So How DO You Write About Muslims?

So How DO You Write About Muslims? April 19, 2012

Long-time readers might remember a post from three years ago, where Sobia and I wrote a guide for How to Write About Muslims.  You can click on the title of that post for the full version, but here’s the list of rules we compiled:

Rule #1: Don’t assume that Muslim women need to be saved, or that you know how to save them.

Rule #2:Rather than assuming you know what Muslim women’s lives are like, try asking them.Rule #3: Be careful of who you talk to regarding Islam and/or Muslim women.

Rule #4: Understand that Muslims are just like anyone else in terms of their belief systems.  Not everything a Muslim does has to do with Islam.

Rule #5: Understand that there is no such thing as a “Muslim culture.”  Muslims come from a variety of cultures, and culture is dynamic – it’s constantly changing.

Rule #6: Don’t create a dichotomy between “Muslim” and “Canadian” (or “American,” “British,” etc.), or between “Muslim” and “Western.”

Rule #7: Tone it down! Be mindful of the language you use.

Rule #8: Take responsibility for the consequences of your writing.

Rule #9: Leave the headscarf alone.

We’re now working on fixing that article up for publication, as part of a collection of pieces related to Muslims and media (more details on that soon!)  It’s been a while since we wrote it, and it’s definitely not a comprehensive list, so I would love to hear thoughts from any of you on what can be added to it.  What are we missing?  What are your own pet peeves when it comes to media representations of Muslims?  (Most of this so far relates to non-Muslim journalists in the West; feel free to add in other perspectives about how Islam, Muslims, or Muslim women are talked about from within Muslim contexts as well.)

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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