Work in progress
What is it like to be a young Muslim in Norway today?
Many young Muslims with immigrant background struggle to find their role and identity, both in the Norwegian society and in Muslim communities. A negative focus on Islam in the media over several years has led to minority youth feeling stigmatized and that they are regarded as suspicious. What do young Muslims think about their faith and their place in Norwegian society?
The winter three years ago I was attacked on the street by three men. They spoke badly to me about the fact that I was visibly Muslim and struck me in the back of my head. I was shocked and felt completely paralyzed. After some time had passed, I felt that it was too much for me to handle and it was one of the reasons I chose to take off the hijab for a period of time. If it had happened today, I would never have taken it off, because I’ve got a better idea of what the hijab means to me now. I think there are some things you need to learn. Not that I feel I got anything good out of what happened, but it made me feel stronger. They did not get their will because I believe more strongly now, and I’m prouder wearing my hijab now than before.
I would like people to see me as a young Muslim boy who is very understanding, who has respect for other people regardless of their religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. I’m a person who is very open and tolerant. I am very interested in radicalization, to know why some people choose that path. I think the reasons are very much related to loneliness and misinterpretation and the feeling of being banned by society, exclusion, extermination and the feeling of not belonging.
I was in Spain a month ago and was going to take the plane home. I asked my brother how I should pray on the journey, because it’s done a bit differently. Then he said to me that you can pray like this or that, but you should take care of whoever is sitting next to you. I wouldn’t want to scare anyone, especially when we’re in a plane. If they see me pray they can assume I’m a Muslim and that I want to bomb the plane. It is very sad that ISIS creates so much fear. They say they are Muslims, but I do not know what they are. They have come to the conclusion that it is allowed to kill, but it is not allowed in Islam. In Islam, it is said that if you kill a person it’s like killing all humanity.
My motivation for being a good Muslim is an inner motivation, not an outer one. I do not quite know why I cannot pray. Obviously, my parents remind me of it. They say you do not pray for us, you pray for yourself. I have the prayer apps, although there have been some technical issues with them. I think I’m a bit weak in the way I practice. Of course, I only eat halal and try my best. For example, in MacDonalds or Burger King, I cannot eat it because I do not know how they have slaughtered and cooked the meat, so I’ll just get the fish burger every time. The practice of my faith can be seen in the small things.
Why should it bother you that I have chosen to wear a hijab? Why is a woman suppressed if she chooses to wear more? I think we all should be more inclusive. Everyone has prejudices, but one must break them down and try to have an open mind. A lot of people have misunderstood that there is only one type of Muslim, it’s not. You must ask a Muslim, if you know one, what they personally perceive as true to them as an individual.