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Shouldn’t We Market a Positive Image of Muslims?

Questioner

Yusuf

Reply Date

Sep 03, 2017

Question

Asalaamu alaykum. I really don't mean to offend anyone, but I feel like too often some writers here and on other sites are presenting the Muslim community in a negative light. It seems like, to me, this is bad for Islam's image and it may, authu billah, keep people from coming to Islam. Yeah, there are bad people, but even if we have to cover their sins to present a good image, we should. Shouldn't we do the best we can to present Islam in a good light, and the Muslim community as an extension?

Consultant

Answer


dawah positive

Asalaamu alaykum, brother.

Thank you for sending your question to Ask About Islam.

I am not offended in the least by your question, and it’s a popular one, actually.

Some people feel that we, as Muslims, have a responsibility to present the Muslim community as a very happy, very unified group of people who never squabble or disagree.

I know this is the image which was presented to me when I was considering Islam before I converted.

The key lies in keeping a clear distinction in one’s mind between Islam and what Muslims do.

Please read this piece I wrote for islamwich.com wherein I answer this question more fully:


[…]

We’ve been selling Islam, wrapped in the poor packaging of the Muslim community, like a hot commodity. Come one, come all! Save yourselves!

But those tactics are hardly helpful, and they are deeply deceptive.

Sure, Islam IS perfect, and there is no denying that. But Muslims are people.

Muslims are PEOPLE. Muslims are weak, fallible human beings who, on our very best days, fall short of the beautiful ideals of this religion.

YES, there are incredibly good Muslims. YES, there are very kind and selfless Muslims. YES, there are brave and active Muslims, willing to put their comfort and even their lives on the line for others.

But we are people.

There are also very, very, very bad people who call themselves Muslims, and you won’t be able to avoid them completely if you join this faith community.

When we market Islam as a religion of perfect people, we are deceiving the public, and they are right to suspect us.

Hiding the Sins of Our Brothers?

“But sister! How can we expose the sins of our brothers and give Islam a bad image!”, you may be shouting at the screen.

Easy: present ISLAM as the perfect, comprehensive way of life that it is, and don’t act like what Muslims do is a reflection of that.

No one is saying that Christianity is evil just because Joel Osteen refuses to open up his mega-church for flood survivors. No one is saying that just because the alt-right claims to be Christian, this makes Christianity bad, bad, bad.

No, people are able to distinguish between a good apple and a bad one. And we are not doing the world a favor when we don’t help them distinguish between Islam and a good Muslim and Islam and a bad Muslim.

We do new converts a great disservice when we don’t prepare them to look out for the wolves in sheeps’ clothing hiding in our communities.

GOD is in Charge of Marketing

But, I have wonderful news for you, my dear Muslim family: making people embrace Islam by sugar-coating ourselves beyond recognition is way beyond our pay grade.

God is the CEO of this game, and He is the one who changes hearts.

Allah says,

“And those who disbelieved say, “Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?” Say, [O Muhammad], “Indeed, Allah leaves astray whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]…” (Quran 13:27)

Also:

[Even] if you should strive for their guidance, [O Muhammad], indeed, Allah does not guide those He sends astray, and they will have no helpers. (Quran 16:37)

If the best Muslim ever wasn’t able to convince his beloved uncle to embrace Islam, accept that you could do your level best, and you may still never impact a single life for God’s sake.

And on the flip side, you could be the worst Muslim ever, and God would still call people to Islam, maybe even using you!

This ummah and the salvation of the world’s souls does not fall on our shoulders. We answer only for ourselves.

If anyone had cause to worry about guiding souls to Islam, it was Prophet Muhammad, and even he was comforted by God:

“Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.” [Quran 28:56]

We are just workers on His team who should be taking our orders from Him, and following the example of our team leader, Prophet Muhammad.

At the end of the day, it’s God who is in charge of the balanced books, not us.

Invest in Allah, not Muslims

And so I say: If you are thinking of embracing Islam because you know a few really nice Muslim people, think again.

This religion will cost you something, and it should. But do NOT anger your family and risk your job, livelihood, and friends in order to join our community.

We will absolutely let you down. We are fallible human beings, and we are not worth all that.

But, if you want to find true peace, true meaning, real purpose, and fill that void in your heart that no person, no group, no faith community can ever fill, I invite you to learn about my beautiful religion.

My God is your God and He wants YOU.

THAT is what I am selling.


I hope this answers your question. Please, keep in contact and we’re happy to answer any questions, if possible.

Salaam


(This piece was adapted for AboutIslam with permission from islamwich.com)

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About Kaighla Um Dayo

Kaighla Um Dayo is one of the authors of "The New Muslim's Field Guide", expected to be published in Feb. 2018. She is also a former Ask About Islam editor. She is also a regular contributor at islamwich.com, where she ruminates on life as a Muslim American. Her favorite things are meditation, painting, drinking tea, and being outside in nature.

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