By Sarvat N. Hanif, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, February 03, 2014
Since the beginning of the year, the country has been shaken by suicide attacks and bomb blasts. In the almost dozen such attacks at least 94 people, including cops and soldiers, lost their lives. These attacks are nothing but grave crimes against humanity and their perpetrators should be held accountable.
Islam never sanctions such acts of violence and terrorizing innocent people. In fact, the horrible crime of attacking innocents, Muslims or non-Muslims, anywhere in the world, is not justified in Islam and its perpetrators should be brought to justice.
These attacks are totally alien to the teachings of Islam, its general spirit, and its sublime objectives. Islam protects people’s lives, properties, and honor. Attacking even a single human is regarded by Islam as grave and heinous as killing all innocent people of the world.
The Qur’an states: “Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind” (Al-Ma’idah: 32)
Indeed, it is so painful nowadays when some people use the name of religion to commit atrocities and shed the blood of people. In Islam, no one is allowed to transgress against any individual or community. The issues of Mastung, Karachi, Quetta and other cities is an unfortunate one if truly the act was perpetrated by any Muslim because the media is full of lies and deceptions.
Muslims need to be very careful when it comes to accepting guilt on terrorist attacks because a true Muslim would not attack innocent people. Those who attach terrorism to Islam should know that Muslims are peaceful people calling for peaceful co-existence with all world communities.
Jarir (RA) narrated, “The Prophet (PBUH) said to me during Hujjat-al-Wida’ (farewell hajj): ‘Let the people keep quiet and listen.’ Then he said (addressing the people), ‘Do not (become infidels) revert to disbelief after me by striking the necks (cutting the throats) of one another (killing each other).’” (Al-Bukhari)
Such attacks using the name of the religion are meant to defame the religion of Islam and the Muslims. Muslims are often portrayed in Western media as violent people.
A British study had accused the media and film industry of perpetuating Islamophobia and prejudice by projecting Muslims as violent, dangerous and threatening people. “The Western media and film industry are perpetuating Islamophobia and prejudice by demonizing Muslims and Arabs as violent, dangerous and threatening people.”
The report, entitled “The British media and Muslim representation: the ideology of demonization” released in 2007, states, “A broad spectrum including Hollywood action blockbusters, cartoons and British artistic movies are all means through which either crude or exaggerated stereotypes are reinforced or otherwise more subtle disdain of Islam is obtained.”
The study, conducted by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that the media was demonizing Muslims and Arabs and stoking prejudice and stereotypes. “The TV News analyzed showed a limited framework within which Muslims and Islam were discussed,” it said.
A survey conducted as part of the British report showed that the majority of respondents view Western media as “Islamophobic”. “All respondents unanimously pointed to media as being the chief instrument of Islamophobia,” said the report.
Another survey commissioned by the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, in November 2007, into one week’s news coverage showed that 91 percent of articles in national newspapers about Muslims were negative. The mayor said the findings were a “damning indictment” of the media and urged editors and program makers to review the way they portray Muslims.
Livingstone said the findings showed a “hostile and scaremongering attitude” towards Islam and likened the coverage to the way the left was attacked by national newspapers in the early 1980s. “The charge is that there are virtually no positive or balanced images of Islam being portrayed,” he said. “I think there is a demonization of Islam going on which damages community relations and creates alarm among Muslims.”
The report said that Muslims in Britain were sometimes depicted as a threat to traditional British values, and the coverage weakened government attempts to reduce extremism.
Ratification of the image of Islam in the West requires strong and persistent efforts from the Muslim themselves, both in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and America. Effective initiatives must be undertaken to educate non-Muslims, concerning correct Islamic concepts of peace and tolerance.
The vast majority of westerns are ignorant or misinformed about Muslims, Islam and Islamic countries. This is because of the biased approach of the mainstream media in United States and West.
The western experts with absence of diversified sources of information disseminate information in twisted and manipulated manner that is why the West is the place where Islam is a name of extremism, fanaticism and negativity.
Abdl al Moaty Bayoumy, Dean of Theology at Cairo Al Azhar University has suggested that Islamic scholars to spread out in Western world to teach non-Muslims about teaching of Islam and communicate that Islam is a religion of peace mercy and tolerance that forbids the killings of innocents people.
Reliable scholars should educate youth about true Islam and its teachings. Concerned governmental and non-governmental organizations should spare no efforts in spreading awareness about Islam’s noble values that maintain justice, security, and peace.
A report “The Image of Islam Presented by Western Media” written by groups of professors and intellectuals, suggests that research organization should launch specifically designed collaborative research projects for the elimination of existing distorted images of the both Muslim World and West.
A concrete effort should be made by Muslim countries to address their respective governance pitfalls. In this connection, the Muslim countries should pay attention to following areas like political participations, respect for human rights, reforms in economic, educational, public service sector as well as strategy elimination of corruption.
Muslim countries should initiate certain steps in order to address the political and socio economic root causes of militancy and terrorism. The Muslim world and Europe should work jointly to enhance efforts in addressing the root cause of international political unrest.
It is indispensable that media practitioner of the mainstream channel should adopt the universal canon of journalism. They should follow the golden principles of objectivity, fairness, and professional ethics in coverage of the issues involving the both sides. Any reporting which promotes racism, perpetuates prejudices and disintegrates the society must be avoided.
It is believed that the pen is mightier than sword. A spoken word, a published paragraph or televised images has a momentum of its own. Its damage takes time to repair. Journalists should use the power of pen for real presentation of the situation.