In any society of Muslims there is always a whole range of people present within it. Here in the West one way you can categorize Muslims is into three distinct types: the minority that are actively trying to present a good image of Islam, the minority that is actively trying to present a negative image of Islam and the absolute majority which is doing virtually nothing to present Islam at all.

This was illustrated extremely well by two very different Muslim patrols that have taken place in the UK in the past few months. The first, called the “Muslim patrol” was started by an anonymous group of young Muslim men in the heavily Muslim part of East London. They came out in the evening and took it upon themselves to “promote the good and forbid the evil.” Now, this is an Islamic injunction and we must all follow it, but the way they chose to do this was ignorant at best and malicious at worst. They targeted small groups of men and women of other faiths and began abusing them in the streets – usually at night. They abused women who were not covered Islamically, completely ignoring the fact that they were not Muslim, men who were drinking alcohol and others simply for walking near the mosque. All the while they shouted. “This is a Muslim area. We are the Muslim patrol.”

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It wasn't long before they got the notoriety that they were craving. Their YouTube videos caught the attention of the local and international press and negative headlines about Muslims trying to enforce their way of life on others began appearing. The local Muslim community, the East London Mosque and other Muslim organizations were quick to condemn the  actions of this Muslim patrol as against the principles of Islam. However the damage had already been done.

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Contrast this with the “Muslim Snow patrol” that was organized by a few Islamic organizations and individuals after the recent bout of arctic weather. During the heavy snow many people were left struggling with driveways and streets to clear. Elderly couples, single mothers, the disabled and many others found it difficult to go about their daily lives.

These conspicuously Muslim young men with long beards and some dressed in thobes came along and after coordinating with the local authorities, they voluntarily helped clear driveways and roads for single mothers, elderly residents and anyone else who couldn't do so for themselves. muslim snow patrolThey did this back-breaking work without any financial compensation and solely for the purpose of presenting a good image of Islam & Muslims to the general public. To anyone who was interested, they handed a gift pack containing some information about Islam. Unfortunately (and predictably) the closest they got to any level of publicity was local media.

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We see this over and over again. There is a fringe that works hard at presenting Islam in the way it should be and a fringe that works hard in doing the opposite. However, the majority of Muslims do neither – they remain spectators as the battle for the soul of Islam is played out. The silent inactive majority – potentially our greatest strength (if they get their act together) or our greatest weakness (if they don't.) As Malcolm X so eloquently put it, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Which are you?

7 Responses

  1. gunal

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    • Abu Asiyah

      I think the problem you just outlined is exactly the problem that the author was mentioning. There’s Muslims who don’t behave according to the tenets of Islam and they make our religion look bad by getting all the press.

      Most of the other Muslims just sit around, quietly, while our religion is being mis-represented and mis-taught by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Most of the Muslims that do speak up for Islam are the progressives whose main danger (in my eyes) isn’t in justifying certain aspects of the Western lifestyle that are incompatible with Islam, but rather portraying the mainstream orthodox conservative Muslims as dangerous potential terrorist. This means that you and me are now looked at with fear, just because we practice Islam the way the mainstream does.

      What is the solution to this problem of Muslims being mis-represented? Getting to know people around you, being good to your neighbor, doing something for those around you, and showing people what real Islam is all about. Statistically, in the West people have a negative opinion of Islam until they actually meet a Muslim.

      So the problem is that mainstream Muslims are being painted in a terrible light that allows for all sorts of injustices and even wars to occur. The solution is to be an active part of your community (like the Muslim Snow Patrol) and represent your faith correctly.

      If you just sit there, silently, you’re allowing people who don’t represent you speak for you. That’s how by not being part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

      Also, your assumption that the solution is to just let people read each others’ Holy Books is erroneous. As if religion is only about cold, solid facts. As if people can even read books properly now. The Qur’an says that it’s guidance for those who have taqwa. Those who come to it with prejudice or presuppositions or with arrogance will not receive its guidance. The Prophet (saws) didn’t just sit at home and yell out verses of Qur’an for the Quraysh to listen to. He went out and did good, despite the mockery and despite the persecution. And so many early Muslim converts became Muslims because they interacted with him, not because they heard the Qur’an.

      Don’t relegate this religion to some intellectual exercise. First and foremost, it’s a human exercise and if you want to retain your rights to practice your Islam, you better stand up and let people know what Islam means. Not necessarily with words, but with your actions.

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      • gunal

        You made a serious assumption that my actions must be wrong! ..There is more chance of me representing myself in a good light as a good person (with good actions) rather than as a Muslim who is trying to fit in, as you called it, “an incompatible western lifestyle” within the society I live in. For me my actions show my religion, not the other way round. And those actions are I try very hard to compatible with 4 of the Books. So, I quote your words; “If you just sit there, silently, you’re allowing people who don’t represent you ‘speak’ for you. That’s how by not being part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I am capable of ‘speaking’ for myself by my actions. No one needs to represent me!

        What I am saying is; I can’t bring myself to say to anyone I am Muslim and I will shovel snow off of your road because that is how nice we are… Because I know that not all of us are nice, nor nice all of the time. And the sad fact is as human beings we sit up and notice negative actions more than the positive ones.

        Once I met 2 young men in a DIY store. They must’ve noticed I was struggling carrying big heavy boards on my own. They approached me and said “Jesus loves you”. I replied “Yes I know, I am a Muslim and we believe in Jesus too”. They didn’t want to help… No doubt some of us (Muslims) will feel this way and refuse to help, and discriminate. What then? There it is, your problem, starting from been active too.

        I must’ve written the previous comment when I wasn’t feeling so charitable. Seems I still don’t, sorry.

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    • Abdullah

      Dear gunal,

      I do appreciate your honesty in your comment. May I make a few points:

      1. To address Malcom X’s quote, if you had the solution in your hand and you refused to use it, wouldn’t you feel like you shared some of the responsibility? e.g. Imagine you walked past a starving man and you had food. No-one with a heart would be able to say it’s not my problem. Similarly, we as a human race have a responsibility to one another, and particularly as Muslims we have a responsibility to stand up and represent the truth to the best of our ability. Being passive about these issues is not befitting of a Muslim. I do agree that the wording of the quote is open to interpretation but the sentiment that we should not be passive is correct.

      2. “And the solution to what problem?”
      The blatant propaganda against Islam.

      3. “Even Muslims insists a Christian to read the Qur’an when they’re themselves are commanded by the 5 pillars of Islam that they should believe in the 4 books of Allah, one of which is the Bible.”
      We believe in the ORIGINAL books which were sent down. Not the corrupted forms in which they exist today. In fact we even agree with the verses of the Bible that are in line with Islam, but I hope you understand when we say that we wholeheartedly reject the scandalous claims the Bible makes about the Prophets [Gen. 19:30 – amongst them]

      4. “Muslims insists that Qur’an is the Greatest. By what grading authority?”
      Without getting too technical, the fact that the Qur’an is the only one which is preserved letter by letter, the only one which calls towards the absolute Greatness of God, without associating partners with him, or lowering him to the level of the creation.The Quran has many proofs to it’s truth. The Quran doesn’t have thousands of different manuscripts which need to be pieced together like a puzzle. Even Jesus in the Bible says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” – Matther 15:24. Hence we can conclude that the Bible was for a specific people at a specific time and the Qur’an is the universal message for mankind.

      5. “Can they not see that such assertion would upset Christians?”
      We only stand up for the truth because we care for them to be guided. Would you rather let a man speeding in his car on a cliff reach the dead end and fall off the edge? Or would you warn them of the impending doom? It may ruffle a few feathers in the short term but it is better for everyone in the long term.

      6. “In my opinion in this day and age where the immense amounts of information is free and readily available at our fingertips no one need to be convinced of anything.”
      That statement is self-refuting. You say you don’t need to be convince of anything but you are convinced of that statement. Please don’t be offended but I think you have contradicted yourself. Let me just say, In life you are convinced about so many things. You are convinced that you have 10 fingers (providing good health iA), 1+1=2, you were born through your mother, the Earth is a geoid shape, common facts that you have used your God-given intellect to form conclusions about. Why when it comes to the questions of all questions, you are now going to abandon your reasoning and be passive saying you can’t know the truth?

      7. “I heard a Muslim man in some authority say; “Us Muslims will not turn our other cheek to our enemy just like Jesus would.. we are Muslims!..” Something like that.. I am a Muslim (Elhamdulillah) but I also believe and high regard the words Jesus had said”

      This very concept of being passive is exactly the same one discussed in the first point. Also, the Bible verse you quoted has been under intense discussion by Christians as to what extent it applies. Should a Christian let another person murder their family and turn the other cheek? Any thinking Christian would stand up for themselves when justice is being violated. In Islam we are forgiving when it is prescribed to be forgiving, we uphold justice when it is prescribed to uphold justice and we have been given the option to forgive or uphold justice in other areas. Perhaps the “Muslim man in authority” was referring to one of the cases where is prescribed to uphold justice. We do see many benefits to this – it means criminals aren’t going to get a free pass to create mischief in the land.

      8. “If anyone belittles me because of my belief I will try to understand their reasoning”
      Indeed do reason and explore and inshaAllah if you are sincere, every time you will conclude Islam comes out on top, and once you get to this stage you will want to share it like those who were shovelling the walkway.

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      • gunal

        Dear Abdullah,

        I loved your first line of comment. My thoughts usually don’t get challenged in a clear way as you did. Therefore you are very welcome with your points and thank you. I hope in the same way you will accept my counterargument.

        Response to 1: If I had the solution in my hand would I refuse to use it? I, personally, would not refuse to use it. I would share my food with the hungry. Depending on how hungry I am I might even give it all to him. This I would do because I want to feed his hunger today. I would not expect that food will feed him for the rest of his life. So for me the real solution would be to look at the reasons to why he is hungry, solution that he will never go hungry again. Feeding him just as a show to the world that I feed the poor so everyone should change their negative views on Muslims would be ridiculous.

        2:Propaganda against Islam is a political issue. If an individual (a neighbour) judges my character by another person from my country or from my religion I would say he is a weak minded, racist individual. We should all know by now that every nation has good as well as bad people. Yes we must all show good character though. Because we are representing others too. However, towards a racist individual, please realise that, this can be tough. Long story…

        3: I don’t know how original today’s Bible is. I read the Bible with the question why it is thought that Jesus is Son of God. I could not find anything in the Bible. Jesus says My Father, Our Father, Your Father… But never claims anywhere that he is the only Son and everybody else were his brothers and his sisters therefore that made God (His Father) everybody’s father… Jehovah’s Witnesses for eg. Don’t believe in the existence of hell. But I read in their version of the Bible Hell is described and written that it exists. So I believe even if things are changed in the Bible or Torah, most of it would be due to translations or misinterpretations. You will acknowledge that even some verses of Qur’an are open to debates regarding its true meaning.
        And about the Gen.19:30? Looking at the historical events.. the importance of carrying your genes.. It was almost the greatest thing for our forefathers. Sounds to me as if everyone was pressured into procreating (Like today’s peer pressure). So it wouldn’t surprise me if it is true.
        Is there anything in the Qur’an suggesting that we should just blindly believe that 3 other books were brought down, but ignore them because they are not the originals? To be honest then that would not be mentioned as one of the pillars of Islam
        .
        4,5,6&7:For me Qur’an is the most important because in Qur’an the changed rules and commands are given to me (Muslim). That is my main Book.
        But, what I find that if someone bluntly rejects Qur’an especially when they say they haven’t even read it, me telling that person anything about what Qur’an teaches me and what values I develop through believing it etc is like talking to a brick wall. Me, being blunt in return and say your Bible isn’t good because it is all been changed .. two wrongs, will they make a right? Besides, I wouldn’t want to say anything to upset them in their belief. As Qur’an says don’t say anything bad about other people’s God (belief) so that they will not swear at your God.

        8:For me this is not a competition. InsaAllah there will come a time everyone will realise that there is only One God and He is everyone’s God, we are all equal and must look after each other, care for each other. And InsaAllah everyone will believe in Qur’an and will read it too.

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  2. Wael

    Snow patrol is a great idea. We have no snow here in Central California, but we did a tree-planting project, where we visited the homes of local residents and planted trees along the street if they wished.

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  3. broAhmed

    I was amazed at that whole “Muslim Patrol” thing that took place in the UK. The video was so cringe-inducing, I couldn’t even bear to watch the whole thing. I’d be curious as to the author’s opinion on what leads to this type of mindset.

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