Every so often we the Muslims face new challenges that put us in vulnerable positions. This is particularly true in the last few months with the rising tide of xenophobia in the United States and Europe. Of course, Muslim emotions are heightened as usual and angry Muslims march in the streets demanding their rights and respect for their religion.
The problem with that solution though is that Muslims usually come across a little too aggressively (if you know what I mean) while trying to deliever their message causing more and more anger towards Muslims. This was clear in the case of the infamous Danish cartoons, Draw Muḥammad Day, South Park's attempt to draw Prophet Muḥammad and more recently in the Park51 and the Qurʾān burning Florida pastor debacle.
This time however, a group of energetic, young and creative Muslims have come up with a new idea called, www.MuslimResponse.com I had the pleasure of conversing with their VP of Media Relations, Asmaa Hussein:
Haytham: Can you summarize what MuslimResponse.com is all about?
Asmaa: Muslim Response is a non-profit and non-political information dissemination project. Its vision is to fill the void in the media where mainstream Muslim thoughts should be; by presenting responses around hot-topic event headlines, with a focus on issues concerning Islam and Muslims, Muslim Response is geared to go viral! The team will be releasing well-researched, balanced and high quality professional responses through the website and various social media outlets.
Haytham: So what prompted your team to start this project?
Asmaa: As Muslims who have been raised in the West, we know that it can be very hurtful and demoralizing to continuously read and watch journalists and members of the public misunderstand and misrepresent Islam and Muslims. We cringe when we hear people disrespecting our beloved prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him) and his teachings, or wilfully take verses from the Qur'an out of context. Although many of us have been born and raised in the West, we may still feel at odds with the media's lack of truthful and adequate representation of our communities. Unfortunately, the media spotlight is often projected onto fringe groups that do not represent the majority of Muslim thought.
With the online launch of muslimresponse.com, this reality will change, inshā'Allāh.
Haytham: I know that you have already launched Muslim Response – what kind of reactions/results have you received so far?
Asmaa: alḥamdulillāh, Muslim Response was officially launched on September 21, 2010 and has had phenomenal reactions and results with just one video released thus far. In a span of just over a week, the animated cartoon clip “Watch Terry Jones Trying to Burn Qurʾān” has been viewed almost 70,000 times!
If you haven't already seen it, watch it on our site or on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zAPMNt16Us
Haytham: Why did you choose to produce a video on this topic?
Asmaa: This video was produced in response to the “Burn a Qurʾān Day” campaign that was scheduled to take place at a small church in Florida. Although the extremely inflammatory event has since been cancelled, the purpose of this video was not just to tackle this one small campaign, but rather to educate people about the Qur'an to prevent any similar initiatives from coming to fruition. The video attempts to demystify the Qur'an, dispelling myths propagated during that campaign.
Haytham: How did the public react to your first video?
Asmaa: We definitely got some strong reactions to this video – and judging from these reactions of many Muslims and non-Muslims around the globe, it is stunningly clear that this initiative is amongst the first of its kind. We have heard from countless individuals that this is a breath of fresh air to a large community of people that have been waiting to have their voices heard.
Haytham: How do you plan on disseminating your responses?
Asmaa: The success of Muslim Response thus far is due to help of Allāh then the support of many community groups and organizations. Since the September 21st launch, Muslim Response has been featured on iqra.ca, muslimvillage.com, 1stethical.com and others. We hope to continue garnering their support, as well as the support of our quickly growing number of subscribers on our Facebook and website mailing list.
Haytham: Any last thoughts to share, and how can people get involved in this project?
Asmaa: Ultimately, all success is due to the blessing of Allāh (swt). We pray that He continues to bless our efforts and helps Muslim Response become the raincloud that waters the media landscape until it eventually become a beautiful lush garden of dialogue and true understanding.
We invite you to visit our website and contribute to the thoughts and dialogue that are taking place. And hey, if you've got a creative mind and would like to be involved in this exceptional initiative, check out our volunteer page: http://muslimresponse.com/volunteer
As a final thought, I am personally impressed by the quality of the production and the website. I would also like to encaurage others to creatively utilize all halal and legal means to define who we are as Muslims and inshā'Allāh you will find an echoing voice here for you on MuslimMatters.com