When I received this persuasive essay from high school student Zian Aldrich about Muslim profiling the day after the Paris attacks, I knew I had to publish it here on the blog.
Thanks Zian. —Mo
The generalization of Islam needs to stop, and we need to put ourselves in their shoes.
The religion of Islam is not a religion of oppression or hatred. No religion for G-d (In Abrahamic religions) is meant to destroy, incapacitate, and humiliate. The religion of Islam is often viewed as either one of the most peaceful and beautiful religions in the world, or the most vile, evil, and destructive religions in the world. As odd as it may seem due to claims made by the media, Islam is too diverse to be labeled anything. Due to popular extremist groups being Muslim (not Christian, Jewish or Zoroastrian) many non-Muslims (often called Dhimmi) are blind to the truth about Islam.
The truth is that Islam is not an evil religion whatsoever, as nothing in the Quran says to “Be evil”. Islamism (Islamic fundamentalism) only makes up a tiny population of the huge religion of Islam. The biggest part of identifying all Muslims as terrorists is generalization. The generalization of Islam needs to stop, and we need to put ourselves in their shoes. Muslim stereotyping hurts people. This is like a man with dark hair, wearing a Keffiyeh, with mocha skin, and speaking Farsi. While everyone identifies him as an “Arab Muslim”, they couldn’t possibly be more wrong. When they get to know him above the stereotypes, he is actually a Persian-Jew from Tehran. (The Persians aren’t Arab, actually, their roots share more similarities with the Swedish than with the Arabs.)
A common mistake is the thought that all Muslims are Islamist. Islamist (not Islamic) means to be a radical Muslim; this is the type of labeling that damages the reputation of everyday people who happen to be Muslim. To add to this thought, the FBI database survey states that between 1985-2005 (Yes, after 911, the founding of ISIS, the prime of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab) only 6% of all terrorist attacks were Islamic-based. If one were to ask almost any Muslim how they feel about Islamic-Islamist relations, most of them would say that extremist Muslims are so different from average Muslims, that one could regard them as an entirely different religion. In the Quran of everyday Islam, all of the horrible acts that terrorist groups conduct are strictly forbidden.
It is upsetting when people see Muslims and think that they are all terrorists. For example, Muslims (as well as the Sikh, a different religion in which originated from the combination of Hinduism and Islam) are always the most likely targets to be embarrassed and shamed by being pulled out of all terminal lines and to be scanned unexpectedly. This is a hurtful generalization, and it comes in all shapes and forms.
The fact is a huge population of people follow some sort of Islam (1.57 billion according to PewForum.com— that’s almost ⅓ of planet earth!). The feeling Al-Qaeda and ISIS “represent Islam” is also generalizing due to the fact that only about 20% of Muslims live in the Middle-East, and even less of them are Arab (according to encounteringislam.com). Most are actually South-East Asian (Indonesian, Malaysian, Bruneian, etc.) Lastly, simply saying that all Muslims believe one thing is wrong due to the varieties of Islam; Islam actually consists of over 1,000 sects, all believing completely different opinions on their own religion: Sunni, Shi’ite, or Kharijite Islam, for example.
In the Quran of everyday Islam, all of the horrible acts that terrorist groups conduct are strictly forbidden.
When Muslims talk about Jihad, they are talking about the struggle.
What do you imagine when you think of a Muslim man? Do you think of a dark Saudi Arabian man wearing a Taqiyah on his head, a Keffiyeh around his neck with a bomb hidden behind his robe, screaming “Islam, Alluah-Akhbar, Jihad Allah!”? If you think this is so, then you are very wrong. First of all, the establishment that only about 21% of Muslims are Arab has already been accomplished.
Let’s move on to ‘Muslim coin phrases’. The first word, Allah, is not the “Muslim version of God”. They believe that their God is the same as everyone else’s in Abrahamic religions; Allah is simply Arabic for identifying God, and everyone who believes in his power calls him Allah within Arabic-speaking countries, regardless of religion. The next phrase Alluah Akhbar, is not meant for extremism, it is part of Muslim prayer, meaning “God is the greatest”. Another common term is Jihad. When Muslims talk about Jihad, they are talking about the struggle. Which struggle can range anywhere from warfare all the way to starvation. When Jihad is performed in war, (yes, Jihad has a proper verbal meaning) it usually means to defend Islam and religion, not to hurt anybody who isn’t trying to hurt you. This is a misrepresentation. Lastly, this one will astonish you; Islam actually means “submission”, which basically states that you are doing God’s favour. Despite the world’s common usage of the word outside of the Arabic language, it is actually a very colloquial word. It is very much so used it common conversation, and is used in non-Muslim Middle-Eastern churches and synagogues.
No religion is solely based on evil. If Islam was solely based on hate, then how could have Islam gotten this many followers in the first place? There is no way that Islam could have gotten this large, this quickly, if it was purely based on hatred. So next time you see a Muslim person walking by you, don’t get scared, just say hello! Better yet, say “Assalamu Alaykum”, and you might make a new friend.
So next time you see a Muslim person walking by you, don’t get scared, just say hello!
Header Photo credit to Qasim Hussain 🙂