Ottawa: In recent times, Islam has been alleged with a lot of irrational accusations by anti-Islam fanatics who are more interested in smearing Islam and creating a climate of hatred by using biased comments. These views were shared by the participants of the Islam Awareness Week at the University of Ottawa campus in Canada.
The participants expressed dismay that much of people’s intellectual discourse is shaped by mainstream media and not through interactions and discussions.
They said that as a direct result of this, the public has been misled into perceiving that the Islamic faith is one which is hostile to peace and tolerance. One cannot blame the masses for this perception; rather the onus is upon believers of the Islamic faith to try to rectify this grave fallacy that is prevalent in society.
“Thus, the question becomes: What are Muslims doing to change this?” one of the participants said.
Islam Awareness Week (IAW) is an annual one that is put together by the Muslim Student Association in collaboration with over 150 dedicated volunteers.
The mandate and purpose behind IAW is to try to understand and then subsequently clarify misconceptions which people may have regarding the Islamic faith.
An incredibly important concept to realize is that the goal behind this endeavor is not to try to propagate the faith or to earn conversions. Rather, the sole objective is to allow people to have the requisite information and mindset required in order to come to a fair conclusion about one’s faith.
One of the greatest fears which many of the volunteers seemed to hold before the commencement of IAW was the reaction that seemingly random individuals would have. Some younger volunteers were afraid of rejection while others felt that they would be harassing people.
However, the reception of the general public to being approached was stupendous. Many people congratulated the admin for taking the initiative as well as for standing up for Islamic principles and beliefs.
Another interesting thing to note was the sincere honesty that was present in many of these discussions. The people who were approached did not hold back and questioned with vigor and passion.
There were many productive discussions revolving around terrorism, women’s rights as well as human rights in general.
This is incredibly positive because it indicates the creation of an environment where an individual feels comfortable enough to reveal their true perceptions and beliefs.
In his famous “Letter from Hajj”, Malcolm X remarked, “I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”
“As Muslims, we have been victimized for far too long in the media as well as in the political discourse of this nation. However, we further victimize ourselves by not engaging in action which reaches the masses,” Muslims volunteers said.
“We believe that our message is one of equity and social justice; concepts which have become anonymous in the modern world. We also firmly consider our message to be one which can bring the heart tranquility and peace if understood in the correct manner,” they added.
During the week of IAW, four individuals took the testimony of faith and entered into the Islamic family because someone was there to explain to them what Islam really was.
This is the power of IAW; it empowers an individual with the platform required to allow people to understand Islam properly.