Here is the full transcript of Global Voices’ editor Sahar Habib Ghazi’s TEDx Talk: The Muslims You Cannot See at TEDxStanford conference.
Sahar Habib Ghazi – Managing Editor at Global Voices
Allow me to take you back to a couple of months ago. I’m at the Women’s March in San Francisco with a neighbor and a dear friend.
I trust her with my four-year-old daughter; she trusts me with her children. She’s my rock. One minute we are chanting for women’s rights, the next we are shouting for trans rights. We are in a sea of umbrellas and people: some carrying the iconic image of a hijabi wrapped in an American flag; some chanting slogans against Islamophobia.
My friend looks at me and says, “You don’t have to deal with that stuff, right?”
“Why, because I’m not Muslim?” I have had this conversation before.
People I work with, or people who have known me for years, separate me, the Sahar they know, from the idea of “Muslim” built in their imagination. They de-Muslim me. There are 17 billion Muslims worldwide. We look different.
We practice different. We identify with being Muslim differently. But somehow we all get packed into the same Muslim box. This box is so well-constructed in our collective imaginations that when people like me don’t fit in it, we get de-Muslimed. I am not alone in this.
It even happened to the best-selling poet in America.
[ACT I: Being De-muslimed] What images come to your mind when you think of Rumi, poet of love? Peace? Love ? When Jalaluddin Rumi was my age, he was an orthodox Muslim preacher and scholar Islam, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad stayed central to his poetry until the day he died. But Rumi’s religion has been erased from Western imagination and most popular translations of his poetry. An erased history is a big part of the story of the 1.7 billion Muslims [ACT II: Belonging to the 1.7 billion].