A letter to those who have had enough of hatred and ill will
Dear brothers and sisters,
As you all know, there was a shooting incident in France last week in which around a dozen people were killed by armed men said to be 'avenging' the prophet(PBUH) of Islam. It was a horrible act. I am not going to be talking about what happened and whose fault it was. What I want to address you with is the issue that is happening today and continuously. Even as many people start to move on to the next big news, the terror, feelings of anger and hatred hasn't exactly died down. The effects of these feelings can be seen through any of the numerous incidents of assault and voilence that have happened throughout France and elsewhere. Even at places where such things are not happening, loosely all over the world, many people have a fear of and repulsion towards Islam rooted even deeper, more so now, inside their hearts.
It goes without saying that a larger portion of the non-muslim world is left with or is going towards a singular view of Islam and Muslims today. What they know about Islam is what they get from the mainstream media, including online social and other similar mediums, a frightening majority of which actively helps in demonisation or inadvertent bad representation of the faith. What is more disturbing is the presence of highly tinted and hateful thoughts and ideas about its prophet(PBUH), online, because at the end of the day, even if online, those who have these ideas are real people. What's disturbing here is that these are not criticisms but bare lies and they have spread so much that they have been made a permanent space in the minds of many.
Normally, as it happens, people don't know much about those faiths which they do not follow. Take the example of a non-muslim girl who is a friend from college. She messaged on a Whatsapp group last week asking some of us about (peghumbar)messenger Muhammad (PBUH). She heard his name on TV(most probably) and did not know who he was and guessed, for the sake of it, that he was related to or was a member ISIS somehow. It is shocking, I know, but was it her fault that she did not know about the most important person in Islamic faith? I'd say, not entirely. Given that she was in college, if we take the argument of lack of knowledge about world history aside, she wasn't at any fault at all. It is moments like the France shootings(or sometimes something good, very rarely) that people get interested and curious and want to know more about the related topic, in this case, the Islamic faith and its prophet(PBUH) and muslims' seemingly intolerable veneration of him. And this is where the problem arises, because when they get curious, they turn towards internet or newspapers and they get all the wrong information. In turn, it is then very likely that they too start hating a man who was revered and loved most for his unmatched qualities as a human being.
In relation to the girl I talk about above, I think the ones who should be held responsible for this would be those of us, who being a part of a group she was in, never talked about such things as religion in(the process of) finding a middle ground. Or those muslim friends whom she knew and met regularly before. As far as I know, almost none of my fellow muslims here(including me) ever have any conversation, online or in person about our faith or our prophet(PBUH). Something that is one of the core responsibilities of being a muslim. And it is for this fact that non-muslims know next to nothing about the religion that is Islam. Now, the reason why I am stressing at this, the reason why this is different from say some of my hindu friends also not talking about their religion or gods is that Islam today is in a unique position that it is criticised and falsely targeted upon for the alleged 'evils' in its very existence as opposed to 'unprovable imaginations' that all religions fall into the criticism category of.
Of course, when I say talking, I don't mean that given the status quo, you should instead keep on talking about your faith and your prophet(PBUH) all the time, and in the face of those you meet. That isn't the practical way of doing things for anything. What I am saying is that assuming other people (other than one's own self) to not be inherently curious about a whole lot of things is just poor show. People do get curious about other faiths, like any other thing, at some point of time. And if you are present as someone who represents his/her religion and who someone knows that they can reach out to, there is no better way to know about a faith than to ask a person who follows it, apart from reading the faith's book if there is one. So in this case, it falls upon me and my muslim brothers and sisters to not just dispell the lies and myths about our beloved prophet(PBUH) but also at the same time and more importantly, talk about his virtues. And it is important now more than ever to do so.
It would be a terrible shame and pity and a complete loss if we let the hate and filth spread about a person in whom lay the perfection of virtues and characteristics exemplified. It hurts me to the core when I see people slathering mud over the image of my prophet(PBUH) and putting a film in front of other people's eyes who don't know him. I for this reason, appeal and request those of you, who have had enough of hate going around, to talk about whatever you know to be true about Muhammad(PBUH) and discuss his virtues. Spread what and how you know him to be. Talk about what he said, did and instructed others to do. Who and how he was as a person.
Also, to my muslim brothers and sisters, I know it is bad to see people hating your prophet(PBUH) or holding everyone of you responsible for some maniacs' acts. But we ought to believe and remember in that hate can never be won with hate. And that it is only when we imbibe his values in ourselves and let others know about prophet's(PBUH) true self, by our acts and words, that we can improve the image of Islam in the masses. I think this is a good time to start doing that, as we too have freedom of speech and we too can use it, in person and on internet. As surprising as it may sound, social networks can be used to spread love and some good words too.
I look forward to you taking part in this. Thank you. Bless you.
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You can also use #WhoIsMuhammad on twitter and facebook to speak out.