What it’s like to be a Muslim in America | Dalia Mogahed

What it’s like to be a Muslim in America | Dalia Mogahed


What do you think when you look at me? A woman of faith? An expert? Maybe even a sister. Or oppressed, brainwashed, a terrorist. Or just an airport security line delay. That one’s actually true. (Laughter) If some of your perceptions were negative,
I don’t really blame you. That’s just how the media
has been portraying people who look like me. One study found that 80 percent of news coverage
about Islam and Muslims is negative. And studies show that Americans
say that most don’t know a Muslim. I guess people don’t talk
to their Uber drivers. (Laughter) Well, for those of you
who have never met a Muslim, it’s great to meet you. Let me tell you who I am. I’m a mom, a coffee lover — double espresso, cream on the side. I’m an introvert. I’m a wannabe fitness fanatic. And I’m a practicing, spiritual Muslim. But not like Lady Gaga says,
because baby, I wasn’t born this way. It was a choice. When I was 17, I decided to come out. No, not as a gay person
like some of my friends, but as a Muslim, and decided to start wearing
the hijab, my head covering. My feminist friends were aghast: “Why are you oppressing yourself?” The funny thing was, it was actually at that time
a feminist declaration of independence from the pressure I felt as a 17-year-old, to conform to a perfect
and unattainable standard of beauty. I didn’t just passively accept
the faith of my parents. I wrestled with the Quran. I read and reflected
and questioned and doubted and, ultimately, believed. My relationship with God —
it was not love at first sight. It was a trust and a slow surrender that deepened with every
reading of the Quran. Its rhythmic beauty
sometimes moves me to tears. I see myself in it.
I feel that God knows me. Have you ever felt like someone sees you,
completely understands you and yet loves you anyway? That’s how it feels. And so later, I got married, and like all good Egyptians, started my career as an engineer. (Laughter) I later had a child,
after getting married, and I was living essentially
the Egyptian-American dream. And then that terrible morning
of September, 2001. I think a lot of you probably remember
exactly where you were that morning. I was sitting in my kitchen
finishing breakfast, and I look up on the screen
and see the words “Breaking News.” There was smoke,
airplanes flying into buildings, people jumping out of buildings. What was this? An accident? A malfunction? My shock quickly turned to outrage. Who would do this? And I switch the channel and I hear, “… Muslim terrorist …,” “… in the name of Islam …,” “… Middle-Eastern descent …,” “… jihad …,” “… we should bomb Mecca.” Oh my God. Not only had my country been attacked, but in a flash, somebody else’s actions
had turned me from a citizen to a suspect. That same day, we had to drive
across Middle America to move to a new city
to start grad school. And I remember sitting
in the passenger seat as we drove in silence, crouched as low as I could go in my seat, for the first time in my life,
afraid for anyone to know I was a Muslim. We moved into our apartment
that night in a new town in what felt like
a completely different world. And then I was hearing
and seeing and reading warnings from national
Muslim organizations saying things like,
“Be alert,” “Be aware,” “Stay in well-lit areas,”
“Don’t congregate.” I stayed inside all week. And then it was Friday that same week, the day that Muslims
congregate for worship. And again the warnings were,
“Don’t go that first Friday, it could be a target.” And I was watching the news,
wall-to-wall coverage. Emotions were so raw, understandably, and I was also hearing
about attacks on Muslims, or people who were perceived
to be Muslim, being pulled out and beaten in the street. Mosques were actually firebombed. And I thought, we should just stay home. And yet, something didn’t feel right. Because those people
who attacked our country attacked our country. I get it that people were angry
at the terrorists. Guess what? So was I. And so to have to explain yourself
all the time isn’t easy. I don’t mind questions. I love questions. It’s the accusations that are tough. Today we hear people actually
saying things like, “There’s a problem in this country,
and it’s called Muslims. When are we going to get rid of them?” So, some people want to ban Muslims
and close down mosques. They talk about my community
kind of like we’re a tumor in the body of America. And the only question is,
are we malignant or benign? You know, a malignant tumor
you extract altogether, and a benign tumor
you just keep under surveillance. The choices don’t make sense,
because it’s the wrong question. Muslims, like all other Americans,
aren’t a tumor in the body of America, we’re a vital organ. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause) Muslims are inventors and teachers, first responders and Olympic athletes. Now, is closing down mosques
going to make America safer? It might free up some parking spots, but it will not end terrorism. Going to a mosque regularly
is actually linked to having more tolerant views
of people of other faiths and greater civic engagement. And as one police chief
in the Washington, DC area recently told me, people don’t actually
get radicalized at mosques. They get radicalized in their basement
or bedroom, in front of a computer. And what you find
about the radicalization process is it starts online, but the first thing that happens is the person gets cut off
from their community, from even their family, so that the extremist group
can brainwash them into believing that they,
the terrorists, are the true Muslims, and everyone else who abhors
their behavior and ideology are sellouts or apostates. So if we want to prevent radicalization, we have to keep people
going to the mosque. Now, some will still argue
Islam is a violent religion. After all, a group like ISIS
bases its brutality on the Quran. Now, as a Muslim, as a mother,
as a human being, I think we need to do everything we can
to stop a group like ISIS. But we would be giving in
to their narrative if we cast them as representatives
of a faith of 1.6 billion people. (Applause) Thank you. ISIS has as much to do with Islam as the Ku Klux Klan has to do
with Christianity. (Applause) Both groups claim to base
their ideology on their holy book. But when you look at them,
they’re not motivated by what they read in their holy book. It’s their brutality that makes them
read these things into the scripture. Recently, a prominent imam
told me a story that really took me aback. He said that a girl came to him because she was thinking
of going to join ISIS. And I was really surprised and asked him, had she been in contact
with a radical religious leader? And he said the problem
was quite the opposite, that every cleric that she had
talked to had shut her down and said that her rage,
her sense of injustice in the world, was just going to get her in trouble. And so with nowhere to channel
and make sense of this anger, she was a prime target to be exploited by extremists promising her a solution. What this imam did was to connect her
back to God and to her community. He didn’t shame her for her rage —
instead, he gave her constructive ways to make real change in the world. What she learned at that mosque
prevented her from going to join ISIS. I’ve told you a little bit about how Islamophobia
affects me and my family. But how does it impact ordinary Americans? How does it impact everyone else? How does consuming fear 24 hours a day
affect the health of our democracy, the health of our free thought? Well, one study — actually,
several studies in neuroscience — show that when we’re afraid,
at least three things happen. We become more accepting
of authoritarianism, conformity and prejudice. One study showed that when subjects
were exposed to news stories that were negative about Muslims, they became more accepting
of military attacks on Muslim countries and policies that curtail the rights
of American Muslims. Now, this isn’t just academic. When you look at when
anti-Muslim sentiment spiked between 2001 and 2013, it happened three times, but it wasn’t around terrorist attacks. It was in the run up to the Iraq War
and during two election cycles. So Islamophobia isn’t just
the natural response to Muslim terrorism as I would have expected. It can actually be a tool
of public manipulation, eroding the very foundation
of a free society, which is rational
and well-informed citizens. Muslims are like canaries
in the coal mine. We might be the first to feel it, but the toxic air of fear
is harming us all. (Applause) And assigning collective guilt isn’t just about having
to explain yourself all the time. Deah and his wife Yusor
were a young married couple living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they both went to school. Deah was an athlete. He was in dental school,
talented, promising … And his sister would tell me
that he was the sweetest, most generous human being she knew. She was visiting him there
and he showed her his resume, and she was amazed. She said, “When did my baby brother
become such an accomplished young man?” Just a few weeks after Suzanne’s visit
to her brother and his new wife, their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, murdered them, as well as Yusor’s sister, Razan,
who was visiting for the afternoon, in their apartment, execution style, after posting anti-Muslim statements
on his Facebook page. He shot Deah eight times. So bigotry isn’t just immoral,
it can even be lethal. So, back to my story. What happened after 9/11? Did we go to the mosque
or did we play it safe and stay home? Well, we talked it over, and it might seem like
a small decision, but to us, it was about what kind of America
we wanted to leave for our kids: one that would control us by fear or one where we were practicing
our religion freely. So we decided to go to the mosque. And we put my son in his car seat, buckled him in, and we drove silently,
intensely, to the mosque. I took him out, I took off my shoes,
I walked into the prayer hall and what I saw made me stop. The place was completely full. And then the imam made an announcement, thanking and welcoming our guests, because half the congregation were Christians, Jews,
Buddhists, atheists, people of faith and no faith, who had come not to attack us,
but to stand in solidarity with us. (Applause) I just break down at this time. These people were there because they chose
courage and compassion over panic and prejudice. What will you choose? What will you choose
at this time of fear and bigotry? Will you play it safe? Or will you join those who say we are better than that? Thank you. (Applause) Thank you so much. Helen Walters: So Dalia,
you seem to have struck a chord. But I wonder, what would you say to those
who might argue that you’re giving a TED Talk, you’re clearly a deep thinker, you work at a fancy think tank, you’re an exception, you’re not the rule. What would you say to those people? Dalia Mogahed: I would say,
don’t let this stage distract you, I’m completely ordinary. I’m not an exception. My story is not unusual. I am as ordinary as they come. When you look at Muslims
around the world — and I’ve done this, I’ve done
the largest study ever done on Muslims around the world — people want ordinary things. They want prosperity for their family, they want jobs and they want to live in peace. So I am not in any way an exception. When you meet people who seem
like an exception to the rule, oftentimes it’s that the rule is broken, not that they’re an exception to it. HW: Thank you so much.
Dalia Mogahed. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What it’s like to be a Muslim in America | Dalia Mogahed

  1. Yet muslims do much destruction to this world even till today… Because Quran allows them.
    They are the hardest race on earth to settle in peace with…very hard! I can't get why they are such.

  2. Big deceitful،
    Try to be Christian in islamic County.
    We know your doctrine and teaching..
    JESUS bless The USA Amen

  3. Dalia Mogahed, a smart and lucky woman, or as a short a blessed woman. Also she is wise and like to share her blessings from God to humanity, She is honest and that is why she is delivering this speech. GOD bless you sister.

  4. Can someone please answer this??
    Mohammed's first wife Khadija gave him a young slave named Zaid Bin Haritha. Mohammed liked the boy and few years later took him to Kaba (a holy site for believers) and announced to all, that Zaid is my son. Thereafter the slave was named Zaid Bin Mohammed. Some year later Mohammed went to see his son who was absent but his wife Zainab, invited him in. She was scantily dressed so that Mohammed hastily retreated, exclaiming, Lord, "how Thou dost turn the hearts of men!"

    Zainab, delighted at this eminent conquest, recounted the incident to her husband in detail. Zaid, immediately went to see Mohammed and said he was perfectly willing to divorce his wife so that Mohammed could marry her. While Mohammed hesitated, doubtless because Arab customs forbade marrying one's own daughter in law. Zaid did divorce Zainab.

    Shortly thereafter while in the company of Ayesha, his child-bride, Mohammed had a prophetic trance. He awoke to say, Send someone to Zainab the good news. " He then recited Koranic verses that sanctioned the marriage and abrogated his fatherhood of Zaid. Ayesha, who must have been crestfallen, quietly uttered one of the most sarcastic remarks ever made to his face. She said, Thy Lord doth hasten to please Thee." Zaid, having lost a wife gained immortality. He is the only person beside Mohammed mentioned in Koran by name.

    I have often wondered what special services Zain do for Islam but could not come up with a reasonable response.

    Nusrat Rizvi, Son of a Sunni clergyman

  5. Thanks all of You being respected this vedio but I believe ,believe every religion You wish but deal with people the same way and the way You like others to treat You .but the importance is we have to respect every religion like U wish to respect Ur religion
    From great Somalia
    Islam mY religion I am proud being islam and My country ,that's our Example of our roler model "prophet mohammed "scw" was left Us

  6. Islam is the religion of peace.islam says" a person who kill others even a single person it means he killed whole humanity" in islam Allah says d"nt destroy other wealth.honour & d"nt give others any physical damage.Give respect others even a person who is harmful 4 u.love all humanity . Islam zindabad

  7. Remember when a Christian kiled a muslim family in Florida cries 😟 I cried when I saw that on the news I thought we humans where supost to be the best spechies and yet we kill Like animals

  8. I feel bad for the people on the twin towers imagine a pain so bad u have to jump out a building. I feel the sane when saddam hussain attacked my country even though I wasn't born that time i get emotional when i see my mom and dad shed tears bcs they are remembering the screams of my family when they got sawed in half and be headed infront of they're families. The reason i say this bcs i dont hate ppl that are in the country that were involved bcs not all of them hate us the lesson is dont judge a group by a person

  9. if she has a gay friend, she's not a muslim… she's a token entitled privileged muslim gaining sympathy on the behalf of oppressed hyper-conservative muslims in africa and south asia… just like black people in america bitching how oppressed they are when in reality, it is the black people in africa who are really oppressed…

  10. I really don't care if your Islam or not as long as you don't attack me
    I'm fine I genually care that there protected and I think that both Christians Jews and Muslims
    all believe in God or Allah so we should let it divide us although I cannot say war will never happen again .because I'm one man out of 7 billion .

  11. I would dump any superstition for bronze age shepherds ( all 3 ones no discrimination) and live my life as a decent human.
    No need of supernatural blah blah blah.
    And the weird profile pic is only because I am a fan of tank games where I play the villain ( for fun) and not because I am some weird German sociopath.

  12. if every person converted to Islam, then you would not have the phones, the Internet and all the amenities that we have today

  13. if every person converted to Islam, then you would not have the phones, the Internet and all the amenities that we have today

  14. i love being a muslim and love praying to Muhammed (s.a.w) but mostly to allah I really love allah I wil be soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy to see allah he is so forgiveable

  15. You speak from such a place of privilege – one that you don’t acknowledge in your talk. You’re an engineer living in America – were you born there? Do you understand the Middle East? I only ask this because you speak as though every Muslim woman has the privileges you do. They don’t.

  16. Since you like your religion so much why didn’t you stay in your beautiful Islamic country.
    Islam may be good but the Muslim men LOSERS, CONTROLLING FREAKS, are unfairly forbidden many things to the women . Muslim men have no respect to the freedom of women . Fight for your rights.

  17. Thanks for reminding us to be a rational human being, not one that succumbs to authority, conformity, prejudice and popular beliefs.

  18. Islam and Allah are nothing more than the figment of the imagination of a sadistic, mass murdering, suicidal, wife beating, gay killing child molester that wanted to see the world burn for his own amusement and continues to do so even today, from beyond the grave. If he had been successful, the entire world would be one very large and unhappy caliphate, with everyone that disagreed with him either dead or enslaved.

  19. i wonder what muslims in there country look at us in there country i wonder if they look at us as people with out judgment its all ways about how we look at them never how they would treat or look at us in there countries

  20. this women is talking one sided bull she knows her country would not treat one of you none muslims with the same respect she is blaming muslims when there incontrol it is a big difference in it is there home ground

  21. muslim countries don't treat others that go to there countries with sweet love as she is acting like she is a liar go to iran go to arab countries and see for yourself the bull she speaks to americans how we should treat them

  22. she speaks of islamophobia i say she has european phobia all she is doing is preaching to americans on how bad we are maybe the problem is she does not like us

  23. look at them morons clapping for her downing them calling them racist and talking down to them as if she is some poor jailed beaten victome in her 200 hundred dollar out fit with her virtue signaling

  24. I testify that there is no deity but Allah. And I testify once again that Muhammad is his servant and messenger. , … La ilahe illallah, there is no god but Allah!☝🏻❤️☪️

  25. To cover hijab in america🙄its really hard but who said it is easy to go jannah😏Anyway i will die one day inshaallah it will be to believe Allah 😔May Allah help us🤲

  26. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuQZ19Om1JA
    Fucking respect the women who suffer. If you are NOT a victim then you are doing a REALLY big injustice to the ones who are.

  27. as a muslim, I watched with tears. yeah, I'm lucky than a lot of muslims cause I'm living in muslim country but still, the way the world looked at us so badly, it caused my tears to flow. i just want more, more, more peace. more love. my Allah bless everyone.

  28. Instead of showing their "true nature" of their political ideology like Anjem-Andy-Choudary does in Europe and the millions of muslims with their vociferant "Wait for the real holocaust", "Islam will dominate the world", "Behead those that insult the "prophet"? and the other blatant demostrations that show that muslims bite the hand of those that feed them. TAQIYYA/TAWRIYYA . That hypocrite woman can have in their hands the christian rosary to "appear"? "honest and sincere"?. All the people in the audience very clear doesn't know nothing about the Quran, Haddiths, Sharia and "accept"? all the lies, deceiving of that swuindling woman. Islam is a political ideology of the VI century for people of the VI century.

  29. That's great and all, but the peaceful majority is irrelevant. The extremists are driving the agenda, and this is a dogma that don't let people assimilate into Western society. If you don't want to assimilate into a society, don't move there.

  30. Being a Muslim in America 🙄? one must respect American values contribute to welfare for American society and grateful towards country .u are Just American

  31. Assalamualaikuum sister
    Very nice ❤️
    New subscriber I am proud of my that Allah bless us and show us the right path. Allahamdurila❤️❤️❤️

  32. Nice video…. However I am bit confused by people of all faiths using the word GOD to refer to their divine spiritual leader, supposed to be from the past and now in heavens….. However, the word GOD is the surname of tribe of Hindu priests, who spell it as GOR, GAUD or GAUR but still spoken as the word GOD…. And there must be many millions of them now…. So it has become very easy, for faithful followers to contact GOD in human form….

    I myself prefer ISLAMIC LEADER to be ALLAH, however ALLAH too has many (99) names….

    While exploring the religious affairs from various sects…. I noticed that there exists an overlapped religious-spiritual matrix of some chosen divine names….

    And those names and variants are shared by both thousands of persons from both male/females…

    Now I know why I like DALIA, which means porridge in local language…. Amazing isn't it ?…. So many languages, and so many different meanings for the same word….

    BTW I had faith in all religions, and still have… But assume all live humans to be evolved versions of the just few divine leaders mentioned in the holy books… No one ever dared to question, edit or update these ancient texts…. As any alteration, deletion etc. to them is strictly prohibited…

    So I wrote mine…. Which is called code number 666 (it reminds me of my birthday) Which mentions all live humans as divine, and they all can have eternal lives through reproduction…. Apart from the good guidance available from the other ancient and modern holy books…..

  33. And if a working-class, young Muslim lady residing in the West, whether in America or Europe, is not in the same league academically as the hijab-wearing lady engineers and engineering students, could she dream of being a Lady Gaga? Or a popular singer? Or dream of being a star of stage and screen? She might be a natural actor, dancer or singer. And might find, in addition to dreams of marriage and motherhood, fulfilment in doing something artistic. If so, could she leave aside her hijab to take part in, say, amateur dramatics as part of a drama club or play music as part of a musical society? Without being ostracised by her own immediate community? Or is there a vice-like grip on young Muslims, especially female, that prevents them from expressing any artistic inclinations? Has Muslim piety put the arts out of reach for many young Muslims? In the early 1900s, religious traditions hardly impeded the taking up of artistic pursuits by newly-arrived immigrants to America. There might be well over one billion Muslims in the world today, but if an increase in participation in the arts of young Muslims is to be gained, world-wide, then the less overt displays of religious piety, the better.

  34. Palestina is full of muslim…and they are attacked by israel but people that are in palestina are so strong,that they even died for islam fight for islam,they say islam is terrorist…but who is the one attacking them? Who is the one attacking innocent people? I'm not saying that all israel people is bad,i know there are nice israel people,but please don't say muslims are terrorist please…we all are human beings and we all are equal

  35. As long as the religion teaches us right ways, no man will do merciless jobs bombing and killing people all around the world … U may not know but we Christians pray even for our enemies . we pray for u to God saying 'FORGIVE THEM FATHER FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING '

  36. Please stop saying Islam is perfect. That sounds so stupid. The Chinese will never say something is perfect and we always think everything has its two sides. This is why we think one diverse and inclusive culture is so important. If someone say Islam, Buddism, Catholic is perfect, we chinese will think this people is so stupid. Religion is important. But please learn something basis about filosophy.

  37. certain muslim ppl are negative sometimes and they are the one who cause problem. i love arabic and history muslim itself accept war. your quran book are rubbish and same with Christian bible and any other religion book all are rubbish! you dont need a religion and your cloth to cover your head. religion all i know causing the war and stop ppl who be want to be. why you need female only be with male. why religion saying stuff like that. thats not a prove or fact. religion been brain wash by all these word just stop LGBT community. so yes stop being victmise , get up and stop being religion. if you tell me you respect LGBT then u lie me. in modern day YOU DONT NEED TO BE RELIGION ANYMORE

  38. I think she should talk about honour killings because honour killings are still legal in some Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran. In Pakistan, a father can legally forgive his son if he kills his sister over family honour. It is funny how on one hand the Saudi Prince has 22 wives yet honour killings are legal in his country. How come the Saudi Prince wasn't stoned to death for having 22 wives?

  39. Tu as pris ton ticket pour l'enfer. D'ailleurs l'enfer, c'est ce que te promet Allah , le seul dieu qui promet l'enfer à ses adorateurs ( s19:71). Allah le trompeur (s4:142). Allah l'orgueilleux (s59:23). Allah le père du mensonge (s19:26). Tous ces titres, je te rappelle sont les titres de satan dans la bible.
    Il n'y a pas de doute: Allah c'est satan en personne et l'islam c'est son filet pour entrainer l'humanité en enfer. Bon séjour en enfer où rôtit Mahomet ton prophète, celui-là même qui a récité des versets sataniques.

  40. I like your English 🙂 ❤️ i like cover my hair. I like to be friends with muslim woman. But I don't know how to approach them

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