Islamic Character Non-Muslims

Righting a Wrong

I sped through the parking lot. I was late for my early morning final and I was willing to compromise speed limits, especially when there were only a handful of cars parked.

I neared a parking spot and saw another person getting out of their car. As I parked and started walking, I realized it was my classmate. “Hey!” I greeted enthusiastically. She stared at me and with a flare of anger, she retorted, “You almost hit my car!” At first, I thought she was kidding; I hadn’t driven near her car. I then realized she was serious, and I hung my head in shame.

This was the second bad incident this woman had with a Muslim. Just a week prior, another Muslim girl in our class had acted extremely rude towards this classmate. I was not there, but was told of the incident, and I confronted the sister who had committed the crime of horrific da`wah (calling to Islam) through horrendous behavior. However, the damage had been done to our classmate and I had hoped I could present another image of Islam.

But I had already lost my opportunity. I picked driving at an illegally fast speed over improving this woman’s perception of Islam. I racked my brain on what to do, making istighfar (asking for God’s forgiveness), hoping Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) would forgive me and guide me.

The final to which I sped comprised of dropping off a project and returning within a couple hours to retrieve it and receive the grade. I realized I may have some time to make something happen, with Allah’s Help. I found the nearest popular juice place and I bought a gift card for my classmate. I then began writing a sincere apology letter, hoping to make up for my immense shortcoming in her measure. I returned to the class, anxious for her to come back, hoping I hadn’t already missed her.

Finally, I saw her walking and I swiftly went to approach her.

“Excuse me?” I began. She turned around and stared at me, annoyed perhaps, apathetic at best. “I just wanted to apologize to you for today,” I began. “You’re right, I should not have been driving that fast.” She scolded me and I accepted full responsibility; she was completely in the right and I was completely at fault. I then offered her the gift; I told her that I know she had an unfortunate experience with another Muslim in our class, and that she also had an unfortunate incident with me, a Muslim woman, that very morning. But I wanted her to know that we are both simply humans who make mistakes; that what we had done was not condoned by Islam, that what we had represented wasn’t the perfection of morals, principals and character taught to us by the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him). That we simply slipped; that we are human.

The woman was visibly moved by my action.  She accepted the gift and then slowly replied, “I am so glad that you stopped me and spoke to me. I am one of those people who try really hard not to listen to the stereotypes in the media. But after what I experienced with both of you, I thought, maybe Muslims really are that way.”

People are carefully watching our moves in order to make a decision on their own notions of Islam and the Muslim community–this includes Muslims who feel they have been pushed out or turned off by other Muslims. If we cut corners and try to get away with things that exude sub-standard character, why would our fellow citizens want to be like us? Who do you naturally lean towards? Someone who is upright in character, who admits fault and tries to fix their mistakes? Or someone who, when they are caught red-handed, blows you off and cusses you out?

We often make excuses for our own lapses in character; we sometimes compromise things we see as non-issues in the bigger picture when it will benefit us. However, let us remember that our lapses affect our lives and the lives of those around us.

Next time we make a mistake, let’s think about ways we can fix it. With repentance, continually seeking forgiveness and striving to compensate for our shortcomings, perhaps we may be the reason someone reconsiders their negative perceptions.


About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on


  • Salam

    I would never have thought to buy a card and gift as a way of apologising for what I incorrectly perceive to be a ‘trivial’ mistake. I would have thought a verbal apology alone should suffice; but your example shows that sometimes you have to go the extra mile, as words can be cheap. JazakumAllah khair for sharing. 🙂

  • You definately got me on this one. Recently my driving has become much more rash and I thought it wouldn’t harm anyone. Guess I was wrong.

  • thats a nice story..and believe me ..when i am aroud people(non-muslim) i make sure ,i am not presenting a NEGETIVE impact on them..may ALLAH(SWT)make us the one who are exampelary.

  • Jazakallah khayr sometimes I only make istighfar and promise myself not to make the same mistake, but from now one inshallah I will apologize as it happen. May ALLAH keeps us aware of our mistakes as we make them and give us the characters of the true believers.

  • Its simply values that we need to put together with our religion. This simple values must have in every one of us regardless of what religion we are but what makes better for us because we are Muslim that lives with these good strong values :-).

  • A very positive anecdote to help us all re-evaluate our actions. However, unfortunately, I have the impression that Muslims in the West are constantly having to say, “Islam doesn’t condone this, I’m so sorry,” for the most human of mistakes that almost all humans (Muslim or not) make from time to time. Sometimes they even have to apologize for other Muslims’ mistakes, only because they are Muslim.

  • Just as Atheists more closely scrutinize the actions/inactions of people of faith…so do people OF OTHER faiths when they view Muslims (or at least people who call themselves as such).

    Now why do I mention Atheists AND people OF FAITH? Because they both scrutinize the actions of Muslims to reaffirm what their existing perceptions are of Muslims (which unfortunately is a negative view by many.) I don’t feel like the majority tell themselves.

    However from the reaction of the girl to your admission…it could be she never even felt negatively towards Muslims; but by your admission/connection you made to your actions and to Islam…it gave her the idea along the lines of “I really thought Muslims were like that”…when she never really thought that before.

    However there’s no argument against how you approached her in the nice manner that you did after the fact.

  • Thanks for this reminder.
    I always try to show me from my best side when i`m around non-muslims and i try to give Dawa and its actually quit shocking how little they actually know about Islam but pretend to know everything. So many non-muslim women/girls i´ve met thought that the rule for being virgin before enter the marriage only applies to females and not males. Of course i told them it applies to both. But i have to say i`m not going to play a monkeyclown just to please them (not anymore). Once i was talking with a fellow student from Holland and he told me that our Prophet pbuh. is a Childmolester ( he was a atheist), now in that moment i could beat … out of him insteatd i managed to stay calm and just said your´re hurting my feelings which such an comment so stop it. Afterwards i immideatly felt that i have betrayed my lord and i should have been more harsh to him and showing him my passion towards my religion but if i had show him my anger he would have thought on a negativ way about islam ( which he already did) and muslims. Giving Dawa is really hard….they throw so many bias upon the religion on you but inshallah Allah will help us and guide us and i hope Allah forgives me.

    ps: ( sorry for the grammar mistakes, english isnt my mother tongue)

  • Excellent article sister Maryam may Allah swt reward you for the great reminder.

    Like you said Muslims are under a lot of scrutiny these days, and we really have to make an extra effort, more so than other citizens, and go out of our way in order to correct the misconceptions about Islam, one experience at a time.

  • muslims are really under a lot of scrutiny which unfortunately is as a result of the actions of some few muslims. See the case of nigeria and boko haram for example, where innocent people are been killed daily and the killers quote the holy quran and the hadith for their actions.Islam is really being given a bad name here and good muslims are embarrassed. any advice for nigeria

  • Thank you sister for posting this beautiful post.

    As a convert my mother is always on a lookout for other Muslim girls.

    Once at H&M my mother saw a Muslim sister looking at accessories. With all her heart my mother was looking at a scarf and she approached this sister and said to her: “This scarf would look great on you”.

    My mom had mentioned to me that upon saying that, she just meanly looked at her and said no words. My mom apologized knowing that she obviously got offended and once again she just meanly stared at my mother and said no words.

    As my mother was finishing telling this story she looked at me and said: “See Andrea, how they are”. I was so embarrassed, I tried to tell her that everyone is different and maybe she was having a bad day. However, this story served me as a reminder not to be a bad example of Islam, because I too can slip and fall out of the character that Islam teaches us.

    This article explains very well the many examples of Muslim giving the wrong impression of Islam.

  • In the UK, the Muslim image is not helped by the Muslim migrants (significant, even though not the only type of migrants) who move in just to exploit the benefits system there, even contracting fake marriages with eastern european EU citizens so they can jointly commit benefits fraud. the government needed to set up a special effort just to help young Muslim female citizens from being shipped overseas into forced marriages by their own families. further, the recent cases of gang rapes or vulnerable minors were found to be perpetrated by people with Muslim names – therefore, blanket conclusions are drawn by the natives there about the Muslim community and its values. even though we are not responsible for the sins of others, we have to bear in mind the backdrop we live against, from our and our brethren’s failings.

    i really admire what the author did. it’s not always easy to swallow one’s ego and apologise for our own faults are trivial in our minds, but others’ faults appear large and HD to us. let alone put money where the mouth is – that provides a signal of seriousness because talk is cheap. we ourselves don’t really believe others’ sincerity until they back it up with something pretty hard to fake.

  • I think if we accept our mistake and humble ourself then the doors are open to think how to rectify it but if arrogancy takes over then we are closing all the doors.

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