For someone who spends a lot of time talking about representation, I didn’t really realise how little representation Muslims of today have. The glass shattered when I saw a trailer for the Ramy Hassan’s new show ‘Ramy’ and now I WANT MORE OF THESE SHOWS. Especially considering the fact that it’s personally relatable to me, there are so many different coming of age shows, and we’ve even started getting the point of view of first generation immigrants, but no one seems to be touching the muslim experience.
I apologise for my ignorance on all of this, and now I will sing loud and proud about the need for this. Not only is growing up in a western world hard due to every Tom, Dick and Harry being racist, but also we navigate a haraam world and our own spirituality. A lot of us are raised to pray five times a day and go to Mosque as children, and we get exposed to a lot of different versions of the religion. We are then also bombarded with other messages and lifestlyes and navigating this is bloody difficult.
You have people who manage to fight temptation and live their true life, and then the rest of us who do give in to temptation and also battle with the guilt and shame of doing things, but then also fighting our own issues with our identity. There are so many layers to the identity of the muslim diaspora that it’s a shame that the common media ignore it, or maybe they’re afraid of doing it, either way there’s a lot of things to explore and not enough representation in doing so.
Even with everything I’ve just said I haven’t even scratched the surface of our identity. Honestly, there’s a lot, we have societal and cultural pressures alongside having to deal with the stereotypes that the western world have thrown at us. The idea that women who wear hijab are meek and mild is not only the biggest piece of false news I have ever seen, but also works against them when it comes to socialising or participating in the western workforce. They assume that they’re victims without ever getting to know them.
Men are asusmed to be terrorists if they look like a muslim, or have a beard and a bit of melanin. They’re also exposed to a lot of toxic ideals as children (from our culture, not the religion) and this sort of gets carried on into their adult lives in many different ways. Some unlearn a lot of the shit, and some don’t, but again THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO THIS.
I could write a whole book on this topic and I still would have a lot to say because there’s also the case of the diaspora being effected differently in different countries. Look at Somalis in the UK and the ones in America, we live completely different lives. In the UK, religion is a lot more present and therefore anyone who acts any different has to do so in secret, and the American diaspora are just the complete opposite.
I’m going to end this now before I start writing an actual essay about this, but give us what we want. Give us complete representation, as much as I love the fact that POC are getting there, I also want muslim identity properly explored in media. I’m sick of just seeing us as background characters, give us the main character role and give us the chance to be properly explored.