The majority of Americans feel confused, judging the traditions and practices of Islam as well as the Arab community intensely. Considering our location in the world, it makes sense average citizens wouldn’t be as understanding of foreign cultures. But when it comes to people of Arabic descent or that follow Islam, a uncomfortably negative connotation is expressed in public, private, and media settings. I have a very unique perspective, I was born in the American city with the largest Muslim population in North America. Dearborn, Michigan, -roughly a single bridge away from Detroit- where many street signs and business are only available in Arabic. This gave me the opportunity to experience middle eastern culture for most of my life. My family is Bulgarian Macedonian which also has a large ethnic presence in the region. I am of orthodox Christian faith, yet I’m here to say Islam is one of the most respectable practices in the world.
The media and almost thirty years of military conflict haven’t improved relations in recent years. Another major factor is the confusion between Christianity and Islam. In America you can not to go church, have no real knowledge of the story, and may have never even read a bible, but claim you are a Christian and believe. Arabs have no comprehension of this idea, because their religious demands devotion to practice. For example, the minimum amount of times a Muslim prays a day is six. No matter what you are doing, every four hours the prayer bell would ring and every Muslim in the town would begin to pray. Ramadan is a couple months of no eating or drinking anything except for water as along as the sun is out. The point is to reflect on your past, contemplate your relationship to god, and plan your future. We have a fascinating concept of altering our religion to match our personal lives and abilities, instead of being faithful to the rules. Similar to the ten commandments, Islam is based on five pillars: admission, prayer, alms, fasting, pilgrimage. Admission is the true belief in one god and his one prophet. Prayer is to display your devotion and how you communicate with god. Alms is the belief in aiding the less fortunate. Fasting is required to represent the struggles you will endure for you faith during the duration of your time on earth. Pilgrimage is the pledge that every healthy Muslim will visit the holiest city of Mecca, once in their lifetime to follow in the steps of their prophet. As far a Arab is concerned you either practice while believing or you do neither. I like this idea because it holds accountability to the members of their faith.
Socially, in my experiences, they seek business ownership and are very family oriented. Often times the whole extended family will live under one roof with the oldest members in charge of decisions and finances. The less respectable aspect of the religion is that unless a woman is a mother of many sons or elderly, they generally have little say in matters. Most Arabic people that immigrate to the United States are shocked on how minor the consequences of bad educational performance or breaking social norms. Therefore the Arabic population among us has an exceptional lead in academics, economic stability, and are the growing, leading minority of my home county. In meeting you for the first time, by tradition, Arabs invite you to their home for dinner and to meet their family members. Dinners are usually served on a giant rug on the floor, where each person sits on a mat and uses pita bread to eat pieces of everything available. As their guest, they will use English as much as possible. Diverting back to their native tongue only to speak to someone who doesn’t know any other language, then quickly apologizing. They are a very humble community. Unfortunately American Muslims are given a bad reputation but the rest of the nation. People fail to see that as a culture they are extremely passionate about their beliefs because a great deal of their lives are invested into faith, moderate or conservative. In the same way their followers are more loyal then ours, their extremists are incredibly more unstable. Our media portrays their domestic religious wars as crazy, because all of our conflicts are political.
Word Count: 724