This past year was…interesting; 2020 was definitely a rollercoaster of events and emotions. With more downs than ups, this year will be remembered forever. From things like the troublesome U.S. elections to the constant racism and Islamophobia many Muslims around the world faced and are still facing, this year has absolutely been one for the history books. But amongst all the drama and devastation, we at MuslimGirl.com decided to take a look at all the things that made us happy and proud to be Muslim this year.
1. A Muslim couple creates the long-awaited COVID vaccine
In the first few weeks of November, German biotechnology company BioNTech announced that they’d discovered a vaccine for COVID-19 that was more than 90% effective. The founders of the company, a Muslim couple originally from Turkey, teamed with Pfizer to create the vaccine in January of this year. Dr Sahin and his wife Dr. Özlem Türeci are immigrants from Turkey, who moved to Germany at a very young age. This revolutionary discovery will not only help the entire world’s population but also gave the Muslim community one more thing to brag about science-wise.
2. More Muslims were elected to office
More Muslim candidates made history and increased Muslim representation as they were elected to office in their respective houses and assemblies during the 2020 U.S. Elections. Nine Muslims were elected into their states, with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, members of the notorious “Squad,” were re-elected and cementing their victories in U.S. history once again.
3. The toilet paper crisis
Within a few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic being announced, shops and supermarkets began seeing a drastic increase in their sales. It seemed everyone was mass buying for the upcoming lockdowns. But the most peculiar item being mass bought was toilet paper, causing an unfortunate and yet very serious crisis. Toilet paper rolls were completely sold out in almost every single supermarket in the Western world. Memes were made and toilet rolls were sold for quadruple their actual price on eBay. Everything was in chaos. However, within all that frenzy, the simple solution of using bidets and water to clean oneself came up. Few were ready to hear that water exists and can be used. Fortunately for Muslims and a few other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, we’ve been accustomed to using bidets and water for all of our lives!
4. Muslims got creative celebrating quarant-Eid
Eid is meant to be a beautiful day of spreading love, joy, and happiness between friends and family. The festive days come twice a year and unfortunately for Muslims, both Eids were spent indoors and under lockdown. However, that didn’t mean things weren’t looking as bright and festive as they normally do. Muslims spent Eid at home, and the creativity they exuded was something no one has ever seen before. The greeting “Eid Mubarak” was exchanged over the phone and Zoom. Drive-thru Eids at the local masjids, gifts exchanged between family members and dropped off at doors, and small, homely barbeques and dinners were held with close family; a joyous occasion that was even more blessed than most Eids. May Allah SWT continue blessing us for the next Eid to come in a few short months.
5. Muslims got more involved with the Black Lives Matter movement
The Black Lives Matter movement protests took off once again in July after the murder of George Floyd by police. With this, the Muslim community took it upon themselves to identify the racism within the community. Islam is a religion that has no place for racial discrimination, as it is stated in the Qura’an many times. The Prophet Muhammad SAWS also reiterated that racial prejudice does not exist in the eyes of Allah SWT during his last sermon. In fact, the majority of the prophets were people of color, as were dozens of the sahabahs, or companions of the Prophet Muhammad SAWS, who were prominent figures and who had a close connection to the Prophet.
6. A socially distant Ramadhan meant more worship and less socializing
COVID-19 may have been a negative phenomenon in all of our lives, but it has also been a positive blessing for other aspects of our lives too. While many spend Ramadhan tirelessly cooking and working to feed guests each night, this Ramadhan allowed us to have a more quiet and humble month of fasting and worship. It reminded us of the true blessing behind a simple and steadfast way of worship. We could spend our days reading more Qura’an, doing more dhikr, spending it with our parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Socializing, playing host, and catering to other people’s needs was put on a backburner so we could appreciate the simplicity and beauty behind a Ramadhan at home.
7. Muslim Women’s Day 2020
This year, we celebrated the 4th annual Muslim Women’s Day. Started by Amani al-Khatehtbeh, the founder of MuslimGirl, Muslim Women’s Day this year was all about autonomy, self-determination, and self-governance. Thousands of women posted about the decisions they’ve taken for themselves and things they’ve done to make their own lives better. Muslim women flourished even more in the media this year than ever, with dozens of media publications like Allure, Vogue, Forbes, GQ MiddleEast, and many more posting about the significant day and delving into autonomy and identity.
8. Zoom weddings bring us closer to the sunnah
Zoom has been an absolute savior this year. From helping business stay running to keeping students busy with online classes, and even connecting people that would usually see each other on a daily basis, Zoom has definitely helped everyone. And now, weddings have also taken a Zoom turn. This year, more Muslims got married in the privacy of their homes with a select few guests than ever before. They reverted to the simplicity of the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad SAWS, having small, intimate marriage ceremonies in their own homes, saving thousands of dollars. And Zoom aided in making sure families from all around the world could witness the sweet moments.
9. Meet Amulet, Marvel’s newest Muslim superhero
Marvel has dominated the comic book and movie industries for the last few decades, and rightfully so. Their stories are always action-packed, intricately intertwined, and an absolute adventure to read or watch. And every person, whether they’re a young child or a grown adult, enjoys Marvel because their main characters are always either adorably relatable or fiercely unattainable. Now, even Muslims have not one, but two extraordinary superheros to look forward to. Marvel’s newest superheros, Amulet, a Lebanese American, and Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani American, are two superheroes that will provide us Muslims plenty of representation and rock the superhero world.
10. Athens, Greece opens its first mosque
A minor victory to the world, but a massive victory for Muslims in Greece, Athens has opened its first-ever official mosque. After almost 200 years, thousands of protests, and legal challenges, Muslims in Athens can now openly attend the mosque, pray five times a day, and have the Athaan recited for each prayer. Despite having a Muslim population of 500,000, Athens had been the only EU capital without an official mosque. The project was first announced in 2006, and after suffering through bureaucratic decisions and legal complications regarding the construction, the mosque could finally open its doors. While there’s still a long way to go for Muslims to become part of the norm in Athens, but alhamdulillah, this mosque was a start in the right direction.
11. Biden saying “Inshallah”
Whether you think it’s cool or insulting, we know for a fact that Biden said the word “Inshallah” in one of his presidential debates. When Trump claimed he will release his tax information, Biden said ” When? Inshallah?” People started asking if he said it intentionally or if he was saying something else that was misheard. It was later confirmed by his campaign that he did indeed use the word. Biden has been making different promises for more equality and rights to the Muslim community, including abolishing the Muslim ban that was put in place under Trump’s administration.
12. Disney makes an Eid short
In an attempt to diversify its content, Disney announced they are working on a short film featuring a Pakistani family and their attempt at celebrating Eid in the U.S. The story will revolve around two sisters; one is trying to gather signatures to make Eid a holiday and the other is trying to fit in in the American society without the pressure of showing her identity or cultural background and the conflict that happens between both of them. The film is yet to be released, but it’s a good step towards more Muslim representation in media, especially on a platform that severely lacks Muslim representation like Disney. It is important for children to see people who look like and act like them, and Disney is taking a step towards this.
13. New Zealand police introduced the first hijabi-friendly uniform
After the Christchurch attack, New Zealand has been trying to become more inclusive for its Muslim population. For the first time in its history, New Zealand officially introduced hijab to its police uniforms. Constable Zeena Ali is the first woman to wear the new uniform with her hijab.
14. Austria lifts headscarf ban in elementary schools
A previously passed law banned any form of headgear, including headscarves, inside elementary schools in Austria. The law was later overturned after it was deemed discriminatory and unconstitutional, and that it carries the risk of jeopardizing or hindering Muslim girls’ access to education. The decision came after two girls and their parents filed an appeal saying the law specifically targets Muslims because it is only applied to full head covers and not other religious head coverings like coverings worn by Sikhs or Jews. The appeal mentioned that therefore this ban is only a ban of Muslim girls’ hijab only. The court decision came after the appeal filed by the families and it deemed the law to be infringing on religious freedom rights and overturned it, allowing girls to wear their headscarves and feel welcomed.
15. Tennessee amends rules and allows athletes to wear religious headgear, including hijabs
Last September, an incident in which a high school freshman was not allowed to participate in a volleyball match because she was wearing a headscarf/hijab took place in Tennessee. Najah Aqeel was denied participation in the match by the referee, citing that she needed permission to wear her hijab in the court under according to the rule from the National Federation of State High School Associations rulebook. Tennessee’s high school athletic association later on voted to allow religious headwear during sports competitions as long as it abides by certain rules. The rules state the head covering should: match the color of the team, not pose any danger to the player or abrasive to the player or any other player, and it must be attached in a way that will be “highly unlikely” it will fall during the match.
16. Biden pledges to end the Muslim ban on day one of his presidency
President-elect Joe Biden pledged to immediately halt travel restrictions imposed on many Muslim-majority countries that were imposed by the Trump administration. “As president, I’ll work with you to rip the poison of hate from our society to honor your contributions and seek your ideas. My administration will look like America with Muslim Americans serving at every level,” Biden said in a speech to American Muslims. CAIR ” The Council on American-Islamic relations,” said they would hold president-elect Biden accountable to his promises.
17. Muslims win athan “call to prayer” battle in a German town
After a dispute that lasted five years, a German court rejected an application of silencing the Muslim call for prayer — “athan” — in the town of Oer-Erkenschwick in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. A couple that lives almost 900 meters away from the Turkish Islamic Community filed a complaint that the Islamic call for prayer was infringing on their freedom of religion as it forces them to listen to their call for prayer. The Islamic community was forced to silence it’s athan for five long years until the court rejected the complaint. “Every society must accept that one will sometimes be aware that others exercise their faith,” presiding judge Annette Kleinschnittger said. The Turkish Islamic Community can now use the loudspeaker for almost 15 minutes between noon and 2 PM to call for Friday prayer every week.
18. Despite all the hardships, Muslims still gave back
Besides the physical and mental drawbacks that people across the world have been going through, many people have been drastically affected financially. This year has witnessed many businesses closing, people filing for unemployment, and people being worried about where will their next meal come from. Despite all these hardships, many Muslims were still able to give back to the communities and those in need. Here are some of the different ways the Muslim community gave back:
- A group of Brooklyn Muslims took it upon themselves to provide food to about 200 people in Manhattan/s Herald Square area during the month of Ramadan.
- IRUSA — Islamic Relief USA — allocated $1.9 million in support for COVID-19 response. The allocation will be distributed to mosques and masjids “who are facing extreme difficulties at the moment in administering services to the most vulnerable in their midst.”
- A 100-year-old man raised over $200k for COVID-19 victims by walking laps while fasting during Ramadan.
- A Muslim charity organized an online event to raise money for the COVID-19 situation in Yemen. The charity used the money to donate PPE and basic necessities to suffering families and hospitals in Yemen.
19. Hagia Sofia reconverted to a masjid and held its first call for prayer after 86 years
The Hagia Sofia went from a church to a mosque to a museum, only to be finally reconverted to a mosque once again. Hagia Sofia has been a museum for the past 86 years until a decision from a Turkish court annulled its current status and turned it back to a mosque. The first prayer in the reconverted mosque was a Friday prayer, where joyful Muslims joined from different places to pray in this mosque for the first time in 86 years. About 1000 people were allowed in the mosque, including the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while thousands of others laid their prayer mats outside the vicinity of the mosque and prayed along. The decision was celebrated by Muslims across the globe as they shared their happiness with the Turkish people over the restoration of such an important monument and landmark in Islamic history.
20. SCOTUS rules Muslims on the no-fly list can sue
Three Muslim men were asked by the FBI to spy on their fellow Muslims at mosques in New York state, and when they refused, they were immediately put on a no-fly list. Thankfully, “The 8-0 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said that the Muslim men could sue the FBI over the FBI’s retaliation of placing them on the no-fly list after they refused to spy on their communities. ” Though this can be considered a step forward, we still have a long way to go.