By Shelina Begum

Asma Hasan – loyal American and Muslim

AMERICAN author Asma Gull Hasan is hoping to rock stereotypes about Islam through her latest book ‘Why I Am A Muslim’.

The self-styled Muslim feminist cowgirl felt Americans were misinformed about the true nature of her faith.

A regular on Fox News, where she gives her own views on being a Muslim woman in America, Asma was approached by publishers Harper Collins to write a book on the religion.

Said the 29-year-old lawyer from San Francisco: “It was a difficult book to write in the beginning as I had to ask myself why was I a Muslim? The first reason I came up with was that I was born a Muslim and that became my first chapter.

“In the book I draw on my own experiences growing up in America where my family were the only Muslims where I grew up, Pueblo, Colorado.

“I also draw on sources from the hadiths and the Quran to examine Islam and explain how it all began to non-Muslims.

“I describe how being a Muslim is not just a religion but an identity that is universal.. Our belief in one God unites us.

“I want non-Muslims to see that Islam is a beautiful religion and to break down many of the misconceptions about Muslims often featured in the media.

“Muslims have been defined as terrorists and that is far from the truth, we are certainly not all terrorists, many Muslims do not agree with terrorism.”

Asma went to a Catholic school where she was the only Muslim. But she says her experiences were positive. Her teachers excused her from classes on Christianity and encouraged her to learn about her own religion.

She said: “It was really good. Thanks to my mum and teachers I was allowed to learn about Islam.

“Growing up in America I have never felt the need to compromise my beliefs.

“As Muslims we can learn to live side by side with different religious groups and people from different ethnic backgrounds.

“I believe I can be American and a Muslim at the same time. There doesn’t have to be a culture clash or identity crisis.

“For example I support our American troops in Iraq who are doing their best to restore humanity and democracy in the country.

“Saddam Hussein was an evil man who killed thousands of innocent people and if America did not intervene the death toll would have been much higher under Saddam’s regime than through the war.”

Following September 11 there was a huge backlash against Muslims all over the world but Asma believes in America violent prejudice was extremely rare. She said: “There were many stories about attacks on the Muslim community but I suffered none myself. I read about women who had their hijabs torn off from their heads, Muslims being attacked in mosques, but this was quite rare in America in fact there were many Americans who went out to mosques asking if they wanted any help.

“Many Americans are keen to find out about Islam, I want them to realise what a great religion Islam is and that being Muslim is very cool, which is why this book is very important.”

For many people in America Asma is sometimes the first Muslim they have ever met and her appearance at first glance “destroys” their views on Muslim women as she doesn’t wear the hijab and prefers to dress in western clothes.

“People often take a second look when I tell then that I’m a Muslim.

“Often they expect to meet me dressed head to toe in the hijab, so it’s a bit of shock when I turn up dressed in jeans.

“In the same way it’s going to be a shock for non-Muslims who read my book to find out what a beautiful and peaceful religion Islam really is.”

First published by the Asian News