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Dare I Say the Word?

Being a Muslim in a Western World

Dare I say the word? Thank you, media! You've completely tarnished the reputation of most Arabs and Muslims all around the world. I'm a 32-year-old Arab Muslim male, living in a conflicted state of mind. For the majority of my life, I've lived in the US, but I identify as Arab or Middle Eastern. I've never used the internet to voice my opinions before. I've never been publicly political or religious. My Facebook and Instagram are mainly funny posts and pics from my travels. So why am I all of a sudden interested in sharing my thoughts with the world? Well, I heard someone speak recently, and he opened my eyes to the power of social media. How one idea, one picture, one share, one click can make a huge difference in today's world. So if this article reaches even one person and changes their perception on Muslims and Arabs, then at least I've made a difference somewhere. Now, to be completely honest with you i'm not the most religion person ever, there are even some aspects of the religion that I don't personally agree with. My point isn't to spread religion, just to shine some light on the subject. 

First off, let me clarify that not all Arabs are Muslim, and Muslims are Arab. There are roughly 1.8 billion Muslims in the world according to a Pew Research Center estimate. There are nowhere near that many Arabs in the world. So let's separate the two identifiers from each other. 

Now, for those of you who know nothing about Islam, it's vital that you understand that at its core, it is a religion that promotes love, peace, and understanding. Yes, there is a lot of controversy about what it teaches and the rules within. Please try to strip away everything the media portrays and what you think you know about it. 

Haters going to hate. 

A pastor names Teri Jones once burned a copy of the Holy Quran to oppose sharia law in the US. Okay?! "What is Sharia law?" they asked Pastor Teri Jones. He didn't have an answer and stated, "I need to look at my documentation." Really!? You're lobbying for this legislation and you have no idea what it is you're opposing? Does Terri know that book he just burned directly mentions the name Jesus 25 times? It mentions him in first-person 35 times and the third-person 48 times and the rest as titles and attributes. Does he know that the Maryam (the mother of Jesus) holds a singularly exalted place in Islam as the only woman named in the Quran? She is mentioned 70 times and the Quran explicitly identifies her as the greatest of all women. He was shocked to learn this! How could this be? The media forgot to mention that Islam is the last of the Abrahamic religions, and we believe in all the profits that exist in Judaism and Christianity. I bring this up as an example of how the western world has twisted Islam into this evil religion and no one has bothered to correct that image. Or better yet, people have tried but the propaganda rained down harder to wash away the well wishers. I encourage you to read about Islam and understand where we come from. There's something interesting stuff to find out. Do you have any idea of the correlation between The Quran and modern science? Did you know that Gandhi claimed that he had cultivated respect for Islam. He regarded Islam to be a religion of peace. Can you argue with Gandhi? Did you know that the United Nations advised Arab countries to take Imam Ali bin Abi Talib as an example in establishing a regime based on justice and democracy and encouraging knowledge. Yes, we as Muslims have huge differences between ourselves, but regardless of those difference the foundation of our religion is all the same. If you're one of those people who thinks ISIS is a representation of Islam, then please please please listen up. ISIS has killed more Muslims than they have anyone else. They are in no way a reflection of the religion or what it teaches. 

It's not easy, man... living in the country trying to maintain your identity when the world wants to paint you in a different light. I'm a good person. I don't steal or cheat anyone. I'm kind, almost to a fault. I'm generous and I treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. Sadly, because I'm also an Arab Muslim man, I'm also subject to everyone's different opinion of who I am inside. 

Beside the internal battle we have to face, the external battle is a whole other ballgame. At this point it's like we know what to watch out for. I just came back from an international trip. Airport security? "Yeah... I'm getting "randomly" selected for a "check." Speaking Arabic on the airplane... "betterrr not!" Passport control at LAX, "Yeah, let's play 51 questions, why not?" And don't you dare make any sudden moments or run to try to catch that flight 'cause you'll have a lot of people running after you. It's almost cliche. 

I don't know if anyone will end up reading this. But if you did, thank you and God bless. 

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