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