9 Famous Muslims
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9 Famous Muslims

In honor of Islamic Awareness Week, we need to spread the truth about Islam which is misrepresented in today's society.

9 Famous Muslims

As some of you may or may not know, last week was Islamic Awareness Week 2017. It is a week dedicated to spreading awareness about Islam. It involves answering questions about the religion, engaging in conversations between Muslims and non-Muslims, breaking stereotypes and misunderstandings, attending informative lectures and more. It is an incredible way to learn about the religion from real Muslims instead of from other opinionated sources like the media or ignorant people. That's why you are here reading about Muslims from a real Muslim (yours truly)!

To give you a short straight forward insight into the heart and soul of Islam, I should have started this article by saying "Assalamu Alaikum." This is the term Muslims use to greet each other. It is an Arabic saying that translates to "Peace be upon you." The Arabic word, "Salam," which means "peace," is a shorter way to greet a Muslim if the previous greeting got you like:

Just from the way we greet each other, it is clear that Islam is a religion of peace, selflessness and gratitude, similar to other religions.

So wait, if the first thing Muslims say to each other elicits peace and love, why are they recognized as terrorists?

Greaaaat question! It doesn't make sense, right? Blame it on the biased media, extremist Muslims, ignorant racists, and even the real Muslims that do not defend and preach the truth behind their religion. Muslim misconceptions created by these types of people are the reason why Islamic Awareness Week and the article you are currently reading exist.

We are not terrorists. We are not hateful people. We do not advocate for violence. We are the complete opposite. Our religion does not encourage the killing of anything or anyone. Our Holy Book, the Qur'an, claims, “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (5:32).

Therefore, people like ISIS and Osama bin Laden are not Muslim to a real Muslim's eyes. They are a disgrace to our community. They are complete misrepresentations of who we are. All religions have extremists, but unfortunately, these terrible Islamic extremists have become the face of our religion. That is why, through a real Muslim's eyes, like mine, 9/11 was not done by Muslims. The San Bernardino attack was not done by Muslims. The Boston Marathon Bombing was not done by Muslims. The Paris attack was not done by Muslims. The list of attacks misunderstood to be done by "Muslims" goes on and on. These attacks were done by crazy terrorists of no religion. Terrorists cannot believe in a religion because no religion preaches the actions done by al-Quaeda and ISIS. Most people don't even know that ISIS' main victims are Muslims!

With that being said, there are a lot of things you may not know about Muslims. Did you know that Islam is the fastest growing religion, with 1.5 billion Muslims around the world? There is a countless amount of people that you may love that you didn't even know were or are Muslim! Here are some people you may or may not know are Muslims!

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

One of the best and most legendary NBA players of all time. He is known for his outstanding performance on the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He converted to Islam in 1968 and was a huge civil rights activist at the time. He retired from basketball in 1989, and was awarded the Presidential Award for Freedom in 2016.

Mahershala Ali

The first Muslim to win an Oscar! He won the Oscar for "Actor in a Supporting Role" for his role in "Moonlight" at this year's Academy Awards. He was also a star on the hit Netflix show, "House of Cards." He converted to Islam in the late 90s and stands proud and loyal to his faith to this day.

Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle is one of the most famous and successful stand-up comedians of all time. He is best known for his show, "Chappelle's Show," comprised of humorous sketches. He made an important statement after he converted to Islam which was, "I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing."

Muhammad Ali

Ali is known as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He was an immense supporter and promoter of Islam. His amazing boxing skills and political efforts are what makes him so admirable by people of all backgrounds. His passing last year was one of the most jaw-dropping news of 2016.

Gigi and Bella Hadid

These half Palestinian sisters are world famous models that are on every magazine all around the world, from Vogue U.S. to Vogue Arabia. They have never been very vocal on their Muslim roots but in light of the recent Islamophobia in America, the sisters have come together to support and accept their background publicly. The younger of the two, Bella, has recently claimed that she is "proud to be a Muslim."

Shaquille O'Neal

This 7-foot tall groundbreaking basketball player is one of the most famous in the NBA. Along with his extensive success in the NBA, he was also an actor starring in major movies like "Grown Ups 2" and "Steel."

Zayn Malik

You probably know him as a previous member of the pop band One Direction, but now as a solo artist with the stage name, "Zayn." He is known for his R&B sound and Asian background. Although he does not prefer to speak about his religious beliefs often, Zayn Malik has revealed that he is, in fact, a Muslim.

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari is currently one of the biggest comedians in Hollywood. He is mainly known for his role as Tom Haverford in the hit show, "Parks and Recreation." He also has his own show on Netflix called "Master of None," which has become a huge success. He is a constant supporter of Muslims and their rights, especially after the inauguration of Trump (as depicted above in the gif of him hosting Saturday Night Live).

Are the people mentioned above terrorists? Clearly, not. They are actually some of the most famous celebrities and innovators in the world. Muslims are singers, actors, sports players, writers, comedians, models, rappers, politicians, architects, journalists, teachers, engineers, fashion designers, accountants, nurses, and doctors. Not terrorists. Why doesn't the media represent them as the Muslims of the world? Why are Muslims known as Osama bin Laden instead of Muhammad Ali?

We need to stop associating terrorists/criminals and even successful people with specific religions and races. We need to acknowledge people for their character and actions as opposed to where they come from or what religion they believe in. If you really want to know what Islam is or what Muslims are like, research the Qur'an (the holy book of Islam). Read verses from it (I guarantee you that the first 10 verses you read will display signs opposite of violence and hate). Talk to a Muslim. Go to a mosque. Get out of your one-race, one-religion backyard and explore the world! Read about the last prophet, Muhammad (S). The actions and behaviors of Prophet Muhammad (S) are the most sincere, kind, honest, and noble traits that anyone could possess. He is the ultimate role model for all Muslims and the most accurate symbol of a Muslim.

I hope you learned even the tiniest bit about Islam through this article! May you all have a blessed, wonderful day. Always remember to stay humble and positive, you never know what you will have tomorrow!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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