In light of recent events, Islamophobia is on the rise and so many people around the world are being assaulted for their faith. Those that aren’t Muslim have felt this hatred as well, as they too are attacked for simply looking Muslim.
Dealing with hatred can be tough, especially since it can come in many forms. Discrimination and racism don’t just have one face. They don’t always come and attack you. They can be statements made to your face about your faith and your beliefs. Here’s how to go about dealing with Islamophobia.
Being verbally assaulted is hurtful. Having someone shout obscenities at you and telling you to go back to your own country can make you want to crawl into a hole.
If you can, ignore it. It’s best not to get into a confrontation with some people, since you don’t know what they’re capable of. If they’re shouting this to you from a distance, just ignore them and continue walking away. They’ll have to stop eventually, especially if you don’t rise to it.
It’s a different situation if someone is saying things to your face and you can’t exactly walk away. Again, sometimes it’s best to not even rise to the occasion, no matter how much your blood is boiling. Try to avoid having any contact with the other person, unless absolutely necessary. Ask them to please stop shouting at you or tell them that their comments are unnecessary. There’s no need to get into a theological argument with them, especially since they’re so volatile. Take yourself out of the situation if you can.
It’s good to travel in groups, or even with another person, these days. If one person is getting heated and getting upset, there should always be another person or two to take that person out of the situation.
No one plans on being physically assaulted. It’s just something most people don’t think about, but with so many of these attacks, especially on women, on the rise, it’s something we all need to think about and prepare for.
Like previously stated, DO NOT travel alone. Always try to travel in a group or with at least one other person, especially at night. It’s an old saying, but it still carries some weight: there’s safety in numbers.
ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. So many times we’re so caught up in our own thoughts that we don’t pay attention to the things around us. So take those earphones out when you’re out and about on your own. Have your phone in your hand and be aware of the people around you.
DO take self-defence classes if you can. Teach yourself how to defend yourself and use the things you’ve learned in such situations. And don’t forget to use your voice to scream and shout as loud as you can. The louder you can be, the higher the chances that someone will hear you.
Call the police immediately after. Report the incident as soon as you can because there’s a chance that the assailant can be caught. Be as descriptive as possible in remembering the details.
AT WORK OR SCHOOL
Dealing with racism at work or school can be difficult, since you usually can’t take yourself out of the situation. You need the job or the class, etc. and have to work and study with those you know don’t support you and have hatred towards you.
If a teacher or professor is making racist comments in class, don’t challenge them on the spot. Teachers don’t like to be challenged in front of other students, so go up to them after class and let them know that their comments were offensive and inappropriate. Speak to them calmly and politely. Do not resort to anger. If you are still heated, leave the situation and come back later and speak to them. Chances are you’ll be more calm and so will they.
People who are in a position of authority have more power and often get away with more, because many don’t like to speak out against them. So if you hear someone speaking negativity about your faith, even when it’s not directly at you, hold your tongue. Don’t go bursting in there, especially if the person spewing racist comments is surrounded by others.
Many people don’t like to be corrected in front of others, so wait until they’re alone. Let them know that their comments are not appropriate or acceptable since they’re offensive. Remind them of the professional nature of the environment. If they try to have a conversation with you engage them in dialogue! Correct their misunderstandings about Islam, but do so calmly and professionally. Don’t be personal in your conversation.
If the remarks don’t stop, try again. If you’ve tried a few times, and the situation escalates, try to speak to someone higher up, whether it’s the Chair of a Board, your boss’s boss, the Head of the Department, etc. There are legal documents and code of ethics in almost every Western institution that condemn racism and discrimination so always know your facts. Discrimination and racism have no place in the workplace or classroom, so speak up!
But if nothing is being done and the sense of hatred is high, then leave if you can. Quit your job, switch to another class or school if you’re able to and if the situation is one you don’t feel safe or comfortable in. But don’t do it quietly. Write a letter, speak up, and let people know why you have to leave.
Quitting is an option for some, but for many others, it’s not. And sometimes you just have to stay and cope with the situation as best as you can for the time being. And in that situation, lead by example. We have the best example before us: our beloved Prophet SAW. He was insulted and assaulted on many occasions, but still chose to reach out to people and shower them with kindness. So be the best person you can be and show them the beauty of Islam by being a good person. Because that’s what Islam is about: peace and kindness to others. Kill ’em with kindness so that they have no option but rethink all the negative things they thought they knew about Islam and Muslims.
Kindness can be difficult in the face of such hatred, but we need to remain strong and stay united. Allah is the best Protector so seek protection in Him and ask Him for help.
Don’t forget: we are stronger than those that hate us. Praying that you’re all staying safe, sisters and brothers!
With love and peace.