Confronting Islamophobia

“Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims — not excuse it, but expect it. And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think there’s an enemy within.”

-Reza Aslan

Many people tend to think America is home to only their culture. It’s common to spew up judgements outside of one’s own beliefs, however, this country was founded on the principle of diversity. Without having any knowledge or education concerning Islam, it’s easy to feel fear and prejudice.

Islam is a monotheistic faith which has its roots in Judeo-Christian beliefs, but they’re perceived as outsiders to American culture. The term “Islam” refers to the religion as a whole, while “Muslims” refer to each individual. Much like Christianity and Christians.

Many people watch their local news stations, feeding hourly information on the now halted Muslim ban, and feel threatened, as if they are purposely here to harm us.

After September 11th, society turned their back on Muslims in America. We were taught that they were our enemies, with only one mission: to undermine our society. With no prior issues living in the United States, they were suddenly on the receiving end of hateful slurs, often being labeled as terrorists, hate crimes and discriminatory government policies.

On March 2, 2017, The Breeze and the Students for Justice in Palestine held a dinner and discussion at Islamic Center of Inland Empire, a local mosque in Rancho Cucamonga. The event, titled “Muslimedia,” was an invitation into their home. We ate, talked and watched as they practiced their faith, unhindered and unashamed. They knew we might not understand, but they welcomed us anyway.

We were invited into the prayer room where only men are allowed to pray. The men carried out their normal prayer session, consciously aware that young students, including women, were there to observe. They proceeded anyway.

After the prayer, Imam Saheb Ashram, a speaker at the mosque, took the liberty of explaining the Arabic prayer in English to us:

“God is great. God is great. God is great. God is great.

I testify that there is no one worthy of worship than God himself.

I testify that Mohammed is the messenger of God.

Come towards prayer.

Come towards success.

God is great. God is great.

There is no one worthy of worship than God himself.”

After the prayer, observers were encouraged to ask questions in an open form. We addressed topics such as false news coverage, Muslim women’s rights, and breaking Muslim stereotypes.

On the topic of September 11, Dr. Niveen Behairy said, “Definitely after 9/11 is when everything became very rampant and open. I think children that grew up in this 9/11 era, have been affected because they feel the stigma of it.”

When asked about what we as a society can do to break the stereotype, Masood Khan said, “Just have a conversation. Talk to a Muslim themselves rather than to ‘Fox it up’.”

According to the Pew Research Center, The United States is approximately 70% Christian (46.5% Protestants, and 20.8% Catholics), and Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

Pew predicts Muslims will account for 2.1% of the U.S. population by the year 2050, “surpassing people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion as the second-largest faith group in the country (not including people who say they have no religion).”

Business Insider states that “the Islamic Golden Age revolutionized almost every field of human thought” resulting in today’s math and science ideologies.

Engaging in other religions and cultures can help break the negative associations which often create division. At this point in time, now more than ever, it is crucial to remain whole as a society, instead of allowing false accusation to decide for us.

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