I have recently watched this amazing video The Happy Muslims Who Confuse You,by syndicated columnist Mona Eltahway, talking about Muslims stereotypes and how they are seen by media. The image you get about Muslims especially in the West is angry bearded men and women covered in black that are almost invisible in every way. Watching the video I realized that I too am judged based upon this stereotype image.
I am a moderate Muslim woman, I wear the hijab; I am not covered in black, but I have a scarf on my head and I wear ordinary skirts, pants and dresses with long sleeves and I work in PR. I never thought that being the way I am would confuse people till one day when I was having a cup of coffee with a journalist and he said “I don’t think you are wearing the hijab because you are convinced of it.” When I asked why would he think that he answered “because you are so open minded!!” The answer really shocked me!
Does being a Muslim woman in a hijab means I should be close minded! Does it mean I should stay at home with no career ambition or opinion about anything! Is having a career and socializing with people while wearing the hjab confuses people?
Islam has always been about moderation, whether in cloth, opinions, or behaviors. I have been wearing the hijab for the past 13 years and it has never hindered me in anyway.
I graduated from college, worked in media for 6 years and now in PR. I listen to music, read poetry and attend concerts like any normal moderate human being.
I discuss politics and literature and I attend conferences, exhibition and socialize with my colleagues and acquaintances like any normal moderate human being.
So why do I confuse people? For the same reason Mona mentioned; the way media reflects our image as Muslims. People are used to seeing the black bearded angry men and the women in black. True that those people do exist but believe me they are not the majority of Muslims.
I hope that more moderate Muslim men and women like Mona and the happy Pakistani in the video would help change people’s perceptions and end the well known Muslims stereotypes.
And I hope that the day will come when I don’t confuse you anymore!