Hello. Assalamualaikum. Bonjour. Konichiwa. Namaste. Ni-hao. Hola.
These words are all greetings, in different languages, from different cultures. All these cultures have histories behind them, beautiful rich histories, and it's extremely offensive if you negate them.
Growing a Muslim-Pakistani in Canada, I was exposed to a wide range of cultures and races from a very young age. And though Canada is a very accepting and multicultural community, sometimes people forgot. Or they didn't respect my background. Or they would come up to me and say something so uneducated that it hurt.
Many times in my life has a white person walked up to me and said, 'Hey, do you speak Pakistani?'
In our school, almost 50% or more of the students were Pakistani, Indian, Asian, Egyptian or Somali. You would think someone would try to learn a little bit about us.
The white kids would sometimes make such rude and stereotypical jokes, and my friends and I would try to laugh them off, but you couldn't deny that at sometimes I would wish I was just a normal white child.
I remember asking my parents not to speak in Urdu in front of my friends, refusing to wear kurtas or any other Pakistani piece of clothing to school, asking my mother not to make kebabs and parathas for lunch.
I was ashamed of who I was. And that never should have happened.
The only thing people like me can do to stop this self-shame and racism is to educate ourselves and to educate others as well.
When my family first moved to Pakistan, I refused to learn Urdu because I wanted to flaunt the fact that I was from Canada in front of the other children. Now, studying Pakistan Studies for my O Levels I am awed by the amazing history of my people.
And I want everyone to be in awe of it as well.
First off, I'd like to address the Muslim stereotypes.
The biggest and most incorrect stereotypes are:
1. THE PERFECT PRACTISING MUSLIM
In every Wattpad story I've read, I found that every Muslim character was an perfect practising Muslim, who followed the religion completely and was a symbol of angelic morals.
No one is perfect. That's what Islam tells us itself. Islam maybe the perfect religion for a good life in this world, but that in no way means that Muslims are perfect.
There are weeks in between where I do not offer a single prayer, I don't always fast, I swear, I backbite, I lie. That's because I'm human and Muslims are human and humans make mistakes. Humans aren't ever perfect.
Didn't y'all watch Hannah Montana as a kid?
When I read Afflicted by falloutdiscos, I was so delighted to find that Maha, even though she was a Muslim, had given up on so many parts of her religion. She was a sinner. And I loved that.
So many girls that I knew who wore hijabs had boyfriends. So many more girls, including me, don't ever wear hijabs. Even more disregard Islam, in more ways than possible.
So if you are writing about a Muslim girl, she doesn't straight off have to be wearing a hijab, originating from Saudi Arabia, praying five times a day, not drinking, or the new Virgin Mary.
There are Muslims in so many countries like, India, China, Somalia, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon, etc.
And each one of these countries has a special community, and background, which gives each person a completely different outlook on life.