By Sajid Iqbal
So what kind of a Muslim are you? A very strict one, an 'OK' one, a part-time Muslim or do you fit in the 'sorry mate I don't do religion' category? Do you wear the long robe or Armani jeans? Do you listen to the Quran or Bollywood tracks? Do you drink coke or smoke it?
No matter if you're a wicked Muslim or a gangsta Muslim- if you look like a Muslim, or if you have a Muslim name- after the events of 7/7 EVERY Muslim is under the spotlight. A day doesn't go by without Muslims and Islam being discussed in the media.
“He's a Muslim, so he could be a future terrorist! He goes to the mosque everyday; why- what does he do there? Are Muslims true Brits? Muslims are trying to overtake this country! What do Muslim really believe? Muslims aren't doing enough to wipe out extremism. Islam is a dangerous religion...”
After the London Bombing Muslims are looked in a different way in Britain. Some see us and get nervous, some talk to us but wanna keep a distance, some wanna simply blank us, some will always wanna question everything we do, some will look at us suspiciously and some will simply hate us- why? Because we are Muslims and so were the London terrorists. We follow Islam and so did the terrorists! Islam and Muslims are on the spotlight in this country as never ever before.
Do most non-Muslims in the UK hate us? No, because they don't even know us. They don't really know what we believe and why? They don't understand us. They're confused and even a bit scared. And why is that? Simple...it's because we haven't bothered to tell them who we are, what we believe and what Islam stands for. We haven't educated them about our way of life? We haven't answered their misconceptions. Our examples and behaviour hasn't been exactly what it should be, now has it?
Now answer these simple questions:
When was the last time you invited a non Muslim to your house? When was the last time you tried to explain to a non Muslim about your beliefs and lifestyle? When was the last time you went out of your way to help a non Muslim? When was the last time you gave a non-Muslim an Islamic leaflet, magazine or even the Quran? When was the last time you invited a non Muslim to your mosque or an Islamic event? I hope some of you will say 'I have', but sadly it's not the majority. So what do you expect from the non Muslims in this country if they don't understand us or think that we're a bit weird.
People - its time to wake up. Times have changed. The time has come when we have to become the WALKING, TALKING ADVERT FOR ISLAM. Because we need to take advantage of being in the spotlight. We have for once, a non-Muslim audience, who are listening so we have to take advantage in a positive way.
We have to become role models at school, college, uni, at work and everywhere we go. We have to set an example to others. We need to be so cool that people can trust us, chill with us, speak to us, ask us questions and feel comfortable with us. We need to invite non Muslims to our house for a cup of tea. We need to make sure they know we're normal people, we're peaceful people, we totally hate violence and terrorism, we are not fanatics, we are not intolerant, we are successful, we are trustworthy and we're a good laugh. Have a discussion- let them ask you everything and anything.
So when the next time the media says Muslims are terrorists, fanatics, backward and intolerant most people in the country can say 'that's rubbish, I know so many Muslims and they're really cool people.'
The message is simple: take Islam a bit more seriously. Learn the basics, read up on it, ask the scholars, practice your Islam, adopt good manners and behaviours. Only then will you be the walking , talking advert for Islam.
I will leave you with a few incidents from the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on how he treated and interacted with the non Muslims:
1. Once a group of Christian priests were in Medina. They needed a place to stay so they went to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He said you can stay at my house. He cooked them dinner and made them welcome. Soon it was the time for the Christians to pray, the Prophet (pbuh) took them to the Mosque of the Prophet and said you can do your worship here.
2. Once a Bedouin went to the mosque. He accidentally urinated in the mosque! The companions of the Prophet (pbuh) became very angry and started to shout at the man. The Prophet (pbuh) said don't shout at him, it's not his fault, he didn't do it on purpose. He got a bucket of water and a cloth and washed away the mess. The Bedouin was amazed how the Prophet(pbuh) treated him with such compassion.
3. An old lady who was worried about a man who claimed to be a new and final Prophet; a man who wanted to get rid of her idols and religion, decided to leave her home. She was offered help by a man who saw her struggling with her baggage, unbeknown to her the man was Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As he walked with her she threw insults at this "Prophet" cursing his life and message. When she reached her destination she turned to the man and thanked him for his assistance and warned him to stay away from this “Prophet”. "What is your name young man"? she asked. “Muhammad” was the reply. “I am that Prophet you spoke of”. The lady was shocked and surprised (and probably felt gutted!).
Despite being insulted the prophet (pbuh) remained patient and polite. Later on the old lady, so impressed by the character of the Prophet (pbuh) decided to embrace Islam.
The above examples tell us how to treat people of other religions, to be tolerant and understanding, to help non Muslims at times of need, to be kind and caring to non Muslims, to be a role model to everyone around us, to be patient and polite, to earn peoples respect and trust and to be a walking, talking advert for Islam. As a result you automatically present a good image of Islam.
So people, are you ready to be a walking, talking advert for Islam?