What it means to be a Muslim in America – Testimonies



Priscilla Martinez – Mom – Age: 40

Being Muslim in America means…

“To be in a position to make a positive difference in the world and hopefully bring about more understanding and peace and reconciliation between people of diverse cultures and faiths. It’s a time where all of us as humans are being forced to learn to live together, and the only way that we can is in peace.

“Being a fourth-generation American, I don’t see a juxtaposition between being a Muslim and being American. I’ve always been a little different — I’m also Mexican American. All my life I’ve only fit in 90 percent, so it’s just kind of a different 90 percent between am I American or am I Muslim.”

How do we fight Islamophobia?

“With relationships and with getting to know each other. It’s not just a platitude, although it actually is a verse for the Quran where he tells us he made us different so we can get to know each other. Taking that verse to heart and getting to know other people.

“Also by coming together on issues that are common to all of us. We’re all concerned with education and highways and taxes, where we can find our common ground and work toward a better world and better future for all of us. Your neighbors across the fence or the hair stylist — I think it’s about relationships. And it’s kind of hard to hate someone that you know personally.”


Hamdan Azhar – Writer & Facebook Data Scientist, Co-founder of the Muslim Writers Collective

Being Muslim in America means…

“Having a lot of weight on your shoulders; having a lot of responsibility. Having responsibility to your own community and responsibility to one’s fellow Americans to not only convey the right impression of Islam, but also to shed a critical light on what our country is doing around the world and domestically. I think just like any community that’s under attack, people have different responses. Some people begin to hate the Muslim parts of themselves. They start to ask their parents, ‘Why do I look different from Tommy and Melissa? Why isn’t my hair blonde? Why do they go skiing in the Alps?’ The most fearful part of Islamophobia is to begin to hate that part of your identity and try to blend in at any cost. You can’t change what people see when people look at you, no matter how many degrees you have and what company you work for. I can shave my beard and wear a suit and tie and do every step in the book, but what’s the point of trying to blend in when people are going to judge you based on how you look?”

How do we fight Islamophobia?

“Embody the Islamic teaching of social justice and compassion and charity. You have to be an exemplar; people are going to look at you and judge other Muslims based on that. I think we have to promote education and understanding. I think we need to encourage more human interactions. I also think it’s ignorant to say ‘Let’s combat Islamophobia’ without understanding the underlying culture of violence and fear in the War on Terror. That’s the context from which Islamophobia arises.”


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