That one noun sends a myriad of opinions from every end of the spectrum. We are seen as the most holy and devout of people and as the most devious and murderous of people. The words of our holy book are distorted. The actions of the few radicals and extremists take the name of our dear religion, misguiding the world about what we truly believe. Our ways of life lead people to believe we are oppressed rather than liberated from the pressures of the world. Our religion is seen as the religion with no regard to human life rather than the religion that holds murder as a great sin. We are seen as a religion of war rather than the religion of peace.
Yet, these issues should be the least of our worries. We are our greatest downfall.
Rather than taking these unfortunate misrepresentations of our religion and changing them, we make ourselves victims. Islam is nothing if not misconstrued in the media, yet victimizing ourselves will not create the change we need. Victimizing ourselves will not change the media or the worldâ€™s view of Islam. Victimizing ourselves will not take back that day when Flight 175 hit the Twin Towers, killing thousands of innocent victims as well as the name of Islam. Victimizing ourselves does nothing. Change can only be created with change. We as Muslims know our religion better than anyone on the outside. We have the power to alter how the world views us. Yet instead of effort, we complain.
We lay back and hope that one day the world will see the truth that itâ€™s bound to happen one day. But what if that one day never comes? What if this ignorance of Islam begins to define Islam itself? What if the ignorance begins to define who we are? We must unite as Muslims. We must stand up for what our religion truly preaches and let the world see that we are greater than the convoluted religion preached by the extremists. We have the power to change the worldâ€™s perceptions of Islam and yet we do nothing. This is our greatest issue.
Before we can change how the world perceives us, we must change ourselves. Each Muslim has the power to set an example, to undermine each and every deceitful comment made about Islam. It is our duty as Muslims. â€œTruly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.â€ (Quran 13:11)
We must broaden our horizons and allow the world to see that we preach peace. Each Muslim can make a difference. We can make people see past the stereotypes. For example, I have lived in a highly populated Muslim community my entire life, yet Iâ€™m very open, and even hope to meet people of different races and religions. When I meet these people and begin having discussions, they begin to see past the dehumanizing portrayals in the media. They begin to see me as a pious, peace-loving Muslim rather than the oppressed deviant the media has portrayed me as. By informing people of our religion and being social we have a way to backlash media. Every person that is well informed of Islam is one less ignorant person spreading false information about Islam. United as Muslim brothers and sisters, we must push for peace rather than hope things get solved all on their own.
Yes, we are not at fault for these negative representations of Muslims in the media. We are not at fault for the actions of the few extremists nor is it ethical for the world to judge us based on the actions of those few extremists. Yet hoping things will change all on their own and blaming the media will get us no where. It only keeps things the same and even allows them to one day permanently mark the name of Islam. As Islamists, we need to be more involved in the media. We need to write to every newspaper leading the world falsely. We must call every newscaster that negatively portrays followers of Islam and kindly express our disagreement with the way they are representing us. If every Muslim took the initiative to peacefully go against these misguided representations, the media would listen and change could be made.
Muslims must also be more involved in the media because the media is a powerful tool that we as followers of Islam need to take advantage of. It can alter, persuade and inform the world. More Muslim journalists, writers, newscasters, producers, and directors can show the world what we truly preach using the media. Through movies, books, T.V. shows, articles and so many of the other media outlets, we have the power to alter the worldâ€™s perception of Muslims. If we use it wisely, using the media can create a significant difference in entertaining the world while informing them of Islam. It is something Muslims must strive for. We must be active in society in order for society to take us seriously and be correctly informed. The more active and social we are, the more people who are able to see past the stereotypes.
Rather than be united as Muslims and fight for the common cause of replenishing the name of Islam, we fight one another. Now, how can the world possibly believe us when we tell them that we are a religion whose philosophy is peace when we are constantly against one another? We must set aside our differences and intertwine for the one thing that unites us all: Islam. Continuing to battle each another will only prove those dissentient stereotypes correct. We are Muslims and as Muslims we have to join to clean the name of our religion that has been so ruthlessly mudded up with stereotypes and false information. Whether you are Shiite, Sunni, or Sufi, we are followers of Islam. It is our duty to correctly inform people of our religion. It is our duty to be united, active, and to openly promote peace and familiarize the world with the true Islam.
No matter how falsely the world views us, we must not be discouraged. We as Followers of the Quran know what we genuinely believe even if the world contorts it. We must be active, social people. We must be involved in the media and correctly inform society of Islam. Victimizing ourselves will not get the name of Islam any cleaner, It will not change they way the world views Muslims or how harshly the actions of the extremists has negatively affected Islam. We can only adjust the name of Islam back to where it rightfully belongs by changing ourselves because the true Muslims are the ones who care for the name of Islam. We must practice what we preach and preach peace. We must hope for change, unite and act. We, connected as Muslims have the power to turn that spectrum with so many different opinions of Islam into a beam signifying the true Islam. The Islam of peace, love and acceptance.