Despite being the race of the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesians typically aren’t regarded as Muslims at first-glance. Here are some things we gotta deal with as “the odd ones out.”
1. Facing fetishization AND Islamophobia
The hijab just becomes a switch for what kind of prejudice you face. Hijab off: “Wow, you’re so exotic. Say something to me in your language.” Hijab on: “Go back to your country! Your culture oppresses you! You Mozlems are all terrorists!” Either way,
2. Weird Tests To Prove You’re Muslim
“Nah, you can’t be Muslim. Say your Al-Fatiha.” “But you don’t look Muslim. Are you mixed? What masjid do you go to?” “What are the Five Pillars of Islam? Huh?” Why do I have to prove my Islam? There are literally 1.6 BILLION Muslims. We don’t all look alike.
3. People getting confused by your name
“So… you’re Asian… but your last name is Muhammad? And you’re like, FULLY Asian?”
Which leads to…
4. People not understanding that you can be Asian AND Muslim
“So wait… If you’re Muslim, does that mean you’re ACTUALLY Muslim? I thought all Asians are Buddhist or Christian.” Asia consists of 48 countries, and has a rich history of cultural and religious influences. There isn’t one type of Asian, just like there isn’t any one type of Muslim.
5. Learning Arabic but not understanding it
“Alif, ba, ta…” Sure, we learned how to read and write in Arabic in Sunday school, but when it comes to understanding the prayers we memorized and cited, that’s when “The Holy Qur’an: Translated” comes in. We may not understand them word for word, but our prayers are still valid.
6. Balancing both identities
Societal expectations of what it means to be Asian and what it means to be Muslim can take a toll on us–and sometimes these expectations make us doubt the validity of who we are. It’s a struggle, but we’re just as much lychee as we are dates. We’re just as much Kamala Khan as we are Jackie Chan, and that’s okay. Our Muslim and Asian identities aren’t halves that make the whole of our identity and are equally important to who we are.