There were the Jews in 1930s Germany, then the Japanese in the West, and now it seems to be the Muslims’ turn. Each group was discriminated against by its own country and people. In each case the media spread filth about the group, and the oblivious public absorbed it with no afterthought. And after each discriminatory event, a cry arose that such appalling discrimination wouldn’t be allowed to take place again. And yet they did.
The spread of misinformation about Islam by non-Muslims has been rampant in the past few years, and every time, the statements’ ignorance is glaring to those who have facts about Islam and not merely opinions.
People spreading misinformation about Islam, and indeed anyone who enjoys defaming other religions, continuously make the error of equating a belief system with the actions of a country that claims to follow that belief.
Such ‘critics’ seem to forget that if we all did this, then Christianity would have no place in anyone’s life, since the Spanish Inquisition, auto-da-fes, and European colonization would have too badly defined Christianity.
Likewise, any U.N. declarations against Israel would be a mark against Judaism, and any ‘Muslim’ country’s misconduct should become a label of Islam.
Thinking this way is simply ignorant; no one is perfect, and consequently no country will ever embody any belief.
You should never forget: ‘Judge a man by his religion, and not the religion by the man.’ The two aren’t usually equal.
With that set aside, it should be said that those who visibly practice a religion often become the representatives of that religion. Don’t fall into that trap. Just as no country ever embodies a belief system, neither does any individual.
You should never dump any pity, anger or resentment you feel for a belief on a person that appears to be following it, especially if you’ve received your background about that religion from TV, a sloppy Web site, or a person who is not part of that belief system. Rather, go up to the person who follows the religion and ask them questions or contact the appropriate club on campus and ask them.
More likely than not, those people will be delighted to tell you what they really believe, and although they don’t embody their faith, they will at least give you a better understanding of it than you would have had otherwise. Basically, always judge the validity of your sources before you let those sources’ ideas become your own. Your mind is too valuable to throw around and have it absorb whatever idea is nicely packaged. You need to be picky and conscious of your choices.
We are all part of the public, and if we are all continuously aware of the ideas we choose to take up, where they came from and what they’re really trying to achieve, then no national discrimination will take place. When you understand Muslims, you will better enjoy living with them in the same community and country, as would be the case with Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindus and Buddhists.
It is always easy to dislike someone you are misinformed of, or know nothing about. It would also be easy to fear them or disagree with them, and in such a negative state, both sides are disadvantaged and the whole community is hurt.
So wake up and investigate your world. Remember, ‘Only the dead fish flow with the stream.’
Zainab Saadi is a first-year biology major.