If I'm your token Muslim friend, here's what I need you to know. First and foremost, thank you for being such a good friend. I call you a good friend because you have every right to your opinion on what is going on in the world right now, and could easily denounce our friendship, but you didn't, and so I thank you.
Next, I need you to make more friends. Please don't take this the wrong way. I just hope that your circle includes more than just me because I am not, nor is any one person, a true symbol of any religious phenomenon (or race, or any group for that matter). If I'm your token Muslim friend, realize that all Muslims don't look, talk, or act LIKE ME. If I didn't tell you I was Muslim, you wouldn't know I was one, whereas the hijabi walking down the street makes it obvious.
We Muslims roll in all shapes and sizes, colors and genders. There's Malcolm X style Muslims, and there are grandma and grandpa Egyptian Muslims. There's rappers like Mos Def, and gay Imams like Imam Daayiee Abdullah. None of us are the same. And if you put us all in one room, we may even have different opinions about life.
If I'm your token Muslim, let's get the stereotypes out of the way. Not all Muslims are abiding. Some Muslims drink, some Muslims eat pork, some Muslims are praying in the mosque, some Muslims are praying in their homes, some Muslims cover their heads (cough cough Nuns do too), some Muslims cover their face.
If I'm your token Muslim, please note that Islam has rules much like many religions and people follow them as humans naturally do (some do, some don't). If I'm your token Muslim, please don't tell me, "but you're not one of them" - NO - THEY ARE NOT ONE OF US! Honestly, what does that question even mean?
If I'm your token Muslim friend, please know that it is not my job in every conversation we have for me to denounce what is happening in the world as a result of "ISIS" or individuals who shout "Allah Akbar" before doing something stupid. That would be like me asking one single "white person" to explain what's up with the KKK, or why did Hitler go on his rampage, or why any small part of a larger group did what they did.
If I'm your token Muslim friend, let's educate ourselves together via the multiple available resources to find out what's happening in the world and be open minded to our sources. If you'd rather not know, no problem. I get like that too and binge watch mindless TV instead just to shut off the constant negativity.
If I'm your token Muslim friend, please don't feel bad for me. Let's do something about it. Complacency is the enemy. Let's make a difference together - "thoughts and prayers" wont work.
If I'm your token Muslim friend, know that my parents taught me that being a good Muslim meant being a good person to others and kept it that simple. My family went on to teach me that being a good Muslim meant to give praise to God because God is the only one in the end that can judge me.
If I'm your token Muslim friend, know that we can still be friends even if you don't believe in God. I'm not here to convert you. I'm here to go on road trips, listen to music, eat delicious food, and have awesome conversations with you, my friend.
If I'm your token Muslim friend, don't be afraid to ask me questions, but understand, I don't know everything, and we can find answers together. Dont be afraid to talk about Muslims out loud -- you don't have to whisper. Feel free to talk about Muslims just like you would talk about anyone else because we are all human beings! "Hey, did you know that my electrician is Muslim? He's just like us!"
If I'm your token Muslim friend, please know that I am always learning about Islam, too. I'm constantly challenging passages in the Quran and trying to learn more about the peace that is within Islam. I am also learning about other faiths because I know we have more in common than anything else.
If I am your token Muslim friend, please know that I have a faith that believes in you and I being friends and us making the life we live a peaceful one for ALL.