Back in secondary school, I was asked a seemingly funny question by a classmate. He asked, ‘Why do Muslims worship the moon?’. Taken aback, I bursted into laughter and asked Victor why he would think that. His reply was that he had been told that numerous times and that is why Muslims have the crescent on their emblem. Years later, more matured and armed with life experiences, I realize that Victor is not to blame- he only echoed what he was being exposed to.
In this age and time, the perception of Islam in the world is one in which a Muslim is not proud of. The perception of the deen as a violent, ignorant and backward religion permeates the polity. Right now, a Muslim, with his/her identifiable wear, is viewed with suspicion. Acts of terrorism taken in any part of the world have seen many innocent Muslims take a defensive stance. Many have been maimed and killed for being in the same religion with terrorists. The media has also not helped- with terminologies like Islamic terrorists and Islamic extremists, more people believe Islam is synonymous to a blood-thirsty monster.
According to Andrew Smith, people fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer. Many of the people who antagonize Islam do so out of ignorance and few do it out of sheer wickedness. Using Smith’s quote, Islam can be seen as an unconquerable force that should be a source of pride for its adherents. However, despite this, it is still misunderstood.
The quest for changing mindsets about Islam should start with a conscious attempt at doing so. A working strategy should be in place. One of such is to embark on a massive intellectual discourse to change this notion. As it is widely held that it is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder, we need to raise our words and not our voice. It is not until one goes about shouting about how the deen is against all what it has been accused of that one reaches his desires.
In furtherance to this, one doesn’t need to be a conventional and professional writer for him to be able to make a difference. In this age of internet and the social media, a single blog post, tweet or status update can go a long way in educating the target audience. The social media has proven over time to be capable of influencing political and other important decisions. Moreover, this same internet have been used by enemies of Islam hiding under the guise of anonymity to misinform people about Islam. It will only be logical to use the same turf to elucidate what Islam really means.
It is pertinent to know that writing and informing people about Islam does not only target non-Muslims, Muslims and Muslimahs are also quite important target audience. The dearth of knowledge and/or laziness of the Ummah has greatly made many Muslims to be misguided. This unfortunate misguidance makes many to create innovations in the deen, thus, bid’ah is practised. The consequence of this is that even many innocent Muslims and would-be Muslims see these practices as being ordained by Allah and his Prophet.
Engaging in Islamic discussions geared at propagating pristine Islam requires each adherent to have a sound knowledge of the deen. Questions will be asked, both innocent and inciting ones. It is the knowledge that is reposited in the Islamic preacher that makes way for him in such situations. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said ‘Searching for knowledge is compulsory on all Muslims and Muslimah’. Seeking Knowledge in order to propagate Islam is a vital aspect of a healthy eeman.
Finally, even though Allah will protect His religion from mischievous acts, we should remember that He is also going to question us on the Day of Recompense how we used what He gave us (time, intellect inclusive). So, instead of waiting for your Imam to preach on the mimbar during Jumu’ah, you should realise that you also can do more to preach Islam to where your Imam’s voice cannot reach.
This post was written by me more than a year ago for an Islamic magazine but it went unpublished. Came across it minutes ago, lying in my Evernote.
Image credit: equranforyou.com