Being Muslim means practicing a faith provides guidance and structure to life; provides me with some insight and new perspectives on areas of life that I may or may not have experienced before. As an African-American professional who was born Muslim, it has provided me with an sense of confidence and distance from the burden of racism in the society I live in today. It has allowed my family to self-reflect and reach for goals thought to be unattainable and kept our family together.
Beautiful about Islam: It's common sense, it's practicality, and it's ability to help people see the good of where they come from and acknoweldgement that just because of your culture, your wealth, or your tragedies one is no better or worse--it's just circumstance, something you have to get through. While peace can come in this life, there is an afterlife to believe in that has more justice and peace than is imaginable on this Earth.
Expression in daily life: I pray five times a day, make sure that I read and understand the Qu'ran daily, always make sure that I am on good terms with my parents and other family members, and don't settle for 'just okay' with regards to my patients at work.
Hopes, questions, concerns: While the majority of the Muslims in the US are African-American--a large percentage native born Muslims, the 'power structure' in many of the mosques and organizations has been left in the hands of those who are first or second generation immigrants to the US (mainly of Indo-Pakistani origin or Arab). This has lead to a 'definition' of Islam in the US as that which reflects their cultural heritage, although we live in the US. As a result, many African-Americans have taken on Indo-Pakistani or Arab cultural norms with regards to what Islam is. Ironically, as I have learned more and more about Islam, it has become very clear that Islam merely takes what is good about one's culture and promotes and that which is not positive or harms someone's rights is discouraged. Meaning, one will see Islam practiced in many different ways all over the world, based on the culture that one lives in. My husband is from Senegal and this has really been illustrated to me as I have met his family.
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