Being American Muslim in an Islamophobic Society

Disclaimer: All these thoughts and feelings are explicitly my own. I do not represent anyone’s views except my own.

“Where are you from?” I always get asked. I reply with, “Minnesota”. That is never a satisfying answer. “No, where are you REALLY from?” Well, I REALLY am from Minnesota. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I know my Hijab may throw some people off, but that is the truth. “Your English is so good, how long have you been in America?” It is sad to see the reaction on peoples’ faces when I say, “English is my first language, I was born and raised here.”

Up until recently, I never realized why these things were so hard for people to grasp. Just because I have a Hijab on my head, doesn’t make me that much different from you. When you think of it, it is a piece of cloth that labels someone in such a negative way in today’s western society. People make stereotypes and discriminate against me because of how I dress. That is the first thing they see, and sometimes the only thing. Since when am I subjected to how I look? Why is my knowledge, my achievements, my experiences, overshadowed in people’s mind by my religion? What does my religion have to affect how people treat me?

Why is it that I am always subjected to a “random search” at airports? Asked if there is anything under my Hijab? The micro aggressions are real and prevalent. Why do people scoff and why are they so mean to me, without having said one word? Why is there so much misdirected hate in the world? What did I ever do to you?

Being an Arab-American Muslim, I feel as if I always have to keep a smile on my face and be nice to everyone, despite how they treat me. Why? Because if I don’t, I will be labeled as that rude, mean, Muslim chick.

Islam teaches me to smile and be kind to everyone. Now, what kind of religion that considers smiling charity violent? Not Islam. It is as if people are so brain-washed by media from an Islamophobic society that they believe everything. I challenge you to actually look into the religion, then you’ll realize that ISIS is anything but Islamic. Terrorism is anything but Islamic. Murder, killing, genocide, is anything but Islamic.

Islam is happiness, peace, charity, and love. Don’t just take my word for it though, look into Islam yourself to better understand. Look into the Quran, not just websites that claim to explain the verses. Visit a local Mosque and ask questions. Visit Al-Madinah Cultural Center in Coffman Room 236 with any questions you may have. Email the Muslim Student Association on campus at muslimsa@umn.edu for any questions. Ask me. Ask a fellow Muslim. With more than 1.6 billion Muslims, Islam isn’t the fastest growing religion for no reason.

-Waed Qablany