Interview With an American Muslim

by Brandon

Here’s the thing. When it comes to Muslims, I’m a pretty ignorant guy. If I’m being honest here, I can count the number of Muslims I’ve known on one hand.

Normally, that wouldn’t concern me. I’m ignorant about most things. The amount of things I don’t know greatly outnumber the amount of things I do know.

And when it comes to people’s beliefs, I’m definitely a “live and let live” kind of guy. It’s just how I was raised.

But lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to learn more about Muslims.

Why?

Because, I’m seeing a lot of opinions about Muslims lately, and a startling amount of those opinions are just… well… they’re hateful.

And, no matter what the reason, I’m not a fan of hate. Hatred is the enemy of progress…

And – more times than not – hatred is based on false ideas.

Whether it’s on the news or on social media, I’m seeing more and more people post things about Islam that cause me to think, “Okay, that just can’t be true.”

But the truth is, I can’t honestly say I know those hateful things are untrue. I’m just not very knowledgeable of Islam.

I openly embrace my ignorance here because we simply can’t grow and learn if we’re too busy pretending we have nothing left to learn.

So I admit it. I’m ignorant when it comes to Islam.

To combat this ignorance, I decided I should go straight to the source.

I have a friend who grew up in America and is as American as I am… but this friend also happens to be a practicing Muslim.

So I asked my friend if they’d be willing to answer a few questions regarding Islam. I told my friend that these questions might be a little on the offensive side, but I explained my goal was to address many of the preconceived notions toward Islam, and that could mean I have to ask some moderately offensive questions.

My friend graciously agreed to do my little “Combat Bran’s Ignorance” interview.

I’m sharing it here for two reasons:

1. I’m sharing it in the hope that some of you are like me… Maybe you would also like to learn more about what it’s like to be an American Muslim (so you can form a more informed opinion) but haven’t had the opportunity to ask someone about it.

2. So my friend can have the opportunity to let folks know more about what it’s like to be an American Muslim, and hopefully dispel a few myths regarding practicing Muslims in America.

Before you read the interview, I do have one request: Feel free to post your honest opinions in the comments section, but please keep it respectful. We can never grow without honest, open discussions, so all opinions are welcome… but there is no place on my blog for hate. If I see any posts that I think are intentionally hateful, hurtful, or insulting, I will immediately delete those posts.

Of course, that won’t be a problem, because all of my readers are awesome. :)

With that said, here’s my interview with an American Muslim:

What are the basic lessons your religion teaches?

To love, care for and empathize with all of God’s creations and people regardless of their faith, gender or economic status. We are taught God is One. There is no God but God. We believe in all prophets of the Old Testament and that Muhammad is a prophet (peace be upon him) of God.

Have you ever been taught to defend Islam with violence?

Never. The first I ever heard of anyone teaching the notion of defending Islam with violence was a concept non-Muslims brought forth to me. I have yet to meet a Muslim from any corner of the world to even remotely believe such a false notion.

If someone you knew drew a very disrespectful cartoon of the prophet Mohamed, how would you react?

Sadness would overwhelm me. Sadness overwhelms all Muslims. As a matter of fact, sadness overwhelms practicing Muslims when Jesus (peace be upon him) is also disrespected. We hold Jesus in such high regard that we feel hurt when his name is placed on bumper stickers and mud and filth gets splashed on his name. We respect all people’s beliefs. Our religion teaches that there is no compulsion in religion.

The sadness stems from those making a mockery of others’ ways of life and beliefs. Our belief is to respect and care for our brothers and sisters in mankind.

What are your thoughts on racial profiling? Are you okay with extra scrutiny at an airport because of your race?

Racial profiling in general is entirely unjust. That being said we’re used to it and follow all rules willingly with no ill feeling.

How did you feel when the twin towers were attacked on 9/11?

Terrified. Distraught. Confused. Grief stricken. After the events, many of us sadly were not given the time to grieve this atrocity accurately but rather were forced to live in fear of hate crimes towards us or anyone who even closely resembled our faith, regardless of gender or age.

When you see Facebook posts that are negative toward Muslims, how do you feel about the person who is saying those things?

Sad for them that they have access to such advanced technology and yet the inability to seek the truth about a whole people from a reliable source, directly from those people. Instead, they hold opinions of others who know very little about the subject in such high regard and as fact.

Do you see yourself as a Muslim American or simply as an American who happens to be Muslim? Is there a difference between the two?

I see no difference.

Have you personally ever been subjected to bigotry because of your race or religion? If so, how did it make you feel? Hurt? Angry? Sad?

I’ve seen it towards others, typically online. If it was directed towards me, typically I didn’t care or notice. Opinions of others are simply that.

What do you think are the top three misconceptions in this country, when it comes to Muslims?

That we don’t believe in the same God as Christians and Jews because we absolutely do. That women are mistreated in our faith. Women are absolutely valued, educated, and are equal to men in Islam. That Muslims are violent people who hate Americans and people of other faiths. This is completely inaccurate. We love and care for all mankind. We all come from the same place.

Which do you think is the more oppressed people in America: Women or Muslims?

Anyone not in the 1%. Men, women, young, old…We are all oppressed in some ways and our worth is often given by our monetary value.

Are you proud to be an American?

Absolutely.

If you were given the opportunity to speak to a large group of anti-Muslim Americans, what would be the most important thing you would want to say to them?

Regardless of how you feel about us, it’s our responsibility and obligation to God to care for, respect, and love you as His creations.

Would you describe your religion as a “peaceful religion”? If so, why?

Yes. See above answers.

Do you hate the people who hate you because of your religion?

No. I avoid them.

When (if ever) have you cried because of bigotry, whether it was toward you or toward someone else?

I’m deeply hurt and saddened when anyone, regardless of faith, is a target or victim of someone else’s injustice.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about being a Muslim in America?

Thank you for this opportunity. It’s rare to find such a genuine welcoming platform. May you be rewarded for your efforts.


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