Picture: a metaphorical social media flood. A tornado of posts- nay, an earthquake. Your newsfeed trembles at high magnitude in posts, this sheikh, that fatwa.
The morning of Halloween, I prepared myself for the flood of posts that I have come to expect annually on this day. Typically, they’re very similar in nature: a detailed outline of the Pagan roots of Halloween, the nature of the celebration, the message we are sending the youth by allowing them to engage in this activity. Now, my opinions on this matter aside, I have found myself slightly excited for the sense of familiarity in the bickering, the online arguments. Someone throws a synonym or two around of “wrong”, something that is at least five syllables, of course, to sound as article and intellectual as possible.
This year, to somewhat of my own personal dismay, I found hardly any of these posts. And not just today, but the past few years have created a pattern on my timeline during these times, showing a decrease in posts that tell Muslims to dissociate themselves from ‘American’ traditions. This shift is due in part to the change in generations, that many of the young adults that are beginning to lead the Muslim youth today are first-generation Americans, molded by nights of trick-or-treating (or watching your friends from the window, with the lights all turned off in your house. Take your pick). We are the generation that grew up listening to our class mates sing Christmas carols in December, prepare their stockings. We are the generation that grew up with Fresh Prince re-runs and Drake lyrics, seemingly more connected to American culture than the native culture of our parents.
This seems to largely be the reason for the general shift and liberalization of the Muslim community. Growing up with a heightened sense of Islamaphobia and a “radical” movement, American Muslims have gone to lengths to disassociate themselves with anything that seemed too extreme. Generally, American Muslims have become less conservative, opting to move closer to the left, far from accusations of ‘extremism’. Radical movements have caused American Muslims to liberalize their views.
Growing up, I would never have imagined seeing as many Muslims as non-Muslims out trick or treating, Muslims with tattoos, Muslims speaking out to push support towards LGBTQA communities, the building of gay mosques. Whether or not you agree with any of these actions, or are completely opposed to them, having such large populations of Muslim Americans shift so radically to the left from where we were in pre-9/11 Islamaphobic era, indisputably shows that the Muslim community as a whole is becoming much more liberal.
The general views and attitude of the Muslim community in the past few years has seen a radical shift towards liberalization, and if trends continue in this direction, there’s no telling how far left the Muslim community will shift in the coming years.
By Inayah Lakhani