Although Muslims have been part of America’s religious landscape for centuries, many still find themselves having to fight for their place at the table.
Islamophobia has been on the rise since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. One study indicated that in 2015, hate crimes against Muslims shot up 78 percent. Other studies show that American religious groups generally have cold feelings towards Muslims, and that many Americans have unfavorable views of Islam.
A Refinery29 video honed in on one thing that makes a difference in the way American Muslims are perceived ― actually getting to know someone who is Muslim.
The video featured the voices of a diverse array of American Muslims who shared their experiences, joys and fears.
“We are all much more than just one label,” one mom said in the clip.
"Whether it’s through Christianity, whether it’s through Buddhism or if you’re an atheist, Islam is just one of those paths to help us connect with the world around us."
“If you’re scared of Islam, I would say meet a Muslim,” another woman said.
And she has a point. Researchers at the Pew Research Center have found that if a person knows a Muslim, the more likely she or he is to have a favorable view of Muslims.
As one dad expressed in the clip, it’s a matter of understanding that Islam is just another way humans have strived to connect with one another and with the Divine.
“Whether it’s through Christianity, whether it’s through Buddhism or if you’re an atheist, Islam is just one of those paths to help us connect with the world around us,” he said.
Watch the video above to hear the stories of a few American Muslims.