How does religious persecution look like in 2021? What if I told you that just because we have technology and religious freedoms, many Muslims till this day are still being persecuted against? And what if I told you that those persecuting Muslims on TikTok happen to be other Muslims themselves?
Battling on ideals, we now live in a society where the biggest oppressor in the Muslim community is the Muslim community in itself.
First, let’s define religious persecution before you come at me. Religious persecution is defined as the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof. Keywords here are religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof.
Let me start.
Persecution against Queer Muslims
I’m scrolling through Tiktok, minding my own business, and I see a video of a young women telling Queer Muslims to “watch out because it’s not okay”. The video went viral for all the wrong reasons where it became a battleground for queer Muslims to speak out and confront homophobia in the community. However, it also became an invitation for more “Muslim Tiktokers” to proudly showcase their homophobia and transphobia, standing behind religious beliefs as a justification.
Imagine being a Queer Muslim where your own identity is being attacked by your own people – the same people that follow a religion that its direct translation means “peace”. Following a conversation with a Queer Muslim friend of mine, he opened up that he is Muslim but has to practice his religion in hiding, because if anyone in the community finds out that he is still Muslim and openly gay, then they would come after him.
Does that not sound like persecution to you?
A Muslim man wants to practice his faith, but can’t because a group of people, be it majority or minority, attacks him for a part of his identity, telling him that he will rot in hell or in a more subtle homophobic lens, “may Allah guide you”.
I encourage you to think of it the other way around. What if we lived in a world where it was believed that being queer was the norm and heterosexuality was considered a sin. You are told the only way to enter heaven is if you marry the same sex-gender or become trans.
Let that sink in.
There is a mistreatment happening to Queer Muslims that no one is talking about. To me queer friends, I see you and I respect and accept you.
No one has any right to tell someone what to believe or how to practice. Period.
Note: If you are a Queer Arab/Muslim thinking of coming out to your parents, check out this article.
Hijabis Breaking Stereotypes
Hijabi women (arguably women in general) on Tiktok are also being attacked if they’re doing anything that falls outside the “norm” (emphasis on quotation marks). A Hijabi woman is doing a TikTok dance? Say less, haram police are at it. Hijabi kisses her husband? Say less, harami police are at it. Hijabi woman decides to remove the hijab? AstghafarAllah, you have the harami FBI coming at her, as if she had done something that directly impacts the user scrolling.
Like full disclosure, I’m not a Muslim scholar, but in what teachings and in what school of thought, does putting someone down, attacking their character and their faith, become a sign of religious submission or advancement?
Just to be clear: the hijabi women are not being persecuted because of wearing the hijab. What I’m suggesting is that, the group of hijabi women, that are not falling under society’s stereotypes, are the ones who are being attacked.
What a woman decides to do is no one’s business, except for herself. If a woman, be it hijabi or not, does something that angers you, how is that her problem? You need to check yo self.
This isn’t directed to misogynist men, but also other women who feel the need to put others down, in an effort to feel like they are superior in one way or another.
Live and let live.
If you see a hijabi Muslims on TikTok or someone doing something that clashes with your own values, it costs zero dollars and zero energy just to keep scrolling. It’s that simple.
If respecting others&their beliefs means losing followers, then so be it. No matter what I do,I’m a terrible Muslim anyway.I could nvr satisfy y’all.♬ original sound – Maysaa Ouza
The Arabs or Muslims with Christmas Trees
At this point, you might have understood the overall theme of this article. However, I wanted to point out one last thing and it’s this constant attack on Christmas trees I’ve seen in December. I noticed this when @yallaletstalk posted Christmas-themed posts wishing their community happy holidays. People came at it. I noticed a lot of people were commenting on how Christmas is haram.
To assume that every Arab is Muslim is so dangerous. We have Christian Arabs, Jewish Arabs, Atheist Arabs, and the list goes on.
Your ethnicity does not equate to your religious beliefs.
The other thing that we need to talk about, is that everyone has different religious beliefs, interpretations, values, and understanding of the world.
If some Muslims on TikTok want to put up a Christmas tree or celebrate Christmas, it’s not your job to attack them or tell them it’s “haram”. If this is something you wholeheartedly believe is not the right interpretation, then I suggest you start a vlog or a TikTok account helping people understand your point of view with love and compassion.
Otherwise, I’m sorry to say this, but you are persecuting against your own community by attacking them for their own beliefs or lack thereof.
Religious persecution in 2020 has not been something we’ve been taught in school. It’s still very real. Let’s do better – accept people for their differences and learn from one another. Not attack each other.
It’s only when we learn to embrace our differences can we grow as a community.
We’re a minority. Many of us will face systematic racism, islamophobia, and oppressive barriers that will break. Let’s not add another layer of barriers and hatred within our lives.
Live and let live.
by Sammy Al-Sitaro