A Muslim-American couple that has an “Ask a Muslim” booth doesn’t want to talk about religion.
Rather, the Massachusetts couple wants people to talk about everyday things, giving people a chance to understand that most American Muslims aren’t like the extremists that are shown on the news.
“We just wanted to get to know people and let people get to know us,” said Mona Haydar, who started the booth with her husband, Sebastian Robins.
Robins, who converted to Islam, said in a video produced by Upworthy that there’s been an uptick in anti-Muslim rhetoric since the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, which has affected the way people treat Muslims in the U.S.
He’s not alone in thinking that. A recent Gallup poll showed that 1 in 4 Americans believe Muslims aren’t treated fairly in the United States, and more than half of all Muslim societies across the world feel Muslims aren’t treated as equal citizens.
This has in fact become such an issue that Robins has worried about his wife and child’s safety, since his wife wears a hijab and is often with her children.
“We were afraid to leave the house,” he said. “I was afraid for Mona to go out in her hijab. I was afraid for my son. And I was afraid for probably the first time in my life of being out in public. If I’m afraid, how do you think my wife feels every day as a hijabi? It was just this horrifying realization of what it is to be different.”
So to combat these beliefs, Robins and Haydar started their “Ask a Muslim” campaign, specifically leaving out “about Islam” in the title so that people knew they could come and talk about anything – like “about the Red Sox,” Haydar joked in the video.
The couple said the most common question they face is why Muslims don’t stand against terrorism, which made the spouses realize that Muslim institutions and organizations that are actively combating preconceived notions about Muslims don’t receive enough attention in the media, according to The Huffington Post.
“Every major Muslim organization and institution which represents individual Muslims have come out time and time again to share the message that … people who commit acts of violence on behalf of Muslims do not and could never represent us,” Haydar said.
She said this booth will help the country rebuild its beliefs toward the Muslim community.
But even if that takes more work, the couple said they were happy that the booth helped them connect with their community.
“We always walk away feeling seen, heard by and connected to the people who stop to talk,” she told Huffington Post.
Robins and Haydar are far from the first couple that has looked to change the world from a grassroots level.
For example, a couple in Fort Wayne, Indiana, started a campaign in December last year to help veterans who were in need. Called “Clothes for Joes,” Matthew and Cori Maple’s campaign collected coats that they could pass onto homeless veterans who faced the tough wintry temperatures.
“I’ve had a few friends that I served with that ended up being homeless throughout the years,” Matthew Maple told WISHTV-8. “Being around the homeless population, knowing what’s out there, knowing how many of those guys are actually veterans – it breaks my heart to see guys who gave their life for our country have nothing.”
The couple collected two truckloads with 97 coats, which they donated to the local Shepherd’s House to help the veterans.
Other couples have campaigned on a grassroots level for their political candidate of choice. An east Texas couple drove around in a white van that had Donald Trump’s name plastered all over it to garner support for the real estate mogul.
Similarly, Jon and Jennifer McCullough in Minnesota set up a table at their local middle school with Cruz signs and books, which they bought to support their candidate, the New York Post reported. They even brought 800 single-page handouts of information about Cruz, since they believed he was a “constitutional conservative” who best fit their desires for president, the Post reported.
They later even got to meet Cruz.
And in Westlake, Ohio, Dave and Lisa O’Brien headed a campaign to provide funds to the local Women’s Recovery Center, which helps treat addicted women, Cleveland.com reported. The center aids close to 41,000 women from the greater Cleveland area but is need of repairs.
“That’s when the O’Briens stepped in and introduced the charity to like-minded donors,” Cleveland.com reported.
As of March, the O’Briens’ campaign earned $750,000, with the goal of earning another $250,000.