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I'm Just Like You: What It Feels Like To Be A Muslim In North America

Last year was not a prime time to be a Muslim in the Western world. With the amount of increasing followers of Islam, it's hard to understand why Muslims face discrimination and judgment from others who are unable to understand the basis of the religion.

Extremist groups and attacks have associated Islam with a bad name, and an even worse reputation to go with it.

With the shooting in Paris and ISIS's fast-growing empire, it's deeply saddening that with more of these kinds of attacks by Muslims, the world will think even lower of my religion.

These people don't follow the morals and values to which I — and every other Muslim — am required to commit.

The term “Islam” derives from the word “salam,” meaning peace, which is how we greet each other.

As a Muslim living in North America, I can identify with the racist, disgusting and inaccurate assumptions towards Islam and the values the world appears to think we believe.

It's obvious ignorance, as well as unfamiliarity with the religion, play a larger-than-life role here. The promotion of violence certainly does not come from Islam or anything in the Quran. But, one aspect of this : people.

Islam is not an excuse for violence or terror to ensue in the lives of innocent civilians. The Quran preaches peace, and people should work to understand the morals the religion instills before taking things about which they don’t know out of context.

I never thought the KKK was a true representation of Christianity, and nobody at the time thought so, either. I think many would be glad to hear me say I was appalled by the Paris attacks. In fact, no Muslim I know was pleased to hear of the shooting at Charlie Hebdo.

My parents taught me to treat people with respect, give back and to love others, no matter what harm they did unto me. I was raised to forgive, forget and to avoid causing trouble.

Maybe because to some people's surprise, I'm just like all my other friends; I study, go shopping and read books. I go to the zoo, I take my dog out for walks and I like movies. I have dreams, passions and I enjoy the little things in life.

And, trust me, there are thousands of other Muslims exactly like me; just open your eyes.

Are attacks by ISIS irrelevant? No, but they have little reverence to the world of self-respecting Muslims.

Anyone can take something like the Bible out of context — that doesn't make it right. In this situation, a quick look into the Quran can answer more questions than radical jihadists around the world.

As our Prophet Muhammad once said, “The greatest jihad is to battle your own soul, to fight the evil within yourself.” If that's not proof of Muslims being urged to be better humans every single day, I don't know what is.

My hope for the world is that people can learn to love this religion, to embrace it and to understand every good moral and value I've ever learned comes straight from it.

People can say what they want, but how you look at all of it is the only way you'll understand.

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Keena Alwahaidi

Contributor

Keena is a student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in English and Writing. She likes taking long walks to her fridge, and writing about people who don't know she exists
Keena is a student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in English and Writing. She likes taking long walks to her fridge, and writing about people who don't know she exists

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