PSA: The Desi Muslim Prejudice

“She wears a scarf on her head. Ofcourse she’s more religious than you.”

“She wears a scarf on her head but she was speaking to a guy? She’s going to go burn in hell.”

“Is that how she’s dressed?! But isn’t she a Pakistani? Gosh, her parents must be liberals.”

“Oh my God hasn’t anyone taught her that if even an inch of your hair shows through your scarf – you’re not a Muslim and you don’t know how to practise your religion?” (aka burning in hell)

“She’s a Muslim but she doesn’t wear the hijab, so obviously she is not as close to her deen.”

Have I sufficiently prefaced this yet?

I have been fortunate enough to have grown up and work in a country with diverse cultures, because I’ve gained an insight into understanding and dealing with people from various backgrounds. Working with people from different parts of the globe broadens your perspective and makes you a more tolerant person – you can accept someone as they are without compromising on your own values. It takes courage to stand out instead of blending, hence it helps when you’re in the company of liberals – I am always reminded of the number of times I refused to shake hands with my male colleagues on my first day at work because no one says “No” that many times in one day with a smile, (but hey, welcome to my life).

But I digress. It always baffles me how accepting people are of me and the way I represent myself – because I’m visibly Muslim. And that’s a good feeling. As much as we do things with the sole intention of pleasing our Creator, it doesn’t hurt to not have to keep defending your choices.

The biggest irony in this scenario has got to be the never-ending judgements of people within the Desi Muslim community. It’s funny how a complete stranger could treat me with more kindness than one of my own, regardless of how I look/dress.

When did things get so superficial in our culture?

Why have we internalised that only when someone else passes the Non Existent Test of Modesty that we won’t judge them for their choices?

If attaining knowledge makes you more arrogant because you think you know more than someone else, increases your presumptions of others, makes you think negatively of others’ for the smallest of things – then I’m sorry you haven’t learnt anything.

People who are obsessed with teaching other people halal and haram make me want to give them a used tissue. I’m sorry, but who has given you the right to issue fatwas to better other people?

Perhaps we should focus our energy into making ourselves a better person than we were yesterday? Amidst the societal competition of who’s the better person just because they’re following all the pillars of Islam – why do we forget that we’re judged based on our intentions and character? Where does your character go? What good are your five daily prayers if you try to control the way someone else dresses? What good is the charity you give if you don’t know how to treat your family with love, respect and kindness? What is the point of your religion if all you’re doing is passing judgement on your brother/sister in Islam when you see them making a mistake?

We were taught by our Prophet (PBUH) to always make excuses for everyone, advise them privately if need be and hide their mistakes from others – because we are not taught to play God.

When done sincerely, the basic tenet of learning more about our deen has a direct correlation in actually making you see how beautiful it really is. There is so much mercy, wisdom – so much love, so much sense – that if you were to ever comprehend that for even a second it would make you so much kinder to everyone else.

There is a repetitive emphasis on how everyone’s journey is a daily personal battle with our nafs.

You don’t know how difficult it was for someone to not spew profanity even though their words came out harshly in anger.
You don’t know how difficult it was for someone to wear full sleeves instead of half.
You don’t know how difficult it was for someone to wear the scarf over her head even though it’s been years that she’s been practising.

You just don’t know the effort anyone – not your friend, sibling or spouse – puts on a daily basis to try and do the smallest of things to be better.

So please stop trying to figure it out.

Perhaps try compassion next time?

Sincere-ly yours,
– N


6 thoughts on “PSA: The Desi Muslim Prejudice

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