I am so tired of Muslim guilt

People want me to apologize for the acts of others because to them I’m guilty by association. My guilt and the guilt of 1.8 billion other Muslims is instant the minute any Muslim commits a crime or an act of violence. We are expected to apologize and to condemn these acts because society is unable to see us as individuals.

Ever since 9/11, whenever a tragedy hits the news the Muslim community holds its breath unanimously in hopes it was not a Muslim that committed the crime. We know far too well what occurs when the perpetrator is Muslim. We know that all 1.8 billion of us will be held responsible for the actions of one person. Such was the case with the Sydney siege.

A lone gunman with a history of violence and a criminal background took 17 people hostage in a café in Sydney. The gunman had nothing in common with the majority of 1.8 billion people except that they shared the same faith. As the news was coming out about the siege people were taking to social media to ask why Muslims were not condemning this act, despite the fact they already were.

I personally refuse to condemn these acts of violence and not because I agree with them. I, as a Muslim, reject violence, senseless killing, crime, hate, and injustice in every single form. I condemn violence, injustice, and oppression regardless of the perpetrator’s faith.

The reason I refuse to “condemn” these acts of violence is because these acts are not connected to me. I, a Bosniak Muslim woman living in America, have nothing to do with a violent and mentally disturbed Muslim man living in Sydney. I share nothing in common with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, nor any other group of people that chooses to commit violence for its own political purpose. My life, my beliefs, and my actions are completely disconnected from those who use my religion as a scapegoat to commit the acts of violence they would commit even if they were not Muslim.

People want me to apologize for the acts of others because to them I’m guilty by association. My guilt and the guilt of 1.8 billion other Muslims is instant the minute any Muslim commits a crime or an act of violence. We are expected to apologize and to condemn these acts because society is unable to see us as individuals.

Individualism is a privilege afforded to white people and non-Muslims who are not expected to apologize any time a white person goes on a shooting spree in a school, when the Catholic priests abuse young children, or when any non-POC commits a crime. We don’t expect white people or non-Muslims to apologize because we view them as individuals. We understand that just because they share a faith or a skin color with criminals, it does not mean they share their values. Sadly, that line of thought does not extend to Muslims.

In Pakistan, 140 people, most of whom were Muslim children, were brutally massacred by the Taliban. The Muslim community throughout the world mourns their deaths. However, we were not asked to condemn this senseless violence inflicted upon innocent people. We were not asked to apologize for this because the victims were Muslim. While we continue to grieve for both the victims in Sydney and those in Pakistan, it’s clear that the latter matters less to the rest of the world.

1.8 billion Muslims around this world are not guilty for the acts of a few. 1.8 billion Muslims around this world should not be expected to apologize any time one of us forgets the meaning of Islam and commits evil. 1.8 billion people should not be made guilty by association.

My soul hurts any time an innocent person is murdered. I grieve with the loved ones they left behind but I cannot apologize for their murder. I cannot apologize for any terrorist attack. I cannot apologize for senseless killing around the world because I am not guilty.

By Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura

Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura is Bosniak Muslim of Turkish and Bosniak ancestry. She is currently working as a counselor and holds interests in Islamic and transnational feminism, racial justice, and Bosniak history. One day she hopes to write a book but until then she’s mainly concentrating on writing tweets.

2 replies on “I am so tired of Muslim guilt”

A minority of people think all Muslims are “responsible for the actions of one person.” The majority of Muslims want peace. Yet the negative image of Islam is not created by the West, but by the terrorists and the apologists. Blame them first.

It’s an odd message to send out on your end. When you seem more worried about the minority of people that hate Muslims and how this will affect you, and less worried about the extremists that are doing far more to tarnish the image of Islam.

You don’t need to apologize for these acts, but you should focus your rage on the perpetrators of these acts. The world can fill in the blanks. When Apologists are more concerned with Daesh than they are with Bill Maher and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we’ll be getting somewhere. There are people that are blaming all Muslims, and these people are wrong. But too many Muslims seem more concerned with how Muslims are perceived, and less concerned with the victims. That’s how you come across here, and this is unsettling.

Perhaps the people blaming all Muslims are the minority, but like the terrorists, the minority seems prominent. Of course many Muslims are concerned with people’s perceptions of them. It’s a safety issue and it’s ongoing. “Less concerned with the victims”? Would being more concerned with them prevent anyone from beating you up or vandalizing your home? Obviously people would be more concerned with their personal safety rather than concerning themselves with people who are, sorry to say, already dead. May they rest in peace. Of course rage is being focused on the perpetrators, this is all their fault, but we certainly don’t need people on the other side lumping us with them either. We feel stuck in the middle because rather than us all condemning the terrorists and their actions together, people condemn Islam, which is a part of our identity. No matter how many times we do condemn the terrorists, people say no Muslims are speaking against it. Yes, we are. You’re not listening. The terrorists are criminals who can’t be reasoned with and Muslims are fighting them every day. Do you think crime would stop in your country if you were more vocal about condemning it?

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