I found myself in two different situations:
Once, I was in the car with my friend and she was dropping me off. As she zoomed the car towards the driveway, we noticed two ladies walking into the apartment and she had to hit the brakes. The elderly woman gave us a really angry look and asked us to be careful. Before I could get a chance to explain myself, both of them walked into the building. What became even more awkward was when we walked into the same elevator. I mustered up some confidence and apologized for what had happened. In my defense, I assured her that we didn't see them coming and it was really unintentional. She was still mad and told me how dangerous it could be. From that day till now, I always seem to run into her and boy, I can tell she is not happy to see me.
Then there was another situation, where I was shopping at a store, looking for some lotions when I noticed that the tester was missing. I asked the sales lady for the tester so that I could try an open bottle of lotion. She smiled at me and told me that it was very nice of me to ask for a tester because most of the time, people just use the unopened bottles. She said it shows what kind of a person you are and she couldn't stop admiring and appreciating me.
Heard of the saying, "First impression is the last impression"? Well, in some cases, yes. No matter how hard I tried to satisfy the elderly lady, she was still adamant to the fact that it was done on purpose. I kept on feeling guilty the whole night and sad that I left a horrible impression on her. While in the second situation, I was happy with myself because I was not just representing myself, but I was representing a billion Muslims by my character! The fact that every person is being so judgmental and stereotypical these days, we need to be super cautious when dealing with people in various situations. It really bothered me a lot because it was not only reflecting my personality but also other Muslim's personality as well. We tend to be judged by one person's actions these days.
When you find yourself in a difficult situation, think before you speak, listen before you react, understand before you judge, remain patient instead of losing your temper and remain silent instead of getting involved in an argument. We need to change the negative perspective people have about Muslims. We are the Ummah of Prophet ﷺ and it is incumbent upon us to make our Prophet ﷺ proud by being sincere with our dealings, honest with our work, patient with difficult people, humble with the poor and friendly with our non-Muslim friends.
This is how we inadvertently invite people to the beautiful religion of Islam. We need to maintain an awe-inspiring demeanor that draws the attention of people, who have been brainwashed by the Islamic rhetoric broadcasted by the media. We need to show them, that a Muslim belongs to a religion whose message is of peace only. You and I need to change their perspective. This is how we bring down those negative views and change their perspective by promoting a message of love, peace and unity though our actions.