Practical Muslim:  Reclaiming the Muslim Narrative

Whenever we communicate, we are selling something, whether it is a service or product, an idea or even ourselves, so our message must be clear and concise. To communicate effectively, we need to learn to listen with empathy, to authentically connect, and to choose the right words so that our audience can introspect on their own experience and growth. This can be particularly important when exploring opportunities to create safe and accepting communities, something I am regularly doing as a community advocate working with other Muslims and non-Muslims. For the most part, I’m successful in nurturing such authentic relationships, however, this past summer, I had an experience that made me question my own authenticity:  as I stood on the Brighton Pier looking back at the shore and the grayish-blue sky, I heard an inner voice urging me to reflect upon what inclusion really looked like, challenging me to practice becoming even more accepting of others whose values perhaps clashed with my own. At that moment, Practical Muslim was born.

When I returned to Canada, I spared no time in building an online space where Muslims could share stories about their identity and all the joys and struggles of what it meant to be a Muslim in the West. This digital space would allow us to a share a variety of stories about travel, cuisine, fashion, and tackle issues related to the stigma around mental health, substance abuse, and racism within the Muslim community, as well as Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination towards Muslims from the wider community. Within a few weeks, I was already working to forge a network of collaborators who shared this vision as well.

What is Practical Muslim?

Our vision is to create a community-based digital platform that aims to promote a positive representation of the diversity, engagement and experiences of today’s Muslim living in the West.

Why?

Our mission is to nurture a safe online space for Muslims to share their lived experiences through the art of storytelling:

  • To experience the power of healing and genuine connection with others
  • To define the Muslim identity by sharing narratives woven through the common thread of Islam

How?

We will strive to reclaim the Muslim narrative by:

  • Endorsing a stronger, unified connection within the culturally diverse Muslim community
  • Encouraging opportunities for Muslims to share and learn from our different experiences and perspectives
  • Enabling Muslims to become fully-engaged within the wider community through positive social and political activism as well as intra- and interfaith dialogue
  • Challenging extremism, unethical cultural biases and taboos that hijack Islamic values and cohesion
  • Confronting Islamophobia, xenophobia and other forms of racism and discrimination

Who?

Muslims from various cultures, geographies, nationalities, languages and ethnicity are sharing their stories through blogs, vlogs and other online formats, as well as through live workshops.

Together, we are creating a space for Muslims to share and learn about our own diversity, becoming more open to one another, and opening the doors to the wider community. With every post, we are learning about ourselves, that we are not much different than one another or from our non-Muslim neighbors. And with each new perspective, we are selling the idea of mutual acceptance, love and community-building remains at the core of our success. With each story we are sharing, we will debunk the myths that other us as Muslims and keep us veiled from truly accepting one another and from reclaiming our narrative as Muslims living in the West.

What’s Next?

We are growing and welcome your input and feedback to help us achieve our mission. Soon, we will be adding a Practical Muslim business directory and a Muslim-friendly travel section.

For more information, please contact me at mohamed.hammoud@rogers.com. Visit Practical Muslim to learn more and follow us on our various social media platforms.

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