What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word Muslim? Before reading further, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place. You won’t be asked to share your answer.
When we meet a person for the first time – let’s be honest – we judge that person based on their appearance. We see a kind face or a harsh face… We see a well-dressed person or a slob… We see youth or signs of age… These are extreme examples of the types of judgements we make consciously and unconsciously.
Some of us are better at shaking off that first impression, while the rest of us need to get to know a person before our opinion changes for good or bad.
When it comes to Muslims, many of us do not have an opportunity to get beyond the first impression, especially if we don’t have any direct contact with Muslims. We see a hijab or a long beard and automatically make associations with whatever stereotype is imbedded in our subconscious.
Here’s a little experiment
Complete the sentences below…
All Muslims are ________
Muslims make me feel __________
When I see a Muslim I ____________
If your words are negative, don’t worry. Your response may just be a reflection of the associations that have been planted in your subconscious by the news, television programmes, politicians, church leaders, friends, etc.
The more aware you become of the things that influence your thinking, the more likely you are to stop and question an automatic thought. In other words, if you struggle with negative feelings towards Muslims, you have the power to change this.
What to do now
Your task today is to think about your own reaction to any news you come across on TV, the radio and online. Write it down if that helps and then ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Pray about any issues that come to light (if there are any). We could all do with a more godly perspective, so ask your Father to help you be more in tune with his heart.
These are some of the answers we got when we asked Christians and non-Christians their answer to the opening question of this post: God-fearing, friend, different, loyal, friendly, Islam, nothing, veil, Sharia, dangerous, Arab, prejudice, Arabic, scum, burqa, devoted, Allah, faith, diverse, lost, terrorist, Ramadan, Five Pillars. Now how do you feel?
Make a comment below or use social media to let us know your thoughts about today. Use the hashtag #RethinkingRamadan.
Tomorrow, as we reassess, we’ll be doing another quiz.