So If You’re Muslim, Then Why Are You White? The Difference Between Race and Religion

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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…

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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.

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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.

Now That You’re Muslim, You Have To Hate America, Right?

I will credit my lovely friend Sarah with this gem.  I love her, but this question is absolutely ridiculous. She asked me during the middle of a meeting as if it was dancing around in her head for years, and she thought it would be appropriate to ask at that exact moment.

“So, now that you’re Muslim, they make you hate America, right?”

I cracked up. I thought she was joking.  But within a second I saw in her face that she was DEAD SERIOUS.

“Umm, no Sarah, I love America.  Being Muslim has nothing to do with America.”

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Then, she asked “Didn’t your Prophet hate America or something?”

“No, Sarah, our Prophet Muhammad (saws) lived hundreds of years before America was founded.”

“Oh, I always thought that was a rule.”

I considered shaking her and forcing her to read a book.

The media is so manipulative of people’s thoughts that they make hundreds of assumptions based on what they see on television. So much so that they think hating America is one of the pillars of our religion.

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America was never mentioned in our religion’s fundamentals – it’s not in Quran, Hadith, etc… – in either a positive or a negative way.

And NO, I DON’T HATE AMERICA! I LOVE AMERICA! 

If I didn’t, I wouldn’t live here!

I don’t love how all people act in America,
I don’t love that people wear booty shorts in WalMart,
I don’t love that people think I don’t speak English because I look different,
I don’t love corn dogs and bacon,
But I LOVE AMERICA.

I love our freedom,
I love my grandfathers for serving in America’s Armed Forces,
I love that in a 40 hour drive from the East Coast to West Coast I saw every possible climate you could ever imagine,
I love that I can love the soldiers while still hating the war,
I love that I can write this blog because we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion,

I participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, and I know the National Anthem. And still, I took my shahada, and I know Al-Fatiha.

Being Muslim doesn’t make me hate my country. Unfortunately, however, this country makes you hate Islam.

You’ve heard of Islamophobia, but I’ve never heard of Americaphobia.

I’m sure the vast majority of my Muslim brothers and sisters don’t look at you with hate when you walk by them on the street, however, we often are looked at in this way.

Being a Muslim in America does change my perspective, yes.  It makes me critical of the lack of morals people have, yes.  It also makes me critical of how “God-less” people can be.  How some people think nothing can control them, but they forget God made them, and His plan is THE PLAN.

Just because you’re the CEO of the company, doesn’t mean you’re the CEO of your fate.

It’s ironic to me that people have these terrible misconceptions, and yet when shows like “All American Muslim” are shown on television, no one watches them.  The show was cancelled because of its lack of popularity.  Controversial statements against Muslims are wildly popular on Fox News, though!  Please take some responsibility for your ignorance.

For my Muslim friends, can we please make it a priority to show how proud we are to be Americans? And that Islam and America can “go together” peacefully? Put on some red, white, and blue hijabs or SOMETHING. Wave a darn flag once in a while!

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And for my nonMuslim friends who don’t want to be ignorant, please read a book.  And don’t believe every single thing you hear or see on television, or what the first thing on the top of Google says.

May Allah (swt) clear up all misconceptions about our religion and help us to learn to live together in Peace.

What Are Some Moments That Drew You Nearer to Islam? One of The Life Changers

I’ve had a lot of amazing moments in time that drew me closer to Islam and that helped to build my love for it… reading Surah Ad Duha, the first time I read a full sentence in Arabic, praying Taraweeh every night in Ramadan, listening to the sheiyk’s recitation at my “home” masjid, there are hundreds of amazing moments that shaped my faith.

They are the kind of moments that when I look back on my conversion, I find the most peace in. They put this feeling in my heart that I can’t describe. I can recollect them with so much detail, but one moment really melted my heart.

Everyone who has ever met me knows that I cannot wait to be a mother – more than anything else in this entire world. I’ve always loved children.

The day I went to take my shahada I was anxious, nervous, thankful, excited, a million emotions going on at one second. But, I got to the masjid, met the women that had helped me to make the “shahada appointment,” and went to pray jumaa in the masullah – or the prayer room.

Once I got inside, I sat towards the back.  It was before I knew the sunnah of praying two rakat when you arrive at the masjid.  So I sat while everyone else did their thing.

I was so confused! Why are these people praying now? I thought we all do it together? I thought the sheiyk led it…  I get it now, but was just confused at the time.

While I waited for everyone to finish their two rakat, secretly freaking out in my head that I had no idea why these people were praying right now, I looked around.

Our masjid at home is set up so that the women sit behind the men without any partition except for a significant area of carpet that the men leave between them and us.

While I was sitting there, an old Indian man in his eighties came and took a spot in the the men’s section with his two-year-old grandson.

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I was already in love with this little boy’s outfit.

He was wearing a SWEATERVEST, people! A SWEATERVEST.  What in this entire world is cuter than a little Indian boy in a sweatervest? I will tell you, absolutely NOTHING.

His grandfather started to pray and the little boy mimicked every single movement that his grandfather was doing with such excitement and passion.  He obviously wasn’t required to pray at age 2, and I would have expected that he would be all over the place running around, jumping, screaming.

No, he was as standing there, completely still, with his hands folded, his giant eyes (mashaAllah) checking to make sure that he was doing the same thing as his grandfather every few seconds.

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And he prayed.  He put his forehead to the ground and prayed. Just like every other grown man at that masjid.

The difference was, however, he was so extremely excited to do it.  He couldn’t wait to learn. He couldn’t wait to pray.

Yes, I may have had an extra 18 years on this little guy, but he and I were the same on that day. We’re both newly Muslim. We were both learning.  We both had that passion and excitement that had dwindled in the hearts of the other people around us.

And at that moment I felt at peace. I knew that this religion was no doubt for me and all the nervousness went away.

When I watch the children at the masjid, the little three year olds with their hijabs and their bangs out, the little boys in kufis and thobe, I love that passion.  I love that sincere love for Islam.

And, I think we need to bottle that and sell it as a fundraiser 😉 I don’t care about your baklawa, I want this excitement!

That little boy will never know how much he impacted me, but I honestly believe that Allah (swt) put him there as a reminder for me. May he be rewarded for this tremendous gift Allah gave me through him with that memory, and may he continue to have this passion for his entire life.

Next time you’re at the masjid – whichever one you go to- come a little early and just look around. Watch the little kids, and find that passion in yourself all over again. May Allah (swt) grant you, myself, and all Muslims that love for Him and Islam that the little boy showed me every single time you pray.

Why Do You Believe in Allah Instead of God? The Meaning of His Name

This is such a huge misconception.  Actually, I think this one of the main reasons that Muslims are looked down upon.  People think we’re worshipping another god besides what they know of as God.

I would love to explain this to every single nonMuslim on earth if I could.

But I can’t. So I’ll explain it to you instead.

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Allah is God.

If you believe in God, you agree with this concept.

“God” is an English term.  In France they call God “Dia.” In Italy, “Dio.”

In Arabic, “Allah.”

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I know you may feel very attached to the word “God,” but keep in mind that Jesus never uttered the word “God.” He did not speak English.

Allah is simply the Arabic word for God.

The name Allah literally means THE God.

Arab Christians and Jews call God “Allah” as well. Not just a Muslim thing.

When I first converted, to be honest, I couldn’t get over the difference between the words Allah and God.  I didn’t feel like I had a real connection to Him when I used the term “Allah,” but as I came to understand the word, I realized I like it better than “God.”

The word God was not uttered by any prophet.  It doesn’t have any profound meaning in English.

It’s beautiful to me that Prophet Muhammad (saws) spoke Arabic and used the word “Allah.” Who cares what it is in English?! The Quran mentions Allah in Arabic for a reason.

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Forget about the word though, the more important part is the concept.  What the word means.  I know it may be hard to put aside in your mind that Allah is God in another language, but just try.

Try to realize we are all brothers under the same God.  Allah. Rabb. Dia. Dio.

I don’t care what language, we all belong to Him. Whatever you call him. Whereever you live.  Whatever language you speak. If only everyone on earth could have this understanding.

Do You Wear Hijab Because Some Guy Made You? Why I Choose To Wear Hijab

I’ve done seven posts about different questions I get about hijab – but here’s the last post in the series.  One that answers the big question: Why I DO wear hijab.

No, it’s not because my dad made me, it’s not because it’s the cultural norm in my country, and it’s not because I’m worried that people will think I’m promiscuous if I don’t…

Continue reading “Do You Wear Hijab Because Some Guy Made You? Why I Choose To Wear Hijab”