Growing up Muslim, I have had several people judge me without really knowing Islam. It truly bothers several Muslims and myself when people assume about our religion and proceed to insult us with their assumptions. Islam has been depicted to be a religion that oppresses women, promotes terrorism and is evil; however, Islam is far from that. As a Muslim girl, I have never felt confined by my religion; however growing up with Islamophobia ubiquitous throughout the whole world, I have had people try telling me, "You're oppressed," or that, "You need to go back to your country!" It's been tough growing up Muslim in a world where you're constantly insulted and villainized, but it has taught me there is beauty in struggle. Here are six things Muslims are tired of hearing:
1. "Do you speak Muslim?"
This question amuses me every time someone asks me this. Islam isn’t restricted to one language, but it is suggested that we learn Arabic so reading the Holy Quran is easier for us. There is a generalization that all Muslims are of Arab descent; however according to the Encountering the World of Islam, only twenty percent of Muslims are Arab. Muslims come from all over the world and speak different languages which include: Urdu, Indonesian, Chinese, Spanish, English and more. We don’t have a secret language called Muslim, but people of Islamic faith are called Muslims!
2. "How do you survive without eating for a month?"
For some reason, many people have this misconception that Muslims don’t eat or drink during the whole month of Ramadan. We start our fasts at sunrise and break it at sundown, so we have all night to eat. For those who don’t have a clue what Ramadan is, it is a month where Muslims devote a whole month to prayers and don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. In this month, many Muslims pray heavily by reading our holy book, the Quran, or by attending prayers at our local mosques. Ramadan goes beyond simply not eating though – Ramadan is a spiritual cleanse for the body and soul. Over the course of thirty days, Muslims refrain from lying, backbiting and any type of sin.
The part that leaves a lot of people confused is that we aren’t allowed to drink water during our fasts. If I got a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Not even water?” I would have my college tuition covered completely. Through fasting, Muslims not only learn self-control when it comes to their third cup of coffee or that slice of pizza, but also the plight of the poor. So yes, not even water.
3. "Do you wear that thing on your head to bed?"
No, they don’t wear that “thing” to bed. My friends who wear hijabs always get asked this and it gets annoying at times. Girls wear hijabs for a sense of comfort, modesty and freedom. It is highly suggested that a woman wears the hijab if they are encountering men outside of her intermediate family; however, they don’t have to wear the hijab at home if the only males present are her father and brothers. There is a generalization of women who wear hijabs to be oppressed, but in actuality, several of my friends who wear the hijab described it to be “liberating.”
4. "Why don’t you wear the hijab?"
I don’t wear the hijab and I don’t think there will be a day I will. Several people have asked me, “if you’re so religious, why don’t you wear the hijab?” Or I have had fellow Muslims call me a hypocrite for following Islam but not wearing the hijab.
It hurts big time when someone says you aren’t a "real" Muslim because you don’t wear a hijab. I have so much respect for women who do wear the hijab and let me just say, these girls slay. They are absolutely beautiful inside and out; however, the hijab isn’t for me. My connection with Allah (God) is not any less because I don’t cover my hair. My connection with Allah is based off of my endless prayers, the nights at the masjid and more. Some women find comfort in the hijab and some don’t.
5. "Islam oppresses women!"
Islam does not oppress women. There is a stereotype of Muslim women being oppressed and silent while the men are given all the rights. While this may be true in some countries, it is wrong to confuse a country’s culture with religion. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife Khadijah is the epitome of women empowerment.
Before and after marrying Prophet Muhammad, she was a successful entrepreneur. She was a merchant who handled everything by herself and needed no man to support her through life; what is even more amazing is that she proposed to Prophet Muhammad. If that doesn’t convince you that women in Islam aren’t oppressed, take a look at the Muslim women throughout the world accomplishing amazing things. The influential Muslim women include: Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dalia Mogahed, Nadiya Hussain and Tawakkul Karman. From athletes in the Olympics to Nobel Peace Prize winners, Muslim women are nothing close to being oppressed.
6. "All Muslims are terrorists!"
This generalization is probably the worst thing you could say to a Muslim. I was actually told this when I was a seven-year-old, and it still bothers me to this day. While mainstream media has painted terrorism to only be restricted to Muslims, that is far from the truth. According to the Huffington Post article Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam, the FBI had reported that almost ninety-four percent of terrorist acts are not done by Muslims. Also in the same 2015 Huffington Post article, a study done by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was referred to; in this study, it was revealed that, "Less than 0.0002% of Americans killed since 9/11 were killed by Muslims." While a small majority of "Muslims" do carry out heinous acts of terrorism, they do not represent Islam.
While it is important that you understand Islam for what it is, please don't be ignorant with your questions or statements. One comment can stay with a person for the rest of their life.
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