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Countering Islamophobia

Houston Muslims help clean up local neighborhoods.Islam’s image is being spoiled, and we sit back as if we are helpless and weak. It is about time that we hold hands and make the effort to do something about it. So let’s get to work!
Houston Muslims help clean up local neighborhoods.It’s 2008, media outlets are abundant, and Islam has been put on full blast for a little under a decade now – but it doesn’t mean that Islamophobia has been eliminated.

So what are we doing about it? Is it our job? If we perform our prayers, fast, go for Hajj, pay our religious dues, and read Qu’ran, we’re doing our part, right?

Needless to say, Islam has been in the public spotlight since 9/11. Since the Iraq war began, Islam has been all over TV, radio, and everywhere we turn. Yes, these are all unfortunate events, but they are also blessings in disguise. People are curious to learn about the teachings, the traditions, and the ways of this religion, which some people hear encourages killing or suicide bombs. Don’t we want to change this view? How can we sit back and watch as people degrade and misinterpret our pure and peaceful way of life?

There are many ways that we Muslims can spread the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) in this changing and technologically advancing age. The number one place to do this is definitely in universities and higher schools of education. Almost every high school in the United States, for example, has a Muslim Students Association. With organizations like these, we are able to spread truth and answers common misconceptions about the Islamic way of life. For example, with Hijab being such a huge misunderstanding for being a tool of oppression, Muslims should hold a program which delves into the concept of Hijab, the why, and what for.

Another major form of propagation that Muslims can try to attack Islamophobia is to get involved in community service. It is usually people of faith who help out in community centers and humanitarian efforts. These efforts also get a lot of media coverage. If Muslims were to begin to get involved, there would be much more positive media coverage, as well as displaying an image of what true Islam is about – helping those in need and serving humanity.

Sadly, even today we are asked silly questions, which we are shocked to hear because we think that in such a fast-paced and resourceful time, people should know what Islam is about. We hear things like “You follow the religion of Muslim, right?” or “You all are Islamic, right?” It is like a sign from Allah showing us that people today are still thirsty for the beautiful drink of Islam.

How long will we be tied up in spending hours, conversations, and even money on minute differences within our communities? Islam is the biggest advocate of brotherhood and equality, and in that name, it has ordered us to do good work which will help us in this world and in the hereafter. Islam has ordered us to be good to our neighbors, Muslim or not. Islam has ordered us to be kind to animals, to help the oppressed, and to take care of orphans. Nowhere does it specify that we must have qualities of a “cult”, which is contrary to popular belief. This “popular belief’ is what we need to change.

We may wonder for years to come, as we have been doing in the past years, but wondering won’t fight the fear of Islam that others may have due to the negativity Islam has gained on the media. It is our job to do things, get involved, do our duty, and show Islam for what it truly is. Just as Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) lived his life and sacrificed to make sure that true Islam was not tainted, we too must stand up and take hold of our responsibilities. It takes more to be a follower of our beloved Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) than simply attending the center every week and thinking we have done our job.

Islam’s image is being spoiled, and we sit back as if we are helpless and weak. It is about time that we hold hands and make the effort to do something about it. So let’s get to work!

About Madiha Zaidi

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  • otowi

    [quote]Almost every high school in the United States, for example, has a Muslim Students Association.[/quote]

    I wonder if the author meant colleges? I wasn’t even aware MSA’s existed in high schools – there certainly aren’t any here.

  • Abdullah

    I think she was probably referring to college MSAs, but yes, there are MSAs in many high schools as well.

  • Madiha

    Salaam,

    Yes, high schools and colleges both have MSA’s!

    That is why I made sure to write “almost.”

    I do suggest for those high school students to take a daring step and initiate forming one in their high schools. Even if programs/guest speakers aren’t possible, just networking is a good start and preparation for college/university ideas.

  • depends on where you are!

    Well that’s interesting. Where I live there are very few Muslims so an MSA is out of the question. There are still large parts of the country where no masjid exists and no women in hijab, certainly no MSA’s in high schools. There are no practicing Muslim students in the high schools here, or perhaps one or two per school only who make themselves invisible and hide their faith, and again only in the big cities of this part of the country then, but not in the rural areas.

  • Sayyid Baqir

    Good article. I think we definitely need to get more involved in our communities and show what Islam is through our actions, such as volunteering, clean-ups, attending multi-faither and inter-faith functions, etc, etc.

    The MSA issue is is not even an issue, what is important is the overall message of the article about getting involved and not sitting on the sidelines, which happens to be a nasty disease that Muslims are suffering from. I hope we can discuss more and better ways of getting involved.

  • Halimah bint David

    While at Buckroe Beach playground a black man began to pretend to shoot me. He made popping noises like gun shots directed at me twice. He was sitting on a bench ten feet from me with two friends. His wife/girlfriend was standing right next to me. He stated he did not like my five yr. old playing with his niece. They were running around playing. His wife/girlfriend who stood next to me, asked me if I wanted to die. This guy then got up stood next to his wife/girlfriend and said he would leave,change his jersey and return with gun to kill me. Another group of black people heard him threatening me and left the playground while talking about me. They said I was stupid for not understanding his threats.
    http://survivorsareus.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/hate-crimes-against-muslims-rising/