A Non-Muslim Asks: What's it like?

>> Friday, September 28, 2012


I am writing a paper on Muslims. How hate crimes against them has increased since 9/11. I am trying to show in my paper that you shouldn't hate Muslims because of what happened. Tell their side of the story. If you can help that would be greatly thanked.                                                 1 What does it mean to be a Muslim?                                                                                                    2 What is it like to be Muslim woman, and a man?                                                                             3 How has your life changed if it has changed at all since 9/11

Dear Interested,
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk a Muslim about what it means to be a Muslim. It is honestly a refreshing change from hearing others tell us what our religion says and what it means to be a Muslim :) I also can't thank you enough for deciding to write such a paper.

As for your questions, I have decided I will answer them, and also, if you don't mind, leave them open to discussion for the sisters who read this blog to answer. I hope our combined answers will help give you a better idea of what it means to be a Muslim and how 9/11 affected us :)

1What does it mean to be a Muslim?

That's a great question.

Many people would be surprised to know that Moses and Jesus were Muslims :)

That's because being Muslim doesn't mean being a certain race or nationality and certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. To be a Muslim means to follow "Islam" and Islam means submission to God (something all of the prophets commanded). Basically, a Muslim is a person who willingly submits his or her heart, soul, and body to God and  voluntarily lives his/her according to His Will and His Commandments. Being a Muslim means that you recognize that you are a creation of God and that God has a say in every single thing that you do, say, wear, eat, etc. A Muslim believes that nothing is equal to God and nothing-  not a saint, idol, statue, "son", prophet , righteous man, our own egos, money, fashion, etc.- should be put in the place of God or loved  equally as Him.

A Muslim isn't simply a title that one gets, though. To be a Muslim requires both believing in certain things and committing one's self to certain actions. After all, devotion to God and true love should be demonstrated in our actions. Therefore, in order for a person to be counted as Muslim, they must believe in:

 1) The Oneness of God and His Exclusive right to worship and authority 
 2) The angels
  3) The prophets (including Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and the final Messenger, Mohammed)
  4) The Divine Scriptures (the Torah, Psalms and Gospel, and Qu'ran- but only the Qur'an remains exactly as it was Revealed)
 5) The Day of Judgment  
6) The Divine Decree  (: 1) God knows everything.  He knows what has happened and what will happen.  2) God has recorded all that has happened and all that will happen.  3) Whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever He wills not to happen does not happen.  4) God is the Creator of everything.

They must also agree to do 5 things :) These 5 actions strengthen our relationship with our Lord and also our relationship with others and our society.

1) Testify or bear witness that they believe that God is One and that Mohammed is His final messenger 
2) Pray 5 times a day (God comes first and is greater than everything)
3) Fast the month of Ramadan (except if they are sick, pregnant, etc. and have a reason to delay the days/etc.)
4) Give obligatory charity 
5) Perform pilgrimage to Mecca ONCE in their lifetime


2 What is it like to be Muslim woman, and a man?
What an interesting question :)

It feels liberating. As a Muslim, I bow down to nothing and no one but God, Almighty. Having this concept completely emancipates me from becoming a slave to money or to society's expectations and wants. Life to a Muslim  is so much more than just getting the fanciest car or biggest apartment or even going on the best vacations. Life is about worshiping the one True God. 

In fact,  Islam emancipates me from my own self and my lower desires:it gives me a chance every moment of the day to rise above my material and physical desires and transcend to a more God conscious level.

It also feels very peaceful and allows us to be in sync with the universe which we believe is all worshiping God. 

Fundamentally a Muslim understands that everything is in God's hands and this is extremely comforting. We know that God is All Wise in His decrees and All Merciful and that whatever circumstances we are exposed to, we are exposed to for our own benefit. We know that if we relied on God with true reliance, He would provide us with our sustenance as He pro
vides the birds: they go out hungry and come home full :)

It feels like a great honor. As a Muslim, I communicate with God at least 5 times a day. There are no intermediaries put between us. He hears me when I call out to Him and He responds. My relationship with God is direct and to call this a blessing is an understatement. 



At the same time, it sometimes feels different. We have a saying that we should be as strangers in this world- just people passing by. When others are out partying, going to clubs, perhaps drinking or basically seizing the "day",a Muslim stays away from all these things. Instead, a Muslim says, "You don't only live once. You live twice and the choices you make, you'll be held accountable for." 

3 How has your life changed if it has changed at all since 9/11?
It feels like my religion was hijacked. I left the United States before 9/11, but I can honestly say I worry about ever visiting it again- about going to the airport and being checked or stopped- about how others will treat me because of the fact that I wear the veil and am visibly Muslim.
I thought though I would leave this question mainly for the other sisters to answer :)




6 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  September 28, 2012 at 6:12 AM  

Our dear little auntie has said it all! MashaAllah and thank you! But about 9/11 I was young when it happened. I didn't decide to wear hijab until years later. Yet after I put it on whenever Islam, Muslims, or middle east was mentioned I'd freeze worried about what I'll hear about how I should reply and if I should reply at all.

Anonymous,  September 28, 2012 at 7:58 AM  

I have to admit that I am younger than most of you all, but i can see how things have changed as even my school books say that Islam is terrorism! But most of the people dont know anything and thats why we have got such sweet sisters who want to clear all misunderstandings and help people. i always say that Islam is perfect, Muslims arent. But nowadays, living in a nonmuslim country, i personally have to be careful as being a Muslim and doing soemthign wrong, woudl mean that people would look at me and say na na this is a muslim girl and look she did this and that.. but honestly, noo matter what people say, I only live for God and I know the truth and thats enough for me. I am not here to prove anything to anyone

Whoever is really interested in Islam, he/she shoudl study ISLAM and not Muslims. Islam is peace and a merciful religion and what happened in 9/11 is more questionable than anything. Look for some youtube videos. you will see that perhaps muslims didnt even get involved in that at all!

assalamo aleykum wr wb :)

afraidmuslima September 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM  

Asalamu Alaikum,
Little Aunties thank you so much for this.
I just started wearing the Hijab this summer, so now where ever I go I am known straight away to be a Muslim woman which is one of the reasons I believe that women were told to wear Hijab in the Quran. Beinf known as a Muslim I feel proud and happy to be submitting my entire life to ALlah swt. I still do feel uncomfortable sometimes in America that whenever I am out in public I always feel peoples stares and curiosity. Wearing the Hijab in America for me feels as though every single action/ words I say are automatically going to be judged and as being done or said because am Muslim. I feel as though people see Mulsims as just one person instead of 1/4 of the population in the world. So when certain people who call themselves Muslims yet kill innocent people do something like 9/11 ALL Muslims are then believed to have been part of such an evil action.
Wearing a Hijab now, sometimes I feel as though I have to be careful about everything because I don't want to bring any shame or misrepresentation onto Islam. But I can never imagine my life without Islam because for me being known as a Muslim woman, makes me proud and happy that I have living my life for only God and this far excedes my being misjudged in America.
I hope this helps and I applaud u for having the courage to write a paper on this topic in your class! Goodluck :)

Anonymous,  September 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM  

Asalamu aialkum
I recently started wearing the hijab and have never felt more empowered in my life. It makes you comfortable and words cannot even describe how beautiful it is. I encourage any sisters that do not wear the hijab to try it and see what I am talking about because the only way a person can judge something is if they have walked in the same shoes...
Also to answer the question How has your life changed since 9/11.
I would like to point out the discust i have for those who have turned a perfect religon to a religon that links people to terrorism.Since 9/11 muslims have been portrayed as terrorists threats . people think that all muslims are linked to 9/11 and that our religon is to kill people... When 9/11 happened one of the firefighters responding at the scene was a devout muslim, and he had died that day saving people from the towers, however when they found out that he was muslim they tried linking him to the bombing of the buildings. That inncocent muslim that lost his life on 9/11 was not commemorated for saving indivudals instead was just another inicident muslim who was targeted as a terrorist.. somewhere down south a car bombing took place and they thought it was muslim and casted it as a terrorist act, later on when they found out that the man in the car was not muslim, they said that he had mental disorders and how quickly did everyone forget because he was not muslims. My point is as you can see muslims are being targeted and abused since 9/11 has occured. It discusts me to see how muslims are being treated through everything and how extra attention is brought to criminal acts regardless of how small or big they maybe if a muslim person commits that act.

Anonymous,  September 29, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

also to add to the last post my sister lives in ny and was walking down the street to the laundry mat( dressed in a abaya and a hijab) and the athan on her phone goes off while a man is walking by her and he is starled scared and even jumps at the sound of the athan, and then begins to cross himself that story itself just goes to show how ignorant many people are in this world and shows that it has been years since 9/11 and still muslims regardless of how young , old, your sex, how great intelligent you might be just because you are muslim you will be always thought of as a terrorist. I forgot what show it was but it goes up to random people and asks them to say the first thing that goes to their mind when they hear specific words, and when the they said 9/11 terrorist , 70% of the replies of those people were muslims or Islam - hope this is helpful

qatheworld September 29, 2012 at 10:53 PM  

I converted about a year before 9/11. At this time I was treated with courtesy by most I encountered, many did not know I was muslim or guessed I was a nun, but they assumed I was religious in some sense. Those who did often talked openly with me about Islam, if they were christian they often found commonalities. I didn't feel "targeted." After 9/11 I found a lot of people changed. At first I found out, I had supporters, people who came to me right away and told me if anyone bothered me to let them know, and they would help me. On the other hand many people became more suspicious acting around me. It depended on the area. In some places I would walk down the street and people would shout "terrorist" or other insults relating to my religion or making fun of my clothing. I remember going into a shop only to hear the proprietor and a customer whispering insults about me in Spanish and calling me a terrorist (not knowing I understood). Some people expected me to explain or defend why people did actions that were actually AGAINST islamic teachings which lays out strict rules even in warfare. I had no kinship or connection with this behavior and it is against my religion but they felt I was somehow responsible or owed an explanation. A lot more people knew I was muslim than before (based on my clothing) but they did not know Islam, they had negative ideas and stereotypes and didn't want to know more, just classed me as the enemy. Many people could not grasp the concept that I was American, as much as they were, but also muslim. The comments I overhear or read in my own community in response to articles, etc about muslims are even worse than what people will say to my face, which makes me wonder sometimes how much more danger or negativity is surrounding me unknowingly. There are pleasant people who interact with me but the force of the negative is much scarier and more overwhelming, especially to someone with no network of support. I do not regret my religion in any way but I wish people would try to see a little deeper and look at others as human beings instead of believing the first rhetoric they hear. If someone is telling you to hate some group of people for any reason, you should try to find out more not just blindly accept it. It's never that simple.

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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