▪︎ Says Islam is a misunderstood religion
▪︎ Warns Nigerians against importation of fatwa
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Islam Channel, a United Kingdom based English language, Islamic-focused satellite television channel, Muhammad Ali Harrath has said having control over the media, proper education, adherence to the true teachings of Islam and the contributions of Muslims to civilisation are tools towards fighting Islamophobia.
Harrath made the disclosure during his keynote address on the topic: ‘Islamophobia and the challenges of Muslims as global citizens’, at a 2-day Convention of the Guild of Muslim Professionals (GMP)/Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Nigeria with the theme The World by 2050: How Ready Are We?.
Speaking before a group of Muslim Professionals from different fields of human endeavour who thronged the Academy Guest House and Events Hall, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, the Tunisia-born activist exposed the root cause of Islamophobia and dissected the challenges of Muslims in an Islamophobic world.
Islam as a misunderstood religion
The Muslim media entrepreneur while explaining Islamophobia said that Islam is the most misunderstood religion and it was borne out of prejudice and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims which has been deeply rooted before the rise of pseudo-Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda, DAESH and the Nigeria’s Boko Haram.
“This is evident in the sameness of accusations, attacks and hostile approaches from the past till now, so much so that newspapers published as far back as 1881 (before the rise of these terrorist groups) could as well have been written today,” he added.
Watch Harrath during questions and answers segment: [embedyt] https://youtu.be/nyuR4pmmKso [/embedyt]
According to him, “Islam is the most misunderstood and misrepresented religion. For every single instance a Muslim or Islam is portrayed with a positive adjective, there is an equivalent twenty more bad adjectives intentionally ascribed to him. Intentional omission of the contribution of Islamic civilization to world development.
“Tales of Roman and Ottoman Empires are heralded but the tale of the period between it, which is the Islamic civilization, where major feats including advancement in physics, science, technology, maths and medicine were achieved are maligned.
The Two levels of Islamophobia explained
In the presentation monitored by Muslim News, Harrath disclosed the two levels of Islamophobia, namely, indigenous and state levels.
He said, “An example of indigenous level is the West Pakistani Chinese who are being maligned and deprived because of wanting to have their own identity which is Islam or the Indian Muslims who cannot claim citizenship in their own country.
“For the state level, Some Muslim countries are Islamophobes in a way too; an example of which is Turkey where at a time, calling the adhan (Muslims call to prayer), was done in Turkish language instead of Arabic (before it was later changed to Arabic by the then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes in 1950, after Atatürk’s death). Another is Albania, a mostly Muslim-populated country being the first to declare atheism and converting their mosques into something else,” he added.
Media as a tool to promoting Islamophobia
The media boss while accusing the media of imbalance and inequality, held that it is the major tool used for promoting modern Islamophobia.
In his words, “Islamophobia always begin with the media; and negative reports are tools to being adopted. There is a value chain of propagating Islamophobia and it always begin with the media.
“Media sets up the scene which leads to attacks on mosques; then progresses to verbal abuse, then physical attacks, then formal announcements e.g. banning of hijab in public spaces in Belgium, banning minarets in Switzerland and so on.
“The media depicts Muslim victims as the villains by labelling them as terrorists and the villains as the victims. e.g. Burmese called terrorists for seeking equality, Palestinians called terrorists and uncivilized because of wanting to fight for their lands. Non-Muslim soldiers on Muslim soils not seen as threat and so on”.
Warns Nigerians against importation of fatawa (religious verdicts)
Harrath warned muslims in Nigeria against what he termed importation of fatawa (religious verdicts) from foreign lands, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the propagation of Islam in Africa’s most populous nation.
He posited that religious verdicts are issued by the scholars based on the countries’ specific realities, stressing that rather than relying on them, Nigerians should begin to address their own realities.
“Importation of fatwa can be prevented by mentoring home grown scholars who would put the peculiarity of the country including its culture into consideration when passing judgments to avoid dichotomy,” he added.
He therefore recommended that Muslims should adhere strictly to the true teachings of their religion and teach their history to people while paying the needed and adequate attention to the media.
“Adherence to the true teachings of Islam. Representation of Islam in the best way possible. People don’t read the Qur’an or Hadith, they read us. So we should always try to represent Islam in good light and never fail our faith. Only RasuluLlah, peace be upon him, is the one worthy of emulation and no scholar or mu’alim”.
He also suggested teaching people about the history of the Islamic faith and the contributions of Islam and Muslims to civilization.
“Teach children about the contribution of Islam to world civilization. The West doesn’t talk about the transition from the dark ages to the renaissance period. That transition period were periods when Muslims thrived and built civilizations, which the upcoming generation must not be kept in the dark on this.
“We need to have a control over the media in order to change the narratives. We need to finance the media. For instance, In the past, 97% of the Americans rejected the Jews but when the Jews dominated the media and used it to their benefit, today, the American population support the Jewish community.
“We need to also understand the true message of Islam and preach it to people in the language they understand.
“To have a voice, we need funds and education. The power of entrepreneurship as a means to wealth creation cannot be overemphasized. The future is not for employees but for those who create wealth. And as far as education is concerned, even the first message of Allah to an illiterate messenger was “Read!” This is an indication of the importance of education in individual and nation development. Collaborate by putting minds and resources together with good intentions,” he added.
– By Rasheed Abubakar | Twitter: @rawshieldpr