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Taking Perspective and Coexisting

Updated on May 26, 2020
jennkesler profile image

Jenn is a university student in Detroit. She is studying Psychology and Communication.


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.


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    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 days ago from Corona, CA

      Very hard to find support from people without religious bias while also adhering to organized religions and their tenets, but I hope her decision pays off and she finds a belief system that doesn't inherently want to silence her. Personally, I could not find one and thus went on to create my own ideas of it all when every religion frowned upon my questions and criticisms of their principles.

      There was a time in college where I attended the christian group meeting, they locked the doors after enticing people in with free food, and then wouldn't let anyone out after warning them they would be locked in. At the end of that meeting I questioned why they would force people to gather, their answer was that religion demanded it, then I said when legalism comes in so leaves God from the picture. I was never allowed to attend their group again.

      The stories go on and on, and I worry for those who trade one religion for another. Especially as it concerns theism and the Abrahamic religions.

    • jennkesler profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenn Kesler 

      11 days ago from Michigan, USA

      I'm understanding that you find it weird when someone switches belief systems and feels silenced by the belief system that frowns on their past belief. It is a weird life switch to make.. I honestly wish the best for my friend no matter what her belief system is. I think it's important that she has support from people without religious bias.

      It's also unfortunate to hear that you expect to be hated by many when speaking about religion. I'm sorry to hear that and I wish you well.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 days ago from Corona, CA

      I wouldn't dare make assumptions as to someone's belief or intentions, I just always found it weird when someone such as your friend switches belief systems and then feels silenced by the belief system that frowns on their past beliefs. It is in both the Quran and Holy Bible that other religions are wrong, their followers should be converted because they are wrong, and if they will not convert then they should be loved from a distance until they turn to the proper faith.

      It just seems strange to me when people switch religions and feel put down by the followers who are following the tenets of their religion, rather than seeing it is the religion itself that breeds this ignorant behavior on a broad scale. Essentially, I'd love to ask your friend these questions to hear their unbiased answer about themselves and the religions they have followed.

      When speaking of religion I expect to be hated, unanimously, by a group of individuals let alone simply questioned and silenced. This is what turned me from religion to begin with, and I wonder how anyone shifts from one set of ignorant tenets to the next while expecting a different outcome.

    • jennkesler profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenn Kesler 

      11 days ago from Michigan, USA

      Kyler, thank you for your comment. I absolutely support developing your own beliefs and denying the fallible creations of man. I also support those who "come to Christ". Religion is controlling, but sometimes it is harmless when a person uses religion to fulfill their life. My friend converted from one religion to another because it made her feel more comfortable.

      I feel like it will improve our conversation if you to know - that I personally do not identify with any religious community. Sharing my perspective-taking project was the only drive behind this article.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 weeks ago from Corona, CA

      I often find the interpretation away from religious texts, despite the religious texts condemning such behavior, to be an interesting facet of theism and other forms of written religion. For example Islam and Christianity, both Abrahamic, each have their own strict verses that point out that their religion is the only, "Spirit of truth."

      Yet, for the sake of modern thought and much like with many other bits of the texts written to be taken literally, people will say those parts do not count because they no longer apply. Surely, men who speak to an omnipotent God and its subservient deities would also be receiving a timeless message that should not be deviated from, right?

      Modern religion rewrites and interprets its texts away from the supposed words of God's prophets, because it is often perceived as barbaric and out of date, yet they cherry pick which ones to follow. Thus I would also pose this question to your friend.

      If it is so easy to shift from religion to religion, no consequence despite the texts supposedly written by prophets of God stating there is consequence, why follow any religion to begin with? Why not develop your own beliefs and deny the fallible creations of man? Why attend gatherings that worship the fallible concepts written by men who practiced what we could call evil today, such as stoning homosexuals?

      As a man who went from being raised Christian, to choosing a more "abstract reality" approach which I developed myself and wish no one else to follow because it is fallible and will always be in its process of creation until I die, I too regularly feel silenced by others who think I just hate God. I don't hate God, I hate the evil creations of man that others use to try to subjugate me under.


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