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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“You absolutely cannot judge an entire faith off one person’s actions.”
Long Island, NY
muslim in america
Islam, the word in Arabic means submission. The believers of Islam are known as Muslims. Islam, like any other religions, teaches to be modest, humble, respectful, loyal, everything that are far less associated with Muslims by Americans, unfortunately.

Islam is a religion of peace. We Americans have a very biased and wrong perspective of Islam and this is simply because of the conjunction of religious and cultural values.

If I ask some non-Muslims what the first thing that comes in their mind about Muslims is, I am pretty much sure of the responses: terrorists, violent, murderers, insensitive, irresponsible, you name it basically.

On the contrary, Islam has nothing to do with any of those. In fact, killing and harming yourself and others have been prohibited strictly in Islam. Then why do the Muslims still kill each other?

The response is similar to asking a person who eats pork with no issues whatsoever even claiming to be Christian. It is simply one’s personal preference.

Likewise, those Muslims who kill and harm aren’t even considered Muslims anymore. They’re just Muslims by name sake not for the purpose of their creation. Islam clearly teaches to obey God’s commands in the holy book, Quran.

If you actually study the history and earlier sacred texts, you would fall in love with the teachings because Quran is the only book that has never been changed over the period of times. Its message and purpose has been intact throughout.

To answer your question, Americans have no idea how beautiful Islam is. They are basing their judgments solely on cultural aspects only.

For example, when an Arab commits a crime, he’s automatically presumed to be Muslim and terrorist in America. Why? Because this is what we’ve been teaching our children.

You absolutely cannot judge an entire faith off one person’s actions. Also speaking of current events like Israel refugee crisis, Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh have been taking away innocent lives everyday by non-Muslims, but there’s no broadcasting or any sort of threat to those dominant groups in the U.S., one of the strongest and developed countries in the world.

Most of those news now only comes from social media like Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc.

Honestly speaking, I have been actively practicing Islam since childhood; I have never experienced discrimination in school, at workplace or any other social gatherings, thankfully.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t others though, I have heard the worst nightmares of other’s lives about being discriminated at work or school or college; I can only speak for myself.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“While I was focusing on growing in my faith, my mother just kept worrying about me marrying a terrorist.”
Charlotte, NC
terrorist
I am a Mexican Muslim. I converted to Islam three years ago. At first, my family wasn’t ok with my decision because I hadn’t spoken to them about it.

Instead, I just changed my whole outward appearance and decided I wanted to be Muslim. I come from a Catholic family with strong values, and to them, they believe that Islam is controlling.

They felt that I wouldn’t have rights as a Muslim woman and that I was going to become miserable. As you can see, this transition was not an easy one, to say the least.

While I was focusing on growing in my faith, my mother just kept worrying about me marrying a terrorist. My aunt even went as far as reading me Bible verses to bring me back on the ‘right path.’

Sometimes, my family still teases me about not eating pork anymore. Growing up Catholic, I use to eat pork freely but now that I don’t, I get made fun of. While it doesn’t bother me anymore, it used to hurt me to have my loved ones put down my beliefs.

Often times, the general public associates Islam with oppressiveness or violence. They misinterpret the Quran and end up fearing us because they do not understand us.

The media does not help us build a positive image either. Usually, women are portrayed in the media as slaves who are oppressed by ‘barbaric’ Muslim men.

Women like me are seen as easy targets because we chose to represent who we are through our dress. This should not be so, but it is and a lot of this hatred and confusion exists because of 9/11.

See, even though it has been 17 years since 9/11, Islamophobia still sits heavy in the hearts of many Americans. However, if people reach out to their fellow Muslim neighbors, there could be a better understanding of Muslims nationally.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“This can be a struggle within one’s soul that causes them to give into impulses and stray off of their path.”
New York, NY
A lot of people tend to associate Jihad with terrorism. But, in reality, Jihad means a struggle.

This can be a struggle within one’s soul that causes them to give into impulses and stray off of their path. This is something that I believe everyone goes through in life.

Although it is rather difficult to do, I personally try to teach people about my faith. Currently, I am the treasurer of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Pace University.

I really wanted to make MSA a big thing at Pace. But, so many people just aren’t that interested in the idea. Whenever I ask my non-Muslim friends to even come to a meeting, I usually get a ‘Are you joking?’ or ‘You’re really a part of that?’

While the lack of support is rather discouraging, it just goes to show me that people still view us in a negative light. And that the negative light they see us through can be traced back to how the media portrays us.

I think the fear of Islam stems from 9/11 and how Islam is portrayed in the media. The media never focuses on the peaceful and religious aspects of Islam. Instead, they focus on the daunting acts of terrorists from the Middle East.

My family hasn’t suffered to the extent that some other families had, but I still have heard some rough remarks. For instance, in high school, one of my closest friends said that I looked like a terrorist. Although it was just a joke, I was very offended by it.

More recently, I personally underwent an embarrassing TSA pat down at the airport last year. A security woman touched every aspect of my body. I felt humiliated.

Although there is a long road to walk before Islamophobia disappears, I do think that, recently, people have become more accepting towards us. Individuals are realizing the world could be a better place if we learnt to love each other for who we are. Therefore, I am very hopeful that more people will be accepting towards Muslims in the near future.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“I have never really felt any sort of discrimination. But, it was not until recently that I learned that my parents had not had that same luxury.”
Los Angeles, CA
Being Muslim in this country has never really been a ‘problem’ for me. Obviously, I know that I am a minority. Being Muslim is not often something that I actively think about.

I live in a very diverse area where being something other than ‘white’ is not exactly uncommon. In general, I tend to hang out with a crowd of other Muslims. So, I never really feel out of place.

I have never really felt any sort of discrimination. But, it was not until recently that I learned that my parents had not had that same luxury.

Although our religious practices in our family have become laxer as my siblings and I have aged, my mother recently confessed she made us practice religion so heavily as children because she wanted us to make friends with other Muslims.

My parents, specifically, chose to live in a more diverse area so we did not stick out from the crowd. She did not want to draw attention to us, so we could avoid as much prejudice and discrimination as possible.

I think people today are much more tolerant and accepting of Muslims than they used to be. Based on what Muslims used to face, I’m sure my parents’ fear and paranoia is justified. However, I feel that people are starting to let go of their preconceived notions.

People are beginning to learn that stereotypes are not based in truth. Once people realize that terrorism is not linked to the Muslim religion, maybe they will be less afraid.

Extremists and terrorists are not a true reflection of Islam. Once people begin to realize this, we may be one step closer to working toward peace and harmony between all people.

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