Kindness Is A Mark of Faith

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 Photo courtesy of Shaymaa Ismaa'eel

In a sordid world, a moment of glad resistance. Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, a 24-year-old Muslim woman and behavioral therapist who works with autistic children, attended the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) convention in D.C. this weekend; outside, a mob of angry goons protested with signs like "You Need Jesus!" and “Islam Is A Religion of Blood and Murder!" and some handy made-up quotes from John 3:16 that served their ugly purpose. She walked past them throughout the conference, but they stayed on her mind; in the wake of the New Zealand mosque shootings, she says she and her friends who wear hijabs have alternately felt unsafe, defiant and determined to spread love: "We are getting more unapologetic - we want to stand up for ourselves." Finally, she felt she had to act: "I wanted them to see my joy.” As the men shouted she was going to hell and "You know it's a cult when you're walking outside wearing pajamas!" - say what?! - she crouched gorgeously before them, posed, glowed, and flashed a peace sign. The resulting photo, which she posted on Twitter and Instagram, prompted an outpouring of support. “I smiled in the face of bigotry, and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment,” she wrote. In tribute, she added the words of the prophet Muhammad: "Kindness is a mark of faith."

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