I remember talking with some friends and them casually joking about the misunderstanding between Muslims and the typical American. They argued that Americans would never be able to grasp that Muslims are not the fictional stereotype of bomb-dropping and women-oppressing individuals media outlets have made them out to be.
The coverage on the rise of ISIS has only increased tensions. As a Muslim, I see myself being backed into a corner along with the rest of my community. That an entire 1.6 billion people who follow this religion are viewed as monsters is infuriating.
Islamophobia is a glamorized term that has made its way into the headlines of newspapers and broadcasts. It states that as Muslims, we all promote hatred toward non-followers, gender inequality, killing in the name of God, etc. These notions are misinformed and biased because they are based off of the acts of terrorists, not Muslims.
Thankfully, people all around the world have risen up to fight this fear driven by complete misconceptions. Reza Aslan, religious scholar and professor at the University of California, Riverside is a prime example. In an interview with CNN, Aslan was asked whether Islam promoted violence, hence the blame for ISIS.
“Islam does not promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion like every religion in the world. It depends on what you bring to it. If you’re a violent person your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Buddhism is going to be violent,” said Aslan.
Like Aslan, young Muslims especially have begun to combat the misrepresentation of Muslims through social media. In the past few months, two trending topics on Twitter have picked up momentum to deal with the renewal of negativity toward the Islamic world.
The first trend to appear on Twitter, #Notinmyname, was started by young British Muslims in an effort to counter the efforts of ISIS in attempts to become the face of Islam. They took on the responsibility of breaking down the glamorized fear of Muslims. They argued that these actions taken by militant Islamic groups like ISIS and Boko Haraam are crimes against humanity, therefore crimes against the overall teachings of Islam.
Another trend sprouted up known as #Muslimapologies that sarcastically rebutted the efforts behind #Notinmyname. Those who participated in this hashtag argued that Muslims around the world should not have to apologize for ISIS. They believe that it’s not an everyday Muslim responsibility to condemn Islamic terrorist groups because they are not the ones committing the crimes.
As an educated community of Muslims, we need to examine why Islamophobia has gained such prominence in society and decide who is responsible for diminishing it. It is apparent that large populations of people, specifically in Western nations, have yet to grasp the concept that Islam and extremist organizations like ISIS, al-Qaida and Hamas are not truly Islamic. Collectively however, as Muslims that do not condone these terrorist groups, we need to come together and stop them from becoming the face of Islam.
Efforts like the Twitter hashtags are an excellent first step in falsifying the practices of ISIS and those like them. We are not here to apologize for the horrific acts they have committed. We must, however, lead by example and discuss the true teachings of Islam, while also demonstrating how we peacefully apply them to our lives. By showing the world how the religion can be adapted in positive ways we will eventually break down this fear toward our population.
Not only should Muslims make the effort, but people of all walks of life should come together to combat the concept of Islamophobia. This can be done by simply doing research on the religion and asking questions to those who practice it.
The misrepresentation can only be cured by communication, and it has already begun. We should not hide our faith. We should embrace it. Muslims from all around the world should continue to preach the true teachings of Islam.
These teachings should be backed by the Quran, the Hadiths and other Islamic research that has been conducted. By publicizing what Islam is truly about, extremist groups like ISIS who hide behind religion in order to justify their own personal agendas will begin to become illegitimate. The messages they are trying to communicate will become falsified and this concept of Islamophobia will eventually fall.