If you are a Muslim who has been singled out in the past for your looks, name, or faith, you may have wondered why it seems strange to many that anyone would choose to still be Muslim. With over 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, accounting for 26% of the world’s population, those who choose not to understand or appreciate Islamic values have only themselves to blame.
Without wanting to sound trite, it cannot be overstated that Islam promotes peace, compassion, and love. Unfortunately, this message has been distorted and misunderstood by many, leading to Islamophobia, discrimination, and hate crimes against Muslims worldwide. It is crucial to recognise and acknowledge the peaceful precepts of Islam and take action to prevent Islamophobia.
Islam is a religion that values the sanctity of human life and promotes peace and harmony between people of all faiths. The Quran teaches that “there is no compulsion in religion” and that “whosoever killed a person… it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.”
These teachings emphasise the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity, regardless of their religion or background.
However, Islamophobia has become a global issue, leading to discrimination, hate crimes, and even violence against Muslims. This not only affects the lives of millions of helpless Muslims but also damages the image of Islam as a peaceful religion.
A study by the Islamic Council of Victoria of hate tweets showed that Nigeria generated the most terrible anti-Muslim tweets in Africa, ranking only fourth to Canada, the UK, the USA, and India, which tops the list of countries with the most anti-Muslim tweets.
Prejudice has been used to commit unthinkable crimes against humanity, from the military misadventures in Afghanistan by allied forces from the West to media framing, Qur’an burning, caricatures, misrepresentation, Iraq’s Abu-Ghraib prison fiasco and others.
In South Asia, several cells spread false information, propaganda, and Islamophobic content on a daily basis. These malicious campaigns are carefully crafted to defame and slander Muslims and trigger reactions. Despite efforts to report inappropriate content on Meta, they have failed to take action, claiming that it does not violate their community standards.
To prevent Islamophobia, we must take several steps. First, we must educate ourselves and others about the peaceful precepts of Islam. We must learn about the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, which emphasise compassion, kindness, and fairness.
Policymakers, educators, and opinion leaders must address stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that fuels irrational hostility. By building bridges between different communities and promoting understanding, we can reduce fear and mistrust. This requires engaging in constructive dialogue and promoting interfaith harmony.
More people, especially Muslim opinion shapers, must call out hate speech, discrimination, forms of aggression, resentment, media blackmail, and violence by standing in solidarity with those who are affected by it.
More work needs to be done to encourage policies that promote inclusion and diversity. This includes ensuring that Muslims have equal opportunities in education, employment, and other areas of life.
On this first International Day to Combat Islamophobia, we must commit ourselves to preventing and addressing this global issue. We must stand up for the peaceful precepts of Islam and work together to promote a world that values diversity, inclusion, and compassion. Only then can we truly create a world where all people can live in peace and harmony.