I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to verbalize the identity conflict I often feel as an American Muslim. It isn’t an easy feat. It’s disappointing that Religion – something that should represent peace and goodness – is actually one of the leading causes of conflict. Of violence. Of hatred. Of ignorance. Of fear.
You can tell me that not everyone who practices a certain religion is a terrorist. I know that it is the extremists who take things too far. And I believe there are as many conscious people as there are ignorant (hopefully more, actually). Still, I can’t help but feel embarrassed when I hear about Muslim acts of terror. I can’t help but feel self-conscious while the security guard at the airport checks my passport. I can’t help but feel uncomfortable when people around me make morbid 9/11 jokes.
And when I hear about things like the attack on Christians in Pakistan, or against non-Muslims in Kenya, my heart breaks along with everyone else’s. I shake my head in disbelief and anger. But I also bow my head in shame and despair, and know that it is another setback in any sort of redemption for the Muslim name.
I identify as an American, but feel out of place at times like these because I am also Muslim and I look it. Personally, my favorite part of my religion has always been centered on the ethics of Islam. Through college and work and travelling I admit, I am not always the most regularly practicing Muslim. But what makes me Muslim in my mind, aside from my belief in one God and various facets of history relating to this, are the ethics I follow. The beautiful thing is, these ethics are essentially about being a good person. At its very core, isn’t that just what every religion promotes anyhow? BE GOOD.
It’s much harder to convince anyone these days that Islam, like any other religion I think, is a religion of peace and tolerance. But it is the truth. It is my truth, as I understand my faith. And I can only hope that, despite the horrific crimes being committed frustratingly in the name of Islam, someday this truth won’t sound so incredible.
Praying and wishing well for all those affected by the most recent tragedies.