These displays in Islam are similar to wearing crosses in Christianity, Fazaga said.

People in our culture have attached the hijab or beards to certain meanings: that the person is more pious or faithful.

But, ultimately, what you do on the surface shouldn't determine your faith or lack thereof, Fazaga said.

It is about what's in your heart.

You might think I'm being too critical of my community, but it is because I love my community that I challenge some of its members' unwillingness to sometimes see beyond the surface — hence, the imam who thinks simply covering my hair will get people to think highly of me.

It is because I love my uncle that I challenge him to accept that it's fine to disagree on the routes, even though we're seeking the same destination.

I believe wholeheartedly that Islam forbids people from judging others from the surface, and it is because of examples like the one about the drunk man I mentioned earlier.

The prophet also once said that God "does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and actions."

It dawns on me that the tendency to judge people based on their appearance or path in life isn't specific to Muslims.

We all do it and, in turn, we are all responsible for the rift it has created in our society, from the day-to-day pressures we place on women's appearances to religious groups that argue they're better than their counterparts or that ultimately their path to God is the only correct one.

If God is capable of giving you a unique mind, look and heart, is He not capable of understanding that uniqueness?

MONA SHADIA is a reporter for Times Community News. An Egyptian American, she was born and raised in Cairo and now lives in Orange County. Her column includes various questions and issues facing Muslims in America. Follow her on Twitter @MonaShadia.