Ukrainian Muslims filmed a video where they expressed their point of view on prejudice and speculations about Islam and Muslims that are very far from being true. Stereotyped and mostly negative perception of that religion and its followers does no good in terms of consolidating the society which desperately needs coalescing based on tolerance and mutual respect.
People starring in the video tried their best to answer the questions widespread among those who know but very little about Islam and Muslims.
What is Islam about? Who are Ukrainian Muslims? Are they exclusively foreigners, Arabs and migrants from the countries where Islam dominates? How relations in Muslim families are built? Is that true that women are oppressed and rightless? Is that true that Muslims are intolerant and hostile towards people of other religious beliefs, and every Muslim is a terrorist? Is that true that most Muslims have little idea about world’s cultural and scientific heritage?
“My name is Lena. I am Ukrainian. I’m a Muslim”, — says a young woman whose clothes surprise many of the non-Muslims. Her hair and her is covered with a headscarf, which is, for some fighters for equal rights, a sign of harassment and oppression of the Muslim woman. Like, she is forced to dress like that, deprived of free choice, and her own desires aren’t taken into account, neglecting her own sense of style, tastes and her natural desire to express her personality by the way she looks. —
“Hijab is my choice. It’s a beautiful and dignified outfit, and I like it. It’s my protection”, — says Olena.
“My name is Maryam. I am Ukrainian, and I’m a Muslim. Islam teaches us patience. Patience is the bright light”, — another girl says.
“My name is Dmitri, I’m Russian living in Ukraine”, — a man, whose appearance would never give a clue to a stereotypized mind that he might practice Islam, says. Blond, pale-eyed, more fit for a Scandinavian Viking than for a popular image of “an average Muslim”.
“I’m a Muslim, and an engineer,” — he speaks on. — “Let’s recall such notorious terms as “Algebra”, “Geometry”, “Optics”, “Surgery”, “Hospital”, “toothbrush”… It were the Muslims researchers who invented things that changed the world,“ — Dmitri reminds, stressing that it was the Muslim civilization who helped the European Civilization progress to the modern state.
“My name is Taqwa, I’m Arab. I’m a Muslims and a permanent resident of Ukraine. I’m a student,” — a young girl says. — “Islam teaches us respect for our parents. They raised me as a child, took care of me, helped and supported me. At that, they don’t ask anything in return, and no one can replace them for us. Take care of your parents!” — she explains one of the Qur’anic principles for relations between parents and their children.
“My name is Diliaver, I’m Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian. I’m a journalist. Every Muslim musk gain knowledge wherever he is, and use this knowledge for doing good. Appreciate knowledge in your life,” — Dilyaver ruins another stereotype that Islam prescribes the believers to be ignorant, far from education and science.
“My name is Sabina, I’m Ukrainian. I’m a Muslim and a social activist. We often learn something about Islam from the Media, but it’s better if we ask Muslims about it,” — says Sabina, who herself is a living rebuttal of the idea for passive role of women in Muslim communities.
“My name is Abdallah, I’m Ukrainian. I’m a Muslim and I’m a wrestling trainer. An opinion that a bearded man is a terrorist is imposed on us, but that is not so. My beard indicates my faith. It’s something that makes any man look good. I have a beard, but I’m not a terrorist!”
We can certainly say that the young Muslims didn’t waste their time, if this video make at least some of the viewers overlook their ideas and think if those stereotypes were right, and understand that Muslims values include the basic things for all the mankind, such as dignity, honour, respect for parents, education, social work, work for the benefit of the whole society. Even a single idea that Muslims and non-Muslims have a lot in common would help raise mutual respect for each other’s mindset, and so make good grounds for further cooperation for the benefit of all.