Today marks one year since a far-right terrorist opened fire on dozens of worshipers inside a packed mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. On this day last year, more than fifty innocent people lost their lives…all because this gunman was brainwashed by anti-Islam propaganda.
However, considering that anti-Islam propaganda was the reason the gunman even considered such an abominable action, who is really at fault? Most people might say the gunman made the choice, and he is responsible his own actions. That’s true, but the full answer is actually not so simple.
Firstly, part of the problem is the anti-Islam propaganda being spread worldwide. There is so much misinformation about Islam especially on the Internet that is leading people to misguidance and to confusion about the truth teachings of Islam. This attack was likely the first time the gunman ever went into a mosque. This is because he considered Muslims to be the enemy. If all this misinformation wasn’t being circulated so widely, he probably wouldn’t have even considered this.
Additionally, it’s important to consider WHY this misinformation is so widely circulated. That’s partly because of us as Muslims. Because so many Muslims have been cowering in fear and not speaking out more actively to spread the truth, it leaves a void that naturally is only filled by falsehood.
Some Muslims have been actively speaking out but usually these are mostly just prominent individuals who are affiliated with certain activist groups. That’s not enough. We need ordinary Muslims to speak up too. Not just the ones who speak for a living.
Don’t worry about being unqualified. No one is expecting us to give fatwas on Islamic teachings. And we shouldn’t. What we DO need to do, however, is to speak about Islamic teachings to the masses that we do know to be true. If you don’t know the answer, then just say “I don’t know.” When your coworkers ask you about Islam, then tell them! Don’t be afraid to do so.
If you listen to the radio and hear a guest speaker on the show attacking Islam, then call into the radio station and tell them straight up that they’re not speaking the truth about Islam. Then give them the truth. Or if you see a book in the local library or bookstore that attacks Islam or spreads misinformation about it, then talk to the management about taking it off the shelves. Write for a local news column. Submit editorial pieces to news sites. Do what you can to clear up the misinformation!
DO NOT ASSUME SOMEONE ELSE WILL DO IT INSTEAD! TAKE THE INITIATIVE!
Remember it’s not the responsibility of the non-Muslims to speak about Islam in a positive way. It’s our responsibility as Muslims to do that. And the best way to do that? Learn about our religion as Muslims! Read the Qur’an and reflect on it. Study the hadiths. Read up on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and God’s blessings be upon him, and about the lives of his companions, may God be pleased with them.
Once we are equipped with authentic knowledge, we will be able tackle any questions that come our way, if God wills. So learn about what Islam teaches and use that knowledge to practice your Islam and to tackle the misinformation about Islam that is so widely available. Not only will you be contributing to the spread of the truth and the vanishing of falsehood, but you may even save many lives by preventing the spread of false propaganda that might otherwise lead to another massacre.