A question about Islamophobia from a young Muslim
….I was wondering about the challenges in calling America “our people”. I was discussing with some sisters today about how we should be praying for “our people”. The ultimate response was, if they were our people or considered us their people, we wouldn’t be facing as much Islamophobia as we are today. We watched the youtube video on “Hate has come to Orange County” and it sparked quite a discussion about us Muslims here in America, and Islamophobia. Based on what I have learned from your presentation, I tried to see if I can get them to see it from the perspective of what the Prophets and Messengers went through and how they still said “ya qawmi” (Oh, my people). They, as Muslim Americans, truly feel as if they can’t really think of most Americans as “their people” due to the constant negativity and discrimination they feel as Muslims. Although, alhamdulilah, this discrimination and fear does not cripple us as Muslims or as a community, rather encourage us to give more to our country; the sisters truly felt that they cannot connect with the American society though they grew up in it because of the hate and alienation. The more Islamophobia and bigotry they see, the more they distance themselves and just stay with the Muslim crowd. I wasn’t too sure how to respond here. They understand there is good and bad to America, but they feel the bad has caused them to feel hurt and sidelined, so they are not as passionate about accepting this ideology. They were not against the idea of being American or anything, it was just that their heart wasn’t in it in calling them “our people”, so they became comfortable just staying in the “Muslim bubble”.
Also, Subhana Allah, I went to a recent CAIR banquet and I truly loved it. It motivated me to think of my rights and fight for my rights. But I felt something missing and the discussion I had today with the sisters reminded me of the presentation and I realized that the aspect that was missing was what you said about why we are here, as vicegerents. Yes, alhamdulilah we do have organizations that will ensure us our rights, but we are also here to capture the hearts of people. As a MAS member, how do you reconcile or draw the line when to not fight for your rights but capture the hearts of individuals towards Islam and when to claim your rights? For example, at (University) we had an Islam Awareness Week, and we had few Christian hecklers with signs and pamphlets come to us, and screaming “you’re going to hell”. As an MSA, we had the right to ask them to move from our area or call Security on them. I personally was of the mind set of let them just stay and ignore them so that we concentrate on the rest of the campus. I was hoping that if people passing by saw how unaffected the Muslims were and how we were still smiling and raising awareness, people will be more interested in coming up to us and us giving up our right to ask the heckler’s to leave wouldn’t matter.
I apologize for the long email and I hope my questions made sense. Jazakal Allahu khair for the presentation, Subhana Allah, it showed me a different way of looking and approaching this very important concept.
The two blog entries below this piece address key issues raised in the question above.