Taking Perspective and Coexisting
Perspective Taking was the final project of my Introduction to Communication class. The assignment was to interview an individual who has felt silenced by the majority. According to my professor, stay-at-home moms, underpaid workers and people who have converted to a religion they weren't raised into are examples of individuals who have likely felt silenced by the majority. The purpose of this assignment was to practice taking a new and different perspective. Upon reading the rubric for the assignment, I knew exactly who I would write about.
I chose my school friend who I knew had recently converted to Christianity from Islam. Part of the assignment required interviewing the individual and writing a paper from the perspective of the individual.
The interview questions I asked were:
Would you say you wear a scarf for modesty or for religious purposes? – if you don’t mind me asking?
What would you say your religious identity is?
Would you say your religious identity is observable from your appearance?
Would you say your religious identity is common or uncommon? In what ways?
Have you ever felt torn between these two religions? If yes, could you give examples of moments when you felt torn between these two religions?
In what ways have you felt muted/ignored because of your religion?
In what ways have you felt muted/ignored because of your appearance?
What kind of assumptions do you deal with every day?
The Importance of Communication for a Christian Who Used to be Muslim
I deal with people making incorrect assumptions about me every day. It is often that those I interact with assume that I am of the Muslim faith. I was raised in a Muslim household and am comfortable with the Muslim faith. However, Islam is only a part of my identity because it represents my past and my family. I converted to Christianity upon moving out to university, and Christianity is a huge part of my identity because it embodies my current beliefs. Because my appearance does not necessarily match my religious beliefs, people I meet do not easily understand my identity. As a Christian who wears a scarf every day, communication is incredibly important to me when it comes to expressing who I am and helping others understand how Islam and Christianity coexist in my life. It is important to me that I surround myself with people who are understanding. I have experienced various instances of misunderstanding, disrespect, and bigotry. These instances of misunderstanding include Christians not seeing me as one of them, Muslims not understanding my identity, and strangers being disrespectful. Currently, Islam and Christianity coexist within my lifestyle, and because of my daily use of communication, others are becoming aware, too, of that peaceful coexistence.
Often, others insist that I just have an identity conflict. When I come across someone who tries to refute my religious identity, I try my best to keep in mind the open-minded people I have met. Even though there are some Christians who insist that I am not “one of them”, there are also plenty of Christians who are open-minded and kind. Being a Christian from a Muslim background has its difficulties, but I am still grateful for my family and the lifestyle I was raised in. Although there are many families who successfully raise their children to be a certain religion, there are also many families whose children stray from the religion they were raised to be in. In my case, my parents raised me to be a good Muslim. Although Islam is not the religion I believe, I do not regret having gained experience within the Muslim religion.
Some of my Muslim family members have not yet accepted my conversion. My family’s misunderstandings are part of why I still wear a scarf. Some people see the wearing of a scarf as a representation of Islam and nothing else. However, I would say my choice to wear a scarf is out of habit, and more for the sake of modesty than religion. Not every woman who wears a scarf is a Muslim. Although it is not extremely common in the United States, there are women around the world who wear a scarf for reasons that are not religious practices. Although some of my family members have not yet accepted my conversion, a few have, and most of my friends have been very supportive. Communication with some family members is often more difficult than communication with my open-minded friends. Although it requires patience, communicating my beliefs and expressing my identity is important. My supportive friends and family give me a lot of hope for spreading the idea of religious coexistence. As a Christian who wears a scarf every day, communication is incredibly important to me when it comes to expressing who I am and helping others understand how Islam and Christianity can coexist.
The Importance of Taking Perspective
Too often, strangers are disrespectful towards people they do not understand. Misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions occur every day and everywhere. Comprehending every possible perspective is impossible. However, recognizing the limit of one’s communicative abilities is very important to establishing one’s ability to understand and respect others.
The concept of peaceful coexistence is commonly misinterpreted as every religion coming together as one singular religion, when peaceful coexistence is actually the idea of people being aware and open to the differences in perspectives across the world. When it comes to communication, it's of the most importance that people of different appearances/identities respect one another.
Sharing feelings and exchanging thoughts is the core of communication (and conversation). Offering one's perspective is an essential part of communicating. However, there is an abundance of perspective-offering (especially online). Effective communication requires both perspective-offering and perspective-taking.