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Saving Islam's Image

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IIC Interfaith Gathering
"We should be doing everything we can to promote Islam!" How many times have you sat in Islamic lectures and heard the speaker continuously repeat this line? As soon as these words fill the room, there is an immediate sense of unity amongst the community, and many of us experience that brief positive vibe. I say brief, because it is the sort of vibe that unfortunately only rarely takes us to the next level of action. It's the kind of feeling we get inside the Islamic centers, yet lose the minute we walk out, only to regain that vibe the next time we are reminded.  

One of the main benefits for Muslims living in the West is that we have countless opportunities to show the world first hand who we are as Islamic followers and what our religion is all about. In fact, it is so easy for us to put in our fair share when it comes to promoting Islam and spreading the Truth that it is practically our duty. However, only a minority of Muslims are actively attempting to fulfill their media duty, whilst others allow opportunities to fly pass them every day.

Media in the 21st century is bigger and better than ever before. We have television, radio, Internet, and newspapers, all of which are vital towards spreading the truth about Islam in the same way which Islam is portrayed negatively to society. Now, as some people often take it, using media forces to spread the word of Islam is not and never has been powered by the idea of "Let's revert everyone to Islam", but simply getting the truth out there. Honesty is one of the essential elements of Islam, and if falsehood is being associated with Islam, it is vital for us to step in and not only put a halt to any lies being spread but to also rectify and incorrect information delivered.

An example of what a member of my youth group did is writing a letter to the editor in the local newspaper. Now, the letter was short, 150 words maybe, but it was thanking "Muslim youths" for donating blood and contributing towards saving almost 300 lives in the country. The circulation of the newspaper was around 22,000 homes, and assuming 50 percent of people read the letter, that is potentially 11,000 people who may now think, "Hmm…Muslim youths are saving lives."

The best way to put in your fair share towards how society portrays and views Islam is to strategically target mass audiences with information about what we do as Muslims, which will Insha'Allah clarify many doubts which our fellow members of society may have. A few examples of other techniques which can be used include posting information on the Internet, creating a documentary, appearing on a TV show, getting a short piece on the radio, or simply holding an open day for the community at your local Islamic center.

Every year in the month of Muharam, there is an emphasis on the fact that we are to firmly grasp the principles embedded in the events of Karbala and put a practical side to the speeches and lectures we attend. We hear over and over again how the holy women were doing all the media and PR work they could in such wretched conditions in order to spread the truth about Imam Hussain (peace be upon him). Likewise, we should be doing everything we can to let the world know about Islam.

 The world needs to be told about Muslims by Muslims, not by non-Muslim bodies and organizations which know nothing about Islam, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and Muslims and often have partisan biases. Although it seems basic, simplicity is the key to opening the lock about Islam which firmly sits in the minds of many. Once we are able to clarify a few of the major misconceptions which people have about Islam and Muslims, it will only be easier for us as Muslims to practice Islam and tell the world about ourselves and what we are all about. We live in times in which Islam is the most targeted religion when it comes to media. Let's flip the coin and wisely use the media forces to portray Islam as it really is. Let the continuation of the media work of the holy women be part of our contribution towards saving Islam's image in today's world and era.

Author of this article: Zara Syed
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