Winning Hearts in the Face of Anti-Islam Pressure

Western Muslims & The Media
Examples of successful projects are Salam Cafe, a comedy talk show that provided a light hearted view of life as a Muslim in Australia
Salam Cafe

It is not about conquering or dominating. It is more about transforming and enlightening.

The modern day media battle depicts Islam and Muslims as inherently threatening and issues a challenge to Muslims; how will we rise to the challenge in the age-old struggle between good and evil; truth and ignorance?

Will we choose aggression and meet oppression with oppression or will we opt for the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him?

Islam: Profound Way to Peace

The media has become the stage to discuss all things related to Islam and being Muslim, and while the masses are bombarded by various forms of media each with its own distinct message, it is difficult to make sense of what is being said; who is right, where the fault lies and what should be done. Many Muslims feel unsure of what it all means and how they should respond.

History is full of accounts of man's inhumanity to man, and even in today's world there is conflict. The irony is that, despite what the media portrays, Islam is the way to peace, the way to manage and lessen conflict and protection for the innocent.

Contrary to Islam's intrinsic message of peace, today's Muslims are dealing with a media campaign designed to instil fear of Islam into the hearts of the masses and this is happening while ignorance of Islam in both the Muslim and non-Muslim arenas has peaked. Some Muslims react by going head to head with the media, often resulting in further misconceptions and misunderstandings. Others are overcome with frustration and try to hasten change by all means, even if those means are immoral and counter to Islam's principles and aims. Other Muslims opt to create their own media, providing images of Muslims in everyday life situations; the human side that everyone can identify with and relate to.

Muslims must learn how to touch the hearts of people who are at the mercy of whatever media they are fed

Keeping in mind that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Speak to people according to their mentality" Muslims must learn how to touch the hearts of people who are at the mercy of whatever media they are fed, as passive observation has become the norm.

Positive Examples

Thankfully, in today's technologically advanced world there are Muslims who have stepped up to the plate and become effective examples of reaching out to the misinformed. Examples of successful projects are Salam Cafe, a comedy talk show that provided a light hearted view of life as a Muslim in Australia.

Also, Little Mosque on the Prairie is a Canadian sitcom showing the human side of Muslims. Then there is also the comedy act Allah Made Me Funny and nasheed singers like Sami Yusuf, Zain Bhikha and Abdullah Rolle that have had a profound impact on Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as they so beautifully express the emotional and spiritual aspects of what it means to be Muslim in today's world.

Overall, Muslims worldwide are battling the fear factor that is being fed by the media and the best way to do that is to dispel the fear among the masses, and transform it into deeper insight, appreciation and admiration for Islam, the religion of peace.

Since as Muslims we are supposed to represent the way of life that is pleasing to our Creator, we must be aware of what that entails. The Prophet said:

"Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty." (Sahih Muslim)

We cannot all be stars on a Muslim sitcom, nasheed singers or performers, but on an individual, family and community level we have to ask ourselves how beautiful are our words? Our actions? Our responses to people and situations?

In the heat of the moment; a discussion, a confrontation, wherein we think we are defending Islam, we can easily lose sight of our ultimate aim; seeking the pleasure of Allah and following His way. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was sent by Allah the All-Merciful as {...a mercy to all the worlds} (Al-Anbiya’, 21: 107)

If we are true followers of the Prophet of Mercy, we will be constantly striving to exemplify mercy in our everyday lives and that includes how we respond to anti-Muslim rhetoric.

We are not alone in this great endeavour for the Quran and the Sunnah to light the way and show us how to combine mercy, wisdom, strength and honour.

How to Win Hearts

Despite being wary of some trouble makers, the Prophet was always friendly, generous and gracious

We know from the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet that he was the greatest role model of wise and noble character and behavior. He, peace be upon him, knew how to diffuse serious situations and never retaliated against personal attacks to his self, and he (peace and blessings be upon him) urged us to follow his way. Despite being wary of some trouble makers, the Prophet was always friendly, generous and gracious.

Amid the multitude of different situations and people he faced, he maintained his stance on affirming justice and leniency. He would advocate all that was good and denounce all that was base and he raised his companions with wisdom, gentleness and consistency. Everything he did was in moderation, without excess or contrariness. With humility, eloquence and calmness, he faced hostility, threats and degradation, trusting in Allah and remaining steadfast.

People came to know him for his compassion and were never disappointed. Even his enemies trusted him with their valuables and when the Prophet was leaving Makkah to migrate to Madinah he ordered Ali to return the trusts of his enemies. This, at a time when wealth was scarce and the need was great!

The Prophet won the people's hearts by his exemplary conduct; no raised voices, no depraving speech, no dishonoring women and a dignified overlooking of human error. People's hearts inclined to him even though they had been his outspoken enemies. With gentleness, humility, strength, and kindness, the Prophet gathered and raised an Ummah.

And here we are! Members of the Ummah of the compassionate Prophet, peace be upon him! We face a media onslaught, not because of the Prophet himself but because of how people have misrepresented him and failed to follow his footsteps properly. The way to face this challenge is not to brutally hack away at ignorance, razing to the ground anyone who speaks a word of disrespect or untruth about the final Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, but to truly show sincere concern for people as the Prophet did and know that goodness is always stronger than evil and that Allah the Ever Merciful Told us to {repel evil with that which is better...} (Fussilat, 41: 34)

Muslims today are harassed, downtrodden, and sometimes oppressed. But we should bear in mind that the Prophet and his companions were persecuted and oppressed for years, then were forced to live in a valley, suffering starvation and want for three years. They were evicted from Makkah, forced to leave their wealth behind and when the Prophet and his followers finally returned triumphant to Makkah, and had the opportunity to take revenge if they wanted, he, peace be upon him, forgave his enemies and those who had persecuted him and his followers and told them: 'Go, you are free.'

The Prophet, peace be upon him, was neither crude nor coarse nor harsh. He was cheerful, easy going by nature, and mild-mannered. He never found faults in others, and he would not criticize others or revile anyone. He was patient with people who spoke roughly and he never disappointed those who sought help.

He reached his lowest point when the people of Ta’if rejected him and his call, and the angel offered him the choice to take revenge on the people or not, but he forgave them, praying that their offspring would be righteous.

He, peace be upon him, would go around calling people to Allah and always just a short distance away, his uncle, Abu Lahab, would be scorning him and telling the people to ignore whatever the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was saying!

The Prophet faced a war of rumors, but he was patient, wise, eloquent, and forbearing.

Can such an outlook, character and response guide us today as we deal with the ignorance of people and the misinformation pumped out by the media?

Watch Maher Zain’s Video on the Manners of the Prophet

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Related Links:
Consideration for Neighbors
Kindness to a Non-Muslim Neighbor
The Five Languages of Love
Patience, Perseverance and Fortitude
Good Manners: The Way to Reform Society
Selma Cook is a contributing writer to OnIslam.net. She has written a number of books including: Buried Treasure (An Islamic novel for teenagers), The Light of Submission (Islamic Poetry). She has also edited and revised many Islamic books.

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