For years, Islam has been misunderstood and politicized by American pundits and politicians. The consequences of this climate are evident in the growing number of anti-Muslim incidents that are occurring across the country. Although it's a ridiculously unfair burden to put on American Muslim communities, Muslim activists and organizations have repeatedly and unequivocally denounced terrorism in all forms and stood up to defend their faith.
Muslim Americans have had to spend a lot of time talking about what Islam isn't. So it's important for allies and others who seek to understand the community to listen in closely when they talk about what Islam is -- the theology and practices that make this religion so precious to its followers.
HuffPost Rise invited five Muslim Americans to talk about concepts within Islam that they wish more people knew about. The participants spoke about ideas of justice, mercy, community, and diversity.
Yasmin Nouh, a blog editor for The Huffington Post, pointed out a verse in the Quran that she draws inspiration from.
"And we created you into different nations and different tribes so that you may get to know one another." Chapter 49:13
"Knowing that people will be different, people will come from different races and backgrounds and religion, and that it was meant to be like that. We were meant to use that as a means to get to know one another," Nouh said in the video. "I think that's something very central to Islam and Islamic teachings."
Comedian Aman Ali told The Huffington Post that he often feels Muslims are only relevant in the news when they are responding to violence. But that's not what he believes defines the Muslim American experience.
"We need to get back to basics," Ali continued. "People just need to know what [the] faith is about and realize that there's so many more similarities [than] differences."