Islam is the religion of peace, and today’s violence in the name of Islam has nothing to do with true nature of Islam. Muslims believe that Islam has been “hijacked” by a few violent fanatics. Whose intention is to mislead and misrepresent Islam to non-Muslims and that is why we are fully suspicious about the true face of such groups.
On the other hand, the public is mostly ignorant about the true teachings of Islam, using TV and internet as the main source of information. A brief surfing of the internet and search for terminologies such as “terrorist”, “extremist”, “suicide attacks” and etc, one can clearly realizes that the media is filled with information regarding “Muslim terrorists”, “Muslin extremists”.
Therefore, it portrays a picture of anger and hatred of Muslims in the media. Suicide attacks by so called Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in Muslim world has painted a negative picture of Islam in the public opinion. Such policies by the mainstream media in addition to the public ignorance of the true nature of Islam are why Islam has been labeled as a violent religion.
Now, the question is what steps should Muslims take to challenge the fast spreading public misjudgments about Islam?
To say it is wrong and biased is an understatement.
To get angry and frustrated does not help.
To blame the new media is useless.
The Qur’an provides us with three guidelines on how we should behave:
Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil, then that will be a determining factor in all affairs. (AL-Imran 3:186)
The three guidelines from the Qur’an are:
1- Patient perseverance
2- Do not do wrong, rather be proactive and hard working
3- Understand that this is a long process which requires determination and commitment.
Patience in Islam is not a passive attitude in which you play dead and say: ‘There is nothing that I can do, fate is already determined”.
This is a wrong understanding of patience in Islam. Patience means, we work hard to change our fate, always have hope and trust in God and never give up.
Islam subjects us to trials in order to test our perseverance, commitment and steadfastness.
Test and Trial form our character and behavior helping us to emerge as better Muslims, more determined and committed to coping with difficulties.
Extra cautious is required in our response to the incorrect accusations against Islam. Since inappropriate reactions could be counter-Productive.
Do not expect immediate impact: It is a long process that requires hard work, patience and commitment.
Development of something requires time, effort and is a slow process. Therefore, one should not be looking for immediate results. On the contrary, efforts and the hard work built over years could be undermined within minutes by the ignorant who claim to be Muslims. All it takes is a terrorist attack, killing innocent people or taking actions that are fundamentally in contradiction with the true nature of Islam.
Consequently, Islam will be labeled as a religion of the past, rigid and irrelevant to our age while Muslims will be looked upon as hateful ruthless people.
It is utterly disappointing to find the foundation that has been developed for years, being demolished in few minutes.
Nevertheless, Muslims cannot give up or stop their efforts to educate and reach to non-Muslims. Giving up contradicts faith in God and undermines true faith. We as Muslims, serve God not only in good times, but also in difficulties. Giving up during tough times, is not our manner of facing the challenges.
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