The Future of Muslim-Americans

The Future of Muslim-Americans

Trump Breaks Tradition Loss of Hope for Muslim Community Ensues

The canceling of the annual White House Iftar dinner this year has become a slap in the face to Muslim-Americans all over the country, and I am one of them. Sitting idly as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time designated to a fast from sunrise to sunset and empathizing with the less fortunate, passes by, (May 26th-June 24th) President Trump has neglected an unspoken duty as President and indirectly canceled the Iftar dinner that brings together diplomats, elected officials, and most importantly the young generation of Muslim-Americans who will contribute to the future of this country and world.

The dinner came to life again and became an annual White House event when First Lady, Hillary Clinton saw the value of the original actions of President Thomas Jefferson, in 1996 when he pushed the dinner time to sunset so a Muslim guest could eat with fellow dinner mates.

Some say, “Well at least he sent out a statement acknowledging the month of Ramadan,” but this mindset is succumbing to the universal thought that Trump’s role as President should be held to a lower standard compared to any past president of the United States.

The statement published by President Trump and wife, Melania acknowledges the holy month that has passed, but fails to confront the fact that the tradition was looked over by the Trump administration.

As I one day dreamed of being an attendee of this lavish dinner, my hopes have been crushed by the flagrant disregard of our President. If even President George W. Bush was able to hold the Iftar dinner after the 911 attacks that created even more tension in the lives of Americans, what makes Trump different?

Trump’s actions have drawn an even darker line with the Muslim-American community, reminding them that not only is he dissimilar to past presidents but also that he and his administration are aiming to keep a distance from the traditional values of America. According to former President Obama he said at the 2016 Iftar dinner, the “... Iftar is also a reminder of the freedoms that bind us together as Americans, including freedom of religion- that inviolable right to practice our faiths freely.”

However, how are Muslim-Americans supposed to feel welcome to practice their religion in America while Trump’s presidency has promoted the banning of 7 Muslim countries, many of which American citizens originally come from?

In a phone call with a personal friend of mine and former attendee of the 2016 White House Iftar Dinner, Ziad Ahmed, he commented on the cancellation stating that “It’s predictable and expected and underscores his anti-Muslim bigotry and disdain for our community.”

Muslim-American teens such as Ziad and I, realize just how important it is that our voices are heard. Advocating the universal disappointment of this incident is merely one step.

Yet, the not so obvious aspects that contributed to this impromptu cancellation of a presidential tradition is a reminder of the other perpetrators of the decision. Alongside Trump are alarming members of state who according to the Brennan Center of Justice “have targeted Muslims through both speech and policy, tangibly harming the American Muslim community, in at least five forms: the use of anti-Muslim rhetoric,”. More notably “the elevation of Islamophobic staff members to key positions in the White House” has bolstered an Islamophobic mindset to the Trump Administration.

The steps taken by Trump himself and those at his side are not at all suggestive of an inclusive environment for Muslim-Americans to practice their faith freely.

Moreover, Trump has contradicted his actions before ensuring that his political ties are stable with countries like Saudi Arabia. As he visited the Muslim country on May 24th (Al Jazeera) how could he ‘forget’ the holy month and allow it to pass by?

While my Saudi friends snapchatted me and sent messages wishing me safe travels to the states, they highlighted the fact that they hoped Trump’s visit was out of good conscious and not another political agenda. After the Iftar Dinner cancellation, it's hard to read that sentence without a smile and a sarcastic tone. Who are we kidding? There is not an inch of hope that President Trump has goods intentions in mind when he has cancelled an event that provides a platform for healthy conversation and community involvement.

Now more than ever is when American-Muslims, who make up 3.3 million of the American population, urgently need platforms such as the traditional White House Iftar Dinner to congregate with members of the political community and voice their worries and concerns. Seeing the significance of an event like this and just how reflective it is of America’s core values is demonstrative of an open mindset and hopes of bringing the American population closer together, something that is clearly not part of Trump’s agenda as president.

Cover Image Credit: Business Insider

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11 Struggles Of Being An Indian Muslim, As Told By Spongebob

Yes, I am Indian. No, I’m not polytheistic. And so what?

Disclaimer: The YouTuber pictured in the cover photo, known as Superwoman, is not a Muslim.

Most people I've encountered are extremely accepting, but this is for that other 1 percent. Whether it's dealing with the occasional misguided individual or having to wear atrocious swimsuits, here are 11 struggles of being an Indian Muslim.

1. Thinking that being Indian and being a Muslim are mutually exclusive.

Being Indian is a race, people. Islam is a religion. It is possible to be both.

2. Getting hit with #AlternativeFacts.

Did you know that every single Muslim in India left during the Indo-Pak split resulted in all "Indian" Muslims actually hailing from Pakistan or Bangladesh? Neither did I.

3. “You’re probably North Indian then, right? There are more Muslims there.”

Nope. I’m about as South Indian as it gets. #represent

4. Automatically assuming I'm a Hindu because of my skin tone.

No, I want to check if there’s pork in this sausage, not beef.

5. Judgmental Parents

“My parents hate most Muslims but I’m sure they’ll love you!

"I would love to meet your parents!"

6. Islamophobic statements people make in front of me because they assume I’m not a Muslim

Friend: Lol my parents said I can date anyone I want except Muslims because they’re evil — I’m sure you can relate.

Me: …

Me: No, can’t relate.

*Cue the awkward silence*

7. People constantly offering me water when I’m fasting

Their reactions when I tell them why I can't accept it are worth every drop they offered.

8. “Aren’t you hot in those long pants?”

Yes, I am, thanks for asking.

9. "Happy Diwali! Wait, you do know what that is, right?"

While I am a Muslim, I'm not ignorant. So, Happy Diwali to you too, friend. I'd rather you wish me for Eid though.

10. "Why don't you take that cardigan off?"

Because this shirt is sleeveless, but it was cute, and I didn't expect it to be this hot. Bad life decisions, I know.

11. Swimsuits.

No bikinis or tankinis or any kind of -inis for this girl. While everyone else is chilling in the sun, I'm hiding in the bathroom making sure that the morphsuit I have on doesn't see the light of day. At least it guarantees I don't tan :')

Cover Image Credit: YouTube / Superwoman

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6 Islamic Traditions People Scoff At But Never Give Muslims The Chance To Explain

Your questions to Muslims, answered.

As a Muslim woman, I’m aware that many people don’t understand why I do or say certain things for my religion. Sometimes, people aren’t brave enough to ask me their pressing questions. Sometimes they are. And sometimes they do ask, but I don’t have the time to answer them. After all, you can’t really explain an entire religion or mindset on a two minute walk from class to class. Here are six questions muslims get asked about, but don’t get the chance to explain.

1. Why do you wear that head thing?

This “head thing” that muslim women wear is called a hijab, but hijab isn’t only a scarf worn on the head. The definition of hijab is "cover," or in other words, "a barrier." In Islam, a hijab is a veil, sometimes from head to toe, used to protect a woman.

Think about it. If you bought a new iPad, would you leave it bare, or cover it with a screen protector and an Otterbox?

The hijab is used to protect women from wandering eyes and glances of malicious intent. There are more reasons that Muslims wear hijab besides this, though. I use hijab as a declaration of my religion, to show that I am Muslim and that I am proud. I also use it to show my identity. I don’t want to be judged or evaluated on the way I look. I want to be known and valued for my thoughts and the things I say, not for the way I look or how “pretty” I am.

Hijab is a form of empowerment and identity for Muslim women. Completely their choice. And let’s not forget, men also do hijab! Their hijab is to be respectful of women and not make them uncomfortable by "lowering their gaze" — no staring or catcalling.

SEE ALSO: Muslim Girls Answer Top 10 Basic Questions About Hijab

2. Do you not eat or drink for the entire month?

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for the entire month, but many people misinterpret that to think that we don’t eat or drink for the entire month. Obviously that’s not true, or else none of us would make it past the first week. Muslims fast during Ramadan to become closer to God and to practice abstinence and self-control.

I also believe that fasting helps me humble myself and learn to appreciate my life and blessings more whenever I felt hungry like people who don’t have a privileged life. So during Ramadan, we eat before sunrise, fast for the day and eat again at sunset.

3. Why can’t you wear nail polish?

OK, this may not be that common of a question because not everyone knows that Muslims can’t wear nail polish. But for those who do know, they still don’t know why. Technically, Muslim women can wear nail polish. The reason that we can’t always wear it is because it covers our nails.

In Islam, before we pray or read the Quran, we cleanse ourselves by performing “wudhu” by washing our hands, arms, face and feet. If we wear nail polish, we can't properly cleanse our entire hands and would not be able to pray.

The exception to this is when women are menstruating. When women are on their period, they cannot pray or read Quran, so we are technically allowed to paint our nails as we don’t have to do wudhu.

4. Why do you have to pray right now?

If you’ve ever spent a whole day with a Muslim, you may feel like they stop every five minutes to pray. (Almost) everyone knows that Muslims pray five times a day, but they may not know that it happens at certain parts of the day. I’ve had to pray in parking lots, in the back of restaurants or in the middle or a park, and my friends always ask why I can’t just wait until I get home to pray.

Every prayer happens at a certain time in the day, and you have a chunk of time, basically until the next prayer starts, to do it.

5. Are you vegetarian?

Although some people may be vegetarian, not all Muslims are. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant with a Muslim, you may have noticed that they don’t eat the meat. This is because Muslims only eat halal meat, which is basically meat that is killed according to how the Quran instructs, zibah: which is to cut the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe of the animal.

You usually don’t find that meat at typical American restaurants, so Muslims find halal restaurants to eat at. This is also why we can’t eat other products like Jello that could contain meat products in it.

SEE ALSO: 7 Haram Ingredients Muslims Will Thank Allah We Can't Eat

6. Can you eat halal bacon?

Although we eat halal meat, bacon is one of the things that we cannot eat at all. There are a few things that are forbidden in Islam, including alcohol and bacon. Besides avoiding these foods because our religions just says to, these foods also can be damaging to a person’s health, which is another reason Muslims avoid them.

This was not at all to discourage questions about Islam and Muslims because I very much love answering questions. I appreciate those who care enough to learn!

Cover Image Credit: Pxhere | Creative Commons CCO

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