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10 Years After 911: A New Question, A New Answer for American Muslims

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By: Khurram T. Dara

First and foremost, this September is about those who lost their lives ten years ago.  It’s about America and the remarkable people that make up this nation. It’s about never forgetting.

Second, as we approach the anniversary of the worst tragedy this country has seen, America finds itself facing many difficult questions about Islam in America. It’s important to understand that the questions have changed dramatically over the last several years. Whatever the reasons may be, whatever anger we may hold about the scrutiny, the fact is the questions surrounding Muslims in America are different.

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The questions used to be:

We know these actions don’t represent the average Muslim’s beliefs, but how do we fight terrorism? How do we stop this isolated group of extremists that seek to destroy America?

Now it reads something like this:

Does Islam promote violence? Should we fear regular Muslims in America? Should they really be treated like everyone else?

Of course, this transformation in suspicion has not happened for everyone. But to the few who think these new questions are only being asked by a small, uninformed minority, let me give you brief examples of how Islamophobia is going mainstream.

When President Barack Obama was running for office, there was an accusation made that he was Muslim.  Was he linked to extremists? No; only that he was Muslim. He was “accused” as if there was something wrong with being Muslim. Fast-forward a couple of years to the “Park51” or “Cordoba House” project. The planned facility was supposed to be a Muslim version of a YMCA or a Jewish Community Center, but would also have an area upstairs for patrons to complete daily prayers. Bloggers against the construction labeled it the “Ground Zero Mosque” project. The backlash was strong, with protesters holding up signs saying things like, “All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.” Most recently, Congressman Peter King held a hearing to assess the “radicalization” of Muslims in America.

Are we, the Muslims of America, doing our homework? We have tried to fix our image problem. Our knee-jerk response is to deny the claims outright. We maintain that Islam is a religion of peace and that terrorists are contorting our faith to push a radical agenda. We form advocacy groups that seek to convey their message through discourse. We participate in inter-faith panels, which seek to promote an open-dialogue among members of various religious convictions. We argue with those who believe Islam, in its plain form, is violent, and tell them they are wrong or ignorant or uneducated or bigoted. We put ourselves out there on the internet, radio or TV, as a part of this crusade to enlighten the uninformed on Islam, to tell them that our faith does not condone the innocent murder of anyone, to persuade them that our book’s teachings on “infidels” are taken out of context, and to tell each and every person who is willing to listen that Islam is not what it is made out to be in the media.

But it isn’t working.

Our way of life continues to be put under the microscope and our loyalty to America remains in question. Since America is asking something new, perhaps it’s about time we give them a new answer.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

First, let’s start by stopping. It’s time to stop relying on an “open-dialogue” approach. From the old adage, “actions speak louder than words,” it makes perfect sense why our current attempts at improving our image are falling short. Our faith’s defense is being stacked up against images of violence and terrorism. Of course, many Americans are open, informed individuals, but these are not the people we are worried about. That’s why our “educational” approach through advocacy groups and interfaith dialogue is not always effective; we’re targeting the wrong people. Does anyone really think the guy holding up the sign saying “All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11” is going to be attending the next interfaith meeting at his local community center? People who attend these events are already on our side. We need a true strategy that is far more comprehensive.

Our “educational” approach could potentially work if we were able to empirically prove that Islam is a religion of peace, or that portions of the Qur’an were being taken out of context, or that average Muslims in America don’t believe in stoning sinners. But are we all really equipped to make this type of defense of Islam?

Probably not. (Some people can, see my related article on this HERE)

Defending Islam like this would require a couple of things–consensus and knowledge. We would all have to agree on what particular portions of the Qur’an are actually meant for this type of defense to be effective. Now consider that we are talking about a religion, something that is, by nature, faith-based, and a book, the Qur’an, that has various interpretations.

Even if we had consensus, to be effective, a majority of us would also have to possess the requisite knowledge about our own religion to be able to explain it to others. Again, is this really feasible?

Probably not.

So what is the solution for American Muslims?

Maybe we should stop trying to treat the symptoms, and start curing the underlying illness that is poisoning our image problem. Islamophobia typically stems from either fear or hatred of Islam. Now, imagine how difficult it would be for a fellow American to spew words of hate against Islam and Muslims in America if their long-time neighbors, who they always found to be kind and courteous, were Muslims? Or if their coworker, who they had lunch with nearly everyday, was a Muslim? Or if their son’s soccer coach, who was always staying after practice to give their son some extra help on his free kicks, was a Muslim?

It would be almost impossible to imagine someone who has had that kind of relationship with a Muslim to also harbor anti-Islamic sentiment.

 

Our road to success starts with PTA meetings, barbeques, and Super Bowl parties. It’s about getting out there in our communities and really making an effort to get to know our fellow Americans. It’s about giving them some other point of reference for Islam. Whether it’s inviting your neighbors over for dinner, setting up play dates for your children with children of a different faiths, or joining your company’s softball team with your coworkers, as American Muslims, we can make an impact by showing, not just telling, our fellow Americans that we stand with them.

If you really want to say something, say this:
We don’t support terrorism or anyone who supports terrorism (no “ifs, ands, or buts,” no caveats, no justifications, just condemnation). We love our country and do not believe in any form of Islam that supports America’s destruction.

Other than that, our only chance at revamping our image will come from the actions we take. Those will do more to help America understand what Islam is all about than anything we can possibly say ever will.

Khurram Dara is the author of the forthcoming pamphlet “The Crescent Directive: A strategy to improve the image of Islam in America.” An American Muslim from Buffalo, NY, Khurram is currently a student at Columbia Law School. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. abu Rumay-s.a.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Good article, out of the box thinking approach!

    I do agree that we all have to socialize with our circles of influence ( friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc).

    However, one must ask, are they the people who are the real Islamphobes? I’m not really sure they are.

    I’d like to see some demographic data to indicate where the greatest influence of Isamophobia really is. Just from an intuitive guess, I would assume it to be mainly rural communities who maybe like tea party supporters and have fox news as their only source of information? They are most likely good common folks like everyone else, just that they have been subject to relentless anti-Islam hype and they naturally develop fears based on on that incorrect information.

    In the end, I would not necessarily argue that the other methods (which you initially describe) are not working. I believe they do have have their influence in different spheres such as on media, educational or political levels and even social levels. I think that a variety of such methods would serve best to provide a counter needed to inform the public about Islamophobia. And God knows best.

    Thanks again for the well written piece.

    • Khurram Dara

      September 8, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      Well that’s the goal, to get out there into those areas where people may not know much about Muslims and show, rather than simply tell them, that we share a lot in common.

    • Bernadette

      September 9, 2011 at 5:00 AM

      Good questions and comments. I agree with you that the verbal aspect can be as equally effective as being approachable and a positive community example.

      However, when you ask whether your circles of influence are the real Islamophobes? Well, probably not, but that goes and proves the authors point – familiarity with diverse people diminishes fear of “the different.”

      In addition, people who harbor anti-Islam sentiments, such as the men holding up the sign, aren’t all rural hermits. Most likely, they have friends, family, and a social circle. If you weren’t the subject of their bigotry and you saw one at a restaurant, perhaps a grandfather celebrating this granddaughter’s birthday – you would never suspect it. At least I wouldn’t.

      Also, the author makes the point that close-minded people are everywhere, not just out in the boonies. For example, I was shocked when my family members asked me one day, accusingly, if I was “a Muslim.” I wasn’t, but as you all know, why should it matter?

      I was shocked by their tone. These are people who’ve lived in Los Angeles and Memphis for all their lives. A few of these same folks were in their teens during the days of MLK (and idolized his message) and can recall the old days of segregation. And yet, a few of them have chosen to jump on the 9-11 fear of Islam, regardless of the values they grew up with, regardless of their current suburban lives, and regardless of the fact that a hefty percentage of the American Muslim population is made up of African-Americans.

      You’ve got members on the left, people in the country-side and city-side that have this unreasonable fear of an idea or belief that they don’t understand. Take my Uncle: Football coach, votes democrat, known for a few Blind Side movie-esque moments, whose wife works at a non-profit. They are some of the genuinely nicest neighbors you’ll meet, and yet he made the claim that he wouldn’t welcome a Muslim in his house…even though I would bet that he unknowingly is friends with some. Point is, it’s not just Tea-partyers or people in the countryside (which is a negative generalization for the latter btw). It could simply be a neighbor who has had this fear jammed down her throat via media and like-minded others.

  2. Umm Sulaim

    September 6, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    Yesterday, I read some comments on another website; many of the American commentators still complained of lack of condemnation of terrorism by Muslims in the US. On MM, I read comments that the Shuyukh, including, curiously enough, those who were later arrested by the feds on insignificant charges, do condemn terrorism as unIslamic. That lead to some thoughts: “It appears one speaks the other does not listen”; “Or one group expects the impossible from the other”; “Or yet, one group needs to betray Islam to acquire the approval of the other”.

    On chat lines, many of my American friends have never had any interaction with Muslims; a very few have Muslim friends. They are polite to me, perhaps because of some of my posts or because they are aware I am proud to be a Muslim, or both. One was so filled with hate towards Muslims, he was prepared to go to Afghanistan as a marine. He fell in love with me; so now he hates Muslims minus me! I have not heard from him for some months; I hope he has not gone to Afghanistan.

    Interaction is consensual and mutual,
    Umm Sulaim

  3. Yasmin

    September 6, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Jazakallah Khair for this very important and timely post! I completely agree with the respected author that we as Muslims really need to go out their and be a positive part of our local communities in order to show that Muslims truly are normal peace loving people.

  4. Farhan

    September 6, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    My atheist co-worker and I talk about religion wayyy too much about work (yes, its against the rules, but screw it)
    He sees me pray very publicly and openly.
    And he’s now cool with Islam :-)

    1 down, 330 million to go!

    • Khurram Dara

      September 6, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      1 down X 2 million Muslims in America = 2 million down!

      • abu Rumay-s.a.

        September 7, 2011 at 4:59 AM

        for the sake of argument, “satirical” empirical “hypothesis” can suggest the following:

        2 million Muslims (assuming all will do as you advise) x 20 people (avg. circle of influence/muslim) = 40 Million (and assuming all will respond positively).

        Now according to the latest Brookings Poll, nearly less than half of Americans feel uncomfotable with some aspect of Muslim life, so 0.47 x 330 million = 165 million. Let us say that from 165, atleast 120 million are adults who would be impacted by this issue.

        40 million/120 million = 33% efficiency. Now the good news is that hopefully those 20 people will influence their own circles of atleast 5 people which could easily make up for the deficit of 80 million!

        The challenge is reaching out to that 47% percentile that do harbor “uncomfortable” feelings. The may not be living in the same area as Muslims, they may not necessarily relate to an immigrant Muslim vs. indigenous Muslim, they are most likely affect by different mediums (religious, political, media) which will be more difficult, etc.

  5. Nour

    September 6, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I think also that it would be a wise idea to have inter-masjid meetings with leaders of our faith. I noticed in the UK (where I come from) that there is a schism between the various masjids and their leaders. One doesn’t find this too much with church leaders who may have slight differences of opinion and slightly different ways of worshiping but most are peaceful, on the same page and EDUCATED, which is something lacking in some of the Muslim leaders.

    It would also be a good idea to press for laws to be passed that insist on the English or Spanish language to be given in the khutbahs of (educated) leaders as well as Arabic (or at least have translation tapes).

    It would be almost impossible to get a job as a pastor in a Christian church without the right credentials. That is the root of some of the main problems within OUR communities……lack of language ability for communicating with the larger population of converts/reverts in America and Europe and lack of knowledge about Islam. Education and language should be a MUST and we should press for laws to cover this, as well as press for laws to cover the basic teachings and not have khutbahs go off on political rantings which may be based on the Imam’s personal experiences ‘back home’.

    You say get out there and mix.Yes, very good idea and I think we should get out there and mix with our fellow Muslims as well! So many have differences of lifestyle or opinions and, unfortunately, something the Prophet asked us specifically not to do, split into groups. (Shia, Sufi, Ahmadi etc etc etc). We are MUSLIMS. One body.

  6. Jeremiah

    September 6, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Jazakallahu khairan for suggesting something, but these suggestions do not really get to the core of the issue and are not very unique.

    Approximately a third of muslims in America are African American with majority non-muslim families. I would think it is safe to assume that the average African American Muslim is fairly engaged with the non-muslim majority. If we also include the first and second generation of children born to those that immigrated to the USA in the 60’s and 70’s, I think it is safe to say that the muslim population is not as isolated as some suggest. There are pockets of isolation, but typically muslims are involved in careers where they interact with non-muslims, our children go to school with non-muslims and we are fairly involved with non-muslims in activities like charities, community service, etc..

    ‘Islamophobia’ is just new-age white supremacy. Every ethnic group/nationality to rise to prominence has faced hatred/vilification and sometimes physical violence. Honestly, I think Muslims have it easy in comparison to other groups that have built communities in America.

    Of course it does not hurt to do the types of things that you suggest, but do not be surprised if you do not get the type of large scale results you expect.

    To slightly change topics, I would love to see this type of emphasis placed on non-patronizing intra-faith community relations.

    • Carlos

      September 7, 2011 at 11:55 PM

      Jeremiah,

      Just as Islam is not limited to one race, Islamophobia is not limited to one race. Islamophobia is a fear of a religion, not a fear of a race or a people.

      It is inaccurate to say Islamophobes fear Muslims. It is more accurate to say Islamophobes fear Islam.

      • Jeremiah

        September 8, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        Carlos,

        Islamophobia is not real. If it was, there would not be a masjid just blocks from Ground Zero and I would not be able to pray in various parking lots and rest stops in some of the most rural places in America. Real fear coupled with bigotry explains what happened to Americans of Japanese ancestry after Pearl Harbor. Muslims by and large have not experienced anything remotely similar.

        The inciters on the radio and in politics are no different than people like George Wallace (former governor of Alabama) and others like him. They are bigots, building on that age-old American tradition of hating things that are non-White. If they are afraid of anything it is the looming decline of supremacy of the White male.

        There are some Americans that are genuinely anxious about Muslims, but I do not think the so-called islamophobes fit this description. What is being suggested in the article above may make some headway with people with genuine concerns. However, very few of these people have a big stage like certain radio personalities and they are rarely heard when policy is being made.

        • Brother

          September 8, 2011 at 9:18 PM

          Jeremiah, I totally agree with you. Long before 9/11, I had experienced hatred directed towards me because I was either Muslim or looked Middle Eastern. When the Gulf War occurred, I was taunted/beat up while being called “Saddam”. I’m sure if I was in grade school this day and age, it would be “Osama” instead. I’m not trying to get sympathy or anything, just that I’m trying to make a point that people who hold hatred in their hearts just need an excuse to show it to you and as long as they know there will be no consequences if they do.

          I wouldn’t waste too much time on that guy holding that sign saying “All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11”. I bet he’s had those feelings about Muslims long before that. Muslims are just more vulnerable to these types because of 9/11 because that has given them an excuse.

    • Khurram Dara

      September 8, 2011 at 12:16 PM

      I think that if we make this comprehensive change in attitude and approach, we will be able to make significant change. I know it is seemingly facetious, but every day we make judgements about the people we interact with, based on those interactions. We view favorably those individuals who are positive towards us. In fact, we do this at times, without regard for their personal beliefs, even if we may disagree with those beliefs. Those who feel Islam is a problem, and have issues with it for whatever reason, may be willing to put those aside if they get to know us. Eventually, the hope is that we dispel their notions entirely.

      • Jeremiah

        September 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

        I am arguing that most Muslims are already doing what you suggest. Yet, the problem of ‘anti-Muslim’ sentiment still exists. What you are suggesting would take a generation or two to see results. One could argue that time more than any initiative would then be responsible.

        It seems to be that if you really wanted to be forward thinking you would focus on those demographics that are going to be majorities in the next few decades. Almost all of these efforts (judging from the anecdotes in the comments and elsewhere) seem to be geared toward ingratiating Muslims with Whites. I think we should just be honest about this.

        Where’s the outreach to Chinatown/Hispanics etc?

  7. Faith

    September 6, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Totally agree with the idea of connecting with one’s neighbours and friends- if everyone took responsibility for their own patch as is encouraged Islamically then the world would be an amazing place.

    See link below for a British project that supports this idea:

    http://freshestair.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-neighbours.html

  8. Amad

    September 7, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Thanks Khurram for this
    There is no doubt that we have to interact with our neighbors, coworkers and so on. That is the ONLY way we will break the barriers and the artificial walls of distrust.

    I wrote about this in my article on Jared Loughner… why is it that people are so willing to dismiss him as a loner yet if he was Muslim, we ALL would be responsible for it? That’s because of what you touched upon— people think of us as “others”, something that Tariq Ramadan talks a lot about. So, my suggestion was also similar to yours, perhaps at a higher social level:

    Let there be a “Muslim Charities” working hand in hand with “Catholic Charities”, let there be Muslim mayors, judges and leaders, let there be Muslim CEOs, let there be Muslim Larry Kings and Jon Stewarts, let Mohammed and Aisha be names of men and women who are part of the American fabric at every level and at every rung. Only then will we stop being the “other”, only then will our next Muslim criminal be put in his place as a criminal, just a criminal – no religious qualifiers needed.

  9. Amad

    September 7, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    As for personal experiences, I can tell you that when we moved on September 15, 2001 (yeah talk about timing) to a very “white neighborhood” in League City, Texas, the entire cul de sac cleared out when we came out of our car! People were genuinely afraid of Muslims, of course higher sensitivity at the time. But by going out of our way to send goodies (cookies, cakes, home-grown tangerines) to the neighbors, having their kids play at our home and vice-versa, it wasn’t long before my fully veiled wife would be comfortably chatting with her neighbor in skimpy shorts :) In other words, we, despite being obviously and “visually Muslim” were no longer looked as the “other” in the neighborhood.

    It also opened up the door to talk about religion, sharing information both ways. But actions louder than words, as you said Khurram. And it was actions that opened up the doorway to talk deen.

    • Hassan

      September 7, 2011 at 9:27 AM

      Yeah it feels good… I mean when you make others at ease while they were quite uncomfortable, whenever I board plane, people stare at me, and look somewhat scared, and all I can do is smile, they realize that I know what they are thinking, and it eases them little bit.

      • Amad

        September 7, 2011 at 12:39 PM

        good point… nothing like a smile… as our beautiful deen says, even a smile is charity.

        If Muslims just start smiling more when they are around people, I think that itself will have an impact!

      • Umm Sulaim

        September 7, 2011 at 1:57 PM

        And veiled women whose smiles may not be easily discerned may say hello.

        Now that reminds me of a chat room I entered, the women alleged I was trying to ‘fit in’; only a couple chatted with me.

        At one point I told the audience (male& female) they seek conflict only to cry the loudest when their wish is granted. My belief is social strata also play a role; they were in the lower rung.

  10. Umer

    September 7, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Assalaualikum

    Surah Baqarah Verse 120: Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad ) till you follow their religion.

    According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

    (Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad ) till you follow their religion.) meaning, `The Jews and the Christians will never be happy with you, O Muhammad! Therefore, do not seek what pleases or appeases them, and stick to what pleases Allah by calling them to the truth that Allah sent you with.’

    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=316#1

    • Nour

      September 7, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      ……and calling them to the truth is what Amad and his fully veiled wife did with their cakes and tangerines. When I lived in a very white neighbourhood in London with myself being one of only about 3 women who wore headscarves out of probably several thousand, I too opened my door to the neighbours and their children. In fact I don’t think the door ever shut much during the day as the kids would be in and out, looking for yogurts in my fridge, being fed on a huge tray in the garden etc. I used to put Youssef Islam tapes on in those days singing nasheed songs.

      Guess what…..one of the boys met up with my son a few weeks ago after ELEVEN years apart. He is a practicing Muslim now even though he knew very little about his own faith when he was a small boy due to lack of knowledge by his estranged (Muslim) father.

      I believe, with good manners, good examples and, as the author said, mixing normally with people in daily life, it is only a matter of time. The Christians did it……now it’s our turn.

  11. RCHOUDH

    September 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    I just have a question here when we talk about forming relationships with others are we doing it with the intention to give dawah towards others about Islam? Because if all we do is form close personal friendships (which naturally happens anyway when you’re living/working in close proximity to someone), there is a chance that someone may still hold highly bigoted views about Islam and when called out on it, remark with the excuse, “I’m not racists towards Muslims, my best friend/colleague/spouse is Muslim” or they may regard you as simply being an exception with quips like, “You’re not like those other Muslims”. And I’m wondering if it’s really necessary to keep pursuing relationships with someone who continues thinking badly about the Deen, no matter how much you try to make them understand. Isn’t it true that we should leave some people alone if they refuse to change their views?

    • amad

      September 8, 2011 at 2:00 AM

      Perhaps Khurram can shed more light on your question.

      One data point is polling, which indicates that negative views towards Islam/Muslims is always lower for people who know a Muslim. So, while I agree some people will just not change their views, I think all we can do is our best and spend our time wisely working with those individuals who are more understanding. In other words, at some point you know a guy is just a plain bigot who isn’t listening… might as well leave him to his own hatred and move on.

      Personally, I would find it hard to be too good of a friend to someone who has deep-seated hatred of my religion, because at some point or the other, this stuff boils over and how much crap can one take?!

    • Abdurrahman Wood

      September 8, 2011 at 2:06 AM

      I had the same idea! I think that at a minimum, proactive interaction and good treatment on our part can take away the visceral reactions that some non-Muslims have toward Islam. It is difficult for them to maintain that type of raw hatred in the face of continued good treatment, insha Allah. We can also impact the ignorant – those who fear what they do not know or understand (a very natural fear). Our kind treatment will in some cases attract people to Islam! In others, it will hopefully reduce the enmity and misunderstanding we experience – and I believe that is an important goal as well.

    • Khurram Dara

      September 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      perhaps some would view you as the exception, that’s possible. But, for one, you’ve at least immunized yourself with a network of support, who know that you are not some extremist or terrorist. More importantly however, if this person interacts with another Muslim besides you, and gets the same result, then does he still consider it you and that other Muslim the exception? If we engage in this comprehensive change, people will realize that we are not the exception but the rule.

  12. Umm Sulaim

    September 7, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    The most significant issue is that they first get to see for themselves that Muslims are not interested in the annihilation of the US.

    Discussions on Islam will always come up; the rate at which one releases information on Islam largely depends on the individual audience.

    In my own case, these discussions – or I should say rows – were always initiated by my hitherto anti-Muslim American acquaintance and he was always the first to say “let’s not quarrel”. From our interactions, he is now aware dishonour killings are not only unIslamic, but that women can also fight against domestic violence and win. I believe some will improve their knowledge of Islam.

    I have never been one to exhaust myself over anyone who does not wish to learn; there are many people out there who cherish accurate information and they don’t get it.

    Umm Sulaim

    • Khurram Dara

      September 8, 2011 at 1:27 PM

      Yes, one of the things laid out in The Crescent Directive is that we have to be willing to accept that there will be people out there who refuse to change, even with our action oriented approach. If we are going to have a chance at changes the hearts of the truly ignorant this is the way to do it, but it may not always work. But on the whole, for the majority of people this approach will be more effective.

  13. Carlos

    September 7, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Good article, Khurram. You seem to have good insight into the American psyche regarding this subject. Your “getting to know your neighbor” approach is an excellent approach for everyone involved.

    You say the Quran’s teachings about “infidels” are taken out of context. How so? What does the Quran mean when it says “infidels?”

    Thank you.

    • Khurram Dara

      September 8, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      I’m not a religious scholar, nor will I ever portray myself as that. There are a whole host of people who can better explain the specific of the Qur’an than I can. I’m talking about things everyday Muslims can do via civic engagement, and personal relationship building, that can improve the perception of Islam.

  14. HIra Amin

    September 8, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    Excellent article masha Allah- this is the practical and most effective way to beat Islamophobia. Muslims- especially the most practicing conservative ones need to get out of their bubble and into real society.

  15. Umm Sulaim

    September 8, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Islamophobia the hatred of Islam is manifest in the hatred of and prejudice against Muslims.

    Muslims in the US and elsewhere are still able to worship Allah as a law prohibiting this does not yet exist, though ones freedom of worship has greatly been curtailed by some states in the US and some countries in Europe, etc.

    One need not wait for the situation to reach the stage of anti-communism or any other gross bias before acknowledging the existence of such a phobia.

    Interaction with others regardless of race alleviates the problem. We have not witnessed a mass decline in this phobia because we are still shooting ourselves in the foot by sucking up to Islamophobes.

    Umm Sulaim

  16. Pingback: Ten Years Later… « Religion & Politics in American History

  17. Imaad

    September 14, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Great article!

    Here in Canada, I have faced a little bit of backlash for doing exactly these types of things…

    In 2008, I held the first ever recruting event for the Canadian Military at a Mosque. I had to debate another Muslim on it in the papers and the radio. http://www.canada.com/burnabynow/news/story.html?id=68d5cefd-b40c-4771-8dad-993eafa3d907

    That same Mosque, Masjid Al-Salaam in Burnaby, British Columbia, allowed the United Church to hold their Presbytery gathering in the Mosque, during which they sang Christian songs just feet away from the prayer hall. http://www.westminsterpresbytery.org/Minutes%20June%2007%20reg.pdf
    Some guy at the Mosque actually complained because the women didnt wear hijabs!

    During the 2010 Winter Olympics, which took place in our city, we had a party and watched the Gold Medal hockey game, Canada vs USA on a big screen TV in the Mosque.
    Some guy complained because there were alcohol commercials.

  18. Nour

    September 15, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    @Imad

    About the backlash. Let the people who are upset about whether the hajab is worn, alcohol commercials, Christian singing etc. not upset the rest. We should be above all the pettiness and just carry on our way. There will always be the busybodies out there looking at things superficially.

    *Comment edited to comply with MM Comment Policy*

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