Lessons from Pope’s Controversy
Given the recent event this is a good time for some self-reflection and correction. We can’t be happy about the way we reacted to Pope’s speech. There were some positive outcomes like Muslims being assertive and expressing their point of view but that was all. I think we came out much worse than Pope’s blunder. As I mentioned in my previous post there are reasons for the way we reacted but we must move forward by learning from mistakes and correcting ourselves. "And none will reflect except people of understanding" Allah the All-Mighty says in the Qur'an.
To begin with we missed a great opportunity. This was a time for clearing misconceptions concerning Muslims and Islam. The mainstream media were willing to engage Muslims to express our point-of-view. But I doubt we took full advantage of these rare opportunities. Secondly the arguments against the Popes speech weren’t very convincing to a non-Muslim. We didn’t explain properly why he was wrong. Muslims didn’t adequately research and publish expert articles and posts. Emperor Manuel II, Europe and Christianity in the 14-century, Islamic History and the actual facts behind Jihad, the conduct of Catholic Church etc. were not sufficiently covered or presented. But Islamophobes did their homework and by interpreting events to suit their interests, published very convincing articles and posts. Surely we could have done better…
Then there were the Muslim comments on Internet forums. I read some brilliant comparisons and analysis but compared to the number of stupid comments, they were less than one in twenty. The comments usually varied from something like “Pope was wrong,” “We want an apology,” “Old age has made him forget the bloody history of Christianity,” “He’s an idiot,” to outright threatening statements. The discussions usually were in angry tones. Maybe they were forgetting (or even not knowing!) that to lose your anger means you’ve lost the debate.
The real world was even worse. Protests are fine and can achieve many things if held properly. But in some cases things were extreme. We don’t like the negative perceptions non-Muslims have about Islam. But what can we expect from others when we start rioting, throwing grenades at churches and murdering a 70 year old nun? No wonder even high calibre people like Pope fear Islam and Muslims. We can’t blame them for their misunderstandings if Muslims from the Religion of Piece behave like maniacs. It’s actions like these and all the other extreme things a few Muslims do today that ruin the world’s view of Islam. Instead of helping improve others understanding of Islam and prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we drive them away.
Sadly we can’t escape the bad name by distancing ourselves from the wrong doers. Whether we like it or not there’s a binding on us called ‘collective community responsibility’. As a result if a Muslim does something wrong all Muslims will be blamed. The same rule applies to Americans, Whites, and Chinese etc. If an American Government does something all Americans will be blamed and cussed.
Today Islam needs every Muslim’s help to improve its image. We must build a rapport with non-Muslims, interact with the media, publish blogs, participate in social and community activities and do everything and anything to improve our social standing. There was a helpful article on this at IslamForToday.com – 6 Practical tips for contributing to Islam on a community level.
May Allah help you and me and keep us to the tasks. Ameen.