I cannot deny that I feel a certain sadness and anger whenever I hear some people associate terrorism, oppression, radicalism (or whatever you can think of) with Islam.
Since America is the destined place for me to broaden my horizons, I can never stop thinking of how my life there would be like. You often hear from word of mouth that many Muslims there face a lot of difficulties there mainly because many Westerners have this certain phobia against Muslim people especially after the September 11th incident.
Some people are so afraid of Islam, until the word Islamophobia was created.
I often wonder how the Muslims in America cope with the pressure they have to face there.
Last Sunday, I was lucky when I switched the channel to Al-Jazeera, just in time for the programme that I’ve been dying to watch—Islam in America.
The programme really opened my eyes and made me realize that the situation in America isn’t as bad as what most of us thought.
Yes, Muslims there are slammed from time to time by ignorant Americans who view Islam as a religion that oppresses its people and that it teaches terrorism. But then again, what do you expect your life to be when you’re a minority, living in a society when most people do not know what you’re religion is all about? Life doesn’t really go they you want it to. This is what we have been going through way before the September 11th incident, and I do believe that the situation could get worse. But that’s just what we as Muslims must endure.
What touched me is when I saw how many Muslims there were still holding to their faith very firmly, despite the consequences they have to face.
In America, there may not be as many mosques as there are in Malaysia, yet that does not deter the Muslims there from performing their daily prayers. In the programme, they showed a few people performing their congregational prayer at the roadside, while a cop was trying hard to make sure that there weren’t any cars that were going to hit them.
Talk about tolerance.
Then, Rageh Omaar interviewed a few American ladies who embraced Islam and decided to fully cover themselves. One lady that was interviewed was working as a journalist in the Las Vegas industry. She confessed that being in that society, your looks (and more importantly, sex appeal!) are undeniably a constant pressure. But she then decided when she embraced Islam, she decided that she wanted more respect from others and she wanted to respect herself more, and so she wore the hijab.
When Rageh Omaar ended the show, I thought I would be relieved after knowing that Muslims aren’t treated as bad as I had assumed. But somehow, I felt sad.
I was sad because I realize that many Muslims in this country take many things for granted.
Some people don’t realize the simple but yet significant privileges that we have here.
Many Muslims all over the world sometimes find it hard to perform their prayers because they don’t have the appropriate place to pray but somehow they still pray anywhere, anyhow. What do some of us do? Some of us don’t even pray in our own homes just because we’re lazy.
The Muslim women there cover themselves fully, and are proud of it.
They don’t wear it just to go to work or to formal events.
They don’t take it off because they feel like showing their natural beauty that God blessed them every once in a while-- despite how hard it may be.
And i respect them for that.
To them, they look beautiful because they are covered.
They’re beautiful because they’re carrying out their duties as a Muslim and hindering them from worldly temptations.
Take full advantage of the privileges that we are given today-- before it is taken away from us.
**pics taken from deviantart.com**