American Muslims make up about 1.1 percent of the population in the United States of America as of last year. That sounds like a small number, but it is about 3.45 million Muslims! We are quite minorities, but at the same time we are becoming more visible every day. More Muslims enter politics, media, sports and various fields. We are here and we are friendly!
We also misunderstand many times. Reflecting on my own experience and appealing to many of my American Muslim friends, I have compiled a list of questions that we often ask.
Why do you wear a scarf?
Many Muslim women prefer to wear a hijab or scarf to cover their hair. This is an obligation set forth in an Islamic scripture called the Quran. Please remember, Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular are not monoliths! We practice differently and look very different. Although the hijab is an obvious external sign of a Muslim woman, many of them do not wear the hijab for personal reasons. This does not make them more or less Muslim than the next person.
You are not hot?
Sometimes the hijab can warm up a little, but the hijab gets used to it. They choose lighter weight and breathable fabrics in the summertime and pull out thicker scarves in the winter.
Why do men not close?
Since when do men not cover? Like Muslim women, Muslims also need to cover certain parts of their bodies. They do not have complete freedom to walk on any way they like! Modesty is a requirement for both Muslim men and women — it’s just done differently. While Muslim women are required to cover everything except the face and hands, being in public, men should cover (at least) from their navel to their knees. Of course, most prefer to wear more than when and when. Women must cover their beauty, and this acts as a protection for them. Hijab makes people communicate and interact with them for their intellect, not just for their appearance. Since men are usually more visual creatures than women, the same does not apply to them when they are covered.
If you do not meet, how do you get married?
I remember how often this question was asked in college! It is assumed that Muslims maintain a very formal relationship between men and women who have no blood relatives. They should not speak needlessly and should avoid it willy-nilly. This is due to the fact that the only admissible relationship between a man and a woman (besides their brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, children, aunts / uncles) exists in marriage, as husband and wife. Many times, family friends and community members are aware of who wants to marry, and will offer the prospective spouses for those whom they consider appropriate. A potential couple can learn more about each other in order to decipher the question of whether they want to continue the marriage as long as there is a third party. The idea is to approach the topic with the head of the level and with the most important goal: to please God.
Again, not all Muslims practice in the same way, and the word “dating” itself takes on many meanings. The answers here in no way speak for every American Muslim, because we are all different.
Where are you from?
Many of us are from your home state. When I get this question in Long Island, I'm talking about New Jersey. A friend of mine asks this question in Michigan, and she says New York. We all met with follow-up, where are you really from? Although many young Muslims were born and raised the street from you, many of our parents or grandparents may have immigrated here from other countries. We have connections with many interesting places around the world - in almost every continent you can name. In college, I met Muslims with roots in Tunisia, Bangladesh, Italy, Albania, India, Malaysia, Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mexico, and the list goes on!
Are you Arabian?
If you want to ask, I speak Arabic, the answer is no. I can read Arabic and understand it a little. Many Muslims are indeed from Arab countries and are fluent in Arabic, but, as emphasized in the previous question, we have our roots all over the world. Arabic is a very important language for all Muslims, no matter where they come from, because our holy Quran is in Arabic, and our daily prayers are also written in Arabic.
Why don't you drink?
Alcohol consumption is prohibited in Islam. Many Muslims stay away from bars, even if this means that they need to lose sight of social or network opportunities. The environment does not attract many Muslims, because they prefer not to drink.
Have you ever had pepperoni pizza?
Not if it's pork! Like alcohol, eating pork is prohibited. I don't know the smell of bacon sizzling in the pan in the morning, and, frankly, I never cared. However, some Muslims know the taste. If they come back, they probably ate a slice of pepperoni pizza before they converted to Islam. Again, we are all different!
Are you celebrating Christmas?
Muslims have two big holidays in a year called Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. This is the time when they take off work, go to a special service in the mosque, spend time with family / friends and exchange gifts. Some Muslims have family members who celebrate Christmas, and they too will travel and participate in certain traditions. But many Muslims (while still enjoying the beautiful lights, sales, charitable spirits and all the good vibrations) do not celebrate Christmas, because this is not part of their religious practice.