and experiences and reasons a person may do something that seems wrong. She’s the one in her booster seat calling the lady who cut me off names. Mixed emotions on my part. To lose that fire means to become water in the world, forming around others, but not having your own form. I’m proud of her protective nature. I’m proud of her conviction. I’m proud of her power. I worry though because she is not always right, and even when she may be right, she can be harsh in her retribution. So do we dampen the fire and risk a life with bland cooking, or do we flame it and watch a powerhouse of a woman change the world.
It reminds me of Al-Shafee when he said about disagreements, “I believe I am right with the possibility that I am wrong, and I believe you are wrong with the possibility that you are right.” Finding that perfect balance between conviction, power, voice while still having ears and hearts open to others. I want to see a world of passionate people who have conviction and power as they navigate this world and their lives, yet still have the open heartedness to yield for the sake of connection. May Allah SWT guide us to our beautiful balance.
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. (Quran 2:143)
About the Author:
Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation
‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’
Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.