What is my relation to ISIS?

Does the title bother or anger you? Is that the reason why you clicked my blog post because you’re intrigued to find out? What do I actually have to do with ISIS? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out….







Firstly, let me clear the air by saying that I have NOTHING to do with ISIS! I just wanted your attention. 🙂

But did the question bother you? Would you be bothered if someone had asked YOU the same question?

A few weeks ago, someone actually came up to me, he was a man probably in his 40s. He asked me why I was wearing this “thing” on my head. He then proceeded to ask if I were a Muslim. When I said yes, he found it appropriate to ask what my relation was to ISIS and if I believed or if my religion believed in blowing people up.

To which I responded with a smile, “do you believe in blowing people up? I don’t and I have nothing to do with ISIS”. He then just walked away.

Sometimes, as I sit and ponder about the interactions I have with people and my identity, sure, it’s kind of ignorant, but on the other hand, I consider myself so privileged. I am grateful that I have lived in places where I do not fear for my life as I step out of the house wearing my scarf.


But that’s how it starts doesn’t it? Stereotypes that are formed, whether or not as a joke, or just said for the sake of saying it. Then it leads to violence when things simply get out of hand. It could be as simple as calling someone a terrorist just because they come from a certain religion.

We often deal with stereotypes our whole lives. Education teaches us to discern between what is right and wrong. We see all sorts of stereotypes depicted in our daily lives through so many mediums; the online, digital or print media and mainstream media in general. While our brains tell us to reject it, when we are faced with the same messages every single day, it forms a construct. Society then sets expectations and rules of how we are required to behave based on the social constructs that we “belong” to. Stereotypes can come in all forms: race, religion, culture, gender, the poor, the uneducated and more (Devine & Elliot, 1995).


I believe all religions are pure. Religions don’t condone terrorism, people do. That said, people fall into the habit of stereotyping everything, which is sad because kindness is free.

According to Foucault (2000: 291), ethical practices are proposed, suggested or imposed by a given society, culture or social group. They provide points of reference and not absolute limits. (Faubion 2001: 89-90)

So whether I like it or not, by publicly declaring my identity, I invite feedback from others on how I should live my life.


Mansfield (2000) refers to subjectivity as an experience and that it is prone to change and inconsistency. Our sense of selves will change, and we adapt to the change and be somebody else. My past shapes who I am today. Society will judge us everyday. I realize that I learnt to hold on to what is important to me. Wearing the hijab does not impede me from participating in social and academic activities.

I am proud of the decision I made to don the Hijab and I will continue being myself, doing things I want to do regardless of what people might say. As long as I know I am not doing anything wrong. I believe in living my life to the fullest.

With that, I invite you guys to check out this short video I made for one of my projects before. Being stereotyped as a terrorist is not the only encounter I’ve experienced. The video shows a few funny questions that are just derived from (oblivious, or maybe not) hilarious curiosity.

So come and have a laugh with/at me! I’m in the video, it was quite embarassing, so please judge nicely. 😀

Signing off for now!


Devine, P. G., & Elliot, A. J. (1995). Are racial stereotypes really fading? The Princeton trilogy revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bul- letin, 21, 1139-1150.
Foucault, M 2000 Ethics: Subjectivity and truth (Essential Works of Michel Foucault, 1954-1984) Volume 1. (ed) P. Rabinow. London: Penguin.
Faubion, J. 2001. Toward an anthropology of ethics: Foucault and the pedagogies of autopoiesis. Representations 74, 83-104.
Mansfield, N. ( 2000) ‘Introduction’, Subjectivity : Theories of the self from Freud to Haraway, Sydney : Allen & Unwin, pp.1-12

18 thoughts on “What is my relation to ISIS?

  1. Oh my goodness, Sufiya! I admit that I clicked on your article because the title shocked me. Now that I’ve read it I have absolutely no idea how to respond because I have no idea how to relate to your experience. I’ve never stood out, been different, singled out or part of a minority. Thinking about it now I’m so average in this geographic context it’s a joke; white, of European descent, middle class, raised catholic, average height, average looks, average brains. You could say that here, my averageness is like a shield from being ridiculed.

    All I really know is that people are afraid of what they don’t understand and unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t looked into other cultures or religions much themselves. Not many people haven’t travelled extensively and been really exposed to the way other people live around the world. The information forming their views is regurgitated mass media messages, through channels that thrive of tragedy, generalisation and sensationalism, like the big TV station’s news broadcasts, the ‘tailored-to-sell-more-copies’ national and state papers, and worst of all, oversimplified, uninformed, opinionated, closed minded posts on social media, reinforcing their ignorance because, as we have learnt platforms like Facebook become bubbles of the same opinions as our own.

    I bet they’ll be surprised when they find out that most people, all over the world, live in the same way; with families, siblings and friends, working, learning, playing sports, hearing or making music, discussing politics or going to whichever place of worship applies to their belief system.

    Perhaps that is why understanding media and communication is so important, because it gives us the ability to look past the messages being flung at us by the media factories while also preparing us to create and distribute counter messages to change peoples attitudes and then, their behaviours.

    1. Hey Katrina!

      Thank you for your comment. I do agree that where you live plays a huge role in how you shape your mindset as well. Back when I was in Singapore, because of diversity and the multiracial society, the problem is probably not as prevalent. We do get racist remarks or people just judge muslims as the terror group. I remember when I started wearing the scarf to school, people were actually afraid to approach or talk to me. Media plays such a huge role which is sad because the type of messages that they choose to send does not depict the overarching issues in the society or the world. However, I also feel that there are bigger problems in the world to focus on than racial or religious stereotypes as long as they are benign and superficial. It is not okay definitely, but we all just hope that it doesn’t turn into violence. I suppose people need to learn to be more open minded and mix around more with people. 🙂

  2. Hi Sufiya!

    Great article and great video (very funny!).

    I think we’re always curious about people and things that are different to ourselves (and sometimes scared of it too – that’s when it becomes a bit tricky).

    I love your response to the silly questions. Thumbs up! 🙂

    I was wondering how you feel about getting these questions? Is it annoying or do you use them as conversation starters? 🙂

    1. Hey Camilla!

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Honestly, at first, it does get a bit shocking because I always thought that I was no different than anyone else. But as I grow older and learn more about the way people behave, and how cultures/backgrounds/countries play a part. I don’t really get annoyed, in fact I join in. For example, I always get questions like if I have hair underneath the scarf! I’ll reply, no I’m bald so it’s easy to maintain, or the usual, “I guess you’ll never find out” 😉

  3. Hi Sufiya,

    I have to say I love your article the cute video so mush! What an intriguing title! What a thought provoking topic. I understand your feeling and bewilderment, because the truth that I am a Chinese Muslim. However, I cannot forget that some people’s strange look came over on their faces after hearing that I believe Islamism (although my head is not covered with a khaki turban, you know, which is different with your custom). Sufiya, you are braver than me. After 1113 ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, I seldom mentioned my religion with new friends, because I worry about they misunderstand and distance herself from me.

    Yes, ‘Stereotypes’, a psychological phenomenon, does exist in reality! Many stereotypes convey negative and unclear judgments. Individuals may judge others without even knowing them at all, and it might be completely misguided and incorrect, causing you to act differently towards the person which can offend them (Bobo 2000). Besides, I think certain of media and programs are enhancing stereotypes, when they draw more attention from the Public eye. For example, we can usually see some pictures of ‘Turbaned faces’ which is the symbolic of all Muslim and we see negative words like ‘terrorist’ appeared on screen at the same time. Then, people’s racial stereotypes are enhanced inevitably.

    Tips?, pictures and texts’ layout could be more perfected. If you like, may be you can click the ‘Align Left’ or ‘Align Right’ when you edit your pictures.

    Bobo, L. and Johnson, D., 2000. ‘Racial Attitudes in a Prismatic Metropolis: Mapping Identity, Stereotypes, Competition, and Views on Affirmative Action. LD Bobo, ML Oliver, JH Johnson, Jr., and A. Valenzeual, Jr. Eds.

  4. If there was an effective way to conquer discrimination and stereotypes it would be through humor. And this is something you are definitely not lacking, Sufiya!

  5. It was really an eye-opening incident happened with you I have suffered the same even being a man. Definitely essay writers online made it easy for us to understand the nature of these groups. The people need to change their stereotypes that Muslims are the ISIS. ISIS is a bunch of mad people who are just exploiting the name of Islam. Terrorist have no religion this is a propaganda against Muslims

  6. It ought to occur without the show. There are individuals who are against this kind of thing. No one needs these individuals to be glad. These individuals ought to be given assorted films and not told this is a piece of a movement.local classifieds

  7. Hello, It was really an eye-opening incident happened with you I have suffered the same even being a man. Definitely, essay writers online made it easy for us to understand the nature of these groups. The people need to change their stereotypes that Muslims are the ISIS. ISIS is a bunch of mad people who are just exploiting the name of Islam. Terrorist has no religion this is a propaganda against Muslims.new book

  8. It was really an eye-opening incident happened with you I have suffered the same even being a man. Definitely essay writers online made it easy for us to understand the nature of these groups. The people need to change their stereotypes that Muslims are the ISIS. ISIS is a bunch of mad people who are just exploiting the name of Islam. Terrorist have no religion this is a propaganda against Muslims.new book

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