Cognitive Dissonance: The Psychology of Double Standards around Jared Loughner Arizona Shootings

The case of Jared Loughner and the subsequent treatment of his murderous spree by the media and indeed by the general public, raised familiar cries of “double standards”, ”media conspiracy”, “Islamophobia”, and familiar questions along the lines of “what if the shooter had been Muslim?”, from the Muslim community and its supporters.

I must admit that that was my own first reaction, too. I quickly tweeted, “Muslim reaction to AZ shooting summed up: relieved (killer not Muslim), sad (innocent lives lost) and angry (double standards in coverage)” and the Muslim twitterosphere echoed sentiments that fell along the same spectrum:

andishehnouraee: Let’s not generalize about large groups of people based on Jared Lee Loughner’s actions, unless it turns out he’s Muslim.

MMFlint Michael Moore: If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web w/crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got shot, where would he b sitting right now? Just asking.

LailaLalami: Tough days ahead for young white men. They’ll have to personally denounce the AZ shooter, apologize to Americans, explain and… oh wait.

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mujahideenryder: Apparently Muslim terrorists are sane and non-Muslim terrorists are insane (and not terrorists).

Surprise? No. In fact, this has become a familiar cycle, one that most of us are intimately familiar with. Crimes, terrorism, even bad decisions that involve Muslims become Muslim crimes, or Muslim terrorism, or Muslim bad decisions. Whether a father kills his daughter (=Muslim honor killing) or a husband beheads his wife (=Muslim domestic abuse), or random gangsters force young girls into prostitution (=Muslim abuse of women), Islam always seems to go on trial even while the criminal’s motivations may be as foreign to Islam as snow is to Hawaii. But when Muslims are not involved, when a father kills his daughter or a husband beheads his wife, or random gangsters force young girls into prostitution, then the only one on trial is (are) the criminal(s), as Sarah Palin so aptly and, might I add, hypocritically reminded us, “acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own”. If only Palin would be so consistent!

The more important question is why this happens and what can we do, if anything, to break this cycle? Because surely brooding over this steroetyping, and whining about the obvious double-standards is not helping us make any progress.

Let’s start with the “why”. The more I think about it, the more I am led to believe that while there is a structural bias against Muslims and Islam in Western media, much of the stereotyping is simply related to Muslims being the “other”– “foreign elements” who are easy to blame and to scapegoat, where the risk of saying something politically incorrect is largely minimized. In other words, you can say whatever you want about Muslims, as outrageous as you wish, and largely escape public scrutiny and wrath.

Why is the “Muslims=others” factor important? I believe that this is related to the well-known psychological concept of “cognitive dissonance“. Cognitive (thought process) dissonance (tension) relates to the dynamic of the sharp discomfort we experience when we carry two conflicting thoughts in our minds at the same time. This dissonance increases when the importance of the subject increases, or when the two thoughts conflict more sharply, or when we are unable to explain away the conflict. For instance, smokers have to find all kinds of reasons to explain away what they know to be an unhealthy habit. To release the dissonance, we have to either change our behavior, justify our behavior by changing one of the conflicting cognitions, or justify by adding additional cognitions.

Coming back to our white, Jewish? (interestingly great pains are being taken to distance himself from it as if it should matter!) all-American Jared Loughner, why does the public (and media) not want to see him through the lens of his ethnicity or religion? Because it’s hard to for most Americans to carry in their minds, at the same time, thoughts of Jared and their own family and friends (who don’t look much different from Jared). In other words, there is a strong cognitive dissonance to seeing Jared as a “normal”, white, Judeo-Christian, boy. That would be too close to home. So, how does the wider public release the dissonance? By referring to Jared as schizophrenic, crazy, lunatic, loner, and so on, attributes that distance him away from what they see as one of their own, making an “other” out of Jared.

What if Jared Loughner had been Javed Mohammed (thank God that he was not), who was still a schizophrenic, crazy, lunatic loner? Huge shift. It is now no longer necessary to cast Jared in any of these other negative terms. It is sufficient that he is Mohammed, a Moozlim, an immigrant, or a son of a immigrant, a naturalized citizen, or even a convert. Someone who is already the “other” and whose actions are easily explainable and understandable as being “Muslim”. No conflicting thoughts, no dissonance, and voila, we have a media feast on his religious background (the “other” aspect of his persona) because everything else is too close to home.

Now that we have identified cognitive dissonance as a possible significant factor in the difference between the perceptions from the media and the general public towards crimes committed by Muslims (“others”) versus an average Joe American, the next step is to understand how to tackle this problem. One aspect to observe is how Jared’s self-claimed Jewish background (if true) was not an “othering” factor, even though Jews form a small minority in America. The case provides an opportunity for Muslims to learn from other minorities. Being a minority is not sufficient in itself to be cast out as the “other”. We have seen how, for instance, the gay community in America has also changed perceptions from being a definite “other” to just one of us.

In his widely acclaimed books on Muslims in the West, Tariq Ramadan has written about being the “other”. He emphasizes a Muslim’s responsibility to his community, whether it be Islamic or not. He criticizes the “us vs. them” mentality that some Muslims advocate against the West. He argues that European Muslims’ reliance on an “external” Islam, fraught with cultural baggage, leaves them feeling inadequate in their own faith, leading to alienation from the larger society.

Ramadan also touches upon the crux of what I have mentioned here, about misplaced Western perceptions of Muslims, due to a community that has done a terrible job in representing itself. A community that has mixed cultural baggage with Islam, a community that has been overly defensive, and a community that has not sufficiently engaged with its majority hosts, the wider non-Muslim society.

Muslims should be allowed to commit themselves within society and to act in favour of human solidarity. This also means that Muslims can be engaged in social as well as political and economic activities. This is why, both at local and national levels, their commitment as Muslims and citizens is imperative for it is the sole way of completing and perfecting their Faith and the essential Message of their Religion. The social space, with its laws and customs, should permit them to attain this. [Ramadan, as quoted in Reading Tariq Ramadan: Political Liberalism, Islam, and “Overlapping Consensus”]

Of course Tariq Ramadan is just one voice among many, whose style is one style among many, but whatever format we adopt, it must be one that melts the “otherness” of Muslims into the society at large. And it is not religious otherness that I refer to, for that can never change for a Muslim. But just like gays are not shying away from their own homosexuality (their form of “otherness”), just like Jews are not shying away from their own traditions (their form of “otherness”), similarly Muslims can maintain their religious otherness, but still be fully American or fully European, shedding away cultural tags that prevent them from being fully integrated.

Let there be a “Muslim Charities” working hand in hand with “Catholic Charities”, let there be Muslim mayors, judges and leaders, let there be Muslim CEOs, let there be Muslim Larry Kings and Jon Stewarts, let Mohammed and Aisha be names of men and women who are part of the American fabric at every level and at every rung. Only then will we stop being the “other”, only then will our next Muslim criminal be put in his place as a criminal, just a criminal – no religious qualifiers needed. Only then will the “Muslim” tag no longer reduce dissonance, and “acts of monstrous criminality [will] stand on their own”.

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82 responses to “Cognitive Dissonance: The Psychology of Double Standards around Jared Loughner Arizona Shootings”

  1. Amad says:

    I worked for United Way as a Loaned Executive for several months and I saw first-hand how relatively easy to get funding if you have the right project with the right goals.

    I have always thought about a “Muslim Charities”… open to all… just the word Muslim in it. Imagine the impact of seeing it on your street corner every day?

    May Allah help us all.

    • abu abdullah says:

      Why not have a ‘Muslim charity’ setup. Take Mohammad Younus’s gramin bank as micro credit model. Make it interest free as done by Bangalore Muslim Professionals and support locals (mostly women) here to help them become entrepreneurs?

      Ameen. Allah will help those who help themselves inshallah.. wassalam

      • Starlight says:

        The Grameen Bank model may not be the perfect model. :-) The whole system is now near to collapsing in its own country of origin; although they have promoted to be the ‘banker to the poor’ – families have been destroyed to the core by the way they operate (the irony of it!).

        The best model would be something that is based on intense research, totally focused on social welfare, aiding with tools-to-development (rather than only charity money) and based on the true Islamic Financial Principles. Only then businesswomen like Khadija (RA) would flourish, inshaAllah.

        • abu Abdullah says:

          jazak Allah khayr for your comment. Did you hear when I said its modified to an Interest Free model working in Bangalore India? The lifeline bank there that adopted these works on the very principles you mentioned about social welfare where most of the lower income group families ( particularly women) get the loan. Unfortunately they find their men in the family as parasitic in a way that they do not earn anything for the family and waste money in drinking and other problems. They could find a revenue generating job, for as little as collecting plastic bottles. They manage to repay the loan and ask for more. Each family situation is investigated individually. Nothing is perfect in this world does it mean they don’t make efforts? Giving up is a problem, so until you find out that ‘effective solution’ lets let people do the khayr in peace, as much to please Allaah. Agreed models need to modify depending on social circumstances without touching core values. Didn’t Uthman RA preferred giving loans to people than giving money in charity as you can use same money again and again for loaning and in the same amount you get more ajr, each time half the reward of charity when you loan a money, to enjoin the khayr of this world and the akhirah. Lets not drift from the main topic of this article which I am still finding difficult to get most of it, after third read. wassalam.

          • Starlight says:

            Brother, I was in no way contradicting your idea. Sorry if I got the thing relayed in the wrong way. The point that I was trying to make is that Grameen Bank is losing its ground as a model to follow. It’s not only the haraam ‘interest’ factor that has gone wrong. It’s a combination of a lot of non-haram things as well, just done the wrong way.

            Yes, we need to make every effort that we can. And inshaAllah there will be more barakah in whatever effort we put in. But we need intense research & professional skills in developing effective models. Otherwise, the effort dies after a certain period of time. The long-term image of Islam that this article is talking about in contributing to the sociey and integrating with it – can be achieved better if we present it to the society in the most effective & beneficial way. :)

            May Allah Accept this intention of ours. Ameen.

            JazakAllahu Khair.

          • Starlight says:

            Same comment missed the first time ..and then posted twice. Asef!

  2. UrbanDeen says:

    Well said!

  3. Ameera Khan says:

    Well said, indeed! The tweets you pasted here were very apt!

  4. Muhib says:

    Thank you Amad for a great article. Sadly, this message is absent from most Muslim podiums.

  5. A Muslimah says:

    I am not so sure ….. If a Muslim had committed any of these crimes 30 years ago, the Americans would not have reacted like this even though back then Muslims were far lower in number in the US population. The people were more open and accepting, they were friendlier, not like they are now. The media and the government is deliberately creating this Islamophobia that exists in the average American’s mind. This is a much bigger issue we are dealing with …. It’s not so simple as cognitive dissonance in someone’s mind. It has to do with the Muslims being the enemy in Palestine, in Iraq,in Afghanistan, in Iran who the Americans are at war with. It’s a huge political movement not a peace-time social issue.

    • Amad says:

      I think you have kind of proven my point in some respects. Just being a small minority doesn’t make you the “others”. For instance, Amish are even a smaller minority but would not get the double-standards. So, Muslims were not so much the “other” 30 years ago, and we have become the other by a combination of Islamophobes constant efforts and our own lackings. It’s not about who made this happen, but that is the case now and what must we do to change it. Read Ramadan’s point again:

      Ramadan also touches upon the crux of what I have mentioned here, about misplaced Western perceptions of Muslims, due to a community that has done a terrible job in representing itself. A community that has mixed cultural baggage with Islam, a community that has been overly defensive, and a community that has not sufficiently engaged with its majority hosts, the wider non-Muslim society.

    • Michael says:

      I think you’re missing the point for the reaction against Mulims by most Americans. Yes there are a few true haters because they hate anything different from them, be they black, yellow, purple, etc. Most Americans won’t tolerate their behavior today. The general American population bases their reaction to all Muslims upon the actions of the few. It’s not right, but every time an event occurs in the world in which radicals kill the infidels, it perpetuates the belief that all Muslims want to kill those who are not believers. I was in Budapest in September 2001 and watched over and over as the media played the reaction to the attacks on the WTC from the Arab/Muslim world. They were cheering and giving praise to Allah. To break that imprinted memory, I think we need to see the peaceful brothers and sisters standing up to those who claim it is their duty to kill the non-Believers. Every time a suicide bomber sets himself off or a car explodes, denounce it. Stand up to those who have taken your faith and turned it into nothing more than a tool to be used to justify the killing of innocents. I WILL STAND WITH YOU

  6. Great Job Amad. I couldn’t have said it better.

    yahya Ibrahim

    • Amad says:

      jazakallah khair shaykh… must be you rubbing off on me if the article was worth anything :)

      • abu Abdullah says:

        do you work and administer these comments on MM? wassalam.

        • Amad says:

          I dont understand your question?

          • abu Abdullah says:

            -comment deleted. Pls dont take it personally, but frankly your question is not your business, as you have no idea of my situation and how I manage my time. When I need a time-manager, I’ll be sure to consult u. This is a blog that I started and now belongs to many, and it is very dear and close to my heart. -Amad

  7. abu abdullah says:

    Jazak Allah khayr. Brilliant and laconic I would say mash Allah.

    I might have a chance to speak on a local panel discussion, on role of media , representing our faith. I hope if you could put suggest few possible action items.

  8. Nayma says:

    Wish you could have kept the picture out of the site! Sick of seeing it on CNN!

    • Amad says:

      The picture is important, esp. the transformation that people perceive with cognitive dissonance…
      The two images are not of the same man (just in case it wasn’t obvious)… but making the man into a monster was an important part of healing the dissonance.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    JazakAllahu khairan, I enjoyed the article but disagree with a couple of points. While the suggestion for Muslim-type United Way is commendable, I do not think a minority group in America moves from being a villified minority to being accepted by their works alone. Rather, a new group takes its place. Respectfully, I think it takes a bit of cognitive dissonance to think, “Group A hates me because they do not know how great I am.” Rather, there is some intrinsic feature of the group that causes it to denigrate minority group after minority group regardless of their similarities and differences.

    I can not think of an immigrant or minority group that has ever grown to prominence in America that has not undergone the same gross generalization, broad stereotyping and guilt by association that afflicts Muslims today. The root of Jim Crow, anti-Jew, anti-Polish, anti-Italian, etc. periods has been racism. We may coin new terms (e.g. islamophobia) to distinguish the trials each group faces, but the root is the same because one of the founding principles of this country is the superiority of the White male.

    If one agrees, what can be done? People more learned than me have debated this for more than 100 years (see works of W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington), but I have a couple of suggestions. First, cultivate group unity (not uniformity) based on the fundamental principles of the group. For us, that would be based on and derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah of our Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam). Second, when we see injustice speak out against it and work to change the situation whether it is against us, against someone else or perpetrated by us. Third (and this is where I think we agree) we have to translate the beneficial principles of our particular minority group to the greater population. InshaAllah, this third step may purify American culture to the point that subsequent minority groups will not have the same experiences as those that preceded them.

    In short, I am only saying that Muslims are going through it now in America because it is our time. The Muslim population was very tiny 40 years ago, but through conversion and immigration we are now a sizable minority. The system has taken notice. Before it was ok to denigrate African-Americans, Jews, Italians, Hispanics/Latinos, etc. with little repercussions. That is now frowned upon and Muslims have taken the place of these other groups.

    • Jeremiah says:

      I was trying to change the line, ” Group A hates me because they do not know how great I am” to Group A hates me because they do not know how much I benefit them.” The comment editor timed out.


    • Amad says:

      Thanks for your comments Jeremiah.

      The crux of your comment appears to be that the reason for Islamophobia or any other hate is white racism and that there is nothing we can do until another minority takes our place. So, let me ask, which minority’s place did we take?

      It has been a long time since African Americans would be scapegoated openly without any repurcussions as Muslims are today. Certainly longer than 10-15 years, around the time when Islamophobia started taking roots.

      Even if we agree that there is a culture of creating villains for all time, that would still not be a dissimilar concept as to creating “others”– people foreign, different from us, people we should be suspicious of. And the concept of cognitive dissonance would still hold true.

      It’s also not about telling others how great we are, but simply to inform others (through our actions) that we are as committed to this country as anyone else. Group A does hate me because they think I am not one of them, the “other”. And I think there is no cognitive dissonance there; that, I believe is the factual situation of Muslims in the West.

      • A Muslimah says:

        I totally agree with Jeremiah. I think brother Amad you made some interesting points in your article and I enjoyed reading your article. But I think you have to admit that the matter is a lot more complex or multifaceted if you will than a simple issue explainable by one point viz cognitive dissonance. You have to agree that there are more points to be considered than the ones you mentioned in your article. This in no way means that what you are saying is wrong; rather, what you have talked about is one facet of the situation, yes, but not ALL of it. To deny that means that you are not open to examining the situation from every possible angle. It will only help us as Muslims when you do that.

        • Mantiki says:

          For several decades now Australia has had a policy of promoting multi-culturalism. At its best it promotes interacial and intercultural tolerance and respect for diversity. Showcase events like multi-cultural dance and food festivals were used to successfully promote tolerance and respect.

          There have been downsides however. At a minor level, there is a misperception that respect for other cultures means that you ought not comment on or criticise them. This is referred to disdainfully as being “politically correct” or “pc” for short. Its a shame really because Australians are pretty good at self criticism of our own habits, politicians and culture. It seems unfair not to be able to criticise and or laugh at others. In some respects therefore, the country is now divided into those who still embrace multi-culturalism and those who view it as pc nonsense.

          The other downside is rapid change. Time and again, Australia has accepted waves of migrants. Post World War 2 it was the Greeks and Italians, post Vietnam it was Vietnamese, then Lebanese, Iraqis and now Somalis. On each occasion the new migrant group faces hostility from the “original” Aussies and from the older migrant groups. Eventually they assimilate and the next generation is transformed into people who at least dress, act like and sound like Australians. They become accepted and intermarry. I am the product of such an intercultural union.

          People do tend to feel uneasy or even invaded when they discover their old shopping area or residential area now is filled with people who don’t speak our language and sometimes don’t seem to respect our culture and values. Without being critical of Islamic culture, I think, at least in Australia, there is a concern that the influx of Muslim migrants will never dress, act like and sound like Australians. This is simultaneously interpreted as an invasion and rejection of our culture. I am pretty tolerant but when I see negative comments by Muslims on the way non-Muslims act, dress, govern and socialise its pretty hard to imagine that there is real respect for their adopted country. If Muslims insist on always portraying Westerners as the “alien other” then they will always be that to us as well.

          • Mantiki says:

            For the record, despite my views, and in case my earlier post is misconstrued, I’d be happy to have Amad and his family as my neighbours

          • Amad says:

            I’d be happy to have Amad and his family as my neighbours

            Esp because of my mowing my neighbor’s grass comment :) jk

            Actually, that’s a true story… my neighbor was an old, white (but not grumpy) man… no idea where his kids were… and he would treat my kids as family. Often when I mowed my lawn, I would just take care of his side too… that’s the least I could do as a neighbor. It’s amazing how much such small neighborly acts can have an effect on people’s psyche. It’s no wonder that the Prophet (S) said that even a smile is a charity.

        • Amad says:

          ^A Muslimah… sure, there are many other factors at play. I just think this one has been underplayed.


      • Jeremiah says:

        Amad thanks for your reply.

        Yes, I am saying that ‘islamophobia’ in America is essentially White racism and I agree with the cognitive dissonance label.

        The ‘hand-off’ to a new minority does not have to be a linear, continuous event, but could be discrete. However, I personally think the open denigration of African-Americans persisted well longer than you seem to. Do you remember the racially charged atmosphere of the late ’80s (e.g. Willie Horton issue) and early ’90s (e.g. Charles Stuart murder)? What about Hispanics and Latinos? We shouldn’t dwell on this side issue, because I think as far as the meat of the discussion, we generally agree.

        I am not advocating waiting patiently until someone takes our place. In the first comment, I tried to suggest a course of unification of the American Muslim ummah coupled with activism. As I said in the first comment, we should be unifying our ranks, fighting injustice no matter the source or victim and translating benefits of the deen (and the deen itself) to the greater society.

        You said, “Group A does hate me because they think I am not one of them, the “other”. And I think there is no cognitive dissonance there, that I believe is the factual situation of Muslims in the West.”

        Your statement above suggests you are hated because of what and who you are and not what you do or do not do. So you can have Muslim United Way (mashaAllah nice project go ahead), but no matter what you do, you are still the other. I don’t see how following your approach changes that fact.

        I also appreciate Br. Tariq Ramadan, but I would suggest looking at people that have dealt with the American context because the West is not a monolith. The history and dynamics of Muslim/non-Muslim interactions are not the same in Europe and America.

        • Amad says:

          What I do makes me what I am.

          If my neighbor saw me cut his grass, just because he is my neighbor, do you think my beard would scare him less? I think so. I have experienced how my wife’s hijab’s perception changed over time with neighbors, in an all white neighborhood. Those who quickly went indoors when we walked out, eventually became friends who would later go out and defend Muslims.

          In fact, all surveys point out that people who know one or more Muslim well, are less likely to have negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam. So, indeed what we do and how we act, whether on an individual level or a communal level, does make a difference on what people think “what and we we are”

          • Jeremiah says:

            Yes, I certainly agree with you. On the micro-level, person-to-person interaction changes perceptions. However, we are dealing with something systemic and pervasive.

            I guess the question for me is why does your neighbor hate you (without knowing anything about you) just because you are different from him? I don’t think it is your beard because he probably has family members with beards. And why do you have to cut his grass to be accepted as a neighbor? Another question, if your hypothetical neighbor was Black, Hispanic, Hindu or of Chinese descent would you still feel the need to ‘cut his grass’?

            I am not saying don’t do those things. Muslims should serve the people in whatever good ways possible. We obviously have different viewpoints on this issue. Let’s just do our best as we see fit and inshAllah khair.

          • Amad says:

            the question for me is why does your neighbor hate you

            Because he sees Muslims as the other. Even if I was a white American with a hijab wearing wife, he would still have suspicions about me because of my “otherness”.

            I don’t have to cut his grass, that was a hypothetical example. Doing anything neighborly, not just for my white neighbors, but any neighbors. My point is that if we “act Muslim” by extending our hand out and they start knowing us better (we are talking about whites because they are the majority, even though there are non-whites that also are suspicious about Muslims and I just cannot place that under white racism), then they’ll stop seeing us at the other. And things always start at a micro-level. Expand from being a good neighbor to a good citizen, a Muslim charity serving all will bring about the same micro level change at a higher level. As word gets out about these mini initiatives, it doesn’t take very long in this day and age of instant technology, to change perceptions.

          • Amad says:

            Bottomline, I think we agree that Muslims are viewed as the “other”. We have some disagreement on what has caused this “otherness”. We also agree that we should try to remove this to the extent possible. We disagree on its inevitability (your point), versus being a cause and effect event.

            So, we can focus on the common ground :)

          • Jeremiah says:

            Agreed, we can focus on commonality and minimize differences. Since you wrote the article from the aspect of psychology, I thought you would be interested in this article in Slate. There is seems to be a good amount of research in this area. There is another related article (Us vs. Them Good News from the Ancients) in today’s edition for Chronicle of Higher Ed, but you need a subscription to view the article. If you are interested just e-mail me and I can send it to you.

   (link to today’s Slate article) with excerpt below:
            New psychological research and insights from political science suggest parallels between partisanship and racism. Both seem to arise from aspects of social identity that are immutable or slow to change. Both are publicly decried and privately practiced. Both are increasingly employed in ways that allow practitioners to deny that they are doing what they are doing.

          • Amad says:

            very interesting. I welcome you to write on this subject, aka parallel between racism and islamophobia… history, etc. I think it will be most interesting… even if we disagree on it, MM is all about diverse opinions!

          • Amad says:

            What a shame and antithesis to everything that African Americans have fought for:


        • abu abdullah says:


          I quote you saying, Yes, I am saying that ‘islamophobia’ in America is essentially White racism

          I never knew the NPR person , an african american, making a comment that he gets nervous seeing muslim attire people on planes is an extension to the localite americans in general being more color conscious than many caucasians I know?

          @ Amad, They will never like you and assimilate you unless you try to be like one of them , as long as you try to practice Islaam. yes there are good people among them and please complete aal imran verse for me, that says this…. Minhumul mu’minina wa?…..

          Problem becomes more complicated for our cousins from Musa AS as they are closed society and don’t accept people from other faith to convert to their faith and BE LIKE THEM.

          So yes, the only people we can change is ourself. We should improve our Akhlaq and ask selves where are our manners everytime, educating selves and others. Its easier said than done.

          • Jeremiah says:

            Wa alaikum as salam wa rahmatullah,

            I am saying the root of what is called islamophobia is White racism (i.e. originated at America’s founding), not that it is only expressed by White people.

          • Amad says:

            Abu Abdullah, “man proposes, God disposes”… we can only try our best. There are many among those who don’t believe in Islam, that are sincere and given a proper understanding, they might not accept us as one of them, but they can certainly learn to accept as one in the larger society, that we are not there to harm them. As I mentioned in the post, we can’t change our Islam, just like the gay society wants it to be accepted for it being gay (I hate to use this example but it is the closest, most recent one).

  10. Mantiki says:

    LOL Amad – is the second photo “Uncle Fester” from “The Addams Family”?

    Seriously though – good article. I’d just like to add that in my opinion, suicide bombers (and any suicide) can just as equally be described as “mentally ill”.

    The illness is caused by a combination of genuine injustice – possibly including the death or suffering of those dear to the bomber and fanned into an uncontrollable rage by fanatics who brainwash them using a twisted interpretation of religion.

    The generational violence that is inflicted on middle eastern nations (usually by each other and stoked by foreign interests) would be enough to drive ME insane! The notions of “an eye for an eye”, and “revenge and ‘honour'” are at fault here.

    Harder to understand are those bombers whose suffering is entirely empathetic and who are raised within the West. But I suspect that being an outsider and victim of rascism (as your article raises) are also a factor.

    Simple kindness and treating others as you’d like to be treated would solve just about all problems I think.

    • Amad says:

      Thanks. For empathy, this video on TED is amazingly good:

      • Mantiki says:

        Amad – What a great speaker and examples on that TED lecture! I already held this view but its so well done and persuasive that I’ve forwarded the link on to those of my friends who hold unsympathetic views on Iraq and Muslim Arabs.

        Your earlier comment about the importance of a simple smile is also so true. I read of a suicide where the “jumper” left a note saying he would change his mind if just one person smiled at him on his way to the bridge.

        We can make a better world!

    • Amad says:

      The picture I don’t know.. but when I googled the guy’s name, the Fester picture (if so) came up and he did bear some resemblance :)

  11. Mehreen says:

    Brilliantly written and well-constructed. Jazak’Allah Khair for the interesting read. No questions are raised when it’s a white non-Muslim, and no affiliations are made with his secular ideology, apart from any religious one. They never criticize the secular values, which might be the cause. Such bigotry!

  12. Asha says:

    MashaAllah loving this article!

    Especially Dr Ramadan’s points..
    ” Ramadan also touches upon the crux of what I have mentioned here, about misplaced Western perceptions of Muslims, due to a community that has done a terrible job in representing itself. A community that has mixed cultural baggage with Islam, a community that has been overly defensive, and a community that has not sufficiently engaged with its majority hosts, the wider non-Muslim society. “

  13. Sammy says:

    About time somebody addressed the need to become a part of the social infrastructure of society without feeling “less of a Muslim”. It’s a fine line, but it can be done.

    Good job with the article.

    • Amad says:

      I believe you can be 100% Muslim, not only Muslim, but an orthodox Muslim and 100% American… this is a huge hurdle in practicing Muslims’ minds… and until we break out of this self-inflicted stigma, we will not go out there and be part of the society.

      • Sammy says:

        Exactly! Excellent stuff.

        • Mansoor Ansari says:

          It can be done but we have to careful… case in point Indian Muslims (those that live in India). They r completely integrated into the Indian society but sadly that meant indulging in practices that are not in line with Islam. Coming frm that world I see many American Muslim thread on the the same path in the name of integration. Let’s do it but be aware of the dangers it possesses for further generations as integration would have be stepped up to the next level as each new generation comes by.

  14. Hassan says:

    Good article, and no doubt we should do our best to be good influence in the community we are living in. There are so many good things we can do, not to please and be accepted by white americans, but to please and accepted by Allah, and the human acceptance will automatically happen.

    Having said that, I believe there is something distinct about our religion that makes us “other”. From our religious perspective, prophet Muhammad PBUH has said numerous times to be “different” from jews and christians, and pagans. So when it becomes religious duty to be “other”, we have to be “other” (while still being nice and good to others). Once we do that, we can not blame white non-muslim americans to think of us “others”.

    All the minorities that suffered besides jewish people, were still christians. So we can leave them aside. As far as jewish people are concerned, how many women of jews you see in hijaab? How many jews you see in hollywood vs muslims in hollywood? (and would you even encourage some muslim to go into movie business?). You mentioned that you want muslim Jon Stewart. Really? Would not you want your son to be rather scholar of islam? Do you think a muslim without speaking profanity and perhaps not much sense of popular culture can entertain American general audience?

    Similarly how many muslims celebrate or participate in christmas? Jews (general public) is lenient. While muslims (general even) are strict. In fact I work on christmas whole heartedly.

    Again I am not disagreeing on your article entirely. But also think about this, the majority of non-muslim world more or less have now so many common morals and values (in general public). American people and similarly europeans can relate to each other. In contrast the muslim world is much different. No doubt there are lots of things that are common but they get buried under lots of uncommon things.

    And unfortunately the effort you do to cut your neighbor glass would not become news and would become secondary to some idiot muslim trying to burn somebody’s grass.

    • Amad says:

      Amish are even more visibly distinct from the rest of the Americans. Orthodox Jews are also distinct and are even more “different”. But the “otherness” that I am referring to, the negative otherness, doesn’t exist with them.

      As for the rest of the comment, I agree we cannot assimilate… we need to integrate. As I said in the article

      And it is not religious otherness that I refer to, for that can never change for a Muslim. But just like gays are not shying away from their own homosexuality (their form of “otherness”), just like Jews are not shying away from their own traditions (their form of “otherness”), similarly Muslims can maintain their religious otherness,

    • Amad says:

      And unfortunately the effort you do to cut your neighbor glass would not become news and would become secondary to some idiot muslim trying to burn somebody’s grass.

      But you know what, this neighbor may end up being in some position of influence, maybe in a jury judging a Muslim “terrorist”, or in a politician’s office or may become a CEO, or may be interviewed randomly about Muslims. We cannot change the world. What we can do is to change a small bit of it. Let Allah take care of the rest.

  15. Bahjeh says:

    Well written MashaAllah!
    I can personally and I’m sure many other Muslims can testify that something has happened in their lives for which they were able to see first hand and that we get treated differently. I had given details months ago to another article but I’ll keep it short…
    I’m an American born Palestinian and simply wanted to get added to my husbands account with TD Bank (in Pennsylvania). The people mocked at me and thought I’m some sort of criminal because I wear the niqaab (and I was also willing to show the female employees my face to match my driving license)…told my husband it’s “not safe to add your wife to the account”….then we went to another branch with an attorney (non-muslim) and that branch even called the police seeing a niqaabi! It took them 4 months to believe that I’m an American citizen…showed them my birth certificate and passport…and I never knew you had to be a citizen to get added to an existing account! But anyways they said I was added…but early this month…after 10 months…I was still not issued a debit card!
    For the past 10months my husband and I have been trying to take action against TD Bank…our attorney was notified by PHRC that – the case is resolved, there’s nothing more here since she was eventually added to her husband’s account –
    And the funny part, TD Bank made an offer to us last week stating they will apologize for what happened, do a program at the 2 branches to be more tolerant towards Muslims, and pay for our attorney’s fees and in return we have to sign a statement saying they were never bad to us! Both I and my husband obviously refused to any such agreement.
    Then our own attorney (who’s a non-muslim) has the audacity to tell us – you have been given extra rights and that’s why you were able to take your complaint higher, regular americans would’ve just closed their account and taken their business elsewhere but you guys are part of a protected class and that’s why were given special attention –
    So anyways after being undermined from every corner, my husband just closed his account yesterday and we both decided that 10months of this nonsense was enough. Nothing we can really do about it. But yea I really am curious to know if they (attorney, bank and PHRC) would downplay the fact that a woman was prevented from her husband’s account simply because of the way she dressed…and even after 10months was never issued a debit card…if this had happened to some Gay/Lesbian, Chrisitan or Jew…

    • Amad says:

      Sorry to hear that. You should contact your local newspaper to see if they can run a story on this.

    • mohammed guggen says:

      I am sorry to hear that, sister. My wife is muslimah, wears a niqab, and we didn’t have any problems opening a joint bank acount. She drives and does other normal things that we enjoy as citizens of this great land that we call USA!!!!!

      Mohammed Guggen
      Seattle, Washington

  16. HadithCheck says:

    I believe you can be 100% Muslim, not only Muslim, but an orthodox Muslim and 100% American…

    Before I agree or disagree with this statement brother Amad, I’d have to ask you to define the terms that you are using, especially what does it mean to be “100% American” to you because I am sure you know that if you ask two Muslims, each will give his own definition of the term! Even if you ask two non-muslims, each of them will also give you a different definition of what it means to be an “American” as they perceive it. So I think the place to start is for us to define exactly what does it mean to be an American?

    As for the rest of the comment, I agree we cannot assimilate… we need to integrate.

    Also the word “integrate” should be defined, because to different people it holds a different meaning, so how do you view “integration”?

    What we can do is to change a small bit of it. Let Allah take care of the rest.

    As a side note, and this is more of a general piece of advice that is not related to the issue at hand, but some scholars cautioned from using such a statement like “do your part and leave the rest to Allah”, because everything is in the hands of Allah and everything, even what we do is up to Allah. I know that you don’t intend anything wrong by this statement, nor do many of the other brothers and sisters who use it, but it would be better to avoid it and say instead something like “I have done my best and I ask Allah for help.” or “I did my best and everything is up to Allah.” because even in our own actions we completely rely on Allah.

    • Amad says:

      As a side note, and this is more of a general piece of advice that is not related to the issue at hand, but some scholars cautioned from using such a statement like “do your part and leave the rest to Allah”,

      While I appreciate your message, I think this is a case of semantics. When we say “rest”, we mean what we cannot do anything about. Tie your camel and then leave it up to Allah. (Maybe you can paste the exact wording of that hadith here). It doesn’t mean that tying the camel is without Allah’s help or is part of Allah’s will. It just distinguishes from what man can control versus what he can’t, from what is apparent. Even while man’s control is within Allah’s control.

      As for what American and integration means, those are debates in itself… but I think the apparent meaning is clear. There are general areas that most can agree with– being a good, productive citizen.

      • East Coast Muslimah says:

        Tie your camel and then leave it up to Allah. (Maybe you can paste the exact wording of that hadith here).

        One day Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (At-Tirmidhi).

        A snippet from SunniPath with additional explanation:

        2. Tie your Camel: DO YOUR PART

        One day Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).

        Muslims must never become fatalistic. Although we know only Allah is in control and that He has decreed all things, we are each responsible for making the right choices and doing the right thing in all situations of our lives. We must take action (link to planning articles on SV). We must work to alleviate the hardships we, our families and our communities face.

        Ask yourself the following questions if you are worried about the state of the world: are you part of the peace movement? Is your Masjid part of the peace movement? Are you part of an interfaith group with an agenda of peace and justice? Are you working with a group fighting discrimination? If your answer is no, it is time that you sat down to plan your share of time and money in finding solutions to the problems you face.

        “Verily Allah does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” (Quran 13: 11).

        Turn each worry into a Du`a and each Du`a into an action plan. That will show your commitment to your request and will focus your energy in the right direction.

      • HadithCheck says:

        While I appreciate your message, I think this is a case of semantics. When we say “rest”, we mean what we cannot do anything about. Tie your camel and then leave it up to Allah. (Maybe you can paste the exact wording of that hadith here). It doesn’t mean that tying the camel is without Allah’s help or is part of Allah’s will. It just distinguishes from what man can control versus what he can’t, from what is apparent. Even while man’s control is within Allah’s control.

        I agree that this seems like semantics, but semantics are important in some cases such as when a man told the Prophet peace be upon him “Whatever Allah wills and you will.” The Prophet peace be upon him objected to that statement and said: “Have you made me a rival to Allah?! Say (instead): ‘Whatever Allah Alone wills.’ ” and in another narration which is also authentic, the Prophet peace be upon him instructed the companions to say “Whatever Allah wills and then you will.”

        So in some cases, how we word our statement matters, even though what we might mean by it is the same but we should avoid using such a statement.

        As for the hadith about the camel, the Prophet peace be upon him told the man “Tie it and put your trust in Allah.”

        Meaning tying the camel does not negate having trust in Allah, but rather it is part of it.

        As for what American and integration means, those are debates in itself… but I think the apparent meaning is clear. There are general areas that most can agree with– being a good, productive citizen.

        If we use that definition of being a good and productive citizen, then I think that most Muslims in this country are already 100% American. But in reality we have to not only look at our own perception/definition of what it means to be an “American” but we also have to see what the majority of other Americans think that an American is. After all, integration won’t happen unless both sides involved participate, which means the integrated (Muslims) and the integrators (the rest of the Americans). So in reality we have to look at their definition of what is an “American” and what they perceive it to be, and then we have to decide whether a person can be 100% Muslim (as he sees it) and 100% American (as the rest of the Americans see it), not whether one can be 100% Muslim (as he sees it) and 100% American (as he sees it).

  17. Le Mystique says:

    Great article mashAllah! Is it ok if I share it on my blog?

  18. East Coast Muslimah says:

    Assalaamu Aleikum. Good article, so let me jump right in.

    IMO, there are quite a number of things things at play WRT the antipathy & mistrust many Americans feel towards Islam/Muslims.

    Someone said up-thread that throughout American history all minority groups have been vilified at one point or another, but were eventually accepted. This is a historical fact (see America’s True History of Religious Tolerance for more info) . There is also the “us vs. them” polarization that dates back to the days of the Crusades. Both of these things were related, at least in part, to the politics and/or economics of the time. Please keep that in mind as I proceed.

    Fast forward to the present. We know that the countries that have traditionally been regarded as part of the “Muslim world” are of critical strategic importance to the United States both politically and economically. There is a lot at stake in terms of power, influence, and money, which automatically makes Islam a political football.

    Acts of terrorism, and especially the horrific events of 9/11, have been the gift that keeps on giving for the right-wing. Add to this the fact that there is a growing resurgence of populist far-right movements happening all across Europe, with some of those groups making overtures to their counterparts in North America. These people are seeking a sort of trans-Atlantic alliance, with the purpose of ejecting Islam & Muslims from the West. The groups in question aren’t averse to cozying up with racist organizations to achieve their goals, so presumably other minorities would find themselves next on the list. The Jewish people I know are very much aware of and nervous about this. For a good overview see Islamophobia Rapidly Spreads Through Europe, then google some of the names you encounter.

    Anyway, back to the U.S. The political far-right has an agenda:

    1.) Return to power and reap the (financial) rewards it brings.

    2.) Maintain—or rather turn the U.S. back into—a “Christian nation” (something it never was, and which our founding fathers never intended it to be, as far as I can discern). Naturally, Christian = WASP.

    There are demagogues (Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, et al.) pandering to a fearful, angry, older, (primarily) white audience who feel they are being dispossessed, as well as Christian dominionists/reconstructionists who would like to see America become a Biblical theocracy. These political opportunists will cynically use & abuse anyone to attain their goals. It’stoo complex of a subject to get into here, but if you want more background info I would suggest reading up on Rousas J. Rushdoony and getting a copy of Republican Gomorrah.

    Oh, and just for the record, Mr. OMG-Creeping-Shariah Gingrich was singing quite a different tune about Islam back in 2007 when he praised “the greatest of the Caliphates” as having been modern & cosmopolitan and even said, “they were actually better for Christians and Jews than a number of Christian places. They had very enlightened policies.” Yet these days he teams up with the likes of anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller (link to SPLC article on Geller, not to her site), who has pals on the European far-right.

    In addition to the political demagogues, there are at least three other issues to consider:

    1.) Last year’s Citizens United v. FEC decision by the SCOTUS that allows unlimited corporate funding of political broadcasts. This means that large corporations will be able to spend huge amounts of money to hire messaging & communications specialists (marketers, analysts, psychologists, behaviorists, graphic design firms, etc.), which will make them a driving force in shaping public perception in the upcoming 2012 elections. Anyone who trusts them to have anything besides their own financial interests at heart is a fool; if demonizing Muslims becomes profitable, I have no doubt they will do it.

    2.) The slow demise of our Fourth Estate, which is slowly being replaced by corporate media. The news is less & less about about seeking truth or impartial investigative reporting, and more & more about sensationalism and the partisan opinions that drive up ratings and increase ad revenues. Balanced news has become a rare thing.

    3.) In addition to having influence in the mainstream media, the far-right has an enormous network of non-profit organizations that fund their think tanks, institutes, bloggers, etc. Their bloggers are especially good at poisoning Google results with disinformation and echoing each other’s talking points (when repeated often enough, lies tend to be perceived as truth). Even worse, unlike the more obvious anti-Islam sites, some sites have a veneer of professionalism or intellectualism that can lend them undeserved credibility if one doesn’t pay close attention to the details and/or doesn’t know enough about Islam to detect distortions.

    What is the solution? IMO, we Muslims need to be more organized & proactive.

    We have some Islamic activist organizations advocating for us, but not nearly enough to counteract the vast resources of the far-right. I have a project in the works, but that won’t be ready for some time and it’s only a drop in the bucket. We need more droplets. We need to make ourselves known in a good way and make our voices heard & accepted as genuinely American.

    Certainly, as has been mentioned, American Muslims can start interacting more with their non-Muslim compatriots, but it’s also very important to be politically informed and to stay informed. Look for reliable sources, both online and off, bearing in mind as you read that no human being is 100% objective.

    Participate in non-Islamic forums or blogs where people can get to know you and see that you’re not so different from them. When you participate be polite, be flexible, speak to people according to their understanding, don’t get preachy or be an apologist, don’t be overly sensitive as sometimes people offend due to ignorance not malice, etc. Interacting by being a good example is a kind of da’wah. We know this because that’s what our beloved Prophet (saws) did.

    Last but not least, get out there and participate in the political process: Vote. When you hear something you dislike in the media, write a letter or send an email. Submit letters to the editor in your local newspaper. Know who your local congressman and senators are and pick up the phone to let them know what you think, sign up for their newsletters. Start a blog (and stick with it). Open a Twitter account and tweet your opinions (and follow others for news). Set up daily Google alerts for important topics. Aside from the cost of a postage stamp & monthly internet fees (which you already pay for if you’re reading this), all these things are free and readily available—all they require is some time & effort on your part.

    Doing the above things will help you keep a finger on the pulse of the general public. Believe me when I say I personally know how easy (and more comfortable) it is to restrict oneself to dealing mostly with other Muslims, but that’s not going to improve our situation as it can put us dangerously out of touch with mainstream American culture, memes, and political moods. IOW, go outside your comfort zone, if you’re able to. Do it for yourself, for your Muslim brothers & sisters, but most of all do it with the intention that your children won’t have to face what you had to. This is striving for the good, is it not? if so, then you will also be pleasing Allah (swt) with your efforts, IMO.

    There is no more Soviet threat and the far-right needs a boogeyman. We are it.

    The right-wing machine is gearing up for 2012, and they’re going to kick off the new cycle with Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) upcoming hearings (scheduled for next month) on the “radicalization” of young Muslims. Rep. King has made numerous negative assertions about Muslims, but I have yet to hear him back them up with specific names, places, or facts. Google his comments on Islam & Muslims as well as his past support for the IRA (one example here).

    I will leave now with a few links that may be of interest to those who want to know more. I’m including the political leanings of each author or organization simply because it’s good practice to take such things into account:

    The Psychology of Manipulation in Political Ads – Be sure to follow the link to the audio interview in section “D” of the bulleted list in the article—it’s about how political ads are designed to prevent people’s ability to think critically by triggering physiological reactions. There is a wealth of other fascinating & useful articles on the site, such as Why Are Conservatives Targeting Muslims? And Why Now? and Where Do Anti-Government Ideas Come From? so be sure look around. (Progressive)

    The Great Islamophobic Crusade
    – Lots of background info here. The article was written by Max Blumenthal, the same person who authored Republican Gomorrah, the book I mentioned towards the beginning of my comments. (Liberal)

    Racist reassurances play role in GOP strategy
    – Rachel Maddow of MSNBC shows example after example of bigoted, racist clips & ads, including demonization of Muslims. It is a painful eye-opener to see all the vitriol strung together like that, but it’s necessary to realize just how much of it there really is. (Liberal)

    How the Red Cross didn’t steal Christmas – A prime example of a manufactured controversy that reared its head again this past Christmas. Naturally, Muslims are to blame (Google “red cross ban on christmas” without the quotes to see for yourself). (Non-profit, apolitical)

    P.S. Please forgive any typos. It’s almost 6:00 am here and I’ve been up all night.

    • East Coast Muslimah says:

      Yikes, I didn’t realize my comment was as long as the original article!

      Sorry about that—I won’t blame you guys if I get some TL;DR responses.

      I’ll leave you alone now.

    • Amad says:

      Very nice. Appreciate all the information.

      • East Coast Muslimah says:

        Thanks, I’m glad you liked it.

        My main reason for posting so much info was to make it clear that what we’re up against isn’t just simple bigotry, racism, or tribal fear of “the other”, but rather a well-oiled political machine.

        The internet is both a blessing and a curse in our case. Religious & ethnic minorities in the past didn’t have to contend with haters & demagogues having access to a platform from which they could so rapidly & effectively disseminate smears and promote fear & suspicion.

        I believe we can overcome this disadvantage, insha’allah, but we have to be smart about it and mind our words & manners wherever we go, even when posting anonymously on the web. It’s easy to forget that for every one person commenting, there may be 100 or 1000 lurkers reading and silently forming opinions.

    • Jeremiah says:

      Jazakillah khair. Very beneficial post. The Smithsonian article was a very good read. Newt Gingrich’s comments would be funny if the consequences of his hypocrisy were not so serious.

      • East Coast Muslimah says:

        The Smithsonian article was indeed a good one. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        Gingrich is the worst sort of hypocrite and an ethically destitute opportunist. And he wants to run for president. Ugh.

    • abu Abdullah says:

      REPOST ing this comment.
      —–wow, mash Allah. That was some very generous dose on proactive ness, it was well written with laconic and well informed citations.

      Loonwatch/PulseMedia are some places I look upto and asked if I could help them out.. As far as local muslims goes their hearts first need to be won by good manners. I saw our board of masjid fighting in court like children do for some petty leadership issues. I wonder how many good deeds they ended up giving each other.

      I do have google alerts setup for words like Islam and Muslim already. If you have any more suggestions?

      I am here on a work visa, so I am not allowed to vote or may be call to senator/congressman but I try do my part thanking local news papers if they (albeit rarely) cover muslim

      For a panel discussion on role of media in today’s world, in midwest particularly, what resource would you suggest to represent a muslim’s perspective?

      may Allaah increase you in good. Ameen.

      • East Coast Muslimah says:

        Thanks for your response.

        My participation in other forums has helped sharpen my critical thinking skills, as well as taught me not to make any claims unless I can back them up with reliable sources.

        I know what you mean about local masjid boards getting very contentious as I’ve seen it happen numerous times myself. IMO, the community really needs to band together in those cases and insist (as strongly as necessary) that the board members behave like adults for the good of the entire community. If that means the community has to threaten to withhold donations until the board members can be civil & cooperate, then so be it. I’m not joking—how many Jum’ahs of missed donations do you think it would take to effect change? Not many, I’m sure. These days I simply refuse to waste time dealing with people who just want to nitpick & bicker. Life is too short for nonsense.

        As for Google alerts, I would try to make them a bit more specific so you don’t end up with results that are too numerous or too general. I would focus on a few key people or issues that you’re interested in keeping track of. For example, a couple of mine:

        marietta mosque fire
        “Jennifer Leigh Jennings”
        “newt gingrich” + islam | muslim
        rep. | representative | congressman + “pete king” | “peter king”
        rep. | representative | congressman + “pete king” | “peter king” + muslim | islam

        I would also try different combinations of search terms. It also helps to familiarize yourself with how Google interprets them. There are plenty of basic tips here and here. If you want to get really deep into it how you can find all kinds of things, then try search for “google-fu” and start reading.

        For a panel discussion on role of media in today’s world, in midwest particularly, what resource would you suggest to represent a muslim’s perspective?

        I’m not 100% sure I understand your question. I live on the East Coast, so I don’t have any idea what might be most relevant to Muslims in the mid-west. You can always use Google alerts to notify you of local things & people by searching specific news sites for your keywords. For example in NYC, I might use: islam | muslim | mosque islam | muslim | mosque islam | muslim | mosque islam | muslim | mosque

        And so on.

        I know it’s often difficult to find positive stories about Muslims in the news, but you can always write letters to your local stations & newspapers telling them you’d like to see more stories about Islam & Muslims. Better yet, notify them when something good is going to happen or invite them to a celebration and ask if they’ll cover it. Be creative.

        Kudos to you for actively participating even though you’re not able to vote. Keep up the good work!

        Barak Allah Fik

  19. Abu Ayyoob says:

    As Salaamu Alaykum.
    Quite a well written article mashallah. I agree with many points though I also agree with the comment that stated that we still need to maintain a level of “otherness” to preserve our own religion.

    Essentially, we need to maintain our level of “otherness” and yet it make it socially unacceptable to speak out against Islam, much like the Jews have managed to do about Israel or the Homosexuals have managed for their sexual orientation.

    Now, I would like to talk about something that wasn’t really addressed in your post. Cognitive dissonance in muslim communities. We notice ourselves how people start to disown someone and question someone’s beliefs if they commit sins, even though the sins themselves do not take the people out of Islam. And surprisingly some of them do that even for those who actually engage in a lot of ibaadah(such as regularly going to the mosque, praying supererogatory prayers, fasting voluntary fasts, seeking Islamic knowledge) not by questioning their beliefs, but wondering whether he has been “recruited” by extremists etc.

    How do you suggest we combat this cognitive dissonance in our own communities?

  20. Amirzad says:

    Dear Micheal,
    Thank you for stopping by here and the comment. I am no MM representative but would like to share two cents about Arabs or Muslims enjoying the tragedy 9/11? Listen, no one in this world like injustice, towards anyone. its human nature. Its part of the propoganda they showed over and over again and again that Muslims did it and they celebrated it. It were clips when Saddam Hussain used to Missile Israel ( or said to have done that) and Palestinian celebrated those events. I am not asking you to agree with me, but you could try to understand where this sentiment is coming from. No wonder 9/11 is a great tragedy people of this country faced, we mourned with you. Do you know how many Muslims died on that day? Do you know how many christians died on 9/11 ? Do you know how many ‘those who for literally nothing cry antisemitism’ died on that day? It does not matter, after all it were human and innocents and they were killed. Govt report was quick to blame muslims but why on earth you and I standing today should make those alleged 19 perpetrators change our world today? why?
    Muslims have their own problems to deal with and it compounds when the united states mind their business, for no reason ( or for personal interest only). You and I learn here not to mind other people’s business, thats how people here work, unlike the government.

    I am a Muslim ( not in their term moderate or hardcore or anything) just Muslim, Alhamdulillah and I condemn 9/11. And I also condemn United State’s actions that followed and those countries IRQ and AFG faced hundreds of 9/11 and still counting. Now did you hear that? Peace

  21. Umm Noor says:

    1. Thanks for the article. It was a good read.
    2. Not sure why the connection is seldom made between Islamophobia and the fact that we’ve been at war in muslim majority countries for the last 10 years.
    3. To improve our image in the media, we need to hire the best PR teams. 

  22. […] doesn't mean that they are not out to get you.” Likewise, just because cognitive dissonance runs rabid in our culture, it doesn't make it right to try and spin every tragedy for our political gain and use the […]

  23. […] mean that they are not out to get you.” Likewise, just because cognitive dissonance runs rabid in our culture, it doesn’t make it right to try and spin every tragedy for our political gain and use the […]

  24. […] we live in, of remaining as the “others” in the society. As I discussed in my article on cognitive dissonance, the “other paradigm” may be a large cause for the media/public double standards towards […]

  25. […] I've also noticed that there is a huge double standard or in the best cases severe cognitive dissonance in the people who regularly ask for or “need” to hear condemnations from others. They […]

  26. […] case and speculation about motivations in the latter. As has been voluminously documented, when a white male carries out an attack against civilians, the blame is placed on factors such as circumstances (“he just lost his […]

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