The world, it appears, has completely lost its mind. It seems that our tiny planet is staged for a complete disaster with the West and Muslim world as the co-stars. What’s sad is that all of these problems are based on misunderstandings and lies spread by hate mongers with one interest: growing their bank accounts. To add insult to injury, citizens from the West and the Muslim world are starting to detest each because they feel the other side is this Great Evil trying to enslave them. Then there are those caught in the middle: the American Muslims, aka, you and I. We’re blessed with the conundrum of being, both, Muslims and Americans. We know that Islam is not about killing the innocent, but, also know that reality tv is not the reality of Western culture. So what’s a brother/sister to do?
A crucial problem American Muslims should understand is that the people in this country are learning Islam from the evening news. Those profiting from spreading hate have hijacked the media and stifled the truth. The result is that people listen to Mike Savage and never our side of the story. Hence, it becomes our job as American Muslims to pick up the slack. Because many of us are born here or have lived here since childhood, we know the language and culture of our communities. With the help of knowledge, technology, and personality, we can touch the people around us and show that Islam prescribes many of the same values the West cherishes. Here are a few simple things that every American Muslim can do to help save the world.
1. Practice your Islam: Continue to pray, make dua, wear hijab, fast, etc. Only by staying close to Allah (swt) and asking for His help can we accomplish anything.
2. Educate yourself: Spend time learning about Islam especially the most misunderstood parts. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t know and you’ll be better prepared to help others understand. People can sense whether you know what you’re talking about. So spend time with your Imam and local scholars learning more about this deen.
3. Smile: The Prophet (saw) said that even a smile is charity. By being polite and smiling, people will feel more comfortable around you even when your sporting a hijab or a 1 ft. beard. So when FOX news reports that Muslims are blood thirsty murderers, the image of your award winning smile will make them think twice.
4. Be friendly with your neighbors: Make friends with your neighbors and coworkers/classmates and talk to them like normal human beings about everyday stuff. It can be from spending a few minutes talking on the driveway to being involved with them in the school’s PTA. By making friends with them, you’ve bridged the gaps of communication. So when they hear lies against Islam, they’ll feel more comfortable to come talk to you about it.
5. Stand up for others: If you hear someone dropping the N-bomb or any other racial slurs about any racial/ethnic/religious group, don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right. Many people complain that Muslims (and other minority groups) only care about themselves. Islam demands from us to defend the rights of everybody, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. If we stand up for others, our neighbors will be more likely stand up for us.
6. Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer: The best way to show people the mercy of Islam is to help others around you. There are plenty of homeless shelters, safehouses, foodbanks, etc to get involved in. Volunteer with non-Muslims and show them that Muslims do care about problems in this society. If you can, start a Muslim-based organization that addresses a problem in your community. It could be anything from distributing blankets in the winter to standing outside your local grocer and collecting cans for a food pantry. There are no shortages of problems this society has and no shortages of answers in Islam. Show people that Muslims care.
7. Highlight the good things about the West: Sure this country has many problems. What country doesn’t? The fact is that Western culture has many good things about it. So don’t be afraid to tell your family and friends back on the farm about the good things of this society. Our brothers and sisters across the ocean need to understand that the majority of Americans are not blood thirsty adulterers but are peace loving individuals that share many of the values we cherish.
8. Be active on the internet: Internet technology has enabled us to communicate with others around the globe in more ways then we can imagine. There are tons of websites, blogs, etc., out there that promote Islam and defame it. Get involved in the internet community and spread the truth. Go to a newspaper website and comment on all articles there, whether it’s Muslim related or not. The internet can be our biggest advantage and our biggest threat. What it becomes depends on how we use it.
9. Be a model citizen: Follow the law, clean up after yourselves, don’t speed in a school zone, etc. By being a role model citizen, you show everyone around you that Muslims do respect the law of the land and can live peacefully within its boundaries, with the assumption that none of those laws contradict the laws of Islam.
10. Be a human being: If you see a mother of 5 struggling to get her groceries to the car, help her with the bags. When you’re coming off a plane, help the old lady ahead of you find her way to the baggage claim. Show compassion for others and they’ll be more likely to show compassion towards you. The hatemongers have tried to demonize Muslims as bomb carrying barbarians. By showing our Non-Muslim friends otherwise, we help to dispel that image.
Easy enough? Some of the naysayers might be snickering about how could a smile save the world. Remember the problem statement. The West see Muslims only as what is shown in the media. They see “Muslims” blowing up innocent civilians and the “scholars” justifying the attacks with Islam. By us living within the manners and values of Islam, we have the unique ability to help stop the violence and show this country’s citizens that Islam truly is a beautiful way of life that cherishes equal rights, justice, and mercy for all humanity. With knowledge comes compassion and understanding. These are the key elements to help end the bloodshed. We just need to lead the way.