How Can I Tell Classmates Islam Is Not Terrorism?

11 March, 2019
Q Asslaamualikum Warahmatuallahi Wabarakaatuh Brother or Sister. I go to a school where there are only a few Muslims around. I live in Southern New Jersey. I have only a few Muslim friends and we usually meet each other at Mosque on Fridays. I sometimes feel that I should make the people in my school realize that I am a Muslim and that Islam is a welcoming religion. The students sometimes talk about Islam as if every Muslim is a terrorist. I was wondering if you could tell me some ways in which I can make these people recognize Islam and not affect anyone in a negative way. Thank you for your time and difficulty.

Answer

Short Answer:  If you hear your fellow students talk about Islam or Muslims, as you said you have in the past, let them know you are a Muslim, and that they can ask you any question they need. So, your main task in presenting Islam is just to be a point of contact for others to ask questions about Islam and to be an example for them.

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Assalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh Nafiz,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question

There may be a great scope for explaining Islam to your fellow students and teachers. The best way to proceed depends on what you could do.

If your school allows student clubs of some kind, where you can use the facilities of the school to have various social events or even formal presentations, you could try to take advantage of that.

However, for any formal activity, you need to gain the necessary permission from the school. 

A good way to approach this would be to ask the teachers what could be done and get a few of them to support you.

It should be emphasized to your teachers and the school administration that you are not trying to convert people. Explain to them that you only wish to debunk some of the myths about Islam. 

In presenting Islam, we don’t do as the Christians do and say to people “accept this or you will not be saved”. In Islam, we simply present the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him-PBUH), and then it is up to others to accept if they are convinced.

If they are not convinced, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not “saved”, it may simply mean that we have not explained things well enough. 

In many countries, the scope for presenting Islam can include taking part in the formal education program since teaching students something about the religion is part of the school’s curriculum. I am not sure if this is the case in the US. 

But in the UK, occasional assemblies at the start of the day can contain presentations about Islam.

To present Islam, you don’t have to be a great scholar, but what you must do is know your limits. When you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t try to guess. Say, “I don’t know”.

You can refer people here to AboutIslam.net. Or you can offer to go and ask someone who does know the answer and get back to the questioner. 

Whatever you do on the school property, if it is giving out literature, holding events of some kind, or whatever else; make sure that you explain your plans to a teacher or administrator first and get their approval. 

On an informal level, social events can be arranged by inviting friends to your home or out to a public space like a coffee shop. People really learn about Islam, and understand what it means to be a Muslim, through being in contact with good Muslims.

If you hear your fellow students talk about Islam or Muslims, as you said you have in the past, let them know you are a Muslim, and that they can ask you any question they need. So, your main task in presenting Islam is just to be a point of contact for others to ask questions about Islam and to be an example for them. 

The time we are living in puts extra responsibilities on us. We need to be extra clear in what we say to others. Unfortunately, much of the discussion about terrorism lacks clarity in a big way.

Show me a definition of terrorism, and I will show you all the terrorist acts done by governments who claim to be fighting terrorism. 

This is why “the war on terror” is a war without clear goals, and therefore, a war that cannot be won militarily. The only way to fight terrorism is to persuade people that there are better ways to achieve their aims. 

What are terrorists really? They are people with clear goals, and they see no other way to achieve these goals except through violence. This is not an excuse for their horrific actions, there is no place in Islam for this, but just a way to start seeing the problem as solvable.

Once there is a peaceful way of achieving their goals, then the extremism can be turned to something else: extreme patience and beneficial work. 

Make it clear to others that you, as Muslims, have goals, and that you have every intention of pursuing them peacefully without being violent in any way, as Islam instructs us. Then people will see that Islam is indeed a welcoming religion and that Muslims are not all “terrorists”.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How to Talk About Islam-1

How to Talk to About Islam-2

How to Perform Dawah?

Muslim Scholars Delink Islam, Terrorism

Why Do Westerners Convert to Islam?