OMG You’re Muslim? You Don’t Look Like One!

Hi, my name is Mahbuba and I’m a proud Muslim. But to you I may not fit the bill. What about me should I change to fit your stereotype?

Oh my hair? Yes, I don’t veil. Do you know how many of us don’t?

And by the way, why identify a Muslim woman by her veil? We’re not the only women with the veiling custom, also the ideology of veiling has been around since pre-Islamic times. Muslims simply embraced it to look more modest.

And for the Muslims that want to malign me for taking the veiling custom so lightly, why not stand in your truth and confess to knowing a veiling woman whose actions aren’t exactly ideal. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. We all have an aunt Fathima who spends all day gathering and spreading gossip about everyone’s marriage problems. Or how about Sister Ayesha whose ears you’ve never seen, yet aunt Fathima has sworn on her life that she has banged the pool boy and gate man. How then has veiling helped their modesty?

A veil, like words, should not represent one’s actions. They should not justify faith. Actions, however, should pass as proof of one’s love and respect for their religion.

I wait to tell people I’m Muslim. You can’t convince many that Islam is a religion of peace, not with all the criticism and false accusations in the media. I prefer to show them who I am. We hang out, share jokes, shop, and I even offer help when they need it. Then at some point in the friendship, they find out through a conversation that is all too familiar:

-Is Buba your real name?

-Kinda, it’s half of my actual name.

-Oh really what’s the full one.

-You’re ready? You’ll need both ears for this one.

*Talks really slowly

-M..a…h…b…u…b…a. The H is pronounced.

-Who?

*Repeats three more times

-Oh wow what does that mean?

-It’s Arabic for “Beloved.”

-Awww that’s so sweet…Oh wait, you’re Muslim?

-Yea.

-Oh my God! Really, you don’t look like one.

You know what else I find deeply annoying? Telling someone I’m Muslim and having them reply with, “Oh I have cousins/friends that are Muslims.” Ummm…okay…where’s the relevance?

Of course what they’re trying to do is show you that they know Islam doesn’t tolerate terrorism by proudly acknowledging their Muslim relatives and friends.

Bottom line though, it’s an awkward comment and low key self-centered. It’s like their relation to my religion is important and should make me feel better about myself and more accepted. Some even go as far as asking why I never mentioned that I was Muslim in the first place.

You see, while living in Uganda, I never felt the need to announce my “Muslim-ness” because it was, and still is, a very normal thing to be Muslim. In America I don’t really announce it either, unless someone asks why I’m turning down their church fellowship invite for the third time. Why? Because again, I do not feel the need. I strongly believe that spirituality is between two people, you and your God.

Here’s one thing I stopped doing though, I stopped justifying my not drinking alcohol with the fact that I’m Muslim, because y’all millennial Muslims ain’t even trying (no judgement!).

So dear people who are quick to come to conclusions, guess what? I’m Muslim. And I’m not going to say a peaceful one either because if you identify as Muslim, the peacefulness comes with the package. I don’t know where Bin Laden and crew get their ideas from, but those are not the teachings of Islam.

It is never one’s place to judge another’s faith by what they look like. Yes, I’m wearing 16-inch weave (and letting it fly like Beyoncé’s); and yes, you will see my legs more times than you won’t see them…still Muslim though!

Each and every one in the feature image (including me in the middle!) is Muslim. That’s what we look like, human beings. Veil or no veil, bare skin or covered.

Till we meet again,

Your non-Muslim looking like Muslim, Buba.

2 Comments

  1. Great article! People tend to judge and categorize Muslims in all sorts of negative ways, and the most guilty are Muslims themselves, especially when it comes to hijab: why aren’t you wearing it? Why are you wearing it that way? Why are you wearing it with those clothes? Why are you wearing it with makeup? Why are you hanging out with girls who don’t wear it? As if the only thing about Islam is hijab, and like we don’t have anything more important to worry about. I’ve been wearing hijab for 18 years now and while it is a part of my identity, I will still stand-up for someone’s right not to wear it. Like you said: spirituality is between two people, you and your God. There’s no place in the middle for everyone and their mama to be nosing around in the middle.

  2. Great article. People usually don’t expect black people to be muslim either but they’ll assume that an “arabic looking personn” is muslim. I command muslims living in the west because you guys live a little bit like Jesus now:always accused for nothing, people always having something to say about how you behave or don’t behave . Again, great article! Be blessed!

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