The Image of Islam
By Aleena Zahid

Today, Islam has a very negative image in the world. We are seen as people who are hell-bent on causing destruction and violence, and this makes our Religion seem like one of hate and war.
Islam is a religion of love and peace, of honour and forgiveness, of friendship and faith. And we still have a horrible image. Now, this is the part where most people ask why. Why is our religion being projected the way it is?
The answer lies in the so called ‘extremists’ who give Islam a bad name. Technically they are not extremists because they are not Muslims. A Muslim is a person who follows the Qur’an. Nowhere is it written in the Qur’an to kill innocent people to win a war, or to fight for an unfounded reason. You are only to do Jihad if your religion is attacked in some way, and if it isn’t then it is unacceptable.
Even if you are attacked, you are supposed to retaliate against those who persecuted you and those people only. Bringing an innocent child into the mix is Haraam (forbidden). It is a criminal act both in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God. And, as this article is supposed to show you, it isn’t what Islam teaches its followers.
People in the world tend to believe what is portrayed by the media… and the media tends to portray celebrities; people who will definitely get readers attention. Media darlings, they’re called. The most famous Muslim people who represent Islam are ‘terrorists,’ and so these are the people that are portrayed by the media. Men like Osama Bin Laden, and Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (leader of Hezbollah) are the media darlings portraying Islam and giving it a bad reputation. Since this is what is portrayed by the media, it is also what the general public tends to believe.
The number one reason Muslims are persecuted is because people these days fear us. Humans tend to persecute those who are different from them or those who they are afraid of after all, so this is actually not an unexpected reaction. What the Muslim community of the world needs to do now is show the rest of the world that they can be religious as well as friendly. We are peaceful people who want these ‘terrorists’ to stop hurting people just as much as the rest of the world. That the way we are judged and portrayed is wrong in order to lessen the persecution and hate for Muslims so that the pain inflicted on them goes away.
The majority of us are not like the people whom the media portrays. We are good people who want peace in this world, and heaven in the hereafter. There is no reason we should be persecuted because of the religion we practice. Why is it that when Christianity is attacked (like by the Davinci Code) there is a huge uproar and lawsuits are filed and everything is out in the open; but when Islam is blatantly attacked, everything is covered up and made quiet.
What about our right to the freedom of speech? Don’t we deserve it? Should we be discriminated against because of the Religion we practice? It’s extremely pathetic to see the world so biased against a belief, but to have nothing being done about it. Our so called ‘freedom of speech’ rights are annihilated when we say something against the government. Instead of it sparking a controversy that can be talked about, it is covered up and buried so no one doubts those who silence us.
Muslims today are killed, raped, tortured, mutilated… anything to make sure we mean no harm… and the majority of the time we have nothing to do with bombings or any terrorist activities of the sort. I do not mean to say that it is just Muslims who go through this, I know many other people are discriminated against as well. I pray for our salvation and hope that everyone can come to an understanding. No one is telling the world to become Muslims. We just want the rights that everyone else has: the ability to be religious without being looked down upon and the ability to express our opinions on an issue without being called terrorists.
Is that really too much to ask for? I don’t think that it should be. It should be something that is given to us like most of the rest of the world. What about the kids? The innocent children who are blasted to pieces by bombs, and shot dead by guns. What about them? What did they do to deserve such fates? Nothing. They are pure souls whose only so called crimes were being Muslim and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are punished for other people’s crimes in war-torn countries, and there is nothing being done about it.
The situation of people today angers me. Not only the situation of Muslims, but of anyone and everyone who is hurt by the horrors of today’s world. I only hope that we all find salvation and that we can all one day exist in harmony.
And to answer my question, in today’s day and age, it seems like it really is too much to ask for.

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