Muslims shouldn’t have to assimilate to be good Americans
By: Sara Farheen – 2022 Summer Intern
As the Pew Research Center reports, “Muslim Americans are a diverse and growing population, currently estimated at 3.45 million people of all ages … The U.S. Muslim community is made up heavily of immigrants and the children of immigrants from around the world.”
So, what exactly is a “Muslim” and why do so many Muslims choose to migrate to America? A Muslim is defined as an individual who practices the religion of Islam. Islam is a monotheistic faith with the fundamental belief being, “There is only one God, Allah, and Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) Is the Last Prophet of Allah.”
America is a melting pot, consisting of various diverse communities and cultures, that gives its citizens and residents the right to life, liberty, and love as well as the right to freedom of religion. Some Muslim refugees migrate to America to escape prosecution, poverty, and famine, while the majority of the Muslims from all around the world migrate to America solely in search of freedom and a better future for themselves as well as their children.
The real problem, however, is that the majority of the Muslim Americans “assimilate” into the American culture and forget their identities and Muslim practices, in fear that they will not be accepted or will be targeted as “terrorists.”
For instance, Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day, but many Muslims choose not to pray because they are in public and fear what others will think or say about them. The don’t want to stand out, and so they “assimilate” into American culture.
But what exactly is “assimilation?”
As defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “Assimilation refers to the process through which individuals and groups of differing heritages acquire the basic habits, attitudes, and modes of life of an embracing culture.” Is that not what the majority of the immigrants do in efforts of being “accepted” into America?
Dua’a Yaser Faquih, a young Muslim immigrant from Saudia Arabia, shared her experience of practicing Islam in America in a YouTube video, suggesting there may be another way to adjust to American life than just assimilate into the main culture.
It is important that Muslims and all immigrants who come to America not assimilate into American culture and forget their identities in an effort to become someone they were never meant to be.
It is important that individuals embrace their unique differences: their culture, their religion, their heritage, their traditions, everything that makes them, them. At the end of the day, it is our differences that make us YOUnique, and it is the love and kindness that we have towards each other that unite us.
Always stay true to yourself and spread kindness and smiles wherever you go! The world needs more of it! The world needs you!
Sara Farheen wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PA Media Group. It was published here.