If you are a Muslim, what is the strangest thing you have been asked…

  • “Why do you shove it down our throats?” yelled the man from the audience.

    I was speaking at the LSE Literary Festival over the weekend on a panel about “Islamophobia and Literature”. It was a Saturday night, and thus the full audience made for an impressive turn out on a fairly heavyweight subject.  We the panellists were a light-hearted bunch though – my book on love, and the others had re-written fairy tales, and a book about a Muslim women’s chat group amongst their other credentials.

    Anyway, back to the heckler.

    “Shove what down whose throats?” I yelled back to him.

    “You lot, you Muslims. Why do you try to shove it down our throats?”

    It was the usual Daily Mail diatribe (“We’re becoming a shariah state, the Moozlims have taken over! We’ve been eliminated from our own country” etc etc.) so I decided to challenge him back for hard evidence, not just rhetoric. “Give me three examples of when someone has shoved it down YOUR throat?” I heckled back.

    He muttered, the wind taken out of his sails, something about ‘Tower Hamlets’ and then grumbled under his breath as though he’d had enough.

    If he had had enough of Muslims and Islam, why on earth had he come on a Saturday night to a literary discussion about Islamophobia, I wondered. A nutty form of masochism? A secret penchant for Muslims?

    It got me thinking… If you are a Muslim, what is the strangest, funniest or most curious thing that you’ve been asked? What could you barely contain your giggles about, but had to answer seriously? Or what did you think ‘How on earth am I supposed to know the answer to that?’


What do you think?

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  • C

    February 24, 2011

    Asalaamu Alaikum

    The strangest thing is when someone thought I was a nun even though I was hugely pregnant! They not only do not know our religion they don’t even know the tenets of their own!

  • a

    February 24, 2011

    A classmate was suprised i just wouldnt use the f word

  • me the martian

    February 25, 2011

    wow. muslims are fast becoming like the gays. a “lifestyle” forced down other people’s throats 😛

  • A

    February 25, 2011

    Someone once asked me if I had hair (vs. being bald) and was shocked when I told her that I DID have a head full of hair. She couldn’t understand why I would cover my head if I in fact did have hair!!


  • Nida

    February 25, 2011


    Last Saturday I just happened to have the misfortune of sitting two seats down from the man who shouted “Why do you shove it down our throats?” I was somewhere between gob-smacked and offended and felt that I should have said something to him. But I was right to leave it to the proffessionals. And besides, I think most people in the room found his question offending, muslim or not.

    I recall now that when I had entered the room before the event had started and I was given my allocated seat, he turned to me and said “I’m glad someone else is breaking the rules too.” Now, being a hijab wearing muslim women, I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but it was definately the strangest thing a stranger has said to me. Maybe that man really was nutty.

  • shelina

    February 25, 2011

    Nida, as a woman in hijab we’re already constantly told we’re ‘breaking the rules’! Hope sitting next to him wasn’t too off-putting…

  • A

    February 25, 2011

    I think many experience that feeling of being taken by surprise and offended and perhaps even a bit worried – I have felt this way a couple of times and was unsure how to respond. Shelina – any insight on how to respond/react to such comments?


  • Rasha

    February 28, 2011

    I’ve been asked again and again “Why do you comb your hair? Why do you get a haircut? Why do you go tot he salon?…if you’re gonna cover it up anyway!” All the classic hair questions.

    I use to answer these enthusiastically but I must say I get a little discouraged these days.

  • otowi

    March 14, 2011

    I was asked,
    “Do you wear that in the shower?” (re: hijab)
    “Do you sleep with it on?”