Failt ort, my fellow Manxies!
As you may have noticed, the British media’s portrayal of Muslims has been pretty negative, resulting in a lot of misrepresentations of the Muslim community, both on and off the Isle of Man. Here are five major misconceptions about being a Manx Muslim.
‘You recently moved here’
While a large number of the Muslim population have immigrated to the island, usually for work or to be with family, there are also Muslims that were born on the island, and have never lived anywhere else (shocker, right?!). The assumption that being Muslim means that there’s no way you could have been born on the island or consider the Isle of Man home can be extremely damaging to an individual’s sense of identity and belonging.
‘You sleep or shower with your hijab/scarf on’
Technically, this is only applicable to Muslim women that choose to wear hijab (hair covering), but nonetheless, it is a very common misconception. Muslim women do not shower or sleep with a hijab on (unless it’s super cold or they’re doing an intense hair treatment). It is worn around non mahram’s (a non mahram is someone who is eligible for you to marry) as an act of faith. When a woman chooses to wear a hijab, she does so with the understanding that this is between her and Allah (God).
‘Halaal meat is animal cruelty’
Halaal simply means permissible. In Islam, in order for meat to be Halaal, there are certain criteria it must meet to make sure the animal is not distressed and the meat is safe for consumption. The animal must be treated humanely, meaning that animals crammed into small spaces/caged would not be classed as permissible. Animals must be well fed, looked after and not be showing signs of distress or illness. The process of slaughter must be performed by a Muslim who can provide a verbal blessing. Any blade used must be sharp enough to only need one cut. Multiple cuts or blunt blades are not permissible as it causes the animal pain and extreme distress. Any blood must be given sufficient time to completely drain out, to ensure a bacteria rich environment is not created.
‘Women are oppressed and men are harsh’
This type of dynamic has been perpetuated over and over through the media, and has damaged the perception that many people have of Muslims and their relationship dynamics. The truth is that much of the media does not truly reflect the relationships between Muslim men and women. Islam (which incidentally means peace), does not call for men to be harsh or women to be oppressed by the men in their lives. This is a huge topic, which is impossible to cover in a few words, however an insight into menstruation may demonstrate the truth. When a Muslim women experiences her period, the guidelines within Islam are that she rests and let her body heal in the way it needs. There is an acknowledgement that this will be an extremely painful and draining time where the woman does not need to pray five times a day, nor does she need to fast if it is Ramadan. Men are taught to understand this in relation to all the women in their lives. They are encouraged to be mindful of the women’s wellbeing, take on tasks they may not usually do and provide the woman with the space and tools she needs to recover.
‘We don’t use toilet paper’
I don’t even know where to start with this, but IT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! While it is common practice within the Muslim community to use water (think bidet), it does not totally eliminate the need for toilet paper.
Until next time,
A Manx Muslim