As things stand Islamophobia is at an all time high. There is so much hate for Muslims here in America because of extremist groups coming out of the middle east. What the media chooses to show has Americans stirred up and they haven’t even taken the time to really understand exactly what Muslims believe.
I, myself, do not know a lot about the Islamic religion but I am willing to learn. I did a bit of research about the basics of Islam, I also had the chance to interview someone who was a born into the Muslim community. After talking to my friend and learning what I did from my research I found that there were a lot of similarities in the Islamic religion and the one I was raised in. It was humbling to know that they really aren’t that different and it made me wonder, why do Christians hate Muslims so much?
What I found out is this:
- They believe in one god: Allah
- Their prophet is Muhammad
- Their scriptures are the Quran. They believe it to be complete and unaltered.
- They believe in a heaven and a hell.
- They worship in the form of prayer, fasting, giving to charity and memorizing the Quran.
Everything I read showed that Islam is not really any different from Christianity. There are just slight differences in names but all the concepts are pretty much the same. There are extremist groups of Muslims who are willing to do dangerous things to convert the world to Islam but Christians also have a history of killing people who don’t conform to their religion as well. No one is innocent and it should be understood that not all people of certain religions are dangerous and should be feared. The majority of people are just trying to live their life with the religion they choose and America was built on religious freedom. If Christians are allowed that freedom then so are Muslims and Jews and any other religious groups.
After talking to Khadija I also realized that growing up in the Muslim community is very comparable to my experience growing up in a Baptist Christian community. We are more alike than we are different. They face judgement in their religion just as Christians judge each other. They struggle with their faith just as Christians do. They strive to be their best to love others and do as God commands. Though the religions are slightly different the expectations are the same.
This is how my interview with my friend, Khadija went:
Q: What are the basic beliefs of Muslims?
A: They basically believe in heaven and hell. They believe that Islam is the last religion that is complete. They believe in all religions but this one is the one that is complete and should be the one that everyone converts to.
Q: Were you born into the religion or did you convert?
A: I was born into it, it’s not something I chose. I am Muslim by nature but I do not practice.
Q: When did you come to America?
A: June 2011. I married an America, he was working in Saudi Arabia and his job ran out and we decided to move to America.
Q: What has your experience been like in America as a Muslim?
A: You’re born in it so you just go with it. You’re supposed to learn how to pray from a very early age, my father would get angry at me for not praying but my mother was a more open minded person. You don’t really feel an different, it’s just who you are.
Q: Why did you not choose to be a practicing Muslim?
A: It’s just not something I wanted. I didn’t choose it. My sisters basically disowned me so I have nothing to do with them.
Q: There has been a lot of controversy concerning the hijab and the way Muslim women dress. What do you have to say about it?
A: When a girl reaches a certain age women have to start covering their hair and sometimes their face. It’s for modesty reasons. I don’t believe it’s necessary but when you’re born into it you just do it. I had to cover up. Women who choose to not cover up or choose to wear makeup are harassed by other Muslims. It can get pretty nasty sometimes.
Q: Do you feel like the hatred of Muslims in America has gotten worse or better?
A: I think people express their hatred more freely now, since Trump has come into office.
Q: What are some things about the Muslim people that have been taken out of context or misconstrued?
A: People think every Muslim is a hater and that they hate everyone else who isn’t a Muslim. They think that Muslims are all terrorists and that of course is not true.
Q: Was there ever a time that a non-Muslim person openly disliked you or made a rude or racial comment out loud in your presence?
A: You can tell from some people’s behavior. They don’t have to say anything to you they just have a certain way of acting that shows they aren’t comfortable with you. I don’t like to say where I’m from because Saudi Arabia is a hated place and some people do react badly. Some people are very nice though and will ask me questions about where I’m from.
Q: What would you say to someone who was wanting to convert to Islam?
A: Study the religion very well. It’s not a bad religion but it has to be out of conviction. Any religion, not just Islam. You have to study it and make sure it’s really what you want.
Q: How has your view of America changed since you came here?
A: I came here and women are not treated any better than in the country I came from. I have to be honest I was really disappointed when I came here. I’m also disappointed by the government here. I think government should care about it’s people more than it does and since Trump has become president it’s so much worse. If you advertise that your country is the best country and all this freedom exists then of course people want to come here. Stop advertising it like that if you don’t want people to come here. We all deserve to have a good life. I really do love this country. I want to stay here. And America is not ready for a woman to lead the country? Really?! If all these other countries can have women leaders why can’t America have a woman president? I think one of the biggest issues is women don’t support other women here. I also think that there is such a fear of other people and other cultures. It seems like anyone who is brown is an enemy. If people are exposed to other things and they see that it’s not as scary as they are lead to believe then they won’t be so easily controlled.
Q: Would you say that there were things that your parents said about non-Muslim people like the way parents of other religions would say?
A: My mother was such an open minded person and she accepted everyone for who they were. We weren’t really around my father very much.
Q: What do you think is the biggest obstacle in Saudi Arabia for its people?
A: Women are not free. You can’t do anything without your father’s permission. You are in a guardianship for your whole life. Your father starts out as your guardian, you cannot do anything without his permission. Then when you get married your husband is in charge of you, and if you aren’t married your son is your guardian. As a woman you never have any freedom. They want to control women, they don’t want them to be free. They want to be in control. Women cannot get out of Saudi Arabia without a slip signed by their father, husband or son. Women are put to death for standing up for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. If you do something to disgrace your family you can be killed and your killer won’t be prosecuted because it is an acceptable thing in Saudi Arabia. And a woman’s testimony is only worth half a testimony because women are considered too emotional.
As you can see we all have a long way to go to being better at understanding each other. We all just need to take the time to see things from other people’s point of view instead just blindly hating them for being different. I totally agree with what Khadija had to say about our country and I think it is something for all of us to think about.
It was wonderful to meet Khadija and to hear her side of things. I really enjoyed this interview and I want to thank Khadija for taking part in it. I also want to thank my friends Mandy and Dan for introducing me to her.