The role of the media in spreading the universality of the message of Islam cannot be over emphasized. There were instances, in the history of Islam, where the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad Bin Abdullah (SAW) and His Companions used the instrument of the media, particularly print media and public relations (PR), for Daw’ah.
1. Science of Hadiths/Journalism
In news writing, we have the 5Ws and H. They are Who (reported the news), When (the event happened), Where (it happened), What really happened, Why it happened and How it happened.
These are the techniques the Sahabah (Companions) applied in determining the authenticity of Hadith. They looked at the chains of narrators e.g. Who reported the hadith, When it was reported, Why it was reported, When it was reported, What happened when it was reported and How it was reported. This is quintessential journalism, my brethren, first brought to us by the unlettered Prophet (SAW).
2) Jafar-Bn-Abu Talib’s PR skills before Negus, the Christian King:
– His Public Relations roles during crisis management
Jafar was among the first companions of the Prophet (SAW) who migrated to Abbyssinia, today’s Ethiopia. They fled the persecution of the Quraysh in Makkah. The Quraysh came for them. They told the King lies about Islam. They smeared the image of the Muslims.
They said: “O king, there is a group of evil persons from among our youth who have escaped to your kingdom. They practice a religion, which neither we, nor you know. They have forsaken our religion and have not embraced your religion. The respected leaders of their people — from among their own parents and uncles and from their own clans — have sent us to you to request you to return them.”
What Quraysh did back then is similar to what some overzealous youths are doing nowadays on social media, spreading lies about different Ahlu-Sunnah organisations, calling them “deviants and innovators”.
But the King never listened to their lies. The same way you should not listen to the lies of these unguided youths. What did the King do? He sent for the Muslims. He wanted to hear directly from them, the same way you need to hear from the maligned groups by attending their programmes and visiting their websites (for details of their activities, mission and vision).
So, the Muslims stood before the King in the presence of all his Chiefs and the liars of Makkah. The Muslims appointed a spokesman, Jafar bin Abu Talib, who carefully responded to the lies of the Quraysh.
He said: “O king, we were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols and eating the flesh of dead animals, committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, breaking the ties of kinship, treating guests badly and the strong among us exploited the weak.
“We remained in this state until Allah sent us a Prophet (peace be upon him), one of our own people whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness and integrity were well-known to us. He called us to worship Allah alone and to renounce the stones and the idols, which we and our ancestors used to worship besides Allah…”
And we all know what happened thereafter; the King wept after listening directly to the Muslims chronicle the beautiful stories of Jesus and his mother, Mary, Peace Be Upon Them (as stated in Qur’an 19).
What Jafar did was a pure public relations (PR) job…
3) There is also the example of Musa and Harun: Quran 20: 25-35
When Prophet Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) was commissioned by Allah (SWT) as a messenger, he had a great task before him, which was to call the Pharaoh of his time to the worship of one God and liberate the People of Israel from the worship of idols.
But Musa had a speech impairment, which could jeopardise his calling. For him to succeed, he asked Allah for a minister (or spokesperson/interpreter) from among his family, who would assist him in championing the Dawa’h of Allah. Musa realised his weakness and quickly sought for Allah’s intervention for him to be able to carry out the work.
His prayer was granted as Allah gave him Harun, his brother, and together, they delivered the message of Allah to Phoraoh in the best manner. This is the power of public speaking as taught to us by Islam.
4. Effective communication
In Islam, effective communication and public relations is key to a successful Daw’ah. Every institution, country and establishment cannot afford to joke with their public image. They spend huge sums of money buying media space and coverage.
I have written a lot about how media ownership influences what you read in newspapers, hear on radio and watch on TV in my book. Check my my book: “Muslims and the Threats of the Media” and “Media Narratives of Muslims in Nigeria: Facts and Fallacies.”
5) Let’s talk about Hasbara Effects
Just like the PR units of your organisations, the Hasbara is also a public relations unit meant to disseminate positive information about the State and government of Israel abroad. The youths working for them are scattered everywhere across the world. They are predominantly students and are very active on social media. We call them social media influencers.
While you’re still telling your PRO to form a publicity committee and generate funds in order to execute their programmes, the government of Israel already paid the students heavily to redeem its battered image.
That’s why the media will not tell you Israel is killing innocent Palestinian children. They will tell you Israel is killing terrorists.
This video you are about to watch HERE shows how the Zionist-Israeli government pays students to disseminate positive propaganda about it.
The Hasbara are also paid to tackle anybody spreading what they call “anti-semitism” on social media. So, when you see a Muslim preaching against the Palestinian struggle or telling you Aqsa Day is Bid’ah (innovation) or there is nothing like Boycott, Divestment and Section (BDS), run for your dear life, if you find it difficult to educate him. He could be working for them DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY.
NOTE: I didn’t say he or she is working for the State of Israel. Don’t go and misquote me. I only said he could be working for them. That’s why DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY is in capital letters.
6) In Nigeria however, reverse is the case. When we were supposed to invest in the media, we called the television the “devil’s box”. We didn’t invest in the media. The few that did had their platforms killed through our nonchalant attitude. We are also nowhere to be found when it comes to social media presence despite window of opportunity that came with it. We engage in frivolities rather than seize the opportunity offered to us by the new media.
7. The person that originated or first tweeted about the abduction of the Chibok girls in Borno by Boko Haraam, using the hashtag #bringbackourgirls is a Muslim (by name Ibrahim Abdullahi, a lawyer), but it didn’t trend when he tweeted it until another person, an activist and social media influencer, Oby Ezekwesili tweeted it, and it immediately went viral. If the man had had the kind of followership Mrs. Ezekwesili has, his tweet would have gone viral, but he didn’t.
Hence, it becomes pertinent for Muslims to develop icons on Twitter and other social media platforms. But are we really doing that? Let’s take look at the media usage of two prominent organisations in Nigeria.
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) is supposed to be an umbrella body for all Muslim organisations in Nigeria. It is the mouthpiece of all Nigerian Muslims.
Many Muslims erroneously believe that the group is only active during Ramadan. But this is not true. I can tell you authoritatively that NSCIA is trying. It has been championing the Firdaus Amasa’s Hijab case. Its rejoinder to CAN over the Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes is the best I have read in recent times.
But the problem, as I identified in one of my articles: “Ramadan: Between Moon Sighting Controversies and Youth Zealousness” published in Vanguards newspaper of May, 2017, is the wide communication gap between the organisation and the Muslim community.
The group’s Facebook page, with about 31, 000 followers and its Twitter handle with just 1, 840 followers are not active. The last time the admins twitted or posted was January 30, 2018. What’s today’s date?
The blessed month of Ramadan is around the corner. What is the plan for effective communication between the NSCIA and the generality of Nigerian Muslims?
B) When the late Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Garuba Akinola died, it was difficult to get his full citation. There was no dedicated story or interview of him. There were even misleading reports about his death, and there was no official press release from the family. Also, a whole Lagos Central Mosque has no official website. Very embarrassing!
I wrote an article in my column, titled: “Imam Akinola’s Demise and The Burden of Legacy” in Daily Independent of October, 2017 where I suggested the way forward.
ALHAMDULILLAH, I am aware the new Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Sulaimon Abu has already set up a Media Support Team to look into the matter.
On this note, I must commend MSSN (my constituency), TMC, Al-Mu’minnat, NASFAT, FOMWAN and other media-friendly Muslim organisations in Nigeria. But we still have a lot to do.
What we need is a public relations committee, not a publicity committee. There is a difference between the two. The publicity committee is one of the organs of the public relations committee. The other organs should take care of:
– Appearance on Radio or TV discussions
– Establishment of TV and Radio stations, as well as newspapers
– Social media committee: twitter, IG, Facebook etc
– Making official press releases addressing national issues as they affect Islam and Muslims
– Social media engagements on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Instagram
– Embarking on media tours
– Research: Buy newspapers that report your events and other related issues (for instance, issues affecting women). Then do what we call newspaper cutting and filing in an alphabetical order. My company, Rawshield-PR Media does that very well, even though, Obe to dun, Owo lopa.
Rasheed Abubakar is a journalist and the author of “Hijab and the Nigerian Press”. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org |twitter @rawshieldpr
– Abubakar, Rasheed (2015) ed. Muslims and the Threats of the Media, Lagos, Salsabil Associates
– Abubakar, Rasheed, Ramadan: Between Moonsighting controversies and youth zealousness VANGUARDNGR.COM, May, 2017.
– Abubakar, Rasheed, Imam Akinola’s Demise and The Burden of Legacy, INDEPENDENT.NG, October, 2017
– Ige, Bola (2003): Public Relations: Multi-Disciplinary Calling, Osun, Voice Publications
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