Dinner With 12 American Muslims (BIG Episode)

Oct 23, 2021 818.4K Views 5K Comments

Join me inside a home for a fascinating conversation with 12 American Muslims. We talk about what it’s like to be Muslim in the USA, why some women cover and others don’t, how they feel about American patriotism, how it is to be a Muslim woman in the workplace, how September 11th changed life for them, and many other compelling topics!

Downtown Detroit
over the Detroit River to Canada.
Good afternoon, guys.
Quite often
the best way into a culture
is through good food
a dinner table, and the right people.
So today we’re going to go out to Dearborn.
A suburb outside of Detroit.
Primarily Muslim
and speak with a collection
of Muslims from different backgrounds
different beliefs
some that don’t even know each other
and ask the questions many of us have
around the dinner table.
Hopefully come up with
some interesting answers.
Hello, how you doing, sir?
-Feeling good, how are you?
♪ electronic middle eastern music ♪
Here we are out in Dearborn.
So here is the story.
This Yemeni guy named Hatim
reached out.
He said, “Hey Peter,
I know you’re looking for stories.
We can do a dinner.”
I said, “Great idea.”
but I didn’t want to focus
just on Yemeni people.
I told him bring in as many
different types of people as you can.
that’s all we know so far.
-Salaam alaikum.
-Alaikum salaam.
-Thanks for coming, bro.
-Thank you, thank you, appreciate it.
-I’m glad to have you, man.
Come on in.
-And Hatim is Yemeni originally, right?
-Yes, from Yemen.
-You grew up here though, right?
-I came when I was like six years old.
-Okay, okay.
And we have a collection
of people in here?
-We got people from Pakistan
people from America that became Muslim.
We got an African American brother.
We got from the Yemeni side.
We got from the Lebanese side
and Syrian side
and from Dubai.
-Wow, good collection.
Even a convert?
-Two people converted to Islam?
-Yeah, one American
one African American.
-This is going to be super interesting.
-It’s going to good.
I’m excited too.
-All right, all right.
-This is my first time
too in a mixed room.
He gives lectures at our mosque.
How you doing?
-Very nice meeting you.
-Nice to meet you.
-How are you?
-I’m doing great.
-Friday, I just met him Friday.
He’s giving a lecture at the mosque.
I said,
“Yo, I have a dinner. You come by.”
-Come on in, brother.
-Thank you so much.
[praying in Arabic]
[praying in Arabic]
Allahu Akbar.
[praying in Arabic]
What do you feel out of that?
Like meditation or something?
-It’s kind of like meditation
but you’re re-centering yourself
five times a day
Just to kind of like
re-balance, remind yourself
of your ultimate purpose
on earth which is like
worshiping God.
So as you go throughout your day
you get distracted by worldly affairs
you check back in with your purpose
and your creator.
Get in touch with your soul
and then get back to the mess.
-It’s a break from that, right?
From the technology.
-Technology, work
family, any life stress in general.
-Could you imagine a life without it?
-No, no.
I mean sometimes it’s hard to
keep up with it when you’re so busy.
-But it’s exactly what you need.
-You grew up in the states?
-I did, yeah.
My mom and dad are ethnically Yemeni.
So what a group we have,
you guys are students, right?
-Yeah we are students,
Michigan State University.
-What are you studying?
My major is chemistry,
this is my second major.
First major was HR, human resources
and I graduated Abu
Dhabi University in UAE.
-And this is my second major.
-How do you like it, how has it been here?
-Well, it’s really good.
-Hatim’s cooking is good
but it’s not mom’s cooking, right?
-Yeah, it’s different.
-My mom’s cooking too.
-This is your mom’s cooking too?
-My mom and my wife this.
They got this on lock.
-Fantastic, Hatim.
I’m really interested
what’s under the cover
under the hood here.
-This is lamb.
-Oh yeah.
This is the rice.
-Is this Yemeni style?
-Yemeni style.
After this food
you just want to go to sleep.
-Okay, I’m staying over, Hatim?
I’m gonna go in a food coma,
then I’m done?
This I know, once
somebody eats the food
they ain’t going nowhere.
My secret, special recipe.
So come on in, come on in
come on in, guys.
All right, guys.
So I was just thrown in
in a nice way to the prayer immediately
as you saw
and I’m gonna sort of get a rundown
of who everyone is and
then get into the conversation.
Get into the different thought processes
You brought a motley collection here.
A very mixed up group.
-Yeah, it came together organically.
You’re sisters, okay.
-What is it?
I like it.
All of you ladies were born here, right?
In the states?
-I was, in Detroit.
-Did anyone convert
or you were born Muslim?
-I was a convert.
-I was a convert.
-You converted?
-How was that?
-It depends who you ask.
-I’m asking you.
-So it was obviously
something I wanted to do.
I was in college and I started…
I took some classes
that had to do with Islam
and then I met a lot of Muslims
through the international
student organization
playing soccer
all of that stuff.
Okay, what do we have here?
Some lamb?
-It is lamb, hummus
-This is traditional Yemeni food, right?
-Yes, it’s very traditional
Arabic general food.
Very tender.
Very nice.
You want to be my camera man?
You’re doing a great job.
-Whose mom cooks better?
My mom or his mom?
This is homemade hummus.
It’s not that supermarket
or restaurant.
It’s different.
Okay, here we go, guys.
Here we go.
We’re just going to have a conversation.
It’s going to be hard not to
talk over each other at times.
We’ll try our best.
I’m gonna cut some of these.
I want to cut the least amount because
it’s the most real when
it’s just a long narration.
I’m gonna ask the questions.
I’m sure I’ll stir up a few things
between different ideologies.
We’ll have fun with it.
That’s the story
but I want to keep one point here.
Islam is
all over the world.
Indonesia is the most populated
country in the Islamic world.
We’re not representing everyone.
That’s impossible.
These are just a few angles in.
I’m gonna ask the questions.
I’ll let them do the speaking.
So I’ll start with
what is it like to be Muslim in the USA?
-Growing up
being Muslim in the United States
for me felt like
a privilege.
I was raised to be proud to be Muslim
proud to be black.
and proud to be a woman
and that’s what my father instilled in me
and so that’s carried
with me my entire life.
Despite the trials or the
obstacles that have come.
I do remember 9/11
and if I have to be quite honest
I was very empathetic
towards Muslims in general
but I think that a lot of my Muslim friends
understood what it meant to
be black growing up in America.
it wasn’t a switch for me
after 9/11 it was just
another facet of life.
So today
being Muslim is something I wear proudly.
I’m not ashamed.
I wear it like a badge of honor.
And there’s so days that’s a trial
but I use it as an opportunity
to engage people
to inform them
and open up a dialogue
where some people may be
close mind or have the wrong
concepts about Islam
and about
Muslims in general.
-Do you all have non-Muslim friends?
Is that common?
-We have non-Muslim families.
-Non-Muslim families?
-Non-Muslim friends as well.
-So who converted here to Islam?
One, two…
-Dan actually
credits one of my brothers
as one of the people who converted him.
Dan, why did you convert?
-How much time do you have?
-Let’s go short version
just because we have so many people.
What was the catalyst?
-This is gonna sound really
sort of dumb but
from the first day that I
learned anything about Islam
to the day that I
was six days.
Allah took me
by the hand.
-Were you Catholic before?
-I was and I was doing
Eucharistic adoration
Fridays at 3:00 right
up to the day I gave…
-Wow… Wow.
So what did you see in Islam that
could bring you over so quickly?
Well, we were talking
about it a little bit earlier
that actually the
He’s not Jewish.
But Jews and Christians
and Muslims
we all share so much.
And a lot of the fear
that people here in our country
I can’t speak for other places but
is lack of knowledge.
And by lack of knowledge
creates fear.
-Is there a difference
a big difference between Muslims
in the USA
versus Muslims
in other parts of the world
or does that just sort of like
level out
because you’re all Muslims
or tough to say?
So I think it’s
there’s two things.
So one is
I obviously became
Muslim in the United States
and so I was
growing up in Islam around
Muslims who mostly were
born in the United States
and in the same community that they were
for a lot of it
and so it was really
interesting to me when I
went to study abroad in Jordan.
Which is a Muslim majority country
and I was there
and I’m at the university
the women are
there’s a variety of women there.
Some are covered, some aren’t covered
some wear abaya,
some where niqab, whatnot.
I was in the cafeteria one day
and one day I was like
“I gotta go pray.”
and they’re like
I’m like
“Pray? You know, like Allahu Akbar.
You know, like five times a day.”
and they were all like…
“You’re gonna do that at school?”
and I was like
“What do you mean I’m
gonna do that at school?
What are you talking about?”
‘Cause I…
So it was like this weird
reverse culture shock for me
because in the United States
what I saw and part of what
attracted me to Islam was
that people would literally stop everything
and go pray.
And then when I went to
a Muslim majority country
it was the opposite
and so I…
I was with the international
student organization
at my university
and a lot of the Muslims
that came to the United States
“We almost consider ourselves converts
because when we
came to the United States
we actually learned what Islam was
and we stopped taking it for granted.”
-I didn’t learn much until college.
I read the Bible more that I read the Koran
growing up, really.
-But you grew right up
the street from a masjid.
-Yeah, but it was different.
-No I’m saying…
-‘Cause it was like old guys did that.
-I just feel like it was concentrated.
Here we had
a community that was constantly treated
with the mosques and
Sunday schools, Saturday schools.
I believe the whole country…
If there’s an Islamic country
I almost feel like they take it for granted
that it’s just an Islamic country.
You hear the Adhan.
We go to this
five times a day.
I just came back from Turkey and
it was beautiful but
there were bars across the street.
Yeah, they stopped their music
when the Adhan came on but
everybody went to do
their own thing afterwards
But it just felt like here
we were concentrated.
Islam was taught to
us at a young age and
it was…
It made us
I thought it was special.
Like Islam was special.
Being a Muslim here was special.
-In the US?
-In the US.
And I feel we are fortunate
to be living here in the Detroit Metro.
If you…
I don’t know how it is raised
as a Muslim in the 80s or the 90s
in Idaho.
You know?
-So this is a very accepting area?
Is that what you’re saying?
I mean they’re
one of the biggest Muslim populations…
-Outside of the Middle East.
-Outside the Middle East.
So it’s very easy to get by
with even just speaking Arabic around here?
-The original question you asked is
“Is there a difference between
a Muslim
being born here
and a Muslim
that immigrated here?”
-And for me growing up
there was.
Our parents having come here.
They were very
holding fast
to the religion
and to the culture.
and they instilled in us
you had to
hold on to your religion
and hold it dearly
and guard it
and so you grew up
very, very protective and very…
I don’t want to say defensive
but you guarded your religion.
You guarded.
You held steadfast to your
your identity, yeah.
-It’s your identity?
-Yes, and so
they had that in them
and they instilled that into us
and I see that a lot of
immigrants that come to America.
They bring that feeling and that sentiment
with them as well.
That they’re coming here
and they want to ensure that
they’re going to enroll their kids
into those Arabic schools
and Sunday schools
and Koranic schools
to make sure they don’t
lose their religion growing up.
-Are they proud to be
American at the same time?
-I mean am I proud to be American?
I am.
Of course, I was born and raised here.
-So you can hold onto Islam
You can hold onto Islam
in America equally
or it is won more of a focus in life
or that’s really hard to say?
-I mean are you a Christian
or are you an American?
-I would say, “American first.”
’cause I’m protestant but I don’t practice.
-But you’re both, right?
-I’m both.
-You can’t say,
“I’m one or the other.”
and so I would say,
“I’m both.”
I can’t say I’m neither or whatnot.
I was in the UAE like a month ago
and I have a lot of relatives there.
and my aunt was talking to me about
“Oh, are you losing your identity there?”
I’m like
“Hala,” which mean auntie.
“I’m a better Muslim when I’m in America
than when I’m in a Muslim country.”
Like legit.
And I think because…
-What do you mean by being a better Muslim?
You’re praying more,
you’re more disciplined or?
-Yeah, I’m more disciplined
and I think because I’m proud to be both
I honor the values of both
but there, it’s like everyone
does take it for granted.
It’s so easy to…
You’re not like
trying to hang onto your identity
so you get too comfortable
and you get really lax
and you kind of lose the value
to your faith when you’re
in an environment there but
when you’re in an environment
where you have to hang on
because you’re kind of
going against the grain
and you have to resist losing your identity
you value it more
and then you’re able to really learn
the faith for what it is
and then there’s the
aspect of diversity too, right?
So when you’re in a diverse environment
and you have to get along with your fellow
brothers and sisters who are Muslim
you need to focus on the universal values
in the faith
and not get distracted
with the cultural baggage
of the different country.
-Does a lot of the
cultural baggage go away?
So for example
in the Middle East
there’s a lot of hot spots, right?
And there could be a Shia,
Sunni issue perhaps in a country.
When people come to this country
does that stuff sort of go?
You’re all Muslims.
The past is the past
or do those things sort of hold on still?
It depends, some of those things hold on
but it just depends on the communities too
and the concentrations
of different cultures
and things like that.
And this is a very softball question
not everyone understands Islam.
You’re not wearing a head scarf.
You’re wearing.
Why is that?
Is it a choice?
Is it accepted in this environment?
-It’s a personal choice.
We’re sisters.
-Your sisters?
-Yeah, same mom and dad.
-Okay, interesting.
So you chose not to, your sister chose to.
That was interesting
when you all uniformly said,
“It’s better to be
Muslim in the USA versus Europe.”
You were bringing up the
head scarf issue with France
Has that changed at all?
Let’s just say in the last few years
do you think
it’s more accepting here?
Less so?
And I’m gonna go to the men.
The surprise of this evening is
the women have taken over the camera
-Why is it a surprise?
-Are you assuming
because we’re Muslim women
that we would have been docile?
-I guess it’s a common thought
that in more traditional societies
which you’d be considered more traditional
just by being religious
that the men would take
over the conversation.
I had this with the Hasidics.
I had this with the Amish.
The Amish surprised
me because it was like this
to some degree.
My mom even said she couldn’t believe
the Amish women were talking.
She had this preconception that
they wouldn’t speak.
-You know, my parents converted to Islam.
So my aunts
everybody else is Christian
and my aunt
I still catch her saying stupid stuff
about Muslims sometimes.
Even when I’m sitting right there
she’ll say
“I’m surprised that a woman can go out.”
and I was like
“Auntie, you know me all my life.”
“Auntie, you know me all my life.”
-Well, you gotta understand what the
messaging is in this world.
The messaging is
people know about Muslims
through the mainstream media.
That’s 99%.
That message
is exactly what your auntie says.
Unfortunately, this is the reality.
-I think it’s because she sees me
more as black than Muslim sometimes.
I worked in corporate for a minute
I had a supervisor who was a female
who would give horrible
recommendations and whatnot.
one day I
I went to her supervisor and I’m like
“Yo, this is not making sense.”
She said this whole time she thought
because you are an Arab man
you guys don’t listen to women.
So we’re like the pinnacle
of masculine, what it’s called?
Yeah so…
No, if she had…
I wouldn’t hesitate
but a lot of the stuff would
come up and it would be like
it’s backwards.
It doesn’t make sense
or it doesn’t flow right.
-I think it’s more…
More of a culture thing
than an Islamic…
“You must be a Muslim.”
You know?
It’s just a matter of looking at it from
the lens of the religion.
Being American or
being from a different tribe
or different culture.
So we can always be an American
and be a Muslim at the same time
sometimes you end up having to choose
between two values.
and obviously as a Muslim you have to pick
the value that goes according to Islam
and as a Muslim.
And also something very good about…
-What would be an example of that?
-Let me see.
Yeah, exactly.
Fornication and alcohol
is common culture
in Islam is not allowed.
-Okay, yeah
but what would be another example
’cause I don’t drink, I choose not to drink
and I don’t think I’m going
against the culture at all.
-Drug abuse
as an example.
-I think what you’re looking more for
in some Arabic countries
women can’t drive.
Well, they can now but
they couldn’t have businesses.
They couldn’t run for office
That’s not Islam.
That has nothing to do with Islam.
-That’s a cultural thing
by the nation state.
-Or the nation state
whether it’s Yemen, or Saudi
or anywhere else.
What’s happening in Saudi
right now is unbelievable.
I was there.
I did a whole video series.
I went with a woman driving.
The Saudi government
tried to get Nicki Minaj in there
to perform.
-What, Saudi?
-Can I buy tickets?
They were trying to get Nicki Minaj in.
Depending, and it’s really regionalized
Jedda, that would fly
Riyadh, probably not.
Nicki Minaj refused
because of human rights issues.
That’s what she said.
They’re like
bashing it open
right now.
-But that’s…
That’s where the issue of culture
and religion
let’s say American culture.
There’s really nothing
that clashes with Islam.
You don’t have to drink.
You don’t have…
-Yeah, what would be
an example of something
in American culture clashing with Islam?
Is there anything?
Is there anything?
-There really isn’t
Whereas let’s say from Yemen
there is a lot of cultural issues that
you would say,
“Hey, this is really
way too much.
It has nothing to do with the religion.
It has nothing to do with the religion.
-Well, maybe hijab.
Hijab, right?
So traditionally
you wouldn’t think that this is
American culture
I identify as Muslim American and
I choose to wear this while
my sister doesn’t, right?
So it’s the choice
between the faith teaching
versus the culture, right?
But then there are other
extremes maybe you’ll
see in different countries like
the example he had mentioned
about maybe in certain countries
women don’t have rights, right?
But as a Muslim woman
if I were to follow my faith
I can liberate myself from that by saying
“Well, God gave me the
right to own my own property.
To work.
To get my own inheritance.”
These are rights
yeah, that were given to Muslim women
more than 200 years ago at a time that
women in Europe didn’t have.
Women didn’t have the right to vote
in the US a couple hundred years ago.
1,400 years ago.
Do you feel like there’s anything in
the government here
that could threaten Islam?
Like, you’re pretty free
to practice your religion.
The Amish came here from Switzerland
because of religious prosecution.
Where was the best place to go?
The United States,
they could be left alone.
Is there anything do you think
that’s changing or you
could foresee changing?
in the government here?
in the government here?
-Honestly, unless they decide to do
the list that they wanted
to do back in ’16 or ’17.
Where they wanted to have a registry.
-Oh, wow.
-That was the only thing I would think.
But once they do that
they’ll come for the Jews next
and the Christians after that.
-It’s not even a faith-based thing.
Some of these issues that we’re facing now
come from a lens of Islamiphobia.
It’s not because Islam is a problem.
It’s because people have
the wrong impression of Islam.
Why do they have the wrong impression?
The media, politics
a lack of knowledge.
Again, the example of
hijabs, since it’s a hot topic
We mentioned earlier
that so many different faiths
of the three most common faiths
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
They all have a concept of hijab.
Freaks out when a Muslim woman wears it
and there are other faiths
that practice some level of hijab
but it’s only a problem with Muslims.
Because of Islamiphobia.
You never heard of a nun
being forced to remove her
head wrap or her head covering.
So what’s the difference?
What’s the different factor?
How do you feel if some
young American woman tries to come and
liberate you, let’s say?
There’s actually an incident
I think that recently happened
where a school teacher
took off the hijab of a young student
telling her,
“Your hair is beautiful.”
-She’s seven and
I think I believe the parents
are pressing charges because it’s like
to you that might be liberation.
To me, it’s not.
To me, having the power to say
“You don’t get to see me in a way.
That I choose who gets
to see me in that way.”
That’s power.
-Would it be the equivalent of
someone taking off my shirt?
-Yeah, exactly.
-Probably beyond that.
-It’s violation, yeah.
-Back to the government
-The government, well you said
“Let’s not forget Snowden
and what he uncovered
and the government going in and
spying on Americans all around
the states.”
And let’s not forget the no-fly lists
what they had done to us.
Let’s not forget all of that.
So they had
put people on no-fly lists.
They had red-marked people.
My brother, when he was in med school
used to have to fly around the states
to get interviewed at different hospitals
and every time he would have to fly
he would get held up at domestic airports.
Every single time
because his name was
put on some kind of a list
and he would have a red check mark
every time he had to fly.
And so…
Muslims were labeled.
They were marked
and they were gone after
at some point and time
and that could possibly happen again.
-It still happens.
Every time I travel.
Every time I travel anywhere
I’m always held up for
secondary screening, always.
-You get airports that do those
whole x-ray things and
they violate your body
and your personal space
and look
God know what you have on you.
God know what you have on you.
You’re all too young but
before September 11th
did any of this exist?
-None of this existed before.
-So I’m just gonna be devil’s…,
-It did. It did.
It just didn’t happen to you..
The Patriot Act was not set up by Bush.
The Patriot Act was enacted
in ’95 by Clinton
and the first person to be
put in jail from the Patriot Act
was Ahmad Hamad.
He was the head of ABC.
The Palestinian one.
-What would you say to the argument
there are
fringe people in every culture and society.
Correct? Right?
There are some Islamic people…
We had September 11th.
We’ve had other events.
This creates an alert
If someone doesn’t know a Muslim person
they don’t have a Muslim neighbor.
This is all they’re seeing.
What would be your response to that?
-Ask yourself why is it that
that when there is any kind of a crime
or a mass murder or something
when the perpetrator is Muslim
why is the whole faith put on trial?
We had Timothy McVeigh blow up
the Oklahoma
what was it, the hospital?
Right, and so it was like,
“Oh, he’s just a lone wolf.”
but if they’re a person of color
if they’re Muslim
they don’t cast it off as like
“Oh, mental illness.”
It’s the faith is flawed.
Oh my God, the faith is a terrorist faith
that’s out to get us.
-So any bad actor that is under the
auspice of Islam or anything
all the sudden
it represents everyone.
Which is total BS.
It is because Muslims are like what?
The second or the third largest
population across the globe.
Talking about billions of people
and if it was a faith of terrorism
it wouldn’t be the fastest, widespread
and it wouldn’t be…
The world would have gone…
-I gotta say
I’ve spent roughly a
year in the Muslim world
and if there’s one are of
the world that uniformly
offers hospitality
it’s the Muslim world.
and that’s from the religion, right?
-Yeah, the profit, peace be upon him said,
“He who fears god and the day of judgment
shall be generous with his guests.”
-And hospitable to travelers.
Feeding people is a huge Muslim teaching.
-It’s the caravan and the
traveler mentality, right?
-Yeah, they have pretty
much rights upon people.
So if you’re a Muslim
and there’s a traveler
they have a right upon
you that you help them
to the best of your ability.
If you have a guest
you’re supposed to honor the guest, right?
Feeding people is huge
rewards in the Muslim faith.
So that’s why Muslim
culture is so big on food.
So feeding people is something
that we pride ourselves on.
I think another example of this
are the largest refugee camps
are in Muslim countries.
In places like Jordan and Turkey.
And so as a result of the
contemporary conflicts in the Middle East
they’re being hosted in
neighboring countries
and one of the criticisms
often of Muslim countries
why don’t they take care of
the neighbors that are fleeing
and why are they going to Europe
and why is it Europe’s responsibility?
But there are 10 times,
hundreds of times more
refugees that are being hosted
in neighboring countries like Jordan.
-But the gulf states are
traditionally pretty bad with that.
They don’t really take anyone in.
-Yeah, I’m not talking about them.
I’m talking about countries
like Turkey and Jordan.
-Yemen had Syrian refugees
the last time I was in Yemen.
Before the war broke out
there was Syrian refugees.
there was Syrian refugees.
-Yemen is an exception.
-And Somali refugees.
I love the UAE but
there’s no one that’s getting in there.
-No one’s getting into UAE, Saudi.
They’re just not.
My coworkers say,
“I know Muslims that smoke weed.”
Yes, just like I know
Christians that get high
at the bar and go to
church on Sunday morning.
Being Muslim don’t mean we’re perfect.
It means we’re striving
to be
doing God’s will
or what we think and believe God’s will is.
It doesn’t mean that you’re not gon’ see
a Muslim woman or a Muslim man
acting out of character
but the minute you see a Muslim man
do something wrong or
a Muslim woman not wearing her hijab
“Oh, she fake. She’s not really a Muslim.”
Why isn’t she?
You know her heart?
You judging her?
You’re judging me
and that’s what happens with people.
We start to judge people, right?
So that’s why I’m very careful.
Whether we’re Christian or Muslim or
Shia or Sunni or whatever
you want to call yourselves.
We’re still just people.
And people have flaws
and people have
human errors
and that’s what’s great about
Islam ’cause we understand
that God knows that he
didn’t make us perfect.
He’s perfect, not us.
So I always say to people,
“God’s word is perfect
people are not.”
So don’t tell me you saw a
Muslim man smoking weed
’cause you probably did.
Don’t tell me you saw the
hijabi at the corner store
buying a blunt.
You probably did.
But why don’t I hear
Christians ridiculed about that?
You know what I’m saying?
Getting high, it’s like a funny thing now
it’s like a common thing being…
All things I’m saying
I’m sorry, talking to you.
A lot of the things that I
hear Muslims criticized for
so sharply
is that other cultures
and other religions don’t get
that kind of
Crucification is what I was gonna say.
Sorry, all my Christian friends.
I have family that are Christian.
I always tell people
“Whatever works for you.”
I’m not the person that’s gonna say
’cause you didn’t
believe and pray like I did
it’s only one God.
I remind all my coworkers and friends.
You could say Jehova, Yawed, Allah…
Promise you I don’t pray
to Muhammad Sallallahu
peace and blessings be upon him.
You pray to Jesus,
that works for you, that’s fine.
You know, I had a coworker tell me
she don’t believe in the same Jesus we did.
I said, “How many
Jesus’ walked the earth?
And he said, “No, no, no, I’m saying
Muslims don’t believe
in the same Jesus.”
I said
“Jesus, and then
mama’s name was Mary?”
He said,
“Yeah, but that’s not the same Jesus.”
I said, “Listen…
There was one Jesus
that walked this earth.”
but you know
these conversations
if you’re talking to
people that want to learn
and expand their mind to
maybe what they’ve heard
or what they’ve seen or experienced.
Then it becomes great
conversation and dialogue.
-And you…
Your coworkers…
I mean we talked about it earlier
but I just want to mention again
You’re at Ford.
You’re at Ford.
-Your title again?
I’m a power distribution electrician.
-So you’re dealing
with all types of people.
I do.
And you have to teach all types of people.
-I have to deal with all kind of people.
-She has current at her fingertips
watch it.
-Well, well, I’ll tell you what.
That’s a great conversation ’cause
I don’t always
get along with my coworkers
but I will tell you and they might
not always get along with me
but when it comes time to do the job
because of how serious our job is.
My life and their life depends
on us working together.
So you’ll find it real funny.
We might have had a disagreement
five seconds before we get called to a job.
The minute we suit up
we’re all one team.
-So the second there’s a threat or danger
all that stuff goes away?
-Yes, it doesn’t matter
I’ll tolerate and smile
and have his back or
he’ll have my back or…
You know, I don’t work with any women
so I would say her but I
don’t work with any women.
So yeah, we instantly
have each other’s back
because our life depends on it.
Well, it’s funny.
That same application can’t
go outside of the substation.
Because if we have that type of loyalty
and that type of love
or even care
for each other outside of a substation
we would probably have a better
life and dialogue and
foundation to grow and build
and have better relationships.
and have better relationships.
-Maybe it’s because in the US
despite all of the massive problems here.
There’s no invading army on the door step.
You know what I’m saying?
So that, just like your job…
The invading army is that current
that could kill you all.
that could kill you all.
And it brings you together immediately.
And it brings you together immediately.
If there was a common threat here
as in the country is invaded
all of that stuff goes out
the window immediately
’cause we rely on each other.
-I like that, I like that parable
but I will further say this conversation.
Again, I was born and raised here
and I went from…
Being a Muslim was not a horrible
thing when I was growing up.
-And this is Detroit or Dearborn?
Highland park, yeah.
So when I was growing up
being Muslim wasn’t…
It didn’t supersede
the conversation of being black
that conversation really didn’t affect me
I never was affected about that even
until I got into the
corporate America conversations.
I never
as a matter of fact if I could be honest
not really until I got into skilled trades
did I feel
my race was an issue.
And my gender was an issue.
I never really felt growing up
that me being Muslim was an issue.
-Interesting, interesting.
-There’s a flip side to that too.
I’m sorry, sister.
When I got to the masjed
for the Juma prayer on Fridays
chances are pretty good that
out of 300 men and women
there’ll be less than five white people.
I’ll be
one of four or five white people.
-You and a couple Bosnians or what?
-There’s a lot of Arabic people who
are very fair skinned.
Especially as they age and hair turns gray
or bald, or whatever.
But like sister was saying.
These sisters were talking about
the masjid that they belong to
has a lot of black people.
Draws a lot of black people.
In Dearborn here
we generally have masjids that
feed the Yemeni people
the Lebanese people, you know
a certain…
But I’m still usually
one of a very small handful.
That’s why I tell people I’m Yemeni.
-What I want to tell everybody is
when you look at Islam
of course there’s culture
and there’s other things.
There’s two extremes
the way you look at it.
One person…
One extreme is you can’t go outside.
You can’t drive
and the other extreme is
you can do whatever you want.
In both situations
you’re always following your own desires.
-So does that mean
there’s a battle in Islam?
Maybe battle is the wrong word
but conflict within Islam
because some people think
you should live one way and
other think you should live another?
-Conflict is not within Islam.
The conflict is within the person themself.
So when you look at yourself and you say
“Okay, am I following my desires
and I’m looking at Islam
and making it fit what I want it to be?”
and then that’s why I say
“Okay, now I’m following
Islam even though I’m not.”
and I misinterpret
or I misunderstand.
I have a preconception about it.
And then if you have a
preconception about something
you want to research
you’ll find what you want to find.
But did it emanate from Islam?
Does it come from Islam or did it
start in your misconceptions
or your preconceptions?
So that’s what I want
to tell everybody here
and everybody, whoever is listening.
Is you have to be sincere in
that you want to do what Allah
and the messenger have told us
the way we live our life.
We can’t be saying that okay
I want to live this way so
I’m going to make Islam
fit the way I wanted to live
and say, “Okay, I’m Muslim
and I’m following Islam.”
And the same extreme in the other side.
So we have to be sincere and say
“What does Allah want from us?”
and how can we satisfy…
live a life that Allah
would be satisfied with.
And whether it’s this way or that way
I’m going to be willing to follow it
even if whatever I have to do.
Whatever I have to sacrifice.
Whatever I have to lose.
Whatever I have to do to
make Allah satisfied with me.
This is the purpose
that I have in this life.
This is what I’m trying
to accomplish in this life.
‘Cause no matter what you do
there’s only a few things
that the messenger Salam said
that you can take with
you after you pass away.
Your good deeds
what you’ve done good for other people
and children that will go on after you
that will do good
and ask God for forgiveness for your heart.
When the truth
follows their desires
then everything will go corrupt.
That’s the one thing I wanted to say.
That’s the one thing I wanted to say.
-Do you see some of that happening
in society now?
-Not only in society and American
society and Muslim society
all over the world
-So it’s for everyone right now.
-And that’s the other
thing I wanted to talk about is
is the being a Muslim in America
or being Muslim in the
Middle East or back home.
I think that
back home
and in the Middle East
I think it’s all been
affected by certain ideas
like nationalism
and things like that
and that’s why I said there’s
no majority and minority is Islam.
So what makes majorities and minorities
when you have
states that are built on
your color of your skin
where you’re from or your tribe
and this is what Islam came to remove.
The prophet Alayhi Wa Salam
came to remove tribalism.
Came to remove racism
when the tribes of Medina
were about to fight
each other in front of him
He says
He says, “You’re calling
for something of ignorance
something that I came to remove.
While I am with you
Leave tribalism alone.
Leave nationalism alone
’cause it is something that
is disgusting and [unclear]
So there’s no such thing as
minority and majority in Islam.
We look at a person as not where he’s from
what color of his skin
what his tribe is.
We look at what ideas he’s adopted.
‘Cause this is what makes your personality.
You don’t choose
where you’re from.
You don’t choose
the color of your skin.
You don’t choose
where you were born
You choose what you believe
and this is the biggest thing of
personalities is what you believe
Not everything else.
-But what about some countries…
Some Muslim countries
where the common narrative
doesn’t follow those principles?
Where it is very tribal
I would say
and if you go to the gulf region
there are certain tribes that are
going to be way better off than others.
-What is the difference
between Muslims and Islam?
Islam is perfect,
Muslims are not.
-Oh, gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.
-God’s word is perfect,
Muslims are not.
-Interesting, interesting.
-I think one of the things
to keep in mind is that
when you’re asking about
do Muslims believe this
or what do Muslims
think about this topic
or that topic?
It’s important to recognize that
Muslims are just like anybody else
in the sense that
we’re influenced
and affected by
the social, cultural,
political, economic, and class
forces that exist within a society
and so within America that also includes
for those Muslims
that are immigrants.
It includes their background
that also affects them
and so you’re trying to balance
all of these different things
at one time which are
part of your intersectionality.
And to try to create a
world view for yourself.
So those world views are going
to differ from person to person
in a massive way.
And so that’s why you have
this huge diversity of thought
and I think if you polled people here
on any given topic we’d have
various opinions on the same issue.
-I mean there are billions
of Muslims all over the world.
So it just baffles me sometimes
as to why people would believe
that all Muslims believe one thing
or we all wanted
to say it in one way.
There is billions of us.
-Well, labels are easy.
So people say
“The Jews.”
That’s to say Judaism is Sacha Baron Cohen
and the most strict Hasida person
that’s not leaving
their house in New York
and doesn’t use technology.
You know what I mean?
It’s a label.
It’s easy.
Oh, the Amish are this.
Okay, we got it figured out now
because most people just don’t want to
put the time in to think through it all.
‘Cause it’s hard.
It takes a lot of processing
-Think about
subculture in America.
We have American culture, right?
The big American culture
and then within American
culture we have all of these
little tiny different groups.
So within American culture…
Like, you think about the goths, right?
Like the people, you have
that weird kid in high school
that wears the all black
and got the fingernails…
-My wife is one.
So she’s still American.
She has her own little group.
She has her group of friends.
-She grew out of it thankfully.
-But she is still American though.
So I just think it’s interesting.
Muslims, it’s a part of our culture.
It is a part of who I am.
It is not the only thing that I am.
It is a part of who I am
and it’s always going
to be part of who I am
and I wouldn’t expect anybody else
just because they’re Muslim to think
exactly the way that I do on everything.
exactly the way that I do on everything.
-Great point.
-I think this is a really important point
because it is as you guys were saying
it’s a big part of our identity.
For some it’s a smaller
part of our identity
but it is a part of your identity.
The slow death of the GoPro indoors…
It just reached it’s limit
so we’re going iPhone.
You’re from Nigeria originally, right?
-How long have you been here?
-For 10 years now.
-10 years, how’s it been for you?
-It has been great.
-It’s been great?
-You’re from Abuja?
-From Lagos.
-The big city?
-The big city?
-Yeah, the big city.
-So the Nigerians
all the ones I’ve met have been
very successful in this country.
Why is that?
-I think because of
the parents try to push
them to try their best,
achieve the best [unclear]
-So that’s the lifestyle, the [unclear]
They try their best to achieve the best
by going to school and achieving the best.
-So you guys are pushed very hard at home?
-Yes, in terms of education
and all aspects of life too
because you see this as
an opportunity to be yourself
and also to support your family
and support the people around you too.
-So did they push religion on you
just as hard as education
when you were young or…
-Depending on the families but
on average
you get that push from both sides.
Education as well as religion also
both sides of lifestyle.
-Will you stay in the US
or will you ever move back do you think?
-So it depends on where I
get an opportunity to work
or to have more support
for the people around myself.
So for example
if I get
an opportunity to do something that I think
I have an interest
with in a different place
I can decide to move.
-So you’re going
wherever the opportunity is?
-Yeah, to where I think I can help most
depending on the situation
and have you felt like
there have been a lot
of opportunities for you here?
-Yeah, I’m gonna stay
here and do the best I can.
-You’re doing the best you can?
-I’m doing the best I can
-Oh, you do the best you can.
What’s your profession?
-So now I did a biomedical
degree from state university.
I did apply to medical schools
hoping to get feedback from them
to start with a medical career.
You’re going to go to med school?
-What’s that, 10 years?
-That’s like maybe
seven years.
Maybe first four years then residency.
-What kind of doctor?
-Family medicine doctor.
So a lot of people are usually surprised
when they find out that Muslim women
or Muslim women in hijab
visibly Muslim women
hold very high level positions.
Like amongst us you have
women in college administration
or formally and
women in politics
and I think a lot of
people are shocked by that
’cause they usually have this…
They believe in this
stereotype that Muslim women
are incapable of taking on leadership roles
or they’re voices are suppressed
and so they can’t take on those roles.
Lived in America my entire life, right?
And I’m an American
and I’m very, very irritated
by a lot of the
misconceptions or the attacks on Islam as
a misogynistic religion
or one that oppresses women in general.
I know about my faith
and I pretty much know about my faith
better than most of
the people that attack it
and so what I would
like to say to those people
for the most part is
having been an American
and having lived my entire life
in this country and
having faced problems in the workplace
having been in the political realm
and having seen the problems
that we have in America
as women.
Whether it be with the dress code.
Whether it been with glass ceilings.
Whether it be with leadership
or progressing in our careers.
The fact that America itself is still…
Hasn’t progressed
with women itself
and yet we are attacking
Islam as a misogynistic religion.
That is the part that frustrates me.
That we continue to attack Islam
as this chauvinistic, misogynistic religion
but we live in a country that is still
decades and centuries behind
where this religion has put women.
We have equal rights.
We have inheritance rights.
We have all these rights that
have been given to us as women
and we are still not there
even as a country today.
Where would be an example of a country
where women have it the best?
I don’t think there’s a country
today that has given women
of what we deserve.
-I think women in the
US have it pretty good
in the sense that they have the
freedom to practice their values
as opposed to other countries
and because I can practice
my values as a Muslim woman
I feel like I personally
feel like I have it
pretty good here
and saying countries that
might identify as Muslim
and aren’t there.
I think they’re lacking Islam.
Like even if they’re
predominantly Muslim countries
it’s not that Islam is a problem
It’s that they need more Islam
in the way they give people rights.
I’ve never been to Malaysia.
It’s on my bucket list
but I’ve heard it’s a Muslim country that
is very big on the values.
I’ve heard the women there are very
successful, empowered
extremely happy with the lifestyle there.
So I don’t know too much about
it ’cause I haven’t been there…
-It’s a cool country.
-But I’ve heard great things about it.
-But I want to introduce
some nuance into this
question or this conversation and I think
it’s a better conversation
than it is a question.
The question of,
“Do Muslim women have rights
in certain countries more than they have
in other countries?”
Well, we don’t know
because we live in America
and so it’s hard for us to
speak for the experiences of
Muslim women in Malaysia versus Turkey.
So on and so forth.
But what we can say
just to introduce some degree of
nuance into the conversation is that
There’s about seven, eight, or
nine Muslim majority countries
that have elected a
female head of state.
Some of them are quite conservative
like Bangladesh and Pakistan
who’ve done it on multiple occasions.
So for us it’s very difficult to say
whether Muslim women
have rights in those countries
or whether our rights
are better in the West.
And progressive policies
we’re sort of scaling back a lot of
I think women’s rights in America.
So it’s just we have to have
a little bit more nuance when
we talk about these topics.
-Scaling back women’s rights?
What do you mean by that?
-Sure, I mean you can
think about things like
states like North Carolina or Texas
which have scaled back.
-Okay, that’s a good example.
-And now they’re among the
most restrictive
states for reproductive rights.
-So that’s interesting.
How does that go in parallel to Islam?
Because what does Islam say about abortion?
Or it depends who you’re talking to?
-Well, there are
opinions within Islamic law
about abortion.
So first trimester abortions are largely
considered to be permissible within Islam.
-In all Muslim countries
or depends on the country?
-No, so you’re…
Scholars make these opinions and so it…
It doesn’t really go by country.
So it would go by who the scholars are.
-The four sects of the Sunni and the…
-So historically it’s
been considered valid.
Now of course Islam
doesn’t promote abortion.
You know, I’m not saying that
but for medical reasons, incest
and for lots of other reasons
rape for instance, sexual assault.
-But could you just have an abortion
because you want an abortion?
-It’s highly discouraged.
-And that’s where it
gets really interesting.
Where you see the hashtag, Texas Taliban
and stuff like that.
And that’s where it
comes where Islamiphobia
is getting mixed in with politics because
why are you comparing
it to a religion that actually
has room for abortion to be permissible?
And while it’s frowned
upon and it’s discouraged
and it’s not supposed to
be a method of birth control
and all of those things.
There are situations where
it would be permissible.
-And then if you were to look at today.
You have two women here
that are running for public office
for municipal positions.
You’ve had two women
that are US congresswomen.
You’ve had women across the
country that have run for office now
from a federal down to school boards
and things like that.
Representing their communities.
So there’s another part
of this conversation too.
So as Muslim women
and men living in America
feel a sense of responsibility
for our communities.
Not just for our specific
religious group as well.
So the people that are running for office
in Dearborn let’s say or Hamtramck
their concern is the broader
issues within the city.
Not just what’s affecting
the Muslim community.
-So to win an election…
-Sorry, I just…
-Yeah, sure.
-I just think you might get varied answers
to that question too because it goes
back to the culture conversation we had.
Where all cultures are man made
and so by default they have human flaws
and so everywhere you
go you’re going to have
your strengths and weaknesses
or positives or negatives
within each culture.
So I have cousins in the UAE
who when I visit I’m blown away by
the rights they have is women.
They get their maternity
leave is very different than ours.
If they’re mothers of young children
they get offered a very
early retirement because
that culture recognizes
their role as a female
and to a woman here in the US
to think that my career would
get thrown off if I were to have kids.
That’s a right that I wish
had a Muslim women.
So I think in certain ways I could say
“Yeah, I like it better here
because I can be as vocal as I want
because of my freedom of speech rights.”
and then other way I
think because all culture
is again, lacking to some capacity.
There might be things
that I’m missing out on
that maybe cousins I have in the UAE
get to enjoy.
It varies.
We’re no different than any other group.
We watch football on Sundays.
Basketball, our kids are into sports.
No different than any other group really.
You wear a Detroit Lions sweatshirt
and American flag on the sleeve.
-We keep getting cheated, man.
Constantly rebuilding
every year, rebuilding.
-Are you talking about the Lions?
-The Lions.
-I don’t know football at all.
You guys aren’t good?
-We haven’t won since like 1957.
I only know that ’cause
my dad was born in 1957
and it’s a family joke.
-But we’re up against a massive force.
Which is media portrayal
and that’s really difficult to combat.
And so we’re here
sitting in this living room
having this conversation.
We’re trying to speak to a broad
audience that’s following you
and even if it’s
a million people
there’s 350 million people in America.
The research shows that largely
Americans have negative
perceptions of Islam.
It’s the least liked religion in America.
According to the Pew research
and so this is a big problem
because it has real effects
and the impact of the
media portrayal of Muslims.
So you have films like
Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper
shows like 24 and Homeland.
Which portray not only
Muslims in a negative light
but a light in which it is
something to be feared.
The opening segment of the show, Homeland
shows Brodie praying with ominous
music playing in the background
and automatically in the brain
of a typical audience member
that’s watching the show
is an extremely negative
-Sure, right.
So that’s what we’re up against.
So to your point, there is this
profound frustration that we feel
when we have to have these conversations
and we wish that people would just
pick up a book every once in a while.
-Yeah, I agree with you
on the point with the media
and the portrayal in Hollywood movies.
I totally get it.
It’s a subconscious thing that
lays in the back of people’s minds
but I will also say people
are busy in their lives.
Many people in this room don’t
know the capital of Tajikistan.
-Sure, yeah.
Or Tennessee for that matter.
-Your focus is not there.
You’re in your world and
people should know more about Islam
because it’s a major world religion
for sure.
I didn’t have it in my public
school education at all.
I had my world religions
professor open me up to it.
He was fantastic.
I traveled to these places.
Okay, now I’m interested.
But if someone’s living a very busy life
raising kids, working their butt off.
I hate to say it.
The reality is they’re not gonna dive in.
They’ll watch a short YouTube video
and hopefully get something out of it.
-The gentleman in Atlanta.
The white guy that killed
a bunch of Asian women.
Not once did one news station say
“Extremist Christian attacks
unarmed Asians.”
Had he been Muslim
that would be the topic
and it would be repeated
throughout every channel.
-CNN recently with the
Taliban retaking Afghanistan.
One of the reporters on
the ground was a woman
and there was a group of people
behind her chanting “Allahu Akbar.”
Which means God is
great or God is the greatest
and she translated to mean
“Death to America.”
And that was on CNN.
-I seen that live.
-I was like, “That is so dangerous.”
because that’s something
that we say in prayer.
So five times a day we say it.
How many times in a regular prayer?
-Celebratory events.
-They’ll say, “Takbir.”
and everyone goes,
“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.”
So it’s dangerous for every day Muslims
to have that kind of
misinformation out there.
A lot of them have more patriotism and
in themselves where they’re like,
“Yeah, I know all this stuff, right?”
-What do you mean they
have more patriotism?
-They really love the fact that they have
a certain opportunity here that
they might not have
found in their home country.
It’s not because of religion
but just because of other factors
it might have been
war-torn countries
lack of resources
There are so many different reasons
why people come to this country
and so sometimes they really
appreciate the opportunities
that they have here
and it makes them really
proud to be American
and so they take the time
and they have the passion to
learn what defines an American
and it’s not the color of your skin.
It’s not where your ethnically from.
It’s the values
and similarly with being Muslim.
It’s the values that we identify with.
-There’s an old Arabic saying
“You don’t taste the sweet
until you’ve tasted the sour.”
and a lot of
our fathers and mothers
and people who emigrated here.
They tasted the sour.
They felt the pain.
They went through the hunger.
Like my father was an orphan
at a young age and was by
I think 12 years old he was
already in Kuwait and Saudi.
So when he came here
this was like
He’s tasted the sour.
-You need pain for pleasure, yeah.
-He’s felt the pain.
So when you come here.
This really is the land of opportunity.
-I know on the post where you were saying
that you were coming to Dearborn.
One of the questions someone asked was
“Are they proud to be American?”
or something like that
and I was like,
“Have you ever been to Dearborn?”
because there is more
American flags in Dearborn
and Hamtramck and these places
that are high immigrant populations
than you would find in the
suburbs out where I grew up.
-That’s very true.
-It’s very patriotic.
Before I came here I was at a Yemeni event
that was celebrating independence
of Yemen from 60 years ago.
and they probably had more American flags
there than they had Yemeni flags.
Which was actually kind
of very interesting to me
and I made note of it
and it’s just one of those things.
There is that pride.
So when you’re at political events
or you’re at places where
people are wearing suits and stuff
They’re lapel pins, more than likely
are going to be American flag
or one of the dual ones.
There is that pride that so many people…
We were talking earlier
with taking things for granted.
Like in Muslim countries versus in here
and I think it’s that same thing where
when you’ve been here
and you’ve grown up.
I’m fifth generation here.
So my family, they’re
still proud to be American
but it’s a lot different than a first
or second generation immigrant family.
-This is the country that honored us.
That took us in.
It educated us and sheltered us.
It fed us.
It’s taken care of our kids.
I don’t plan on living back in Yemen.
I’ll go visit.
-Guys, I’m gonna wrap this up.
My arm’s gonna fall off
and it’s been great.
-Can we make some last…
-Make some what?
-Last closing statement.
-Closing statement, okay.
Here we go.
One, is that your Muslim faith
and your American identity
are not mutually exclusive.
You can be both a woman and American.
They don’t have to conflict
and two, is if you want
to learn more about Islam
look at the actual faith and
not necessarily the people
because as humans, we all sin differently.
Okay, thank you all.
You’re all great.
Even you guys over there.
You were support in the background.
I felt it.
-My frustration is that
the Lions keep losing.
-The Lions keep losing.
All right, guys.
Thank you, Hatim.
-I appreciate you.
-Hatim was the one.
Come out with me, bro.
Hatim is the one that set this up.
He and his family made beautiful food
and he also has a coffee shop named…
And if you haven’t had Yemeni coffee
I’ve been told it’s the
best coffee on the planet.
I definitely know the honey
is the best honey I’ve had.
Honey, coffee, that’s
what they’re known for.
-I’ll leave that link below.
I’ll leave your Instagram
below because without Hatim
there is no way I’d get a
massive group of people together
in this room in Dearborn
and make a video.
-I appreciate you, man.
I appreciate what you do, man.
-Thank you, brother.
Keep traveling the world
and keep meeting people.
All right, guys.
Hope you enjoyed that.
Got something out of it.
I have a few other videos in
the Muslim series playlist below.
Thanks for coming along.
Until the next one.

If you’re interested in more content from around the WORLD visit these links below:

Be the first to see the next video