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

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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)


  1. we muslim not giving trouble to others religion we dont have any problem with others but what driving me to sad when we muslim saying assalamualaikum for each other in social media and got interupt with hatred messages and so on . and when we fight back they will say we muslim are people with negative and got lesson frm hatred , this is why islam teach you to be humble because when you feel you are on top you will intimidate people for any reason . ( sorry fr my bad englisg

  2. Hello.I Am Serdar From Turkey.They give you a bad introduction to the religion of Islam.All I want is for you.Read the Qur'an in your own language.Your life will change a lot.

  3. KTH MIT FHWS Schweinfurt Carl Benz School Germany 卐

    The strongest religion in the world is the Hollandhauszen movement of Swedish orphanages.

  4. I never understand why muslims always tries to show they are muslims by their wearing❓❓❓❓❓❓❓


  5. Sort List Shariah Law in the the Quran
    Surah 47:4 =extortion or DEATH
    35 Surah 8:39 ( Keep fighting until Islam is the only religion)
    Surah 48:29
    Commanding all Muslims to murder everyone that does not join the fight to kill all others that do not follow Islam. That this is the only way that Alla will grant you salvation.
    (Quran 3:54, 7:99, 8:30) Allah is the greatest of all deceivers

    John B Muslim Comprehensive explanation

    General John J. Pershing

  6. The fear of islam has only a part to do with the terrorist attacks. It has also to to with honor violence, that is now normal and is becoming a bigger problem here in sweden .. And in islamic schools, at least in sweden where I live, children have been separated by gender and so on… We have had muslims in courts not following the law and freeing abusive husband. They have imams here that's proved to be connected to isis.. Example of Other countries that is run by islam and sharia (because no good enturpritation seems to exist) . Sharia courts in the UK and other. And The controdict verses of qouran.

    Just has to add. It's not strange to fear something that you're not sure of. It's very biological for us to envesigate and be a bit sceptic before we embrace something new. Maybe we find out it's dangerous or Maybe we find out that it's not.

    I fear islam in the form of islamic rules in the Western world and The other thing we can see around happening here . But I don't fear or dislile muslims. I strongly would argue that you can dislile or even hate an ideology, a religion or opinion and argue against it.. and STILL like or respect the person that have them. I promise you, not being able to criticly disguss a religion is gonna increse rasism and hatred..But muslims needs to be included in those debates and explain then, why we shouldn't be afraid of islam. If I bring a verse of the quran that scares me, the other person can than argue why it shouldn't scare me and so fourth

  7. A true devote Muslim can’t be a devote American, A true Muslim -like you who wears hijab which reflect your commitment to Islamic teachings – must fight to establish the Islamic state ,the constitution of which is derived from Quran, or what called sharea , the Islamic sharea obviously is in complete opposition to American constitution , according to Quran you are not allowed to be loyal to infidels which comprises 98% of US citizen , not only you are prohibited from devotion to infidels but also u have to fight them until they subvert and to pay jizya or they must convert to Islam , there is no freedom of quitting Islam your neck to stricken by sword if you do so,
    You hypocrite can’t worship your Allah and be loyal to USA constitution at the same time , you commit to one and forsake the other

  8. For a women coming outside alone is haram and prohibited yet you come infront of a crowd defending and fantasizing made up things to defend the cult and religion who is not even allowiing you to see men and men see you. You are delusional and unworthy of being on that stage, how a person in this century can believe in a 1500 years ago made up crap, just imagine how dumb and uneducated the people were at that time, they were remotely divided, who was beaten to death, who were executed, crucified forced to religions, no one knows. Just imagine 300 years and think how backwards human were snd you are belieing in a 1500 years old crap?
    You are so delusional and foolish.

  9. Come india i will show u how islam killing hindus….muslim mullas r bastered…read quran …quran teaches terrorism…this lady lier..making america fool

  10. 9?11 is an inside job ,part of the elite war against islam (jews mossad?bush cia),search it ,if not then eat this ?

  11. She's so fucking wrong on ISIS.

    ISIS are actually the true conservatives of Islam.
    They are literally following the teachings of the Koran.

  12. Wearing hijab, niqab makes a clear statement that declaring Muslim woman I accept (see points). It is a clear commitment to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamofascism walking around with a KKK cap is the equivalent to wearing a hijab, niqab.

    – I am worth half the value of a Muslim man [Q4:11, Q2:282]
    – I have no rights other than what my male protectors give me [Q4:34, Al-Tabari: Vol. 9, Al-Tirmidhi: Hadith 104]
    – I am no more than a sexual tool to the Muslim man [Q4:20]
    – I exist to provide sexual pleasure and children for the Ummah [Q65:4, Sahih Bukhari 7.62.88]
    – I am so unclean that touching me requires a Muslim to undergo ritual cleansing before praying [Q5:6]
    – I am equal to a dog and a donkey [Sahih Bukhari:8.161]
    – My very presence annuls the prayers of a fellow Muslim [Sahih Bukhari:8.161]
    – I am mentally deficient [Sahih Bukhari:1.6.301]
    – I cannot testify on my own behalf [Q24:6]
    – My testimony can and will be used against me [Q24:6]
    – I am the prime cause for rape because of it is my fault for inciting men [Q4:24, Sahih Bukhari:1.6.301]

    If that is what you want, please go to Saudi Arabia where you will live and die according to the dictates of Islamic Law.

  13. "What is it like to be a Muslim in a Christian Country."
    1. There is no such thing as a "Christian Country" That is a Muslim construct.
    2. If she thinks it is tough being a Muslim in a Western country, she should try being a Christian in a Muslim country. She would stop complaining immediately.

  14. Take off the hijab or get out of America. Your religion is not welcome in America. I'm so sad you are opressed to believing you have to cover yourself.

  15. I still have post trauma from 911 . I was in shock I didn't realize my neighbours we're harassing me because I am a Muslim. In Canada? I was always harassed ,but because I was a Muslim. I didn't even know what Islam was at that time. Except for…Muslims are scrupulously honest , charitable and kind . So how could this happen?

  16. Isis was following the hadiths bogus hadiths that have nothing to do in the Quran. Only when they were confronted with their lies did they switch to the Quran. And then twisted it badly. Just like some christians say that the Bible calls Muslims evil.

  17. She's a really good speaker. I've noticed the apathy around persecuting Muslims as well. It starts will selling newspapers and keeping Israel happy.

  18. It's a relief to know so many christians ,etc. Understand that our mission is peace and to help the poor and to be forgiving to the "worst" of people.

  19. Our systems in the West which offer no real social net and zero mercy in the courts produce bad behaviour . Alcohol doesn't help either. Our damaged Islam also has problems. We should all help each other so that one rape every second will be a thing of the past.

  20. They become terrorists in their basements because we fail in every society to help those who are marginalized . Make a friend and heal a heart.

  21. There is no such thing as islam*phobia. A phobia is defined as unnecessary fear. I don't think any person who denies islam is suffering from a phobia. Intelligent people don't agree with barbaric pedophiles that support female genital mutilation. Any person who supports or follows a regime that has an agenda to make the world by 'convert or die' is a sociopath.

  22. All those muslims that suffer from 'segregation', are isolation attacks brought on by the practice of islam. Islam forces them to self segregate.
    No one with at least half of a bird brain and a real heart could support a regime that is hellbent on destruction of society or humanity. These muslims that claim that they are ostracized have every right to but it is not the world or society that has done that to them; it their forced obedience to islam.
    It is caused by their own self-identy and having to live a life of a 'split personality' -In public they force an appearance of 'professionalism' or an overly caring 'habibi'. However their prayer life forces them to go pray for destruction and the sura expects them to act on it…. yea, they suffer and its pitiful but islam has done that to them, not a free society.

  23. Juste Ouwlooking at those …… those comment…..hmmm  !!!!. i think that.there no point trying…..!!!  to convince to accept us.

  24. I see someone that Barack HUSSEIN obama, hired…in his cabinet to help all the " refugees" obama created. I have zero respect .

  25. Network of Ex-moslim of North America and beyond !!

    May peace be upon them ?

  26. Bless you…islam is totally evil…mohammed, the founder of islam, was an aggressive militaristic deserttribe leader who made up the koran by mixing shards of jewish and christian texts, which he had heard on his business travels to Syria, with his own intolerant fantasies and dictated them to a literate aide (because mohammed himself could not read or write)…in most islamic countries jews, christians and 'unbelievers' (kafir) are persecuted or have to pay an unbeliever tax (jizya)…official punishment for leaving islam is death penalty (ridda)…certainly not a 'religion of peace' but an ideology of fear and death: “€œWhen you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks.”€ koran 47:4…Jesus Christ was the total opposite… Jesus said: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Biblebook Matthew chapter 5 verse 44…

  27. Muslims we know you. You are pretty crazy – just look at your book Mohammad wrote – full of hatred,, just stop lying. But those who believe you are very stupid. She ultimately believed! she has no critical thinking – she is crazy deceiver.

  28. 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.

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. 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…

  37. 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 .

  38. 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.

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

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

  41. 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

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