In the past decade, Muslims have made positive contributions on a global scale, as well as in our individual communities. In spite of a terrible track record of unfair media coverage, we have slowly increased our positive media presence by winning Oscars, Nobel prizes, and pretty much the whole act of baking. We were nominated for boatloads of Grammies, have been elected to public offices, created prolific mainstream fa
And not to sound like, soooo totally cocky, but one of us even used to be in the biggest boy band in the world.
Yet, anytime a handful of people who purport to be Muslims commit horrible acts, such as the recent devastating Paris attacks, any positive traction we’ve gained is instantly erased. Too many people lose their ability to to think rationally, lumping all of us together into a massive bigoted, “terrorist” umbrella. Hate crimes surge.
In fact, many sad and unfortunate pieces of evidence point to the fact public opinion on Muslims is at an all-time low, and that we should legitimately fear for their civil liberties and basic safety.
Basically, thanks to these horrific assholes who commit atrocities “in the name of Islam,” and the ignorance they inspire in bigots, Muslims now have it worse – worse than even the months following 9/11.
There have been emotional, logical, statistical, historical, political, and religious arguments against this kind of prejudice. But as an insider to this whole Muslim business, let me tell you, saying that we are all terrorists, capable of large-scale organized crime and uniform hatred of the West, is indicative of one major thing:
Y’all be giving us too much credit.
Let’s set aside the news clips and talking heads and the violent attacks that of, course, did happen. Let’s step away from all of that just for a moment and look at just the numbers. There are 1.6 billion+ Muslims in the world as of 2015. It’s the second largest religion in the world. So, let’s take a moment and reflect on the sheer vastness of that number. How can one make any kinds of generalizations about a group that large, aside from maybe, oh, I dunno, that all living Muslims need to breathe oxygen to live? Or that the 32-year-old Muslims like me have existed for about 32 global rotations around the sun?
For real, though, ya’ll, how could 1.6 billion people (or even 1% of them, which would be 1.6 million) mobilize in some kind of holy cause? How would that even be possible? LITERALLY? If even that mere 1% were terrorists who actively mobilized to take out all the infidels and less-than-stellar followers like myself, there wouldn’t be enough days in the month, or even one year, to cover the amount of awful they could have unleashed on the world by now. If all Muslims were extremists, that would mean 23% of the world’s population, or nearly 1 in 5 people, would be creeping in the shadows, waiting to take non-believers out in elaborate and fanatical ways. Surely I’m not the only one who sees how ridiculous this is, like something out of a best-selling dystopian YA novel. But a horribly terrifying and racist one.
Aside from the fact that what I just broke down is just plain impossible from numerical, organizational, geographical, financial, and common-sensical perspectives for all Muslims to be terrorists, have any of y’all ever tried to mobilize a group of Muslims? Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite proud to be a Muslim for many reasons, but let me tell you, being organized is not one of them. It just realllyyyy isn’t our thing.
For instance, showing up somewhere on time? Not only does it feel weird and unnatural, but we will give you a death stare if you show up any earlier than 10 minters after the decided meeting time. Sure, we’ll smile and offer you a tea or something, but it’s all a ruse while we are dying, pretending that your punctuality hasn’t killed us a little bit on the inside.
As far as large-scale planning goes, I am not joking when I say that we can’t even decide on what day to celebrate our biggest religious holidays. Every year, the beginning and ending of Ramadan and the actual date of Eid-ul-Adha is hotly debated among Muslims the world over. In spite of scientific moon sighting analyses and laborious discussions between masjid elders, it often comes to pass that half of us celebrate one day, and the rest the next day.
Similarly, planning ahead is not much of our forte either. Ask any Muslim about the experiences with masjid community dinners and they’ll have some wild stories about running out of food, the food being delivered to the wrong uncle’s house leading to an extra hour of wait before eating following a long day of fasting, or just not having enough of the appropriate kind of cutlery. I’ve seen all kinds of shenanigans ensue at masjids, the latest of which consisted of me trying, and failing ,miserably, to eat custard with a fork.
Also, those late night evening gatherings that have been happening at the Khan’s down the block? The ones where several masjid members come over and stay until the wee hours of the morning, making you super nervous cause of all the Muslimy-Muslimness happening so close to your home? Thanks to shows like Little Red Riding Racist here, you may think these gatherings are operational meetings for the Khans to organize their underground terror unit, in an attempt to hatch some nefarious plan to take out infidels in the ‘hood.
It’s true that there are some pressing issues being discussed, and rather passionately. I’ll give you that. But the conversations at these gatherings most often go like this:
Auntie 1: Did you see what Sarah wore to the masjid the other day? I could see her ENTIRE elbow.
Auntie 2: It was quite a sexual elbow.
Auntie 1: She will get pregnant or AIDS by the end of the year. I know it!
Auntie 2: True. We should inform her parents. What kind of child are they raising?
Because if there is one thing Muslims love as much as a hearty, spicy meal, it’s an in-depth and judge-y analysis of the who’s who of questionable behaviors. We are far too fixated on community gossip to consistently band together for any real purpose. But if we did, it would not of course be for global terror.
Especially not when so many secret boyfriends/girlfriends need to be unearthed.
Which leads me to my next point.
You may think that young Muslims are all being brainwashed and trained to unroll the new Islamic agenda or something equally grandiose-sounding. But if you actually talk to Muslim youth, you’ll find they are more concerned with things like fulfilling crazy expectations of success, avoiding marginalization, and navigating some truly difficult decisions, such as whether to spend the summer at biology camp or taking a huge gamble and trying – gasp! – debate camp instead. Above all, they don’t want to be the latest topic of conversation in their community circles.
Thus, they are perpetually trying to maintain a 20-foot distance from the opposite gender, lest they be labeled a complete slut-bucket, a feat made especially amazing when you consider that many American masjids aren’t even 20 square feet in size.
Kids these days, am I right?
Not that we have a lot of time on our hands anyway to be recruited by terrorists, what with all the time we spend denouncing ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Quaida, Hazbollah and a slew of other idiots looking to defame who we are. We are the denounciest of denouncers who ever did denounce. How can we have time to become brainwashed as extremists, when every Muslim’s spare time is spent on carefully considering what she/he will say when asked intrusive and insulting questions, like if they support terrorism or why their people hate all other people?
We spend an exhausting amount of time crafting appropriate tweets, Facebook statuses, public statements, and casual conversational replies for the haters, because at any given moment without warning, we can be called upon to single-handedly defend the world’s second largest religion.
It’s basically the sixth pillar of Islam now.
Still unconvinced? Well then, I invite you to head to your local masjid during Friday prayer time. To say that we see a crowd and suddenly lose all ability to park like a normal human being is the understatement of the century. You’ll see the most creative parking jobs, like luxury SUVs hoisted a hair away from the nearest tree, or cars parked so close together, that the only option for exiting is through the trunk. How can we be constantly mobilizing for the sake of terror when our basic transportation skills are an adventure?
The struggle is real, ya’ll.
So, while I’d love to think that Muslims are organized, punctual, unified, good at planning ahead, or even able to perform a decent parking job, alas, we are not. Not even by a stretch.
Average Muslims can barely plan community dinners without the Indian and Arab factions butting heads over where to have the catering done, much less plan large-scale acts of terror.
The day when we Muslims do manage to buck up and become organized, unified, punctual, and able to plan is clearly still far, far off. But let’s say that it does manage to happen in our lifetime. We will have many priorities to take care of, like helping the oppressed around the world, uniting towards having a stronger positive presence in the global community, removing hypocrisy from our communities, and most of all – working on some parallels parking skills.