As I wake up everyday, get up and begin my morning routine, I sometimes feel as though I have it harder than most.
As a Muslim woman in an American society, staying true to my beliefs and representing my faith can develop into a challenge.
Since 9/11, Muslims have been viewed in such a negative light, that it has become imperative on each and every Muslim man and woman to represent their faith with the utmost dignity and decorum. With all the ignorance we face on a daily basis, this is sometimes difficult.
The biggest fear Muslims have faced (and will probably continue to face) is the fear of assimilation. While we do not strive to change ourselves to fit the molde, we sometimes are reluctant to act out or normal routines, so as not to scare away our fellow citizens. I have seen fellow employees who have been afraid to pray or fast because of what their co-workers might say. This is America; land of the free. The last time I checked, we were able to practice our religion freely, without any fear of persecution.
Many Muslims have faced discrimination since 9/11; it is unfortunate that we as a society have had to deal with such blatant hatred. However, this hatred has led to the spread of a disease that has crippled America; ignorance. With this ignorance, people who are driven by their fear have attacked and placed blame on those who have no connection with Muslims or the Islaamic faith; people such as Hindus and Sikhs have had to face threatening advances and physical harm.
It is not fair to assume that one of a certain colour is part of a group; people should be given the benefit of the doubt. Don’t get me wrong; Muslims should not be blamed for 9/11. As a group, they held no more responsibility than Christians did after Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal building. A few people do not represent the majority; Muslims condemned the attacks.
As a religion, Islaam preached peace and civility; the killing of innocent people is not encouraged, and tolerance of others regardless of religion or ethnic background is embraced. After all, most Muslims are not from the Middle East; in large part, they originated in Africa and East Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. Muslims are all over the world, from South America to Australia to Europe.
So, what does this mean for Muslims? Where are we heading as a people? At what point do we allow ourselves to be conformed by the majority, and where is the line that draws us apart from others? Many fear that our religious strength will decline as we try to assimilate; others feel that unless we do so, we will be alienated in our communities.
How many times have we heard of our mosques being attacked? In my community, Muslims have lived there for over 80 years; yet a mosque was vandalised after moving into a new neighbourhood. We hold multi-faith events with surrounding synagogues and churches, yet there are still some people who are ignorant and uneducated.
We try to infiltrate the media with events and recognition of ‘eed, yet most people do not know that Muslims have their own holiday. The future of Muslims depends on just that: the Muslims. No other group will be able to tell us how to act, and what to do. We will need to revert ourselves to the days when Islaam first began, when things weren’t complicated and everyone practiced what they preached.
To delve into our own actions, each person with their own agenda, that is what will bring us down. We don’t have to assimilate if we don’t want to; but what we have to do is stay true to ourselves and set the best example.
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