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I Am Muslim! Why Do People Think I Am Arab?

Many Muslims these days find themselves being called ‘Arabs’ despite them coming from a variety of ethnicities! Muslims are being categorized in the same pigeon hole! Often it is meant as an insult but sometimes it is simply a misconception about the origin and reality of Islam, the way of life.

If we take a careful look at what it meant to be Arab in the early days of Islam when the Arabs were being raised and trained by the Prophet himself (peace be upon him), we, as Muslims, would feel proud to be called as such.

First of all, the pure monotheistic belief pulled the early Arabs away from idol worship and deference to tribe and mindless cultural practice. In a world today where religion is equated with backwardness and superstition, the fact that Islam entered the hearts and lives of people, permeating and touching every aspect of their lives and rendering it beautiful and harmonious with its other parts, is a bright contrast to the moral wasteland we see today.

The family was the centre of life and children were raised with an extended family that protected and supported them. In today’s world where divorce rates are astronomical and broken homes leave children lost and deprived in their wake, having a solid, happy family life is something to be proud of.

The Arabs have always been known for their courtesy to people and their hospitality. An outsider taken under the protection of a member of the early Muslim community was protected by the entire community. Developing chivalry and noble character were the aim when raising the next generation.

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The Prophet (peace be upon him) was an Arab and through the support and guidance of God Almighty transformed Arab society from tribal feuds, injustice and immorality, to a nation that prided itself on worshipping the one Lord of creation, generosity, wisdom, justice, and unity.

Age and wisdom were honored, women were respected and protected and gentleness accompanied by firmness paved the way for the spread of Islam far and wide.

Once someone enters the fold of Islam, he or she becomes a member of the nation of Muhammad. Whether he is an Arab, an Indian, an Australian or anything else becomes secondary to his inner identity and inclination.

Hence, his way of thinking and how he perceives people and life changes as he grows in knowledge and wisdom. One of the changes that take place is the way he sees the varying groups and nations of people in the world.

The object of having such groups and nations is not to put them into a huge melting pot; ruining their identity and turning them into something unrecognizable; it is also not to focus on one aspect of a group of people, identifying their similarities and labeling them; the object is mentioned clearly in the Quran.

God Almighty Says:

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another… (49:13)

There is no racism in Islam. The idea of having a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds is to enrich our perception and understanding of life and ourselves. Labelling people in this context is absurd and ignorant.

In the end, the 1.2 billion people in various places around the world who claim to follow the religion of Islam, can stand up and say: “I am Chinese! I am Australian! I am American! I am Canadian! I am Alaskan! I am Cambodian! I am Russian! I am Fijian! I am… I am… I am…”

But one thing they will all have in common is the simple statement: “I am Muslim!” And, they all belong to the nation of Prophet Muhammad.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)

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About Selma Cook
Selma Cook has written a number of books including: Buried Treasure (An Islamic novel for teenagers), The Light of Submission (Islamic Poetry). She has also edited and revised many Islamic books.