How Attempts to Humanize Muslims Often Do the Exact Opposite

“The American Muslim community’s impulse to defend itself against a political culture that is increasingly hostile toward Islam is completely understandable—and necessary. In the way Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim leader, once urged his coreligionists not to wait idly by for liberation to come, and, instead, take concrete steps to accomplish this themselves, Muslims must continue on this path today. The whitewashed, “humanizing Muslims” industry is certainly not the way to accomplish this.”


smileCROSSPOST: Riad Alarian

About a decade ago, the New Jersey chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS) released a video titled “I am a Muslim” that aimed to sensitize American viewers to a friendly, apolitical image of Islam in response to rising Islamophobia across the United States.

The video, which amassed millions of views, features a young man named Muhammad nervously proclaiming that he does not like falafel, has never ridden a camel, and “knew who his wife was” before he married her, among other claims. Citing the various social and scientific accomplishments of Muslims, Muhammad eventually abandons his shy demeanor and shouts about his love for Islam to dispel the notion that the religion is incompatible with American values.

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