Whenever you hear of an incident involving Muslims on the news, you get the typical array of responses from Muslims in the community and around the world. The issue facing our Ummah is not that we are silent about world events, but rather lies in the effectiveness of our comments and the perspective by which we view such events. Here are some common responses you will see:
The apologetic response: This group will immediately condemn the wrongdoing and apologize on behalf of all Muslims. They are sympathetic to the politicians and bigoted public figures who demand that Muslims must speak out against any wrongful act committed by a person of their faith and should implement “de-radicalization” programs. Some organizations will issue official apology letters and assure the public that Islam is a peaceful religion, and will agree to provide authorities with full disclosure and censorship of all Masjid programs. You will also see many actively take to the streets to protest against extremism.
The secular response: This group is not as apologetic and will come to the defence of Islam when we are faced with backlash, but they will use arguments that are secular in nature and do not really reference the cause of Islam. A common tactic they will use is the “double standard” argument. When Muslims are criticized for doing something, they will flip it around and say that non-Muslims are doing the same thing. Or they will point to similar examples of injustices against Muslims and how they are not portrayed or addressed in the same way. Another tactic they will use is that Islamophobic reactions will provoke terrorists to carry out more violent acts and make matters worse. While such arguments may be technically true, they are superficial in nature and do not help address the root misconceptions that people have about Islam. From a dawah point of view, such statements provide no value to the deen and do not fulfill the objective of inviting people to Islam.
The reactionary response: This group of people will respond with extreme emotion. They will engage in useless arguments (especially on YouTube), display anger and atrocious behaviour, and speak with very little understanding about Islam. Many times they will also speak carelessly and get themselves into trouble. While they think that they are showing strength and defending Islam, they are actually just driving people away from the deen and reinforcing misconceptions.
The Islamic response: There are few people who fall into this category. This group condemns what is wrong, but does not show weakness or make erroneous statements about the deen. They understand that Islam does not need to be revised and should not be singled out as a threat to society. Moreover, they will not limit their responses to examples or secular statements. They are confident about their deen and are not afraid to discuss the roots of issues from an Islamic standpoint, referring back to the Qur’an and Sunnah. They channel their efforts towards dawah and address issues with wisdom, depth, and good character. This is the type of response that will have the greatest impact and benefit the Ummah the most. Before uttering any words, we should internalize and implement the following statement of the Prophet (s.a.w.):
Sahl bin Sa’d (r.a.) reported: The Prophet (s.a.w.) said to Ali (r.a.), “By Allah, if a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)