Is this why you hate muslims?
When is the last time you turned on your TV, read the newspapers or looked on the internet and didn't see negative news?
I hate discussing religion because just as no individual is the same, no religious individual thinks the same way. But the New Zealand terrorist attack and the world's reaction (or lack of in some cases) has made it impossible for me not to write this article.
I was listening to Eddie Mair on LBC recently and he was discussing the divide between the Muslim community and the white working class in the UK. He called a guy named Dan who clearly hated Muslims. I mean he said he had a Muslim friend so OBVIOUSLY he isn't racist but overall us Muslim folk according to him are the worst. He started listing why people like him feel uncomfortable and his reasoning was trash, I wish one thing he said was correct about the Islamic faith.
At first, because I'm human, I got angry and quite emotional. Growing up I never had that feeling of us VS them, maybe I'm more aware of it because social media makes it easier to express Islamophobia with little repercussion. I don't know. What I do know is that people are still so ignorant of each other's faiths and cultures and I don't want to be part of the problem by fuelling that hate.
Instead I want to educate people about us 'rag heads' and 'letter boxes' to debunk the top myths you think maybe true.
Female genital mutilation is not a religious requirement. I am not a historian but most articles and books trace FGM back to customs of the Ancient Egyptians. Islam is from the 7th century so what you are confusing with religion is actually an ancient tradition. FGM was also very popular during the Arab slave trade in the 1600s as a specific type of FGM (called infibulation that limited conception) that was performed on girls and women to sell them at a dearer price. Yes, FGM today is mostly present in: Africa, Asia and the Middle East but that is because FGM originated there. Just to make it clear, nowhere in the Islamic faith is FGM encouraged.
WE HATE NON-MUSLIMS
Our religion requires us to spread Islam, but extremists have completely ruined this message. We are not trying to change you, we believe our religion is beautiful and our acts should show you the beauty of it. What it does mean is spread Islam's teachings, but it doesn't mean we are out here recruiting, this isn't a club. I 100% get it, I was born into Islam, so I can't imagine living my life differently, so we don't expect you to forget your culture and your ideologies and be like us because that's not how life works. When the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) was spreading the message of Islam, Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted, people understood that you cannot force anyone to believe. Unfortunately, this has changed and religion has become a political tool - but I am not going to get into that. We are required to be kind to everyone, every living thing and the earth that we inhabit so NO Islam does not tell us to hate you.
WE WANT TO KILL NON-MUSLIMS
Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives and loved ones to extremists (on both sides) and no doubt this will continue to happen. When a Muslim has killed someone in the name of Islam, understand that the true Muslim community do not identify with them or even regard them as a representative of our faith. Killing is a sin, every faith agrees with that. These so-called 'Jihadi' killings are not Islamic or even used in the correct context. The word Jihad is thrown around so much that you'd think people know what it means. It has many branches which I will save for another time but this idea that Jihad means kill non-believers is ridiculous. Just as you defend your land when you are being invaded, defend yourself when you are in harm and protect your rights we do too. You call it war we call it Jihad. Islam does not encourage any killing unless it is to defend your land (war) or someone tries to stop you practising your faith (abuse of human rights).
WE FORCE WOMEN TO COVER UP
Yes, we believe women AND men should cover up. The familiar term 'hijab', wrongfully thought to apply only to women (or mean headscarf), means 'to cover'. In Islam we believe people should be modest in their actions and the way they dress. Some people think wearing the headscarf is a requirement for girls when they reach puberty, but many Muslim women perceive it as a choice (like me). As I mentioned, hijab can be extended to Muslim men who should not only cover their heads when praying but cover up in general, so speedos on a beach are a no no (for religious and fashion reasons to be fair). And whilst we are on the subject, the burka is not a religious requirement and is actually a cultural trend that originates from Central Asia. If there is a security threat then you are able to ask to see their face, you are not violating that person's faith. Chill out and let women dress how they want.
WE TREAT WOMEN LIKE TRASH
Cultures and how you're raised determines how you treat ANYONE. Islam doesn't say girls or women should be denied an education, human rights or having a career. Do you know who does though? Men with control issues and regressive cultures. I am not going to say any more on this matter because I will throw my laptop across the room and rage, I would never follow a faith that promotes women being second-class citizens. If someone claims it does, come at me.
WE MARRY CHILDREN
I don't want to keep giving history lessons, but life was very different 50 years ago, let alone centuries ago. Humans developed physically at a faster rate and died at a younger age, that's facts. So yes, Muslim girls did get married at younger ages just like girls all around the world did. Nowhere in Islam does it state an age or an idea that girls or women have no say in who they marry. Sadly, girls are being trafficked, sold and married off to men in both Muslim and Non-Muslim communities but the idea this is attached to Islam is FAKE NEWS. I understand why you may think that, especially because of people like Ayatollah Khomeini, but Islam states marriage can only happen when both physical and mental maturity is reached.
HALAL MEAT IS CRUEL
My dad has a cafe, and every now and then I am guilt tripped into helping out. I remember so vividly a customer calling me and shouting the following "I have just seen on your Instagram that you serve halal food too, I am not OK with that. What are you doing to make sure that nasty halal juice doesn't go into my food?'. Halal juice - brilliant. Halal doesn't refer to meat despite the dictionary telling you it does, halal means it follows Islamic law. You can have a halal job, a halal life, a halal anything. Halal meat means it is killed Islamically. We believe they should be killed in the most humane way possible and blessed whilst being killed. We do not agree with methods like shocking or shooting so if they are killed like this we shouldn't eat them. So, to clarify Islam does require us to eat halal meat - what's your beef with that? PS we do not hate pigs, we just cannot eat pork as it is not good for us which many doctors will echo.
Muslims are not a separate species, muslims are not a sub-breed of human and are not less than anyone. We are equal, we all bleed, and we all have the capacity to be good or bad (whatever good or bad is).
I hope you learned something and if you have questions please comment below.