Then two years later my Hispanic colleague Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado wrote “5 Things to Never Say to an Hispanic Person” and “Five Misconceptions about Hispanic People.”
Now my next series is about the often misunderstood and demonized group in the USA – Muslims. Here is Part 2 of this series, “Five Misconceptions of Muslims in the USA.” And do read Part 1, “Five Things to Never Say to a Muslim.”
For this two blog series, I have collaborated with Zainab Baloch, a young local Muslim woman here in Raleigh, NC who ran for Raleigh City Council and got close to winning, and one of her friends who I recently met, Desire Clemons. I thank both of them, and additional information about Zainab is at the end of this blog.
1) They do not believe in God and hate all Jews and Christians. Actually, Islam is one of the three Abrahamic faiths and shares many of the same tenants as Judaism and Christianity. Muslims do believe in the Old Testament (Torah) and the New Testament and Jesus. They believe there is one God and call Him “Allah.”
2) They are all terrorists. Just as an extremely small percentage of Christians are radical extremists condoning violence, the percentage of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims (23% of the earth’s population) who are terrorists is infinitesimal. Honestly, if even 1% of the world’s Muslim were terrorists, we would all be dead by now. Most Muslims are peace loving people integrated within all our communities and serve as our teachers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, social workers, etc.
3) Most Muslims in the USA immigrated here and many are undocumented immigrants. Actually, according to Pew Forum Research, over 40% of the Muslims in the USA were born here, and over half of those are third generation Americans. And a vast majority of those Muslim who immigrated to the US are well educated and documented.
4) All Muslims are Arabs. Although Islam is often associated with the Arab world and the Middle East, fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab. By far, the largest populations of Muslims live in Southeast Asia. And of the Muslims in the USA, about a quarter of them are Arab and a quarter are African-American.
5) Muslim women have no rights; they are the property of their fathers and husbands. Actually, a vast majority of Muslim women are viewed as equal human beings with men and have key leadership roles and professional lives. Certainly there is a small percentage of the Muslim population who practice their faith in such a way that the male patriarchy controls women, and some of the gender issues in the Muslim community are the same as facing the world in general.
I would encourage all readers of this blog to familiarize themselves with Islam, make some friends with Muslim people and perhaps attend a community or educational event held by your local mosque, and help shatter these crazy stereotypes.
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A little about Zainab Baloch
Zainab is a Raleigh native, first generation American, and ran for Raleigh City Council in 2017. She is an advocate for issues facing our city and has a long-standing foundation of community service in various leadership positions. She is the third vice chair of the Wake County Democrat Party, and serves on various boards including WakeUP Wake County, The Islamic Association of Raleigh (link) Board, etc. She works in quality management for the Divison of Mental Health and is almost done with her Masters in Public Administration from UNC-CH (she’s a die hard wolfpack fan though).
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Three earlier blogs I have written about Islam and Muslims:
Islamaphobia – a Growing US Diversity Issue
Workforce Diversity – Islam (Muslims) in the American Workplace