Yes – Hate Crimes Can Be Prevented
Yes – Hate Crimes Can Be Prevented
Here is How
A story: Muslims were walking down the road with pitchers of water. They passed by some people sitting on the sidewalk who were thirsty. The Muslims ignored them and kept on walking. A few minutes later someone came by and provided alcohol to these thirsty people. The people on the sidewalk got drunk and started to attack the Muslims.
If the above scenario was true, who would you blame for the harm inflicted on the Muslims?
The above is an analogy of the situation of Muslims in the USA. The Muslims with the pitcher of water are us who possess the knowledge of Islam yet fail to share it. The thirsty people signify the 300 million Americans who are looking for peace and purpose in life. And the people who gave the alcohol represent the Islamophobes feeding fear to the thirsty Americans.
By understanding the above analogy, not only can we come up with proper reaction to hate crimes, but can develop long time strategies to prevent such attacks, in sha Allah.
An uninformed mind can become a hateful mind
So the question again: who is to ultimately be blamed for the rampage? All three parties. But the bigger blame goes to the Muslims who to failed to share Islam and educate the masses, thus resulting in them being uninformed. An uninformed and uneducated mind is a breeding ground for the Islamophobes to exploit with fear and misinformation about Islam and Muslims. The Muslims will then be perceived as the ‘others’, ‘strangers’ and as the ‘enemies’. When this stage is reached, then anything that symbolizes Islam like Hijab, minarets or beards, will become fair targets to inflict violence. This is exactly what happened case after case:
Randolph Linn, who burned down the Toledo, OH, Masjid two years ago was ‘riled up’ after watching FOX news, then drank 45 cans of beer before setting the masjid on fire. Same reason for Anders Breivik in Norway killed 77 people and similar crimes that happened in Detroit and Calgary on Muslims.
Solution: Education and Service
Looking at the above analogy, the solution to the hate crimes cannot be limited to conducting webinars, conferences or rallies and vigils. We can shout till eternity against the media bias but that will not stop these crimes. A long time solution is mass education and providing services to the society. Education and services will create a positive perception of Islam and Muslims, repelling any fear or misinformation that the media or Islamophobes may try to instill.
During the Prophet’s time, when Islamophobia was rampant in Makkah, less than 200 people embraced Islam. However, when the 10 year truce was signed at the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Arabs of Makkah were able to interact with Muslims of Madinah, got educated about Islam without being affected from the influence of Islamophobes. This had a profound effect on them to the extent that literally thousands of them were educated and embraced Islam.
If we are looking for long time solutions to hate crimes, Islamophobia and violence against Muslims, we have no option but to initiate projects for mass education and services for the society.
Projects to educate the masses
Every Muslim – should become an educator of Islam to his/her neighbors, colleagues, classmates etc. Just imagine the 7 million salespersons sharing a product. That will be a bigger workforce than Apple and Walmart combined.
Imams need to be trained in dawah oriented topics and also in their delivery and communication skills. Good content needs to be delivered eloquently to produce maximal effect on the audience.
Dawah Day – all Masajid – hosting open-houses for the community and doing this consistently every month.
Muslim Volunteer Day – Muslims going to the local non-profits to volunteer.
Muslim walkathon – taking up social issues and raising awareness and funds via walkathons. Just imagine the impact of seeing 100 sisters, wearing pink hijabs, walking in a suburb, raising funds for breast cancer.
Muslims pooling our resources to hire and use a PR firm to assist them in the projects and events to reflect Islam positively.
Service based projects involving all the Muslim relief agencies working in the US like, ICNA Relief and Helping Hands.
Identify Islamophobes, their books, their videos and provide point by point rebuttals to their allegations against Islam.
Bottom line, the status quo is not effective. Infact, the status quo has resulted in increased negative perception of Muslims in the USA. Only 27% of Americans perceive Islam positively in 2014. This is down from 32% in 2010 (July 29, 2014 – Zogby Poll).
Either we fill their cups with education, or someone else will fill them with hate. As the late Sh. Ahmad Deedat once said: Dawah or Destruction’. The choice is ours.
May Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, give the status of Shuhada (martyrs) to the youth murdered in Chapel Hill and provide patience to their families and help the Muslims to devise strategies to prevent such crimes and help us become educators and peace ambassadors of Islam to humanity…aameen.
Dr. Sabeel Ahmed
Director of GainPeace