It may seem that after the end of Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, and the end of Trump as the president himself, that the US is progressing towards a better treatment of Muslims in America. This is far from the case, though, according to American Activist Angela David, who claims a more radical approach is needed to “grasp things at the root”.
Some may argue it could be the long-lived alliance with Israel or scaremongering surrounding terrorism and extremist, but the issue is as prevalent as ever regardless of the causes. The US doesn’t see nearly enough Muslim immigration to help create a positive change through diversity; particularly when racist policies such as the Muslim Travel Ban existed.
A striking example of this is the lack of recognition of the Muslim faith in the workplace. Only recently, meat producer JBS USA is paying out $5.5 million to over 300 employees on the basis of discrimination. The offenses were in regards to harassment towards Muslims when they were praying during scheduled breaks, as well as not providing reasonable accommodation that could facilitate praying.
JBS managers were also accused of throwing meat and bones at Somali employees, many of whom claimed they were called offensive names based on their race and religion.
Of course, the elephant in the room is the humanitarian crisis that faces Afghanistan in the coming moments – of which the US is accepting some refugees, but certainly spending most of their time looking for other countries to accept them instead.
It’s not just the US, but its British allies from across the pond too, that is seeing a rise in Islamophobia. Sayeeda Warsi, a high-up Muslim politician, claimed that anti-Muslim is so normal that it “passed the dinner table test”; something we could easily claim to be the case in the US too.
British actor Riz Ahmed, who works in the US full-time producing movies and is the first Muslim to be nominated for an Academy Award Best Actor, claims that American movie portrayals of Muslims are “toxic”. The misrepresentation that Riz is referring to cannot be underestimated when looking at its wider societal impacts, as the influence of film on modern culture is terrifying.
Or what’s equally as bad for Riz is not just the misrepresentation in film, but the underrepresentation. “How was it that out of 1.6 billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – none of us had ever been in this position until now?”
Catering to demand
Whilst we are yet to solve the issues surrounding discrimination in the workplace, the desire for profit is a sure-fire way to cater to the individual needs of religion. Of course, this is great in practice but doesn’t actually resolve inherent issues of racism. Nevertheless, Muslims in the US are happy to not be ignored in a consumer setting.
An example of this is within the will-making law industry. From a Muslim’s perspective, a will must be totally Shariah-compliant for it to be valid and credible. Of course, this was something overlooked by law firms and lawyers.
However, we have finally got to a stage where there are an increasing amount of Islamic wills online, which are Shariah-compliant and geared towards Muslims. This is a relatively new industry, though its existence was inevitable if not delayed. Among the hundreds of online will companies, it appears only two stand out as being Shariah-compliant, which are Sharia Wiz and My Wassiyah – two companies that clearly specialize in the service.
Sharia Wiz is by far the more popular of the two and claims to facilitate credible wills with unlimited future revisions for a price that reflects the market average: $59.00. Power of attorneys and living trusts are also available as an additional service.
Being one of only two recognized companies on the market, and having only been established in 2020, it does appear to be only scratching the surface of what is an inevitably greater demand to come. And, as we will see, likely greater supply, as companies begin to realize there is a gap in the market to serve Muslim-catered goods and services. This goes for financial services, eateries, and other law firms.
No such luck for mortgages
One of the most important financial products of most of our lifetimes is a mortgage, something that is seemingly transparent and straightforward. This isn’t the case for Muslims in the US, though, who face barriers to finding no-interest mortgages and down-payment programs.
There is, however, a rise in Islamic banking in New York that gives much hope, where Shariah-compliant investments and financial products are made, along with community banks and brokerages.
There does seem to be progression in regards to Shariah-compliant goods and services. After all, it’s only a matter of time that supply can catch up with the demand. Plus, many of these firms can still sell products to non-Muslims; whereas the reverse is untrue, so it makes sense for more companies to focus on catering to all religions and races. However, it’s a sad indictment that capitalism and the motivation of profit is currently the driving force behind representing Muslims more fairly, as opposed to better education and cultural progression.