My friend Lubna recently reminded me of this question I often receive, so I thought I would elaborate 🙂
Yes, I am white. Caucasian. My heritage is Czech mostly with a sprinkle of Irish and German, but I’m American. 100% cracker, white girl status.
And, I’m Muslim. 100%… MUSLIM.
So, HOW CAN THAT BE?
Islam is the name of our religion – as Christianity or Judaism is the name of other religions.
Muslim is the name of the person who follows Islam – as Christian or Jew is the name of people who follow other religions.
Caucasian is my race. As other races are African American, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc…
Your religion is connected to how you perceive the world, who you worship, what you believe in. It has nothing to do with where you were born, or where your parents were born.
You can be a black Buddhist from Budapest.
You can be an Asian Jew from Timbuktu.
And, as you read in my bio, I’m a Caucasian Muslim from Ohio.
(I hope you liked my rhymes).
Yes, I’m learning Arabic.
Yes, I love Arab culture.
Yes, I make kabsa wa kousa mashi wa samboosa (all Arabic foods).
But I’m a white girl. And I’ll always be white. And I’ll never be FROM an Arab country. And I’m very thankful for who I am. I like that I’m different. I love surprising people when they ask “Intee min wein?!” and I say “ana min hon!” (Where are you from? I’m from HERE!”).
See, not all Muslims are Arab. I know people associate Islam with Arabic, Arab culture, etc… , but it’s not 100% accurate.
Our Prophet Muhammad (saws) lived in modern-day Saudi Arabia. This is true. But, Malaysia actually has the biggest Muslim population in the world. It’s not an Arab country at all!
And, not all Arabs are Muslim – there are many Christian Arabs in Lebanon, for example.
Funny, I know, but my grandma calls me all the time and tells me that she goes to Arab restaurants to feel like she is “in touch with my cultural roots.”
Grandma, we’re Czech. My cultural roots include pierogies and kolacky and polka music. Not Tamer Hosny and falafel.
She told me recently that she’s going to start taking matters into her own hands if I don’t get married soon and start meeting nice Arab families to marry me off to. I told her I want a nice MUSLIM husband and I explained to her the difference between Arab and Muslim. I thought she got it. Then, at the end of the conversation she said she would make sure he was Arab.
I have a feeling she’s going to bring home an Israeli guy for me and not know the difference.
I guess that I should say I would prefer that people don’t confuse my love for Islam with my love for Arab culture. I do care about both, very much. And I feel like I am very influenced by Arab culture, but I’m much more influenced by Islam.
Islam is perfect. Muslims are not. Arab Muslims aren’t always the best Muslims.
Islam is a mercy for all mankind. Not just Arabs.
When a lady at WalMart told me to go back where I came from, I told her I’m from CLEVELAND.
There is a hadith (not sure on how authentic) but it says that Prophet Muhammad said, “O people, know that the Lord and Sustainer is One. Your ancestor is one, your faith is one. The Arabism of anyone of you is not from your mother or father. It is no more than a tongue (language).” (As quoted in Islam The Natural Way by Abdul Wahid Hamid p. 125)
May Allah give us the wisdom to realize that Islam is for all people – in all times – of all colors – forever. And, may He give us the tolerance and patience to understand that the diversity of the world is beautiful. Ameen.