In the wake of ISIS’ incessant brutality, the Muslim community has been faced with heightened misconceptions about its Islam religion. As a result of these perpetuated negative stereotypes, Muslims are under renewed scrutiny across the nation.
At Diamond Bar High School, the Muslim Student Association is actively trying to bring clarity to any false impressions students may have toward Islam.
“A lot of people’s perceptions of the religion come from the media or non-experts on the matter, so misinformation is propagated often,” club member senior Saakib Akbany said.
“For example, people keep asking me if I’m going to get an arranged marriage because I’m Muslim–that’s not going to happen.”
MSA’s first event, Misconceptions About Muslims, was held on Feb. 26 to address aspects of Islam that students may not fully understand. During the gathering, participants were able to ask questions regarding Islam and gain some understanding of the religion through the club members’ explanations.
“As a Muslim, it pains me to see that these people claim to fight for and represent a religion that they obviously have never understood,” Akbany said.
Meanwhile, outside of club events, Muslim students attending DBHS are rebuking the movement and practices of ISIS, as the Islamic extremist group continues to misrepresent Islamic values through their destructive behavior.
“Everything they do is exactly what Islam says not to do,” club member Nuha Alomari said. “Islam is a religion that promotes peace, respect, and tolerance.”
With incidents ranging from beheading executions, kidnappings, and reports of sexual abuse and slavery within ISIS-controlled areas, the group has inflicted much conflict and disorder within the Middle East. For example, ISIS held a French journalist captive for 10 months, and most recently, on March 19, the organization claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at a museum in Tunisia. Unfortunately, many people are associating this extremist group with the Muslim community.
“I think that it’s really easy for news and media to use ISIS as an excuse to hate all Muslims but what they don’t mention is that ISIS is killing Muslims as well,” senior Aman Shamim, the president of MSA, said.
Members of MSA are emphasizing that ISIS does not represent the true values of Islam and is completely separate from the Muslim community. Yet because Islam is so closely associated with ISIS, Muslim students at DBHS find it difficult to distinguish their religion from the beliefs of the terrorist group. Islam, a religion that encourages peace, is the complete opposite of what the terrorist organization has shown.
“Lately, the word ‘terrorist’, has been referred to be the equivalent of the word ‘Muslim,’” Alomari said. “Personally, it really sucks to know that people can be afraid of me when they don’t even know me.”
In the past, MSA has conducted fundraisers and events such as Silence for Syria to raise money and spread awareness about the conflict in Syria within the country’s violent civil war. The club members will be continuing their events in hopes of spreading awareness of their religion and dispelling the negative attention that these undesirable misunderstandings have gained.
Currently, the club is planning to host more “Ask a Muslim” events in the future, with the next topic being Feminism and Women’s rights in Islam as the main focus. These educational meetings will take place in teacher Lauren Osajima-Baird’s room.