Muslim Identity & Media

Student Ambassador: Laila Kunaish

OWEd Ambassador Since: 2011

Grade 7

School Alice Deal Middle School, Washington, DC

Reflection Experience

Learning Activities

251America is great. At least that’s what I try to convince myself of because sometimes I feel unsafe because of my religion. I’m Muslim and I feel like now the world is trying to destroy believers of my religion. Islam’s holy book, the Quran, states that a Muslim who harms themselves or others purposely is not a true Muslim and will be judged on that on the judgment day. My religion is unique because in Islam we pray five times every day, although some people think this is too much.

Muslims represent only 2% of the population in America and approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. The children of Muslim immigrants began coming to the United States in large numbers in the 1970’s and the children of these immigrants are now going to college. This generation, like me, faces a confusing path between our Muslim faith and American culture. Also like me, together we are defining what it means to be a Muslim American.

I don’t like it when people ask me weird questions about terrorism. One question I am asked a lot is “Are your parents terrorists?” It is like saying that a criminal who robbed a bank and bombed it was a Christian so all Christians are going to rob and bomb the banks of the world and they are all evil. Many Muslims believe that a Muslim can only hurt another person if they are defending them self. Therefore to me, Muslims who attack America are not true Muslims.

I feel the media and politics portray Muslims as bad, and I feel that a lot of the world is anti-Muslim now. I feel that discrimination against Islam, Muslims, and especially Muslim youth are real and especially present in the media of the United States. In other countries too, I feel discrimination against Muslims is happening. France recently made it illegal for any one to wear the Islamic headdress. In Israel, occupation of several disputed territories leaves thousands of Muslims displaced and without many services.

I have heard that many non-Muslims regard Islam as a religion that promotes violence, terrorism, and war. I feel that this view of Islam is delivered by the media. A recent Pew research poll found that 1 in 2 Muslims say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in America since 9/11. A Gallup poll taken last year found that 26 percent of Muslim youth considered themselves as angry, compared to 14 percent of Protestant youth and 18 percent of the general American public. All of this and so much more make this a very challenging time to be a Muslim American teenager.

I’ve been to the Middle East in Syria where almost everybody is a Muslim. The news in Syria is much different. They do not speak on this topic as much as America but they say that many of the Christians and Jews in America are being cruel to Muslims. Media reports in Syria share that in the United States, people are not giving Muslims an equal opportunity to do certain things. I also think people feel discriminated against because of stereotypes and also I’ve heard people say that all Muslims are terrorists. I think that most people in Syria think that America is fantastic on the surface but is bubbling with turmoil underneath. Some think America’s people are being brainwashed by news and media to make them think that all Muslims are terrorists.

Islam is the religion that is practiced by Muslims. The religion originated a long time ago in place called Mecca, which is a city in Saudi Arabia. A prophet named Muhammad started spreading messages of Islam so people would start believing in only one god and that is how Islam was born. Mecca is now a holy city of Islam because a prophet a long time ago built a place called El-Kaaba right in Mecca on Eid to pray. Muslims believe in one god and pray five times a day without a Rabbi or Priest. Islam is fairly simple the core belief is that there is only one god and that we must pray directly to him and not through other people. A core practice of Islam is to not drink alcohol or to eat the meat of a pig.

If people would accept others for who they are instead of judging them by their religion or race then these prejudices against Muslims, and other races as well, will stop. If people did not judge each other before knowing them the world will become a better place with less fights and wars. Nobody is perfect in this world so it is not fair to say that you are perfect but others aren't because of their religion. However if we trust and care for each other then our world can only become a nicer place to live, for all peoples of faith.