“I’m Muslim” videos: the cool assimilated Muslim club

Recently many of us have watched a series of “humanizing Muslim Americans” videos like this one described in http://muftah.org/attempts-humanize-muslims-often-exact-o…/…

I want to create a video that features:

  • me in 1992 in a burqa saying “I only want Allah and I don’t listen to music and I love my life this way” (yes)
  • a lower middle class auntie who speaks very little English and who loves cooking for her in-laws
  • a bearded sweaty uncle taxi driver who never smiles for the camera and doesn’t consume popular culture.

Then I’m going to ask ARE WE WORTHY OF LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE TOO? Or do y’all only love Muslims you can go dancing or drinking with, that you can watch Christmas movies with?

These videos don’t just take a baby-steps approach to “love us, we’re Muslim.” They even create an exclusive club of uber-cool, culturally assimilated Muslims, the “good Muslims” of Mahmood Mamdani’s Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. That club shuts out far too many of us. What about the elderly father mentioned in the video – who probably is NOT uber cool and doesn’t love Christmas movies: is it okay to hate him, as the Sikh gas station guy was attacked recently, as our working class immigrants are often attacked and stigmatized with impunity?

I get it. I really do. Times are hard. But I don’t want to break into an exclusive club by joining another.

Let me add this very painful note:

Maybe, maybe, by a slow and grueling process, I *have* to some degree become these annoying persons featured in the video. I don’t wear hijab, I married a White man, I rarely speak Urdu in public, I don’t go around with my Qur’an in my hand reciting it joyfully, I can’t even freely pray namaz in public places, in fact – but these aren’t things I celebrate and flaunt. I hope they’re not things I use to make you love and accept me. I hope. Some of them are things I wonder if I would do if the cultural pressure to assimilate wasn’t so strong. I don’t know.

And let’s conclude with this response to the Buzzfeed video: Especially that very last line from the brother.

2 thoughts on ““I’m Muslim” videos: the cool assimilated Muslim club”

  1. Last week I met a heavily bearded cricketer of repute “Saeed Anwar”who was lecturing about Islam in a masjid, He was a good test player and who influenced Yuhanna the christian cricketer to accept Islam and all this from clean shaved cricketer of Pakistan who lost a young child and became a bearded Muslim lecturing on Islam etc. Now Some TV guru was saying about “radicalization”that these youngsters start growing beard and start praying etc. which is what I did in 1976. I do not know who out of thousands of such good Muslims will take up arms and I have only one explanation : the one who has deranged mind and needs to go to a psychiatrist rather than start growing beard. Externally there is no difference There are thousands of Saeed Anwars but only a few Mateens and you cant tell between them no matter how much you consider yourself as terrorist expert

    1. Very true, mamujan. It is a lazy, fearful, sloppy approach that picks a few external characteristics and paints them with the brush of terrorism and extremism.

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