December 9, 2019
Chapter 7 – The Muslim Identity
The Muslim identity is a phrase whose definition will likely change depending on which person you ask. Unlike many other world religions, like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism, Islam has no prerequisites, race, ethnicity, or country tied to it. Anyone can become Muslim no matter what they look like, where they’re from, or who their parents are. Islam is practiced in every country around the world by people who speak many languages and look very different. We all have many unifying characteristics like how we all pray facing the Ka’bah in Makkah, our salah must be performed in Arabic, which is the language of the Qur’an, we all fast during the month of Ramadan and hope to make the pilgrimage to Makkah and perform Hajj, at least once in our lives. Despite the great number of differences that separate Muslims from each other like language, food, customs, etc. it’s remarkable that we are still one Ummah. And the bond we form with one another simply by knowing we are Muslim brothers and sisters is not seen in any other religious group or gathering of people.
Many of us were born here in America, and our definition of the Muslim identity may include things like fourth of July, football and basketball, American cartoons and toys, and other things that we pick up from growing up in America. Our parents were tasked with raising us as knowledgeable Muslims that abide by the rules in the Qur’an and practiced by the Sunnah, but we were also most likely exposed to a blend of customs from America, and from our parents’ roots in India, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or wherever our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were born. Our Muslim identities may be similar or very different depending on the unique experiences and knowledge we were exposed to and are still exposed to. Even if all of us were born in America, our identities as Muslims is still not the same. The things that have shaped our Muslim identities is as different as our unique fingerprints. But most importantly what remains the same is that we all have the right to call ourselves Muslims and go from there.
Questions: Think about these questions after reading and be prepared to discuss your answers in detail during class, if it helps, you may write down your answers for reference later.
- What is something you would say is part of your Muslim identity? This can be foods you eat at home, family traditions, special types of clothes, etc.
- Is any Muslim identity more valid or true than another, how do you know?
- How do we balance the different parts of our identity, what’s an example?
- What may be some customs that conflict as being both Muslim and American, and how do we choose?
- What’s the most important part of our unique identities?