Law in Contemporary Society

Perception is Reality

-- By NadiaYusuf - 23 Feb 2018

Happy is the man who avoids hardship, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance

I vividly remember the shock I experienced watching the 9/11 tragedy on the news as a child. At the time my family lived in the United Arab Emirates. What shocked me the most was the association between the attack and Islam. This association confused me. Did they not know that Islam is a religion of peace? There was no way that this attack could have been in the name of Jihad. How could it be? It was not in response to the killing of Muslims nor was there a formal declaration of war. The loss of women, children, elderly individuals and the ill was certainly not allowed nor was suicide in the name of Islam. Why then do the actions of those extremists, using the name of Islam to advance their own agendas, dictate the perception that an entire nation will have on a religion, but the actions of an extremist Christian who enters a Church in South Carolina killing 9 church goers are not perceived under the principles of Christianity?

It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. He knows but you do not know

Moving back to the United States for college, I realized that the perception of Muslims as terrorists was engrained in American perception. I should not have been surprised. My peers grew up being told by the news, their schools and by their leaders that Muslims were the enemy. But still, I tended to wonder why people knew nothing about the religion that they feared. The truth is, perception is reality. That is, my hijab was being perceived as a symbol of terrorism which made those around me hesitant to engage in conversation with me. I spent the first few weeks of college, an outcast, finding that the only community that accepted me with or without a hijab was the Black community. This was probably because they could relate to being discriminated against or maybe because like them, I was Black. I knew that there was nothing I could do to change the color of my skin but knew that in order to remove the perception that I was a terrorist, I had to remove my hijab. I finally knew what it felt to live life in America as someone who did not face the symbolic attributes associated with covering one's hair in the Islamic way.

The cure for ignorance is to question

Though my decision not to wear my hijab allowed me to escape the the perception of terrorism, it did not blind me to the experiences that my Muslim brothers and sisters faced. According to the FBI's data, hate crimes against Muslims that were reported to police surged immediately following the terror attacks of 9/11. There were 481 crimes reported against Muslims in 2001, up from 28 the year before. Even in 2018, discrimination against Muslims in now the law of the land. The legalization of the Muslim ban for the first time since the Supreme Court's decision in Korematsu, allowed discrimination on the basis of national origin and religion regardless of whether or not they posed a genuine threat to national security. I find the ruling hard to reconcile given my own personal experiences of watching my father always selected for a "random" search at the airport and knowing that I may not being able to see my own Arab mother for years due to the ban and its effects is a real consequence that I must face everyday. Turning on the news and hearing about two heroes being murdered for defending two Muslim women who were facing a barrage of anti-Muslim slurs in Oregon, the burning of religious centers where Muslim's pray (mosque) in Texas by an anti-Muslim group, and the bombing at a residential complex for Somali-Muslims in Kansas, makes it hard for me to understand why Muslims are being persecuted in this country.

The good deed and the bad deed are not the same. Return evil with good

I tend to wonder if there was more tolerance and understanding of Islam, national leaders and agencies would focus on stopping domestic terrorists, regardless of their national origin and religion. If this approach was taken, would the Florida shooter have been allowed to purchase weapons despite the fact that he published posts claiming that he was going to be a professional school shooter? Would the FBI have taken action after being alerted twice if he was Muslim? Would the fact that the shooter was open about his racist views degrading Black people, Latinos and Muslims be seen as an anomaly? In reality, it is evident that in Trump's America the Florida shooter did not pose a threat. He was not an immigrant, an African American and he was not Muslim.

Richness is not having many possessions, but richness is being oneself

I want to have the freedom to practice my religion.I want to be a successful attorney and represent my clients without the bias associated with my religion getting in the way. I want to one day have to look in a mirror to remind myself that I am wearing a hijab because no-one looks at me with fear as I walk down the street. So, how can I just be Nadia, a Black Muslim American female?

I think this is what you meant to make it. There are a few minor perfecting changes you should make. Ending on a series of questions, even if they are not all rhetorical, leaves the reader lost in a forest of your questions, which may even stop her from thinking about her own. Better to end with one question for the reader that with many for yourself, let's say.

But there isn't a great deal of revising for you to do, because you are asking a simple, powerful question; the simpler you keep it the more powerful it is.

We have to begin from the proposition that the problem of how you can be Nadia, a Black Muslim American female, is not a problem that Nadia is supposed to solve. America is supposed to solve it for you, as it is supposed to solve that problem for all its free people. When it doesn't, solving America's problem cannot be your responsibility alone. Christian, Jewish and all other people have to get into the act of solving America's problem with you. That responsibility is not separate from the responsibility to protect our republic. The persecution of Muslims in the US is one of the most important signs of the urgency of the problem we all have.

Comments by UdokaO:

One of your questions: "How can I educated those around me on the true meaning of Islam the way the majority of Muslims practice it?" made me think. How did we begin to incorrectly associate Islam with hate? Society was looking for someone or something to blame after 9/11 and Islam was the convenient scapegoat. To educate those around about the true meaning of Islam, they must be willing to listen and learn which I believe is the even bigger issue. "For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible."

I think that quote really gets to a lot of issues that is being faced today. When faced with evidence or proof that Islam is a non-violent religion some choose to only associate the actions of few to represent the whole. However, even way of thinking is only applied to black and brown bodies. Take the countless Christian white supremacists who have terrorized black communities. Society never blames Christianity the religion or even the evils of white supremacy. The scapegoat in these situations is the persons "mental health," or "challenging childhood," or the fact that they were "bullied." It's frustrating to see this narrative being played out over and over again. I wonder if it will ever stop.


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r10 - 24 Apr 2018 - 04:14:27 - NadiaYusuf
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