Sad. Simply sad and devastating.
Brother Muhammad Ali gave us a much needed break from Islamophobes with positive news about Islam and Muslims.
Alas, it was short-lived.
Any time there is humanizing news about Muslims, terrorists help out Islamophobes by turning it around.
At this writing, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Afghan American, is accused of killing about 50 people in Orlando, Florida this morning. It is considered the worst mass shooting in American history.
Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the families of the deceased and the injured. May God help us all unite to defeat violence. No one must take law in their hands whether against Sikhs, Latinos, Blacks or LGBT.
As Muslims, we feel the pain of the families who have lost their loved ones. Collectively, we are experiencing the trauma of war, terror, and hate ourselves. At least 1.3 million Muslims have been killed and nine countries devastated by the ongoing War on Terror, creating the largest number of refugees in the world after World War II. Each mosque in America prays for that human loss.
We must, however, translate our pain into solidarity with neighbors against violence in all forms, whether it is gun violence at home, or the violence through the War on Terror abroad. We can only do this through civic engagement, coalition building, as well as speaking the truth about the cycle of war-terror-hate.
|TALKING POINTS & ACTION POINTS|
- Please offer extended prayers this evening before Iftar and at the end of Taraweeh for peace, justice, and consolation at this painful time.
- Ask Masjids, communities, sisters, and Muslim families to take extra security measures. Based on past experience, there will very likely be retaliatory violence. We would recommend extra police presence in Masjids and Islamic centers this week, especially in the evenings when worshippers will be attending Taraweeh.
- Muslim statements of condemnation must be posted on your website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Here is a SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE.
- Talk with Children: Our children are the number one victims of Islamophobia and extremism (seven percent are physically beaten up; bullying has increased by 660%, and about 30% no longer use a Muslim name.)
- Have a family shura this week to discuss our talking points in your words. Adopt the family Shura model to strengthen our families. School is off, Ramadan is in, and both provide an excellent opportunity for us to strengthen our family.
- Discuss what their names mean and why you named them as such.
- Discuss how Muhammad Ali fought for his beautiful name. And America first hated, but then accepted his name.
- Talk to children about terrorism.
- Engage Muslim Youth: Sound Vision has developed an alpha version of a Youth Engagement Manual for Masjids which you can request by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- It has been reported that the Orlando, Florida killer used to abuse his wife. Domestic violence, and violence against a loved one in general, is not only unacceptable, but it can lead to acts like today's. We must teach young men not only that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, condemned this behavior, but that it is absolutely contrary to Islam, which describes marriage as a relationship of "love and mercy" (Quran 30:21)
- Report acts of violence against yourself, your Masjid or Islamic center, to the police, and to CAIR
- Let's Keep America Moving Forward: In Europe, five countries don't allow Halal food, three countries have bans on Hijab, one country has banned the Quran, and another, minarets. In contrast, in America, we enjoy freedom of religion, our government files a lawsuit if a Muslim is discriminated against in employment or a mosque is not allowed to be built. Let us keep America moving forward. We are better than hate and prejudice. Join Muslim Democrats or Muslim Republicans if you prefer. But be an active citizen to make diversity as American as apple pie.
- Join the Peace Movement: If Imams and the Muslim community join anti-war and peace movements, young Muslims who might be attracted to extremists' violent ideologies will instead find a non-violent method of opposing war.
- The best way to love Muhammad Ali is to follow him: Be a first class Muslim and a first class American: He opposed war and racism by speaking out and campaigning against war, as well as joining the anti-war movement. He was so dedicated to it that he sacrificed his boxing title and risked going to prison, but he did not resort to violence. It was not easy. America hated it but eventually honored him with the highest award of this country.
- War and terror are connected as proven by U.S. Defense Department-funded research by Prof. Robert Pape. There were no suicide bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan until the War on Terror, as his data show.
- Extremism among Muslims: There are about 400 young American Muslims who have been investigated, tried, or sentenced regarding ISIS. Therefore, although Muslims are more peaceful than our neighbors, we must invest more in engaging Muslim youth. We must wonder if soft extremism is somehow connected with violence.
- What is happening in the Muslim world: Muslims must have a solid narrative explaining what is happening in the Muslim world. Here is my take on it: It is a struggle for freedom, justice and Islam which is being used and abused by extremists and Islamophobes. Please call Sound Vision at 1-800-432-4262 to receive free copies for your community.
Donate to Sound VisionOur community continues to face crises. Crisis management is a profession which is taught in Public Relations departments around the country. Sound Vision is developing a Strategic Communication Center to do the following:
- manage the crises which we face as Muslim Americans;
- speak up with a Muslim narrative against ISIS and Islamophobes
- enhance youth engagement;
- build bridges of understanding with our neighbors.
Please donate today for this effort.
May God keep us safe. May He keep our neighbors safe. May He keep our nation safe.
May He bless us with courage like Muhammad Ali to oppose war and terror in legitimate ways.
May He guide extremists like ISIS and Islamophobes to respect God's Creation as part of one human family.
Ramadan is to develop character (Taqwa). Let us resolve to become better Muslims, better neighbors, and better citizens.
Abdul Malik Mujahid
Sample press statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Islamic Center of Abcd
987 Townsend Court
Abcd, IL 60607
Islamic Center of Abcd condemns the Florida Nightclub Shooting
In the name of God the Merciful, the Mercigiving
On behalf of the Muslim community of <insert the name>, we would like to express our shock, sorrow, and condemnation of the murder of 50 people this morning in Orlando, Florida.
Like everyone else, we are searching for answers and trying to understand why and how this happened, and what caused it to reach this point.
Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the families of the deceased and the injured.
Especially during this month of Ramadan, a time of deep spirituality, compassion, self-control, and generosity, we are horrified by this action.
As proud Americans, we reiterate our commitment to peace, safety, and security of our nation, as well as our solidarity with fellow Americans.
- End -
MIM: Sound Vision published a piece on how Muslims should manipulate the media in order to get them to disseminate "feel good" stories about Islam during Ramadan.
By Taha Ghayyur
Ramadan & Media Relations: 18 Ways To Create Positive "Newsworthy" Stories
"Media is all anti-Muslim."
"We should boycott media because it's the source of Islamophobia."
"No one is interested in our stories in corporate media!"
While these sentiments and generalizations are common in the Muslim community, dwelling on them and propagating them doesn't help our cause.
Media bias and Islamomphobic rhetoric certainly exist. There is no denying of anti-Muslim agenda among some media outlets and journalists.
However, media personnel and journalists are humans like us. Engaging them positively with genuine human stories can turn things around.
Media in the US and Canada is constantly looking for original "newsworthy" stories of peace loving Muslims living their faith in North America.
A key reason why our stories don't get published or featured in the mainstream media is that we don't know how to create and pitch stories that are "newsworthy". Media is not interested in showcasing our theology or what morals our faith preaches! Nor does it care about covering an event or an occasion.
For media, the bottom line is ratings, which translate into dollars. The more original, human, and exciting your story, the higher your chance would be of getting the sound bites.
So, How Do We Create "Newsworthy" Stories?
As the public opinion about Islam and Muslims in the US and Canada plummets to record low, and Muslims witness a sharp increase in discrimination, Ramadan is a unique time to engage media.
Given the fact that Ramadan and Eid season is a good 4-5 week long "holiday season" for Muslims, it offers an excellent opportunity to portray Islam and Muslims in a positive light.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about the stories you conceive this Ramadan and Eid for productive media relations.
Your Story Should
Be more human than philosophical or preachy (Humanize Ramadan and Islam by featuring a story of a person, or family, or community)
Have a local connection (A local resident, business, Masjid, or community)
Be as unique and interesting as possible (First Ramadan of a convert, Iftar event at the City Hall, a celebrity visiting a Masjid, or a Ramadan food drive)
Show significant numbers that your story impacts (The number people in the neighborhood or city who are fasting, or the number of people participating at an event)
Be ideally set against the backdrop of hate, terrorism, and Islamophobia (How will this Ramadan story help create a positive image about Islam and Muslims? How will this help make America or Canada better?)
Consider ways to connect with a local cause or hot social issue in the city that community cares about (#BlackLivesMatter, homelessness, or elections)
Consider involving or inviting a VIP or a celebrity to increase credibility of the story (Mayor, radio show host, sports personality, CEO of local food bank, or a local interfaith leader)
Focus on cultural dimensions of Ramadan and Eid (Diversity, multiculturalism, food, family, or community spirit)
18 Ideas for a Potential "Newsworthy" Story
"First Ramadan in the Life of a Convert Muslim" (Invite media to cover the entire cycle from Suhoor to Taraweeh and contrast with his / her life before embracing Islam)
"A Day in the Life of a Young Muslim in Ramadan" (Show how Ramadan disciplines and humanizes young Muslims in contrast with usual portrayal of Muslim youth being extremists….etc.)
"Spirit of Giving" featuring a Muslim Entrepreneur (Showcase a generous donation by a Muslim business person to a social cause in Ramadan. Make it an annual tradition)
"Invite Your Neighbor to Iftar" at a Masjid or at someone's house.
"Ramadan Cuisine" series, featuring a different cultural Iftar every day / week
"Ramadan Food Drive" for a local food bank (Show Muslims collecting and delivering food)
"Iftar with Our Homeless Neighbors" (Organize the largest city soup kitchen at Iftar time)
"Stronger Family Campaign" in Ramadan (Do a media release and launch of the campaign, showcasing how Ramadan brings families together and strengthens these bonds)
"Fasting Muslims for #BlackLivesMatter" Rally (Peaceful demonstration in support for African Americans or Canadians)
"Multi-Masjid Open House" (Mass advertise in mainstream media a coordinated open house at several ‘public-friendly' professionally run mosques in your city, featuring brief engaging lectures, mosque tours, cultural food, and giveaways)
"Iftar or Eid Celebration" hosted by the Mayor, or Councillors, or a Congressperson / Member of Parliament
"Eid for All Celebration" (invite public and media to enjoy and celebrate Eid day with the community, starting with Eid prayer)
"Smile at Your Brother" Ramadan Campaign (Design flyers and posters with smiling Muslims promoting smiling and friendliness since it's Ramadan. Make this campaign go viral on social media)
"Live Simply, So Others Can Simply Live" Ramadan Campaign (Show how Muslims can live without food and water for 12-18 hours)
"Healthy Eating" Ramadan Campaign
"Green Ramadan" Campaign (Show how your local Masjid is making Iftars and Taraweeh environmentally friendly)
"Experience the Melodious Quran Day" (Invite best Qaris / reciters of the Quran in the city to share their melodious voice and the beautiful message of the Quran with media and public. Accompany the event with a Quran exhibit)
"Interfaith Fasting Day" (Engage Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other faith leaders and groups to celebrate the fasting tradition among all faiths. End with a community Iftar)
Creating and pitching a "newsworthy" Ramadan story requires significant planning and legwork, but it's all worth it.
Let the world see the beauty of your faith and culture. Let everyone experience it! What's there to hide?