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Muslims of Canada (MoC) is an initiative started by AMPAC which evolved from our initial chapter called Muslims of Alberta (MoA). MoC showcases Muslim talent from all walks of life and features people who have had a positive impact upon the greater community we live in.
hi Aisha Ali is a twenty three year old Registered Respiratory Therapist and mother to a three-and-a-half year old boy.
“My father passed away in July 2018, then I experienced this urge to write. So, I started writing again. My first poems were for him and it really became a means of release for me. A means for me to express how I was feeling and especially after having a son and after having somebody in your life pass away and having all these responsibilities-it’s hard to stop and take time to actually breathe.
To me, my writing was a means for me to breathe, in a very private manner that nobody else would really like judge me for, I would say it started.
My poetry- I’m putting it out there so that- it’s a means of healing for me and I hope that somebody can see themselves through my pain. Also, it could be a means of healing for someone else. So, once I put it out there, it’s out there. Whatever they think of you is not you, you shouldn’t want their affirmation or their validation, you should have that within yourself.” “My name is Mergim Binakaj. It’s an Albanian name. Binakaj means ‘of twins’ so basically some ancestor of mine must have been a twin!
My first name is Mergim.
‘Mergim’, translates as ‘to be outside your homeland’.
It was because my parents had escaped to Germany as refugees in 1993. My mother was pregnant with me and she had to sneak across the Czech border to family-friends waiting on the other side in Germany.
What does that mean to me? Oh man, I’m just really thankful that I have this name, because to me it just seems so oddly fitting with who I am becoming, and have become, thus far.
Because it’s a reminder of your roots.
Ultimately, you know, what is home? Where is home? Home is not only just a geographical space, but it’s also the symbols and the values that you were raised with. It’s something I don’t consciously think about, but you know, when I think about it now… it’s just beautiful.
What I like about my name is that I’ve grown to appreciate it. I hated it as a kid. You know…being called in attendance and it getting botched. ‘Mergim Binakaj’ is not an easy name to read in class, but now, it’s the first reminder to the person I’m engaging with, that ‘this person is not like other people’.
To me that always becomes an opportunity to bring up who I am, bring up my culture, bring up my faith. It’s a position of privilege, and I think to me actually, I treat it like a responsibility.
It’s come to a point now where it’s important for me to be overt with my Islam. There are folks who have a narrow perception of what other Muslims are like.” 1/2
Mergim Binakaj is an Edmonton-based human rights activist, proud mipster (Muslim/hipster, although he’d never admit it), and a medical student at the University of Alberta.