Culture, Gender & Identity, Fashion, Lookbook

Stop telling me that I’m “not like other Muslims”

Not all Muslims know one another. Nor are they planning to conquer the Western world and convert everyone to Islam. Relax.

Presented in partnership with SADOQ. 

Generalizations are never a good idea.

Yet most people don’t offer Muslims that common courtesy of not passing judgment. To too many, we look physically the same, our names are blended, our cultures are wrongfully intermixed (insert Aladdin),  and our voices are silenced.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. And although many people assume Muslims are all from the Middle East, we are more widespread than people think.

Journalist Zara Asad (@zaraasad) in Sadoq’s EMANUELLE scarf. Property of Zara Asad.

That means that not every Muslim knows one another, nor do they have an underground book club discussing how they plan to conquer the Western world and convert everyone to Islam. It means that we come from all over the world, speak different languages, crave different foods, practice different cultures.

The main keyword here: different. 

Yet we are constantly painted with the same harsh brush of people’s biased opinions, which are then equated as “facts” on mainstream news or “harmless comedy” in movies and TV. 

Spoiler alert: it’s harmless to everyone but Muslims.

But what if we reversed this Western cultural ideology of blaming Muslims? 

What if we forced white Christians to explicitly explain to people on a daily basis that they’re not part of the KKK because their skin color is white. 

What if we demanded that every Christian condemn the acts of the KKK, along with every white Christian gunman that’s committed an act of terrorism? 

Now think about not only having to explain but apologize and present a strategic game plan on behalf of all white people explaining why you aren’t going to be the next shooter because of your religious beliefs. 

Imagine simply trying to take a vacation and “randomly” getting pulled aside in a small, dark room to be questioned whether you really love this country and if you consider the president your president.

No other religion in the Western world has to deal with its followers getting generalized with the same decades-old stereotypes, but for us, there’s no escape. 

It’s never-ending. 

It seems no matter how many articles are written or videos are made or interfaith events are held or Muslim men and women serve in the armed forces: Muslims will always be considered a monolith.

[bctt tweet=” Contrary to popular belief, Muslims don’t get a preview of upcoming terror attacks in mosque basements because they have nothing to do with them. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

This generalization is an underlying problem in our country and culture. It’s a threat to minorities and all skin colors that are a slight shade darker than white. Why is it that we classify Muslims as one body, only in reference to anything criminal and insensitive? One person commits a crime and every Muslim alive is suddenly accountable.

There is no excuse for ignorantly asking Muslims to explain their association to ISIS or to ask Muslims to speak on behalf of the barbaric militant group. It’s absurd to ask Muslims to condemn terrorism but most people don’t think twice. 

It’s mind-boggling to make the statement, “I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.” 

Yeah, except for the vast majority who aren’t. 

But if we ask every white person to condemn slavery and mass shootings and ask them to condemn them all the time, most people are stunned. 

Rather, as Dalia Mogahed says, “We need to take a step back and ask a different question. Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism? Condoning the killing of civilians is the most monstrous thing you can do and to be suspected of doing something so monstrous simply because of your faith seems very unfair.”

Journalist Zara Asad (@zaraasad) in Sadoq’s EMANUELLE scarf. Property of Zara Asad.

Contrary to popular belief, Muslims don’t get a preview of upcoming terror attacks in mosque basements because they have nothing to do with them. Even if the individual who committed the violent act identifies himself/herself as a Muslim.

Sidenote: Do mosques even have basements? Most barely have wifi.

This idea people hold of Muslims being a monolith not only affects Muslims as a whole, but it affects Muslim men and women individually. Muslim men are subjugated to intense “random searches” at airports. On the other hand, Muslim women are considered a monolith of oppressed, voiceless beings who have been forced to hide their bodies and bow in silence to men. These are the stereotypes many people consider to be the truth and from which they base their claims of having Muslims all figured out.

Time after time, debate after debate, Islamophobes like to make the argument that the Muslim community knew the terrorist, the Muslim community did nothing about it which turns into, the Muslim community is not on the side of the American people because they knew what was going on. “The Muslim community,” instantly becomes solely responsible.

Here’s where the problem lies: the American people know nearly nothing about mosques because most of them have never attempted to visit one, nor have they integrated with the Muslim community on a regular basis. To constantly badger the Muslim community and to pin them as responsible is where we, the American people, become incredibly irresponsible.

The reality is there is a different standard with different rules for Muslims, especially in the West. As Americans, some of us like to say, “They’ve come to our country so they have to leave their backward cultures and non-American ideologies behind.” Muslims are expected to know and respect other people’s religions. Muslims go out of their way to research and look up what communions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, baptisms, Passover, Easter, and other religious and cultural traditions are, whether they have friends of those religions or not.

But here’s a question: how many people look up Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha, Ramadan, the Quran, or anything Muslim related?

So here’s my question for you: when will we – as Americans – start understanding Muslims or their religion? When will we stop making every brown movie or TV character a terrorist, who conveniently happens to be a Muslim? 

Muslims are not a monolith, despite how convenient it is for your plot lines, newsrooms and political agendas. And continuously putting out these false narratives ironically affects not just Muslims – but the world as a whole.

It’s time to move past that.