Islam and I in the Modern World
What does religion mean to me if I were to describe it to a stranger? I would say a sense of identity, of belonging to something bigger.
Islam is the second largest religion in the World. It is the fastest spreading religion, yet many people come to know so little about it. Islam is a word derived from the Arabic word “Salaam” which means peace.The word Islam in religious text is translated as “submission to the will of God”, while the people who practice Islam are called Muslims. In the present world, Islam is portrayed quite negatively through media, thus impacted other people’s thoughts and perceptions of it. Muslims experience all sorts of discrimination to hate crimes from others due to that negative image portrayed by the media. Though some Muslims have specific incidences of these discriminatory actions, I have not experienced something to such gravity.
Being a Muslim in the United States for over 12 years, I do not recall any severe hate thrown my way, however there is one occurrence of discrimination that I experienced that I remember till present day. During middle school, I remember being in my art class when a student had asked me if I was related to Osma-bin Laden. I not only was shocked, but also embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say because of my young age and lack of good English speaking skills. Being the only hijabi present in that class made me feel self-conscious at that time.
I hope that we are able to educate the general public about how this religion is more peaceful and welcoming than the overall image of it is. I hope people are able to understand that generalizing the entire Muslim population is not the way to go about things and that we should ask about the facts. Facts as in, appropriate and accurate information. Making sure that the information portrayed is not blurred or falsified. Facts as in, statements with proof and that are reviewed. It’s better to ask about the facts rather than blindly believing in what we see on the news or on social media.
What advice do you have for the reader of your piece?
The biggest advice that I would give to the fellow readers would be to just learn to be more open-minded. Be curious but to an appropriate level. A muslim has no issue in telling an individual about the reality of their religion to as much of their knowledge. So just learn to be more careful with what is given to you from sources that provide no concrete evidence. The first thing that comes to one's mind might not always be the best one to follow upon.