How to be polite: Muslim style

Every once in a while you get asked for directions by a stranger on the street. At some point everyone must have walked into a chip shop or a book store. Everyone has occasionally experienced something that is not really worth mentioning afterwards.

Yet those are the things I want to talk about. I often feel that we always have to prove ourselves when we are in public. It seems as if the world still has no idea that we Muslims are as normal as anybody else around. Nowadays, it is often talked about: many people have a negative image of Muslims. Therefore, we are expected to show them that good Muslims still exist. As crazy as it sounds, it is today’s reality. Now it is our turn to show the media that they are entirely wrong. We have to show the world that the vast Muslim majority is not looking for beheadings, or anything related to that.

Of course I myself try my best to get rid of some of those prejudices. When I walk out the door with a bright smile on my face I cannot wait to show everyone the nice Muslims that are around. I have written down a few real-life examples below for you to think about next time you are in a similar situation.

When someone asks for directions:

-Hi, could you help me with something, please?
*Why, of course I could! I love helping people. You could probably already tell just by looking at my face, which is why you asked me for help, I presume. As a Muslim it’s my duty to help those in need. What can I help you with?
-I’m looking for the Central Station.
*Well, I’m afraid I don’t know that right away. But no worries, let me look it up on Google Maps for you. Ah, there it is. Are you able to see it clearly?
-Yes, that’s very clear. I just have to keep going straight ahead from here. You’re quite friendly, thank you for your time!
*Are you sure? Perhaps you would like to take my phone with you? If my mother calls, just tell her I’m on my way home. She’ll understand. We Muslims are very understanding.
-… *gives back phone and runs towards the Central Station in a hurry*

You are at the chip shop:

-Good evening, what would you like to order?
*I’d like a family pack, because my brothers and sisters would also like to eat chips. We Muslims think family is very important. You may also add some egg rolls and a few fish sticks. They’re very hungry. Not that we don’t get enough food at home, though. It’s just a little busy now that our family has come from another country. We Muslims think family is very important. But I’ve already told you that, haven’t I?
-Would you like some sauce on your chips?
*No, we have sauce at home. We’re only out of potatoes. My father had to go shopping today but he didn’t have time because of work. We Muslims are a hard-working people, you see.
-Would you like salt on your chips? Or do you have that at home too?
*No salt on our chips please. We have salt at home, but too much isn’t healthy. Muslims have to take care of their bodies. That reminds me: do you use vegetable or animal oil?
-Animal oil.
* *slowly walks to the exit*

After you have entered the book store:

-May I help you with anything?
*Are you a Muslim? You would’ve certainly been a good one. We Muslims, we like to help people. But you asked if I needed help, didn’t you? I am looking for a book. Not for school, though, I like to read in my free time. It’s a Muslim’s duty to acquire knowledge. That’s why I’m at university. I’ve never failed any classes and I visit museums in my spare time.
-Are you looking for a book in specific?
*A book about peace. We Muslims are peaceful people. That’s why we always say “As-salamu alaykum”. You don’t have to panic, miss. I just said “Peace be with you” in another language.
-… *looks anxiously and casually tries to end the conversation*

And that is how you show the beauty of a Muslim to the rest of the world.

Written by Hayat El Khattabi

Hayat Jamal is a 22-year-old History student. She likes to read, write and practice sports.