Muslim is a Bad Word

(originally published in The Coffeelicious)

“Muslim,” I say.
Everyone tells me to quiet down.
To lower my voice.
That word isn’t welcome here; I can only whisper it.

It’s like I just screamed “fuck” at a five-star restaurant.
But I didn’t.
I simply said what I am. What I will always be.

As the word rolls off my tongue,
it slips right back in just as fast.
My identity is a curse word.

In public places, “Muslim” has no place.
The word is erased from our lexicon.

But I don’t understand…
Nobody has to whisper Jesus’s name.
It’s spoken everywhere. Found everywhere.

When I tell people I’m Muslim,
have I said something wrong?
They need a minute to think about it––
to decide whether I’m worth talking to.

We’re people of the book,
yet our name is neither written nor spoken––
Unless we’ve attacked, killed, conspired against.

Muslim is not a curse word.
And I’m not afraid to say it, be it, embrace it.