By Dounia Qarid
By Dounia Qarid
Rabat – Everyone has a story about being misunderstood or being judged, whether by clothing or money or nationality or the color of one’s skin. As the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie said in her TED Talk, there is danger in only seeing the “single story.”
I have a French friend who made this mistake. She had wrong conceptions about Arabs and Islam. She thought that all Muslim girls wear the veil and that Islam was born in Saudi Arabia, amongst other things.
I tried to explain to her Islam is a diverse religion. Many Muslim girls choose not to wear the veil. Muslims are diverse and multifaceted.
I cannot accept insults to any religion. I would never talk about Christianity with authority because I know nothing personally about it. I would educate myself first. If others want to talk about Islam, they must educate themselves first.
When she told me that she believed Europeans invented everything, and that there were no inventors amongst Arab people, I told her that was wrong as well. We have Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who is often considered the greatest mathematician in history. He came up with algorithms and the modern term algebra comes from the operations he used to solve quadratic equations. We also have scholars like Ibn Sina and Ibn Rochole. The list is long.
When she asked me if we have airports and cars in Morocco, I laughed. I replied sarcastically, “No, we still use camels.”
To know the culture of a country, you must know many different sides of it through education or exploration. It is the only way to understand. The world’s media does not often represent the truth of all cultures. Adichie said, “The danger of a stereotype is not that it is wrong, but that it is incomplete.”
It is so difficult to convince someone to try and understand something they did not see before. I understand why my French friend thought these things, and I was glad to tell her the truth about Moroccan culture and Islam—but I also believe that nobody should think these things in the first place.
The way to change this is to see beyond the “single story” and complete the story. We need to find powerful ways to tell our own stories. Social media can make a difference if we used it correctly. Seeking the truth is not hard if you are honest with yourself and your community.
We all live in one big world together, and we must all help each other and support fellow human beings despite our differences. I believe that God created us and He made us all different in order to see how we will live with each other. We must explore other cultures if we want to live in harmony.
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