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There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You, feel it, don’t you?

One night, a few months ago, I read this line of poetry and it pierced the deepest part of my heart, psyche, and soul. It still does each and every time I read it. I’ve spent many nights thinking what does this mean to ME? Why does it speak to me so loudly, so clearly-almost like my inner self is whispering in my ears, clearly audible to me, but not to others. I still haven’t delved into the depths of this quote and my inner soul, but I do know that this is what I am constantly searching, chasing, craving for and what Islam means to me, especially during the spiritual month of Ramadan. This is the time, the month, when I really should be thinking, questioning and checking myself, as a Muslim, about my personal state of affairs. How far have I come as a person? What have I accomplished in life? What is my spiritual state? Where are my priorities? What are my goals as a Muslim, a human being, a woman, a mother, a daughter, and a wife? I still struggle with these questions specifically, but ultimately know that this is a lifelong struggle, a yearly “check-in” with myself and my relationship with God. This is what Islam means to me on a very basic, every day level- that quest for continuous improvement and spiritual fulfillment as I come closer to the Divine.

Along with these personal questions I struggle with, there are other concerns that keep me up at night. Concerns I have not only for myself, for my children, but even broader to both the Muslim and non-Muslim community. I find myself preoccupied with the thought of how do I raise my children to become Global Citizens? How do I ensure that my kids have that love and respect for humanity, for the planet/creatures, and ultimately love for God that I believe will make this world a better place? Like any mother, I have hopes and dreams for my kids. I want them to be proud of their mixed ethnic heritage- being a mixture of Syrian and Venezuelan descent, be confident of their Muslim identity despite these times of misunderstandings, and have the courage to stand up for what they believe, be true to themselves, and be future leaders who can bridge between sometimes differing cultures and continents. I want them to live in multiple countries, absorb multiple languages, and truly see the beauty within each and every country, culture, and race. This is how I believe we can become global citizens, respect each other, the earth, and walk in each other’s shoes. This isn’t just a candle in my heart, but a burning fire in my soul that blazes with passion…here, far away, in Indianapolis.

The attached pictures is in the old souk of Damascus with my husband Diego, Zayd-my son, and Serene-my daughter.