I don’t really blog (obviously from the lack there of on this blog that I have had for years 🙂  BUT after watching TLC All American Muslim last night I am going to go out on a limb here.

For anyone who knows me or knows of me knows I am all about “Living Islam Out Loud” in America.  I was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show: Thirty-Something in America  as “the job you’d never expect” because I am a personal trainer who dresses in Hijab.  People in my community know that I am not apologetic or shy about being Muslim and practicing my Islamic principles no matter what setting I am in.  I truly believe that Islam is a part of the fiber of America.  And Muslims in America should stand up and demand our piece of the American pie.  And I don’t believe we have to “blend in” in most cases or compromise our religion to do so.

I am a Muslim American and I am PROUD OF IT!  I am the second generation of 4 consecutive generations of Muslim Americans in my family.  My mother’s mother was full-blooded Cherokee Indian and my father’s father fought on the front line in Normandy to free the Jews from the concentration camps in Germany during WWII.  I am as American as American can get.

I was also born and raised Muslim, growing up in “strict” Orthadox Sunni household.  My parent reverted to Islam, Sunni Islam (Not the Nation of Islam)  so to me being Muslim is in my blood.  I believe the tenets of my Religion with full conviction.

When I heard about the All American Muslim Reality Show, I think I was among those who most anticipated and looked forward to seeing it. Finally Muslim Americans shown on main stream TV media.  Now that I have seen the show I have to say I am quite disappointed.  I feel like the “normal” people who live in New Jersey and watch Jersey Shore.  “I hope people don’t think this is what Islam or being a Muslim is.”

First let me say I understand that Muslims come in different shapes, sized, and now obviously with different tattoos. So I am not being judgemental as to the level of these people’s faith. (Okay maybe a little since a blog is completely subjective)  I also recognize that the Arab American experience is different from the experience of a African-Native American Muslim experience.  But my fear is that people will think that some of these people are representative of the Muslim community.

I think what we all have to realize is that there is a difference between faith and religion.  There is a difference between someone who believes in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad and a Muslim.  Okay that did sound very judgemental but the fact of the matter is words define us to some extent.  A Muslim is not just someone who believes but someone who practices Islam.  In America it has been redefined as anyone who believes in the tenets of Islam, which is not true.   I simply don’t believe we should let other’s define us.  When you begin to let “others” outside your group define you then you also let them control you and I don’t seek be controlled by the mass media or American society.

(Okay if you haven’t seen the show then you have to go online and look up the video.  I am not going to recap the entire show.)

The show was so much propaganda.  It seems like the producers gave more air times to the individuals who are not really practicing Islam and minimal time to the people who actually do (yeah, I know we have 7 or 8 episodes to go).  And that is NOT okay.  Islam is a religion.  A religion is governed by rules and regulations.  If there were no rules then it negates the entire purpose of the religion.  So excuse me if I get a little testy when people say I am Muslim but don’t do anything a Muslim is supposed to do.

It showed a tattooed, mini-skirt, bar going “Muslim” getting her fiance to convert to Islam before she married him. Really?  Are you serious?  That is like eating a McDonald’s cheese burger for lunch and requiring your date to only eat an organic salad with tofu.

At the wedding the best representation of Lebanese culture they could come up with was a belly dancer?  Again Really? That was a far reach even for the practicing Muslims.  I am not Lebanese but I am embarrassed for them.

And what was up with the Bar theme?  Muslim don’t drink, in fact it is against Islamic belief to even sell alcohol but the found a couple who met at a bar and a “Muslim” woman who wants to open a bar.  You might as well have them make a ham for Eid dinner. – “Oh Lord I hope not”.

On the other hand I really enjoyed  Nawal and Nader Aoude (Pregnant Couple) and Foaud and Zaynab Zaban and family (Football Coach and family).  They seem to actually practice Islam.  I look forward to seeing more about their lives.  And Nawal I agree.  The belly dancer in a mixed environment was the Islamic equivalent of a stripper.  And the “send the baby and email” comment by Nader was just too funny.

For now I do plan on watching the show, and blogging about it.  And I am going to try not to watch in defense mode.  I feel like blogging is the least I could do to set the record straight.  I hope they show more of the challenges and triumphs of actually practicing Islam in America not just being in America as someone from a Muslim or Arab Heritage.  Which by the way I think is a more appropriate name for the show “All American Muslims Arabs”


6 thoughts on “All American Muslim . . . Not Really?

  1. Greetings
    I liked your letter but for afew errors, which could send the wrong message to your readers:

    I was a guess (simple mistake. I believe you meant guest. Good job!! I’d like toget on Oprah too.)on the Oprah Winfrey Show:
    I truly believe that Islam is apart (I don’t believe you meant apart. Thats totally opposite of the spelling)of the fiber of America.
    And Muslims in America should stand up and demand our piece of the American pie. (This one will rankle Americans. Don’t demand. Muslims do enough demanding . Espacially CAIR, and it just makes us think thats all you muslims do. Demand.)
    Other wise I enjoyed your write up better then many opthers. You have nothing to hide and everything to give.
    What this new show on TLC fails to do is give the other side of Islam. And the failures in the middle eastern world. I think you know what i’m talking about.
    Anyways….I’d like to post your commentary on our site, and I think people would enjoy it.

      1. As salaamu alaikum, Mubarakah. Interesting thoughts. Below are the comments I left on http://www.youracreator.com:

        As salaamu alaikum. ALLAH (SWT) perfected our deen, not our souls or personalities! … This day I have perfected your religion for you, and completed MY favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. …: (5:3) Clearly, ALLAH has invited us to the siratul mustaqim.

        I’ve watched the first two programs that have aired. We do have to keep in mind that everything that ALLAH created, HE created Muslim. For the human being though, at some point after puberty we may declare our testimony of faith. ALLAH (SWT) tells us:
        There is no compulsion in religion, for the right way is clear from the wrong way. Whoever rejects the forces of evil and believes in G’D, has taken hold a a support most unfailing, which shall never give away, for ALLAH is Always Hearing and All Knowing. (2:256).

        We all have choices. ALLAH says YOU ARE indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind; you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in G’D. Now if the followers of earlier revelation had attained to [this kind of] faith, it would have been for their own good; [but only a few] among them are believers, while most of them are iniquitous: (3:110).

        This small representation in this reality show displays what’s going on around the nation (and world) in Muslim communities. We may not like it; we may not identify with it; we may be embarrassed by it; but the reality remains the same – there are many, many Muslims in the USA that live the lives they are portraying in this show.

        ALLAH (AWJ) tell us if we see a wrong we should change it with our hands, mouths, or heart; so let’s not just discuss our feelings – let’s do something about this! I’ve written a letter to TLC outlining my concerns. My concerns are not the behaviors of the people they have chosen to highlight. Because they also highlight Muslims praying, Muslims in hijab, appropriate Muslim family life, etc. My letter addresses the issue ‘do you plan the future programming of varying Muslim communities around the nation.’ Do keep in mind this IS a ‘reality show.’ How many Believing Muslims will want to put their families and personal lives on the air.

        Thanks for allowing me to share, you can view my letter to TLC on my page at youracreator.com.

        Hajja Suraiya

  2. I haven’t been on my blog page here in sooo long – I just updated last week after being away for almost a year, remind me how I can subscribe from my page, do you know?

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