Being a Muslim in America
There’s never an insipid moment in the life of a member of an American minority. Islam. In my case, being the member of an ethnic and religious minority is all the more exciting. As a Muslim American woman I don’t don a headscarf, but for my friend I have learned and she can agree, it’s easy to become emblematic for what “my people” stand for. Being a Muslim, whether it is a man with a beard or a woman with a headscarf, they have to be cognizant of driving too fast, or showing frustration in a long line at the store, since that will leave an indelible impression on the minds of those who perceive us. As Peter Beinart writes in the Daily Beast about the Tsarnaev brothers: “Because in public conversation in America today, ‘Islam’ is a racial term. Being Muslim doesn’t just mean not being Christian or Jewish. It means not being white.” And as history has shown us, not being white in America can lead to certain difficulties.
Every experience for me as a Muslim woman is unique and none can be taken as anything more. Muslim women who cover their hair can very easily find themselves at the end of many assumptions. Can she go to the gym with that on? Can she be seen with the opposite sex? The moral of the story is Muslim women may cover their head, but not their mind. A lot of the misconceptions are rooted in mainstream media, which, for the most part, portrays Muslim women as exploited and helpless. Sadaf Syed’s piece iCover: A Day in the Life of a Muslim-American, shows us just some of the countless numbers of hats worn by Muslim women, from truck drivers to athletes.
But being a Muslim in general in America isn’t only about wrestling with stereotypes. American diversity and civil liberties have led to a new version of Islam. Young Muslims born in America have brought together the best of what American and Islamic cultures have to offer. This fresh and vibrant American Islam offers new perspectives that have been colored by the American experience, my experience. To me, being a Muslim in America is about educating those who may be misled by stereotypes and misinformation in the media. But it’s also about being actively engaged in all aspects of society, from politics to sports, the workplace to the hip-hop scene. What politicians say and what media portrays of Islam is irrelevant when blood and death is the language and the syntax is stitched together with turmoil, bullets and guns. Islam is a religion built by a foundation of peace. What’s important and relevant is how I view myself and I am proud to state that my faith is Islam. I am a Muslim, and my nationality is American. In the past insensitive statements were made about Muslims by Rupert Murdoch, and Oklahoma state Senator John Bennett, which is sadly nothing new. They aim to create fear among people about the religion and its followers.
Recently, Donald Trump who is running for presidency made remarks that “he would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. Unfortunately racism and bigotry runs deep in our culture and has been part of an American narrative for centuries. Their bigotry and hate will not stop me from being proud of being an American. Whether it be politicians or a local bystander, nothing with stop me from keeping my chin up as a proud Muslim in America and I hope to show the dubious people that lurk society that Muslims aren’t bad people. I as well as every other proud Muslim contribute significantly to American democracy, economy and society. We are engineers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, teachers, writers, cab drivers, entrepreneurs, congressmen and more. We intend to run for public offices and lend a helping hand to this country. We are proud to be Muslims and proud to be Americans.
Story by Hannah Khan
Hannah Khan is a student at the University of Houston planning to pursue a career in Journalism. Her work has also been featured in the HuffingtonPost & Odyssey Online.
Twenty one year-old Hannah wants to be a journalist as she believes in educating people on topics that are meaningful and shed light to a generation where knowledge is endless but at the same time misconceptions and misinterpretations are endless. She loves this city because of its endless opportunities and diversity.