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Gharya (Story of a Muslim-American Immigrant)

Silence lingers in the air except for the staccato beating of my heart. A bead of cold sweat drips from my brow straight onto the table. THUMP! Simultaneously, the judge strikes his gavel on his hardwood coaster. In a state of abstraction, I hoist my heavy head. My eyes are immediately pulled to the balance sitting in front of the judge on the wooden pedestal. I remember the balance symbolizes fair distribution of law, with no bias, privilege, or corruption, so I pray to Allah hoping these people will empathize. Then, like a wine glass shattering on the floor, a veracious voice pierces the air, “We the members of the jury find the verdict Aduzahir Youssef guilty of first-degree murder of his daughter Madia Youssef. He is sentenced for life with a 4.2 million bond,”
    The courtroom was drowning in a tsunami of rambunctious shouts; however, my mind was lost elsewhere, back in the barren and parched deserts of my home country; Jordan. What I had done, what the American’s called a deplorable crime, was an act of ghayra. I was the architect of my own downfall by so carelessly forgetting this concept was foreign to western cultures.  My actions were a result of ensuring honor to my family. It was necessary for me to take initiative to end her wrongdoing and disrespect to Allah.
    My ungracious daughter had been removing her hijab at school and changing back into it before she returned home. Her premeditated disobeying of Allah, his Rasool, and The Holy Quran was a self-inflicted call for riddance. For our Sur An Nur reads “And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, and transgresses His limits He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment’. (Sura An Naisa (4) verse 14).
“But abi! My friends Kim and Claire don’t wear hijabs, I am the only girl who wears one to school!” Madia cried.
“No! Those are just silly friends who come and go, Allah will always be there for you; no matter what.” I argued.
“It makes me weird and different! No one wants to be friends with a girl whose face you can barely see.”
“How dare you disrespect Allah and our family after all we have done and provided you with. You have brought us all great shame!”
The conversation played like a broken record through my mind; the last conversation I had with my daughter before decapitating her. In Jordan, this would be an ordinary response, even though the American court system disagreed. Fathers practiced their patricharic responsibilities of correcting females often, even if this meant disowning her, throwing her out to the streets, beating her, or even killing her.
Now I was at my feet and with my hands cuffed behind my back. I stood face to face with the same balance that entranced me before. The same balance that promised me the fair distribution of law, with no bias, privilege, or corruption. I pivoted my head to see the American flag on the wall with the words freedom and liberty painted below it. I stood there, vulnerable and powerless preparing to spend the rest of my life in a windowless cell behind bars; a prisoner, for an act I committed for my own God.




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