Supporting Individuals Who Identify As Muslims

Home » Mental Health Blog » Supporting Individuals Who Identify As Muslims

In this recorded webinar, Farah Hussain Baig, LCSW and Ani King discuss how therapists can better support Muslim clients.

Since 2016, Farah Hussain Baig, LCSW has been presenting, “The Muslim Identity: Understanding the Misunderstood,” a cultural competence workshop she developed in an effort to raise awareness of the intolerance and discrimination faced by individuals who identify as Muslim. Farah Hussain Baig is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the founder of InnerVoice Psychotherapy & Consultation, a group psychotherapy practice with locations in Chicago and Skokie, Illinois. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health and has been in private practice since 2007. Over the course of her career, Farah has worked with a number of challenging populations including individuals suffering with serious mental illness, children and families exposed to significant violence and trauma, as well as clients who struggle with drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions. She has a particular interest in working with culturally diverse clientele, especially with those looking to develop a healthy bicultural identity. In 2019, Farah founded Encore Coaching & Consulting where she offers services such as workshops on diversity and inclusion, dating with intention and authenticity, sexual health as well as improving emotional intelligence. Farah is frequently asked to speak on mental health related topics and has been interviewed as a clinical expert for various publications and television programs. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan and Master of Social Work degree, with honors, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2021, Farah also completed the Sexual Health Certificate Program at the University of Michigan.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Farah Hussain Baig, Ani King

Ani King 0:09
Oops. Hi, everyone. I am Annie King. I’m the CEO with all counselors calm. And I am really excited today to be talking with Farrah Baig, who is an lcsw w about the Muslim identity and some of the misconceptions and things that people may have, particularly when it’s in a therapeutic setting. So folks, as you’re coming in, just feel free to get comfortable. It’ll just be me and Farah on the screen today. If you have any questions at all, feel free to hit the raise hand or q&a button. And I’ll be sure to clip those questions. And we’ll answer some of them as we go. And we’ll answer some of them at the end of the conversation.

Ani King 1:01
Before we get started and learn a little bit more about Farah just want to thank integrative Life Center or IOC, for being a sponsor for the series, integrative center light, integrative Life Center, excuse me, does a lot of really great work in recovery spaces. So if you want to learn more about what they do, that’s integrative Life Center calm. And again, I’m here with Firebase, who’s an lcsw W. She’s also the founder and CEO of inner voice psychotherapy and consultation. And she’s here again to talk to us about the Muslim identity and understanding the misunderstood. Far, I know that you’re going to talk about yourself a little bit later in the presentation. Before we get started, is there anything else you’d like to make sure that the audience knows about? You?

Farah Hussain Baig 1:48
know, I mean, I’ll like he said, I’ll talk a little bit more later. So. So that

Ani King 1:56
sounds great. So we are good to get started, then. And again, just a quick reminder, folks, if you have questions, just hit the chat button or hit the raise hand button, and I will collect those from.

Farah Hussain Baig 2:09
Right. Thank you, Ronnie, I appreciate the introduction. And I’m so happy to be here. So happy to be asked to speak today on a topic that I feel very personally connected to, but obviously very passionate about as well. And I’m going to talk a little bit about myself in a few slides. But I created this presentation, I started creating it 2015 when the ISIS terrorist attacks were on the rise, there’s a lot of homophobia, there’s a lot of misinformation being talked about in mainstream media, and it boggles my mind how much how little about Islam. And when they would actually interview experts, they would never interview Muslims, because as we’ll talk about later, based in sort of colonialism and imperialism, you know, white experts are more adept at speaking about Muslims, and Muslims are themselves. So after getting increasingly frustrated about it, I put together this presentation, I hope that it’s a lot of information. I’m used to doing it in three hours. So we’ll do what we can in one. Alright, let’s get started. So first of all, the Arabic calligraphy I’m in love with, I think it’s beautiful. So I have it included here. And this here says Bismillah here if men are mean, which means in the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. And this is something that we say, before we start, do anything you can say before you even say before you start work.

Ani King 3:55
It’s just this acknowledgement of the greatness of God says really beautiful.

Farah Hussain Baig 4:02
Thank you. I said Mr. laico, which means peace be upon you. So anytime you see somebody, you’re creating them peace. And the response is why they come. I said, I’m so and also to you. Here is this again, this minute here. Mandera heme in the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Um, I have Arabic art all over my house. I absolutely love it. And I include it here. Because because Islam of Islamophobia has made every element even the most beautiful about Islam ugly. And you’ll see, you know, I have some images that I’ll show later from scenes from movies and television shows from the scary Middle East where there’s Arabic graffiti on the walls, and it’s meant to incite fear in the people who are watching these television shows. And these movies and So I’m here to sort of show you that it’s beautiful, and it has nothing to do with the ugliness that the media puts on it.

So who are Muslims? And why are we talking about them? There are and this number is a little bit old. But there are almost 2 billion Muslims around the, around the world, and 3.3 5 million Muslims in the United States. And it’s the second largest religion in the world, yet, it’s so incredibly misunderstood by both non Muslims and Muslims alike. There are so many countries that have Muslims living in when you think about around the world, and I think I have a graphic as well. Coming up. Among all of the countries and all of the regions, there are so many different countries and area countryside in urban areas. So people are experiencing this religion, this vast, deep religion, a very different.

Farah Hussain Baig 6:02
So there might be some tribal influences, and one part of the world that interprets Islam one way, and then another area of the world that interprets it differently based on their culture and their family. And so what we’re going to be talking about today is very basic tenets that no matter where you are in the world, Muslims agree upon. So sama phobia and discrimination and hate crimes, we’re gonna be talking about that as well. And so much of the Islamophobia and discrimination actually limits rights and freedoms of citizens and people around the world. 15 to 25% of Muslims report anxiety, and issues with mood, they report marriage issues, bullying is a huge problem in the schools and one in four incidents are actually done by teachers, which seems really hard to believe. And, and with regard to discrimination, the average prison sentence of Muslims is actually four times higher, because they’re because they’re actually Muslim. And there’s, there’s a lot of research out there, where they have this in there, and it talks about it, it basically illustrates for us the bias that there is in in law enforcement.

Farah Hussain Baig 7:31
So here are some basic objectives of what we’re going to be talking about today, we’re going to try to increase the awareness by exploring the basic tenants of Islamic jurisprudence as it relates to identity development and to the front stereotypes and misconceptions, discussed groin discrimination and complex trauma experienced by varying Muslim communities, and explore cultural bias and the role of clinicians personal attitudes and beliefs that they play in providing ethical treatment. You know, I tend to do this presentation for therapists, social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals. But really, when I when I have you listening to everything that’s going to be discussed here, I want you to listen as a human being really just learning about something maybe you didn’t know anything about and stay open minded. And as much as you can try to activate your critical thinking skills. Because so often, we operate in the autopilot mode of our brain where we’re just consuming information without even realizing it. And as you’ll see, you’ll see how some of the how some very subtle messages have sunken in and maybe inform some biases you have around Muslim religion and people who identify as Muslim.

Ani King 8:48
That makes a lot of sense, I think that it’s impossible, regardless of your profession, not to take your biases forward with you into that. But in some professions, those are it’s even encouraged, to some extent, more than more probably ever aware of, or, you know, thinking about the development of psychiatry and psychology as fields themselves and the root of them. And, you know, such a European distinction there that there’s always this potential and likelihood that it’s ignoring something that is not considered a part of that cultural norm. So I’m glad you really mentioned that, like, let’s approach this as humans, because I think that this has beneficial, whether you’re in session with a client or just out in the world being a person.

Farah Hussain Baig 9:37
Right, right. Um, you know, and I think what we don’t realize is that white supremacy is woven so deeply into the field of social work and the helping profession in general. So it can be very easy to sort of speak to and about and soak in this information as like, me being the one who knows better the white person knows better and let me fix that. This problematic brown person, right, and we’ll talk a little bit more about where some of these narratives even come from. So a little bit about me, I am the daughter of Pakistani immigrants that came to this country in the late 70s. My father is a physician, and my mother is an ultrasound technician, and they still practice and live in Michigan, which is where I grew up. Um, and I, I am one of five siblings, I’m right smack dab in the middle. And I, we all attended Catholic school for 12 years, we were the only Muslims that attended this Catholic school, it was a fantastic school, I loved every minute of it. I loved going to church every Monday, I loved reading the petitions at church, singing all the songs. And so often people would say, how did you go to Catholic school? Why did you go to Catholic school.

And the reality is, is my parents grew up in, in British colonized India, you know, my father had to pick up his stuff as a child and walk over the new border from the India side, to the Pakistani side, after 1947. So they’re used to nuns and seeing churches and all of that. So they actually see the wisdom in having God spoken about every day at school, because we believe our God is the same as the Christian God. So for my parents, it was an extension of the same values in school. So I’ve actually been talking about my religion, and my culture, as early as the third grade, I can remember. So what do you like? And so that’s, so that sort of started my journey of having these types of conversations. And then even after 9/11 a ton of interfaith discussions with folks talking more about my religion. So creating this presentation is very much been a work in progress throughout my life, really. So I’m very grateful to be here and to share as much as I can.

Ani King 12:17
I’m so glad that you, you will do because I mean, this also sends like, you know, work of love, essentially. And I really hope that the folks who are viewing today take it as such. Yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 12:30
And, you know, I’m not a religious scholar, I studied Islamic law, I had the honor of studying under some world renowned scholars and teachers. And the reason why I feel so passionately about this outside of my own identity is I really do love religion and what it does for people, I do think that it’s, it has a lot of value. And we know that spirituality and religion is a protective factor against a lot of traumas and other other mental health issues. But it’s not, I am a firm believer that it’s not religion that is ugly, it’s the people that make it public. So the actual doctrine in and of itself, is not meant to be ugly. But human beings, we have the ability to really mess things up. So, so I, I have a firm belief in that perspective. So true. So as clinicians thinking about clinical implications, examining and owning your own susceptibility to prejudice, as people of goodwill, psychotherapists tend to see themselves as non judgmental and lacking in bias, they are in many instances trained to become aware of their judgments and to let them go. And caution to maintain neutral objective stances in relationship to clients. This narrative of the unbiased non judgmental therapist is deadly to the development of cultural competence because it presumes a way of being that is difficult, if not impossible for most human beings to achieve. I thought that this is really profound quotes. And something that I think every day regardless of our clients that you work with, you think you’re so familiar with a culture even my own, you know, everybody practices and lives differently. So we all have to have some humility around these things.

So the Muslim identity why is it important to talk about specifically the Muslim identity? What is it about this, like, why are we Why are why was why did you need to put this together? So the Pew Research Center in 2011, did a ton of surveys and they asked people across z on the left European countries, which do you identify more with your place of nationality or with Religion. So you can see on the left you have Western Europe, and how they identify largely through their nationality. And on the right, you have a number of Muslim kids, largely Muslim countries. And you can see when asked, they identify as a Muslim before they do their country of origin or nationality. And this a similar occurrence is true for people who identify as Jewish, who live in Israel, they may identify more as a Jew over an Israeli, for example.

And that’s because there are so many pieces around the Muslim religion that define your identity, it’s hard to remove the two. So to this day, I very much identify as a Muslim, even before Pakistani even though I am American born. So I also almost always include my middle name, which is my maiden name Hussein. Because I have the privilege of passing as someone who might not be Muslim. And I say it’s a privilege because someone who very visibly whether that maybe they have a headscarf or a beard, they don’t have that privilege and maybe more susceptible to discrimination. So I actually go out of my way to put my middle name in, when I when I write anything, or, or speak about myself, because I want people to know that I have some affiliation with the Muslim region, the Muslim world, even if I don’t, even if I’m not Muslim myself. Like that’s

Ani King 16:39
it makes a lot of sense. I mean, it’s a part of increasing that visibility representation. That idea of, you know, regardless of whether you identify as Muslim or anything, the more visible you are not only not so much just that, you know, hey, people know this, but people who also identify now know that you are somebody that they have a connection with tenuous or not.

Farah Hussain Baig 17:02
Right, right. Right. Um, and I would see that early on in private practice where I got clients from all over, they know Faraj as being a Persian name, and Farsi, Farsi origin. So they’re like, maybe she knows she’s familiar with Iranian culture, right? I just get so many, so many people who think that maybe there’s some region that I might understand, because I think it’s hard for people to find therapists that connect with their culture. So here’s that map that I was talking about. So you can see the darker regions, and there’s a high percentage of Muslims that reside in that area. So we have the Middle East, we have northeast Africa, but really, of Northern Africa and the Arab countries, they only account for 20% of the world’s Muslims. So when people think about Muslims, they think about Arabs, right, or Egyptians, which is Northern Africa. But realistically, the the most the highest percentage of Muslims live in are from Indonesia. And by 2050, it will be India. But I think people don’t realize that, because they just there’s so much association between the Arab world and Islam.

Ani King 18:18
That media presentation coming into play again.

Farah Hussain Baig 18:25
So just a little bit of Islam 101 terminology, the word Islam comes from the root word Salaam, which means peace. And peace is the outcome when an individual or society submits to the will of our Creator. And so, a Muslim is anyone who submits to God. So that does not necessarily mean that the person ascribes to the doctrine, the word itself, just like dios means God. For us, Allah is God, Arabic for God, and the Word How do you say one who submits to God like how would you say that? I would say Muslim, right? So just understanding the context of the language. The Quran is the book that we ascribe to the doctrine that we abide by. And there are 114 chapters which are called to us. And within them are verses which are called is an idea which really means miracle. And they were passed down by the angel Gabriel, to use ijebu to our Prophet Muhammad, and peace be upon him. He always say that after references.

So Islamic law, Sharia law, which incites so much fear the word Sharia just means the way to the watering hole. So, Islamic law is a set of codes and principles derived by jurists from divine revelation and used as a guide for all important matters of sunlight. Islamic law is generally described as having two rounds, the devotional which governs the interaction between people and God, and the social which governs human interaction. So we’ll talk a little bit about this divine revelation and what is in it. And when we abide by our doctrine, within Islam, there are two areas that people look at. When making life choices and living out the space. They look at the actual word of God, which is the art. And they also look at the way of the Prophet just like people ask people say, like, well, what would Jesus do? Right? or What did Jesus do? We do the same thing. What would Muhammad do, because these prophets, and we believe Jesus was a prophet as well. These prophets were the best of humanity. So we are supposed to act in the best of humanity. And these laws came down to the people from God, because they needed to write their ways. As human beings, there were some lawlessness and that type of thing.

Farah Hussain Baig 21:13
So I’m sharing some of those a little bit more information than some of the viewers may need. But I share it because I do think that there’s some similarity that people are going to see and what’s listed here. So the basic articles of faith that Muslims have to believe, is belief in one God. Actually, this is the only one that if you don’t believe it takes you outside of the faith. You have to believe in one belief in the angels. So you can see Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, some of these familiar names, belief in the prophets, and there were a number of them but the main ones that people hear about our Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, we say Moosa, we say Isa, for Jesus, when we say no, for Noah, Noah, believed in the divinely revealed books, the Torah, the Psalms, the gospel, and on belief in the day of judgment and belief in Divine Decree. So this idea of divine predestination and free will. One thing also to note, I do have a few quotes from the plan, and I will have one here in chapter two, say, we believe in God, and what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob in the tribes, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the profits from the Lord, we make no distinction between any of them and we acquiesce to God. So this is in the second chapter of the Quran. And just so people know, anytime you see an English translation of the Quran, that is all that it is, it is not the actual, on the are on is not been altered from its original state.

When all of the verses of the Quran came down to the Prophet through the angel Gabriel over the course of his prophethood of 23 years. These were they came down and were memorized. They were memorized by the disciples, if you will, the Sahaba the people who surrounded surrounded themselves around the Prophet, they memorize it, and eventually people still memorize it to this day. So that is the actual not necessarily this translation. But not everybody knows Arabic. And that’s where I think sometimes things can get misrepresented because they’re actually translations. So there are, excuse me five pillars of Islam, the declaration of faith, the Shahada, so law, prayer, musica charity, soem, fasting and Hajj being the pilgrimage, the declaration of faith for the Shahada. There is no god except for Allah. And Muhammad is the Messenger of God. So this is the only thing like I said, that if you deny this, you are outside the fold of the religion, everything else, there’s great. There’s five daily prayers, that supplications and there’s certain ways that we’re supposed to prayer pray, and I’ll share that with you. And we recite verses from the Koran during these prayers.

I share this image and people I think really like it because these are the actual motions of the prayer. And they might look familiar to a lot of people. So you know, you can you can leave it to the west to capitalize on behaviors of the East, right, because Yoga is not cheap. All right. So before on, stated to us that we had to pay, but it was through the behavior of our Prophet that we learned how to pray. So these were his behaviors and what he did during prayer, and as you can see, it’s very similar to positions that some of the viewers at home Likely may perform have already performed today. So again, trying to illustrate the similarity, you know, so often with sums or othered. And what I’m trying to do here is not just share with you the faith but also illustrate the similarity between Islam and probably anybody who’s watching today.

Farah Hussain Baig 25:27
So charities acod is probably behind prayer, one of the number one elements of Islamic tradition says the God is required tax on certain types of wealth and assets to be distributed to the needy at the end of the lunar year, and the standard rate for that is 2.5%. Just kind of an estimate that was made. So there it serves two important principles. First, members of society have a moral responsibility to provide for the less fortunate, the needy have a right to part of the wealth present in the society, even if God has a lot of it to others. Second, society’s monies have become tainted through greed, corruption, and fact that as a result, its spiritual blessing is decreased. The only means to purify the entire mass of wealth is to pay out the purifying arms to the rightful recipients, the people who were denied these monies

Ani King 26:20
which is not dissimilar to you know, acts of tithing for people in certain Christian sects as well. Yeah, the first part at least, yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 26:32
Celica is a voluntary charity that you can give at any time during the year. Here is another line from the Quran and chapter two, they ask you, what shall we spend, say whatever you spend good is for parents and kin, and orphaned and the needy and the traveler, and whatever good you do, God knows all of it. So just to share a little bit of some larger donations that were made that people don’t, didn’t know. We’re not also, when we make a prayer for something or someone or when we give a donation, it’s not supposed to be really spoken about. there’s a there’s a, there’s an element of modesty that’s in our faith and culture. So sometimes even saying all this feels a little uncomfortable. But in August 2019, the Muslim bailout fund raised $150,000, to reunite migrant families detained in immigration jails. In October 2018, Muslim raised more than 200,000, to help families affected by the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. And in February 2017, Muslim activists raised more than 60,000 to repair a Jewish cemetery damaged by vandals in St. Louis. And in October 2016, I don’t have that on here to analyze, vandalized and Arkansas mosque and the mosque actually paid his fine. And they said if, if they if they didn’t help this child would be destitute. And if he knew who we were, he would not have committed the crime.

Ani King 28:02
That that makes so much sense the idea of meeting looking for the need instead of looking only at the singular act, even if it’s not, like even if it’s bad, but that who is the person? And is there a way to help them? So that this is not a thing that happens again,

Farah Hussain Baig 28:23
right? Well, that’s exactly right. Like they paid his fine because once he finished serving his penalty, he would have been it would have been very challenging for him financially to have paid his dues, so they paid it for him. Fasting is the is the is the next one we’ll talk about and during the month of Ramadan, so you can see it’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, there are 12 months, just like the Gregorian calendar, but the Islamic calendar is on a lunar calendar or the lunar cycle, which is about 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the solar calendar. So, so are so Ramadan, the month actually moves throughout the year. So we are just finishing up some of the hardest days. So fasting is from dawn till dusk, dusk, dawn till dusk. So from the minute the sun rises to when the sun sunsets, and that changes during the year. So fasting is shorter during the winter months than it is during the summer months. So I think we’re all looking forward to when it gets a little bit shorter.

Ani King 29:40
I’m just gonna say especially because I’m also I’m in Michigan and the 920 something right now sunset 923 Yeah, you know, you get to that peak of summer where it’s bright from, you know, 6am to 10pm. That’s a long day.

Farah Hussain Baig 29:57
So long day and no drinking and no Eating. So no drinking water either. And some people are like even water, no water, no water. So and this month is meant for reflection, and discipline. So just in a lot of reflection and prayer, and spiritual healing, the pilgrimage hudge. So, when people talk about like the mecca of like, all things, whatever it is they’re talking about, they’re referencing Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is the house that Abraham built. So Ibrahim belt this house with his son Ishmael, and it is a, it is a place of worship that at least once in your lifetime, you should go and and do the pilgrimage is a series of there’s a series of rituals over the course of about a week that people will perform. And you are asked to do it at least once in your life, I was blessed to be able to do that with my husband in 2013. And it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m trying to think if labor was worse, but it was, it was, it was extremely challenging. If we had more time, I’d love to share a little bit more about it.

Ani King 31:20
I would love to learn about that, especially with that comparison. It’s pretty significant.

Farah Hussain Baig 31:26
This um, this is actually my picture that I took, they were doing construction on the the big the big building, here, which is the and all these little white dots, these are people so this is an old picture. But these are all people who are surrounded this this house of Abraham. It’s called the Kaaba, which means the cube

Ani King 31:50
MSB a really intense feeling of being with that many people in a, you know, in a state of communion.

Farah Hussain Baig 31:57
Yeah, for sure. It’s huge. It’s overwhelming contributions of Muslim. So in 2014, David, I don’t even know how to say his name ojima. That right from Michigan. I will go with that. We’ll go with that Michigan republican national committee member had quoted, have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life? And during the former president during his campaign, he had said Obama said in his speech that Muslims are so sports heroes, what sport is he talking about? And I’ll share with you some of those sports heroes. But there is this there is this idea there is this narrative that Muslims have done nothing to, to, to contribute to the American way of life, to the culture. And I’m going to share with you some of the things that they have contributed to I almost hate this section. So like, Why do I have to like share this, but it’s it’s so powerful. And I think people are like, Whoa, that I

Ani King 33:00
get in, even though I’m familiar with these quotes, it’s uncomfortable to see them. And think about the fact that they need rebuttal.

Farah Hussain Baig 33:12
Yes, yeah. Very much so. So contributions of Muslims, first of all, that the US never existed without the private presence of a Muslim because historians believe as high as 30% of the 15 million West African slaves. enslaved by the Europeans in the 16th century were Muslims. And as you see here below, Muhammad ibn Musa al Khor Azimi is considered the father of algebra. And actually, the word algebra is from the word of Jabba, which speaks to the actual the operation used to solve quadratic equations. So if you look at the western Arabic numerals, I don’t know that anybody really knows that they’re actually from the Hindu Indian Arabic region. And they called it the reason why they were called Arabic numerals is because it was the works of the Arabs that brought the Europeans so that’s how that’s how they were, they were came came to known as be known as the western Arabic numerals by my words are just getting muffle today. Um, but I don’t think that they teach this in schools, right? You just see 123456789 and zero, right on Sesame Street all the time, but they’re not referred to as the Arabic numerals because I didn’t forbid the Arabs contribute anything positive to the to the

Ani King 34:51
Yeah, I remember very vaguely learning that there were Arabic numerals in elementary school and, but with no context and no history or anything. Just that Kind of aside, and then it never got talked about again.

Farah Hussain Baig 35:02
Right, exactly. So these are some country contributions of Muslims. So we talked about like a lot of the financial contributions Muslims make regularly so philanthropy, algebra, optics, medicine, all different kinds of science, MOS used to house books. So they, they were libraries to people to communities, architecture, the architects, who basically dreamt up the john Hancock building and the Sears Tower here in Chicago, was a Bangladeshi Muslim. hygiene, coffee. I mean, there’s, there’s so much it’s hard to list. And I don’t know if many people know this. But there were actually Turkish immigrants who had whose families had moved to Germany, who developed the Pfizer vaccine. That’s awesome. But when you actually Google this, if you look at the New York Times, the Washington Post’s, they will talk about a Turkish power couple, this Turkish power couple, but they do not talk about religion. And some people might say, Well, why is religion even important? Well, because when anything bad happens, the first thing that people will do is talk about somebody’s religion. Well, they’re Muslim, right? This person killed these people and blew this building up. Well, they’re Muslim, so much so that people have this, this dark image and belief that Islam is this terrible religion that teaches horrible things. And so when something positive happens, they want to erase any contribution of Islam. And it’s systematic, and we’ll talk a little bit more about that. But I wanted to share this because I think so many of us are alive today because of this vaccine. So the National Geographic company has published a couple books that are pretty cool that came out in 2012, that talks about the Muslim civilization and the contributions that Muslims have the Muslim civilization has made. So if anybody is interested, there’s a lot of terrible, quote unquote, facts out there about Islam, just on the internet. So I always caution people about just going to the internet, but the National Geographic is a reputable organization, and they have these books for people to check out.

Ani King 37:34
So famous, I’m glad you shared that.

Farah Hussain Baig 37:36
Famous Muslims here are the sports athletes that are familiar. They’re scholars and activists and politicians, engineering and entertainment. The list is, is it’s never ending. There’s actually quite a few Muslims, I know that I’m, I’m missing a lot of people, but you might recognize some of the people on this list. So women in Islam, it’s a huge topic, right? You know, women are treated really poorly. We all know this, in the Islamic tradition, which is, it’s not true. It might be true in some patriarchal cultures that I had mentioned, the humans that make the religion ugly. So there, there is truth to that I do think poor treatment of women is a global problem. It’s not an Islamic problem. Absolutely. Right. So here are some famous women who are Muslim, some of them again, like athletes, heads of state models, professors. And everybody looks different, right? There isn’t a single way that a Muslim looks. So this is a story. So this was like the life of the Prophet. So this was a story narrated by someone who had seen the Prophet done this, do this. So a prophet, man came to the prophet and asked, oh, messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship. The Prophet said, Your mother, the man said, then who the Prophet said, then your mother, the man further asked, then who the Prophet said, then your mother, the man asked again, then who the Prophet said, then your father, so this illustrates how important women actually are. To the Islamic tradition. Catching up my notes over here. Um, so out of the 114 chapters in the in on, there are a few chapters are named after the prophets. And the, there is one chapter that’s named after a woman and that’s Mario. So it’s a chapter that’s named after the Virgin Mary. And in that chapter, it talks about the virgin birth and maybe Areas one of the Maryam, she is one of the most revered women in the Islamic

Unknown Speaker 40:06

Farah Hussain Baig 40:11
This image always gets a lot of laughs, I guess you could say. So on the one hand, you have a woman in a bikini, everything covered but her eyes What a cruel male dominated culture is what she’s thinking about a woman wearing what some people call a borka. Nothing covered but her eyes What a cruel male dominated culture. And I think this cartoon illustrates this, this misunderstanding in some ways of cultures, right? And how just based in the imagery, one would think, Oh, this poor woman, I can’t believe she’s being forced to cover like this, when that’s actually not her reality.

Ani King 40:52
And I think that that image too, especially as speaks to, you know, for folks who are viewing who are unaware of some of the things going on in like France and other areas where they’re trying to ban some of those coverings, and not listening to the voices of the women who are saying, Wait a minute, I’m not being oppressed by this, this is my choice, this is deliberate, this is how I would like to live. And that kind of very paternalistic, you know, I’m going to try and save you from something I don’t understand, because I don’t understand it.

Farah Hussain Baig 41:25
Right. And so I’m just gonna skip over it. So she hijab is, what it actually means is a barrier or to cover, but it gets relegated to a piece of fabric that’s on the head of a woman, right? It gets gets turned into this thing that somebody wears on their head, when really, it’s this concept of modesty. And there’s reference to it in chapter 24. In the Quran, where God is basically talking to both men and women, to guard their modesty, right to to, to guard their body, for example, to dress modestly. So this concept of hijab is not just for women, it’s actually for men as well. And so the Institute for Social Policy and understanding did this. They have a number of surveys that they’ve done, but they they asked Muslims, okay, why is it that you wear hijab, and just like what you’re saying, Ani that they are, they are wearing it out of religious obligation to please got out of their own will. And only 1% are doing it because of somebody is asking you to do it.

Ani King 42:37
Also, just real quick, folks, we’ve got a little over 15 minutes left. So if you have any questions at all, again, please feel free to hit that chat button or raise hand button. And I will be happy to pass your questions on. Either as we’re going if it’s related to a section we’re on or at the end before we before we end today. So I interrupting and thank you.

Farah Hussain Baig 43:01
That’s okay, I just wanted to go over. There was a few other things about women in Islam. But I think people have the point that it’s, it’s not actually there’s a lot of things that I should just share this, to be honest. So there’s actually five rights that Islam gave to women before Western feminism that people don’t actually realize. And that’s that was the right to vote. So when it’s in the Islamic culture, the right to own property and wealth, the right to an education, the right to work and the right towards modesty, like that they it’s their body is theirs, and they can actually wear what they want to wear. And what people don’t realize in Islamic tradition, the width, the money that a woman makes, she does not have to contribute to the family. That is just her money, the money that the man makes in sort of that traditional household, that money is supposed to go to the wife, and the children and the extended family. But if a woman has her money, so if she inherits it from maybe the death of a parent, that is her money, if she makes it at work, that is her money. So again, sort of really fighting this notion that a samick tradition. It really treats women poorly. Again, there might be cultures, there might be people, women poorly, but it’s not an Islamic problem. It’s a worldwide problem.

Ani King 44:24
I think that really, when you consider the fact that even in the United States, and a lot of places women couldn’t even have their own credit cards, in some cases until the 70s and 80s. The 1970s and 80s didn’t have their own bank account without their husband or father even as adults correct signing for it. I think it’s very easy to do do that pic of, of things that we think are relevant to one specific part of the culture and ignore, you know, hey, these are things that didn’t happen until much later in Western cultures and not really Examine, like, how much longer it took in some places for some of those things to happen.

Farah Hussain Baig 45:07
Exactly. Um, institutionalized Islamophobia. So Reza Aslan, of religious scholar had quoted to say, Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims not excuse it, but expect it. And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think that there’s an enemy within. So it’s just to let people know, Islamophobia is the exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam, and Muslims that’s perpetuated by negative stereotypes, resulting in bias discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political and civic life. And the Islamophobia industry is a network of bloggers, pundants religious leaders and politicians who work to convince us citizens that Muslims are the enemy of a nation. So currently out of about 950 hate groups, there are 101, their anti muslim 33 Islamophobic, groups had access to at least $205 million in total revenue, to promote anti muslim propaganda. I just can’t believe there’s actually groups that are doing this, like that’s what their job is to, to promote negative of any any group of people, I find that hard to believe, in 2011, seven Charitable Foundation spent 42 point 6 million to support the spread of anti muslim and anti Islamic rhetoric in the United States. And some of these groups are spoken about as think tanks. So and they’re called apt for America, the Middle East forum, like so you don’t really, you don’t really think anything of it. Like Okay, sounds good to me. Right? Yeah.

Ani King 46:49
But really the exact opposite of what they’re, they’re saying they represent. Exactly.

Farah Hussain Baig 46:56
So here’s some images that I spoke about, that are so dramatic, right? You see Claire Danes, in the middle of all these oppressed women, you know, you see these, you know, sort of like, dark and sort of scouring like, scary Arab men, you know, we see like the Arabic that’s the graffiti that’s written on the wall, so it’s all made to look super scary, right? It’s an even in some movies, they’ll pan across like a Muslim country, while the call to prayer is being read. So it’s teaching its viewers to associate this culture prayer, with hatred and terrorism, right? When I think it’s beautiful, when I hear the call to prayer, like my heart, like, skips a beat, right, but like, to the average American, they’re, like, scared

Ani King 47:45
of it. And millions, millions of entertainment dollars, like in media, like infection, and all of these things that are focused on amplifying that fear. It’s these

Farah Hussain Baig 47:58
these are gross. It is it is and these are all movies that you know, illustrate Muslims in a in a negative light. I mean, even Aladdin, right? I mean, a king would never let his daughter dress, the way, Jasmine dress. I don’t you don’t really see anybody in the Middle East dressing like that. It’s not even a real place. I mean, there’s just so many. There’s so many tropes that are in that movie. And it’s disappointing, because it was finally there was a Disney Princess that looked like me. Right. But you know, I had to also combat like, the darkness of these imagery, the the confusion to kids, right? Yeah. I’m going to skip over some of the the media bias. We talked a little bit about in 2017, the majority of guests that were on cable news, were actually non Muslims versus Muslims, because clearly non Muslims are our best to speak about Islam that Muslims are. They get their narrative that way. Right. They get they get the microphone, and I’ve gotten asked that question like if Muslims are so against all this violence, the ISIS, the Taliban, etc? Why aren’t they speaking up? Well, Muslims aren’t actually given the mic, because what we have to say, is not what sells. It does not. Yeah, it’s not what funds foreign policy.

Ani King 49:19
It doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t bring the ratings and I really very much remember the shift after 911. From you know, like you would watch news once or twice a day. It’s about 24, seven super sensationalist coverage. And so now all of a sudden, all of these people had the opportunity to be talking heads, right, who could go on and on about what they knew, but I just thinking back there were almost all Western white people who, you know, maybe they were professors here, and maybe they went to school there, but they absolutely were not a part of any Muslim community at all. And I think you know, like you’re saying it’ll allows folks to make sure that they’re still continuing the narrative that they want, not the narrative. That’s true. Correct.

Farah Hussain Baig 50:07
And so the Pew Research Center also did a survey of different religions and which ones were perceived to be more liked, I guess, and across all of the age groups that Muslims fall towards the bottom. So they are very disliked group of people. So where did all this come from? Because it didn’t start after 911. For sure that kick started it, but it didn’t start there. And Edward Sayid, who is a literary scholar, had written about Orientalism, this concept that the West developed this concept of the Orient or Asia and Africa to control it. So if you remember the the weapons of mass destruction, right, yeah. So let me tell you how important it is that we need to go there. Let me let me list all the reasons why this this, this Arab nation can’t handle any of their business. And they need us to come in there and help them out. And this is the same thing that was going on, when the Europeans wanted to go into Egypt and take what Egypt had from their land, or to go into India, it justified when, when parliament was at, they were asking people, you know, why do we still need to be in these regions, they would say that the Arab, you know, they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lazy. They’re just, you know, they don’t know how to handle their affairs, we need to stay there, when really they’re actually taking the resources from these people, you know, from the land.

And here’s some imagery, this is artwork that is all based on like fiction. So when humans just like movies, when they see when, you know, Western culture, like you look here, in the upper left corner, you see all this Arabic that’s not even real Arabic. That’s up there that’s just scribbles to be made to look like Arabic. And so they’re basically making people think that they’re these. These the Arabs are these lewd people who are just lured by like, sex and power, and that’s all they’re good for. And these pictures even back then in the 1900s, or the 19th century, rather, we’re illustrating these same things that we’re seeing in movies today, television shows today. And you see modern day Orientalism by this banner that was put out in 2019. With the logo of the rcca, which is the Illinois republican county chairman’s Association. A group that helps to elect republicans in the state drew widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle after it posed a photoshopped image of the four Congress, these four Congresswoman with guns labeled the Jihad squad.

Ani King 52:53
As like this is permanently just hard to look at, you know, this for women who are working on doing so much. They’re all women of color. They’re all women of color. And just that application of like, I don’t know it is it’s just one of those ones where like, every time I see it, it’s so hard to look at this and be very angry.

Farah Hussain Baig 53:20
And the the beloved cubs in Chicago, the owners are the Ricketts family and the father Ricketts Joe Ricketts. His emails were broken into or somehow was disclosed in early 2019. And he was in some of his emails had said Christians and Jews can have mutual respect for each other to create a civil society as you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore, we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society. Muslims are naturally by my our enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non Muslims. We must all recognize the Islam as a dangerous element in our society due to its radical aspects. This, this family, I don’t really care for the Cubs, but this family has a lot of money. So when you think about all the money that’s going to those hate organizations, they are being funded by sports teams that people love. Right? That my love. When this came out. It hit him hard. It hit a lot of Cubs fans, people of color hard, because it was just like, Oh my gosh, right. Like these people who own this sports team are saying all these racist things. And I know, Joe rickets doesn’t have much to do with the organization, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Ani King 54:34
And I mean, also the money like I think it’s important to be aware of where funding comes from, because there’s a point where you’re deliberately choosing to support that whether you intend to or not.

Farah Hussain Baig 54:48
Absolutely, absolutely. You want to just go see a baseball game, but guess what your some of your dollars are going towards? Why now? Why is all of this why are all these imagery Why is this history so important? Because it informs this unintentional bias that people have, when they, when they hear these things, they see this imagery, this imagery. And it becomes sort of automatic like you automate, you may I think, what is it 62% of Americans have don’t even know a Muslim or something like that, I’d have to double check that stat. And yet they’re making, they’re electing officials who are making laws that limit rights of Muslims, based in all of this propaganda.

Farah Hussain Baig 55:35
So it leads to discrimination. Just a few weeks ago, there was a family that was murdered, basically, by someone who hated Muslims, and killed three generations in a single family leaving a nine year old to fend for himself now. And I mean, it has real consequences.

Ani King 55:56
Really, yeah, really does. And, and I think, too, you know, we’ve got just a few minutes left here. I think, when it comes to therapists and other mental health professionals, knowing this is really important, how are you going to help your clients out if you don’t have at least some understanding of the way some of these things work?

Farah Hussain Baig 56:22
Right and your bias, right, like when you’re dealing with a Muslim, when you are seeing a Muslim at a store, when you’re, like I said, just as a human being, you know, there’s there’s a lot of atrocities that are happening to Muslims, there is a lot of discrimination that’s happening. And if we’re not bringing it on ourselves, right, like there’s a whole system underneath that people need to be critical about. This is a really important image because it really illustrates there was criticism against the Daily Mirror for showing, you know, the ISIS killer from the nightclub back in I don’t even know what it was. Versus like the, the murder who the New Zealand killer who went into two mosques and murdered congregants, you can see how they’re being described, like the angelic boy who grew into an evil far right killer, versus the ice maniac who killed all these people in a club. Just Just looking at how, you know, only if you are of the Middle Eastern origin. Are you a terrorist, right. And after the New Zealand shootings, the Prime Minister did list this as a terrorist act. And people did start following suit. But she was also like, I don’t want to say his name. I don’t want to give him power. Where if there’s a Muslim that commits a crime, everyone knows her name, and every kid who has the same name as being harassed at school. So I mean, there’s just like people have like, you have good intentions just send up but like, it just it misses the mark. Right?

Ani King 58:01
Absolutely. And I know where again, folks, as we are coming to an end, again, just make sure if you have questions, drop them in here, I’ll be happy to pass them on.

Farah Hussain Baig 58:11
So we kind of go through some microaggressions, which Muslims experience, I’m probably won’t have time to go through too much. But part of the reason why part of the reason why Muslims can be treated this way, without much concern, is this concept of dehumanization, because human beings, they’re very, they can be very compassionate, but they have the ability to other and we can see this through the Holocaust, through genocide through slavery, where people are being sort of treated the way no human being should be treated, but somehow it’s justified, right? Somehow, it’s somehow it’s okay. And so researchers at the Northwestern University, put together this ascent of man scale, where they perform this study, and they wanted to see, they wanted to look at sort of like overt forms of discrimination. And what they found was that Muslims ranked as the least human of all of these groups. So Muslims were seen as the least human, so therefore their treatment will be like subhuman. And if anybody wants to see the documentary on Abu Ghraib, if you haven’t seen it, you can see it because there were war crimes that were committed by the United States that people have not that people have not paid for. And people don’t know, but I think it’s a really good documentary to check out. So you can see how people were treated during the Iraq War, how Muslims were treated overseas,

Ani King 59:45
by Absolutely. It’s It is a very difficult and very important one to watch. Yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 59:52
I’m really quick, just kind of skipping ahead. Just ways that you can combat Islamophobia. Ask your local Muslim community how you can help. Forget the taboo of talking openly about religions, especially with Muslims, like we want to talk we want to tell you about, about us call out news organizations on discriminatory coverage and bias, pay attention to that bias. Listen to it, because even our news outlets, right even the ones that are pretty like middle of the road, like they have funders, right, they have agendas to why they’re sort of you know, saying certain things or not saying certain things, demand respect and protection from Muslims from politicians encourage Muslim individuals to report hate crimes, take white nationalism seriously and refuse to stay silent on hate. The Muslim identity is so vast and it exists so differently amongst us Muslims, that you really like one size does not fit all, you when you’re when you have a Muslim in your in your office, or no, like everybody is so different. So really getting to know them and what Islam means to them. And, and and notice any biases you have, even in their story, because there has been a lot of religious abuse, there has been a lot of misunderstandings within the Muslim community. So there are kids who are growing up hating the religion, because maybe the way it was taught to them was really incorrect. And if I have this bias, oh, yes, Islam is terrible. And I have this child in my office, I’m going to support this kid to like, yeah, I hear you this religion. Yeah, it sounds terrible. You know, it’s what I hear on TV, too, right? Yeah, you should, maybe you should leave your family, maybe you should take off your hijab, maybe, you know, and, and your bias is informing some of the work that you’re doing with with clients.

Ani King 1:01:41
And not necessarily considering whether or not there is a needed connection that needs to be healthier and exploring that, yeah, as a part of their cultural identity and like redefining it for them. So that makes a lot of sense. Faraj, thank you so much for being here today. And this has been really helpful and educational for me personally, and I know and help for the people who’ve been viewing and folks who will watch this later. For anybody who’s watching now, just be aware that we’ll have this up as a replay within the next couple of days, too. So if there’s anything that you want to review, you’ll be able to fara, is there anything you wanted to close with before?

Farah Hussain Baig 1:02:22
You know, I have my email address up there you have my contact information. If people have any questions, it doesn’t matter what it is, please email me. I would I would much rather point you in the right direction, the right resource then, for somebody just to Google because again, all of that money is being funded into these websites into this misinformation machine. So please reach out to me reach out to a local mosque to ask questions. Awesome.

Join The Weekly

Therapist Success Series FREE

Sign up today

Join All Counseling today for FREE!

black woman standing in a blue top