The other day, on my commute home, I was seated next to someone who began asking me about Islam. Although I usually try to find the most vacant car so that I don’t have to sit next to anyone, I arrived at the station 3 minutes before the train was due to leave, so I reloaded my card in record time and hightailed it down to the platform, getting into a car a minute before the train departed. I also usually just stick my earphones in my ears for the duration of the trip, but sadly I had forgotten my earphones at home – seriously one of the worst things ever, especially if you have a long commute or wait.
Completely winded after all that rushing, I messaged mama to let her know that I was leaving, and proceeded to just slump against the seat. When we’d reached the first stop, the man sitting next to me began to make polite conversation, inquiring if I’d come from school (because the bag and lack of school uniform wasn’t a dead giveaway) and claiming that I look like I’m in grade 10 even though I’m a third year university student!
Nevertheless, he began to ask why I dressed the way I did (abaya and scarf), why some Muslim women covered their faces, and, the funniest/craziest of them all: how to hit on a woman who covers her face. I had a bit of brain freeze for a moment there because seriously, who would have expected such a question?
He also asked a question that got me thinking a bit. He wanted to know why Muslims didn’t want to speak about, or answer his questions about Islam. I was a bit taken aback, but I think I’ve come up with a few reasons since then:
- Muslim women/men don’t want to interact with the opposite gender
- They don’t know the answers to these questions, or
- They are afraid to say something wrong because they don’t have enough knowledge to give a proper answer
I gave him the last 2 reasons because I hadn’t thought of the first one yet. But something else that really bugged me is that non-Muslims actually have to ask questions pertaining to aspects of our religion that we practice often and publicly. We know that Islam and Muslims are represented in the media, but this is obviously not representative of us normal, ordinary people who don’t claim to be Muslim and then perform acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. It’s completely disturbing that others don’t see us as citizens, as students, as family members, because of this distorted perception of “Muslims” that they have been fed by the media.
I see that there are followers from all around the world reading this blog. Do share your opinions/experiences below! I know that the country I live in is a lot more tolerant (sometimes people straight out ignore you but it’s better than being verbally abused) so I really want to hear from you guys.