Everywhere she looks, she sees hateful eyes staring straight back at her. Why? Because she is a Muslim. Yes, if you look at the media today you see hate, bloodshed and anger caused by so called “Muslims”, in the “name of religion”. People are being mercilessly slaughtered for having a different set of beliefs. Yes, she adorns the traditional Islamic attire. Yes, she is a Muslim, but she doesn’t believe in killing and causing chaos in the name of “ALLAH” (God), because Islam teaches her that.

As a Muslim she should live in peace and harmony with her fellow human beings non-Muslims and Muslims alike. When she adorns her headscarf, it’s not to strike fear or paranoia into your heart, she wears it in order to preserve her modesty from the prying eyes of strange men because her God and her religion tell her to do so.

Yes, we do things differently, but does that make us bad, because of a few rotten apples? Society tells us to embrace who we are but when we do, society judges us. Who is society? And how do they determine what is accepted and rejected? Muslims are just like everyone else, we just express our faith and beliefs by dressing differently. We are a peaceful community just trying to practice our religion to the best of our ability, in the most peaceful way possible.

Now, I don’t write this essay in order to change anyone’s views or opinions about Muslim’s or Islam. I write this essay in hopes to tell people: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, even if the book happens to be wearing a headscarf or a traditional Islamic face covering. When you look at us with hate because of what we wear or how we look, it shows your lack of knowledge and intolerance. Still, it hurts my big, red, pumping heart to have people brand all Muslims as evil and bad.

Do we taint all the potatoes bad because of a rotten one? I am a Muslim and I condemn terrorism, there are plenty more like me, if you set aside your intolerance and listen to the thousands of echoing voices rising above the surface of hate and lack of knowledge. It seems faint and distant but it is there. You just have to know where to listen, only then will you hear it. We can only move forward once we let go of all the arrogance and ignorance, which we harbour in our hearts.

As the wise Pocahontas once said, “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you will learn things you never knew you never knew”, a beautiful saying, true indeed and never outdated.

So, the next time you see a Muslim woman wearing her traditional Islamic clothes, I ask you not to stare at her or make her feel uncomfortable in any way. Just like you, she is a daughter, mother and wife. The difference is she is just being trying to practice her religion the way she knows to the best of her ability. Don’t hate us, or judge us by what you see in the media. Educate me with your differences and I will gladly educate you with mine, only then can we move forward as a nation.

Let’s embrace the principles of democracy and learn from each other, let’s clear ourselves of all the stereotypes attached to our fellow humans and start afresh. We need to learn a bit of impartiality, so we can distinguish that not all people from a specific race or religion are bad or evil, there are plenty of good ones as well- and the good outweighs the bad by far. Don’t judge a book by its cover because you don’t know what gems are hidden between its pages. I wish you peace and prosperity. Aasaalamualykom wa raghmatulahi wabarakatu (Peace be upon you).