Growing up, my family believed Dearborn was a safe haven in America for Muslims to practice Islam freely without hate and judgement and that’s true, except maybe not so much for the judgement part. Of course, anywhere we go we will be hit with judging eyes belonging to strangers, old friends, or even family members. But this implicit air of discouragement and criticism is often overlooked but heavily encompasses our actions and lives. The shock of it all, is that the Dearborn community that is inhabited by a vast number of Muslim families has negative connotations that arise with the state of being “religious”. One would think that going to a high school with the majority of students being Arab or Muslim, finding a classroom to pray Dhuhr prayer would be ordinary. Or not participating in dances would be respected. Or regularly visiting your local mosque would be praised.
But to be honest, I realized that practicing Islam in this city is discouraged. This may be a harsh statement but hear me out. Nowadays identifying as a Muslim individual is difficult under a Trump presidency where many are instilled with hate towards us, but I am not talking about hate in our community. I’m trying to shed some light on those who think pious individuals are inferior to them and justify their thoughts by using residency in a non-Muslim country means forcing ourselves to become as far from our beliefs as possible to “blend in” and be socially acceptable. I witnessed so many different instances one being when a Muslim woman who did not wear a hijab talk down to another woman who chose to wear a niqab. She said something along the lines of “It’s enough to wear the hijab but to choose to cover completely doesn’t make sense” and “Why would you make such a decision that could ruin your life”.
Being “too religious” or “too covered” or “too strict” is not a thing. Respect and tolerance of each other’s distance to their faith or away from it needs to increase. How strong or how weak one’s relationship with God is no one’s concern and instead of shunning those who choose to practice their faith in good spirits, maybe we need to be an encouraging community where the Muslims step forward and uplift one another. Not celebrating Christmas as a Muslim is actually a really normal thing, except in Dearborn. Some see it as strictly a national holiday while others see it as a Christian holiday, and I am not attacking anyone who celebrates. I was personally questioned persistently by some of my Muslim friends as to why I do not celebrate another faith’s holiday and I am honestly tired of Muslims questioning me for solely following my beliefs and my religion the way my family has.
I chose to write about this because I have noticed that people in our community like to pull the Muslim title out when it is only convenient for them and look down on those who never hide away their identity. There aren’t any perfect people much less Muslims, but when one is striving to follow their beliefs whatever they may be they cannot achieve any successes with a negative vibe from the community for not adapting to a “modern” lifestyle that is not supposed to include too much of what a religion comprises of.