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Understanding Islam

by Published: Oct 23, 2013

Dumb blonde, unin­tel­li­gent, lazy, not as smart as a man, unsuc­cess­ful; I could be put into any of these cat­e­gories sim­ply because of what I look like.

The above descrip­tions includes stereo­types cre­ated by soci­ety, and I’m not alone. Many groups are faced with over­sim­pli­fied ideas about themselves.

Islam is a reli­gion that is often stereotyped.

I asso­ci­ated the word Islam with the friends I had made last year in the MiPlace pro­gram. I was an American leader with a group of six men and one woman from Saudi Arabia. At first, they were a lit­tle shy, but as the time went on, they opened up about their life, includ­ing their reli­gion of Islam.

Growing up in a small town, I never knew any Muslims. I was very curi­ous about Islam and by meet­ing these peo­ple, I had the oppor­tu­nity to learn about their reli­gion. I was full of ques­tions, and they pro­vided many answers.

There are many stereo­types affil­i­ated with Islam, includ­ing all Muslims are Arabs, Muslim women lack free­dom and Muslims are ter­ror­ists. Although I knew very lit­tle about the reli­gion, never once did I believe these stereo­types to be true.

When I was younger I real­ized no sin­gle group is all good or all bad. In every group there are those who are bad and those who are good. Unfortunately, many stereo­types about Islam started after 9/11, which led many Americans to view Islam and Muslims in a neg­a­tive light.

Last Thursday I attended “Islam: What every­one should know,” pre­sented by Dr. Khalil. In this pre­sen­ta­tion, Islam was dis­sected, piece by piece. I learned 13 to 20 per­cent of the total pop­u­la­tion of Muslims are Arab, which broke the first stereotype.

I also learned Muslim women have more rights than many peo­ple real­ize. Throughout his­tory, women have con­tin­ued to fight for their rights, which breaks down the sec­ond stereotype.

The final stereo­type was reaf­firmed by the pub­lic. When cer­tain ques­tions were posed on how Dr. Khalil could jus­tify some neg­a­tive actions com­mit­ted by Muslims, he sim­ply couldn’t.

It’s impos­si­ble jus­tify the bad behav­ior of any per­son in any “group.” Regardless of any race, reli­gion, gen­der or eth­nic­ity, there will always be peo­ple who will make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence as well as those who make neg­a­tive deci­sions that impact society.