How to Be Less Prejudiced Towards Muslims

In our contemporary international climate, people of the Islamic faith are often wrongly stereotyped as dangerous extremists who have not caught up with the modern world[1]. Such stereotyping is not only damaging for the person targeted, but also robs the prejudiced person of a chance to learn about a very rich religious tradition and make interesting acquaintances. If you want to expand your perspective, read on.


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    Avoid generalizations by understanding that fanatics associated with any major world religion give moderates a bad name. Did you know that the majority of Muslim Americans are "middle class and mostly mainstream?" [2] Islam, like the Christian and Judaic traditions, is very rich and broad. If you are affiliated with a religion, think about your experiences of being stereotyped as a result of the media attention given to fanatics of the faith. This might help you understand what it is like for the great majority of Muslims.
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    Inform yourself about the history and variety of Muslim traditions. With 1.57 billion Muslims in the world,[3] it's only natural that there will be vastly differing interpretations of Islam. Did you know, for example, that there are two main streams of the Islamic faith, Sunni and Shiite, which are quite different from each other? By gaining an understanding of this basic distinction, you will have already made great progress!
    • Note that the difference between the Sunni and Shiite traditions plays a very big role in the national politics of Islamic countries and in international relations as well. Understanding Islam better will not only help you relate to individual Muslims, but will also give you greater insight into the ways of our modern world.
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    Educate yourself on the customs of Islam and their meaning. Do you know what Ramadan is? Check it out!
    • Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief[4]
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    Get a sense of what respected moderate Muslims are writing and saying about today's culture. Education and open curiosity are the keys to a greater understanding and acceptance of religious and cultural differences.
    • Some prominent and interesting figures you might want to look at are the American-born Hamza Yusuf and Muhammad Asad, an Austrian of Jewish decent who later became a co-founder of Pakistan and its ambassador to the UN.
    • Spend some time on contemporary Islamic websites and blogs that look at Islam from a variety of angles. Because online blogging is a very contemporary form of expression, you might find fresh perspectives and interesting, up-to-date discussions in this venue.
    • For perspectives from younger people, have a look at
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    As you become more acquainted with Islam, try to broaden your own perspective by seeking an understanding of how the world looks and feels to an Islamic person. The more you begin to understand perspectives and experiences other than your own, the more you can contribute to global tolerance and harmony.
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    With your broadened perspective, remember the old (and admittedly overused) adage: Don't judge a book by its cover. When you encounter someone in traditional Islamic attire, always keep in mind that underneath it all is a human being just like you. Focus on our commonality as humans to get past appearances. And remember, too, that people of the Islamic faith come in all sizes, shapes, and fashion trends!
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    Reach out. Most people love to share the experiences, beliefs, and customs of their faith without trying to "convert" you. Think about what you love and how much you enjoy talking about it. This is a great way to form healthy relationship with someone who has a different cultural background than you.
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    Enjoy the differences that make our world so rich! This could be in the form of food, clothing, or deep thoughts on the nature of religion and society. Whatever the case, share, learn, and partake with generosity.
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    Meet people. Try to socialize with Muslim people in school, college, work etc. They may be the most friendly people you've ever met! And, not all Muslims are those fanatic types!


  • Some people find it difficult to go beyond their own social circles and relate to people "on the outside." Some people are even ridiculed for doing so. Be strong and withstand negative reactions. Everyone will adjust in time, and perhaps benefit greatly.

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Categories: Islam | Social Interactions