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Proactive Steps Needed To Combat Americans’ discomfort with Islam & Muslims

3 December 2010 General 7 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

According to a survey conducted last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, 49 percent of Americans feel that Islam is at odds with American values. These 49 percent are not to blame. We cannot place responsibility for such negative sentiments on the media, political opportunists, pundits or even Hollywood. As Muslim Americans, we must be willing and able to engage in communal introspection. Let’s face the facts: We have failed when it comes to reaching out to the 49 percent and ensuring that an authentic Muslim American discussion takes place in the public square.

If we do not take ownership for why so many Americans feel uneasy about us, the consequences will be dire for the future of Islam in America. The overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are model citizens who are integral members of their local communities, taking part in public affairs, community service and interfaith projects. Yet, as much as we contribute to America as a whole, we also see segments of Muslim Americans living in isolation and alienating themselves from mainstream American life.

Common misperceptions of Islam stem from a misunderstanding of basic foundational issues, such as women’s rights, violence, and relations between Muslims and people of other faiths. In looking at women’s rights as a case study, Americans are bombarded with images of Muslim women abroad and here at home being treated like second-class citizens, being egregiously persecuted and brutally punished in the name of Islam. Though this contradicts the reality of most Muslim women, we cannot ignore the cases that do arise. We must discuss these issues openly and put forth a strong narrative that amplifies the true values of our faith, and diminishes misogynist and cultural baggage that has plagued Muslim American communities.

In order for us to change the perception of half our fellow citizens, we need to provide the support mechanism to ensure that they see beyond the stereotypes. It’s a two-way process. This means standing firmly against extremism and those who threaten our country. This means advocating for issues beyond our own religious circle. This means standing in solidarity with those who are oppressed, Muslim or non-Muslim, and taking on issues of racism and discrimination in our country. In short, we must demonstrate more concern for all human beings, as the Quran mandates. The image of Islam and Muslims is in our hands – our actions either improve or further erode public perception about our position within our society. It’s time for all of us to join existing efforts to get involved, or create new ones.

Until we engage and embrace even those Americans who have apprehensions about and even prejudice towards Muslims, we have failed. Engaging our society, while acknowledging our shortcomings and our failures are crucial steps in developing a strong future for Islam in America. Allowing for those who have sincere misgivings about Islam to address their concerns openly is important. If we are able to do this, then the voices of those who seek to marginalize our community based on a political agenda will they themselves be marginalized, not the mainstream Muslim American community.

Let us take to heart and to action the words of the Quran: “Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (13:11).

Original post: Proactive Steps Needed To Combat Americans’ discomfort with Islam & Muslims

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7 Comments »

  1. One suggestion I’d like to make is to take more action to speak to non-Muslims (like myself) who sympathize with Muslims about the bigotry that you’re currently facing. I have noticed, at times, that an article or two here will use terminology that I am unfamiliar with and that hampers the accessibility of such articles to those of a different faith. There was a specific article a few days ago that referred to a place called Bitlis that was completely unfamiliar to me, but which was written with the assumption of familiarity by the reader.

    While I’m aware that probably most of the people here are Muslims, it would be helpful to those who want to stand by our fellow Muslim Americans to keep in mind that we may not know some cultural/religious references. That awareness would also make it easier for such articles to be reposted in other forums and thus reach a larger audience.

  2. omg FINALLY…someone else sayingwhat i have been for the last two years, fast-a-thons are NOT WORKING. try something new. As a muslim who actively works within conservative political circles to combat the perceptions that can be found I find this article refreshing. I have faced near constant mistrust or ridicule fortrying to open doors for muslims within the ranks of those who many would be wary of. It is not easy but someone has to do it. Most muslims rather than at least giving people the same consideration they request usually say insha’Allah and then never show and then say “oh brother you’re white, you can do things we can’t” yeah well my wife and children are BROWN and my wife is a hijabi, we have yet to be attacked,insulted or assaulted at an event. If more of us were willing to take a few risks and get out there in the trenches and try to ACTIVELY change perceptions of those who DON’T KNOW US, then we have nly ourselves to blame when nothing gets better…but,as statistics have shown, we could just keep holding yearly fast-a-thons which has only shown an INCREASE not a decrease in hatred and mistrust of muslims.

  3. The images you speak of regarding the mistreatment of muslim women, and the muslim hatred towards all things non-muslim, etc. are not fabrications; they are real. The proactive steps which need to be taken is to reform islam and educate all muslims who follow such a medieval, barbaric and hate filled “religion”. Every day hate filled racism comes from muslims across the world, inculding the USA, regarding the jews. Where is the huge outcry by the muslims against such hatred? In short, it doesn’t exist. Do you think it is some type of strange coincidence that all the plane bombers are muslims. The security measures enacted world wide for airline travelers were not initiated because of Baptists, or Catholics, or Hindus. The “western/modern” world has moved on whereas those countries/cultures that follow islam still lag far behind. The simple and obvious reason is islam.

  4. THE bedrock American value is Freedom of Speech, which is why it is the FIRST amendment.

    Yet I look at the world and I see that in all countries where Islam is the prevalent ideology, that blasphemy is a crime and leaving Islam is punishable by death.

    This is compatible with American values, how exactly again? Did I miss something?

    Go convince them, you’re wasting your time blaming ME for some imaginary ‘misperception’ of submission to a 7th Century desert madman’s idea of God.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. I see the two previous idiots who commented are high on the kool aid.

    @butchcc,
    You’ve got it the other way round, imbecile. Muslims don’t have a problem with anyone UNLESS you wage war on us. It’s that simple. Everything you’ve said applies to you, o ignoramus. Most terrorists in the world are NOT Arabs or Muslims, they are white males from North America and Western Europe. Proof? Overwhelming empirical evidence 500 years and counting! I doubt retarded racists like you can grasp how utterly wrong you are. Lets see what Sam Huntington, the author of the “clash of civilizations” had to say on Western “superiority”:
    “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do” —— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 51.

    @infidel,
    Wrong. Your entire post is based on a false premise, a pathetic lie. Freedom of Speech in the US, and western world? Bulls***. Might want to ask Helen Thomas about that or any of the true heroes who dare to take on the Judeofascists who run the show. Let’s see, warant less wiretapping, spying on Americans critical of the US government criminality, kidnapping and torturing people, staging false flag terror attacks. Some free speech! Just the Wikileaks saga alone is enough to drown out this hollow claim that Americans and westerners are all for freedom of speech. Sure they are, as long as it’s not against them.
    Oh, yeah I forget European khazars can pretend to be Hebrew Israelites from 5000 b.c., and no one better question that!

    Either way fools, get back to me when you find those fictitious Iraqi WMDs.

  6. DrM:

    So there weren’t riots over cartoon drawings of Mohammed? Lines on paper? Freedom of speech and expression, in other words?

    People aren’t killed for exercising freedom of religion (ie, to leave Islam) all over the Islamic world? It isn’t in the words of Mohammed to kill them for that?

    Thanks for straightening me out. You have lifted tons of weight from my shoulders.

  7. @Infidel,

    Don’t flatter yourself. You and your ilk are the greatest opponents of freedom of any kind(except ofcourse yourself). Westerners are in no position to lecture anyone on violence considering that they are the most violent creatures on the face of the earth. I see you didn’t address any of the facts I posted, you just repeated the horse manure which is popular amongst inferior minded shabbos goyim losers high on ziofreak kool aid.
    I don’t blame you, liars don’t do well with facts. Like I said, get back to me when you violence addicted lunatics find those Iraqi WMDs.

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