To some people, Muslims are habitually labelled as extremists, having many wives, killing innocent people, poor and uneducated due to what is being presented in various forms of media. The fast and broad power that it possesses greatly influences not only the audience’s awareness but also their behaviour. They instantly believe what they see on the internet, TV shows, news and other forms of media, without even confirming the legitimacy or truthfulness of those portrayals.
“Muslim diay ka? Kamusta ang giyera sa inyoa?”
“Muslim ka? Giunsa nimo pag abot diri? Gubot didto sa inyoa?”,
“Muslim ka? Nganong wala kay kalo katong ginasuot sa ubang mga muslim?”
“Mag Allahu Akbar pud ka while gadalag pusil?”
These were some of the first impressions that I got during freshman year and throughout my stay in college here in Silliman. Maybe these were jokes or not, but it’s still a serious problem that is growing in our country, I never thought people were that misinformed about Muslims in Mindanao or the people there. It was different back in my hometown Bongao, Tawi Tawi, where everyone is open-minded, and where Christians and Muslims are in religious dialogue. The barriers that surround us make us ignorant and insensitive to other people’s belief and practices.
The educational system has also played a major part in the perpetuation of these stereotyping practices. History classes often highlight Jihad or “holy war” that Muslims have fought in the past instead of the fact that majority of the population of the Philippines practiced Islam and was independent and sovereign until the invasion and colonization of Spain. And the fact that Jihad does not really mean holy war contributes to the misconception they have been feeding to the audience. The Arabic word “jihad” in a purely linguistic sense means struggling or striving
and fighting in the name of the religion. The arabic word for war is “al-harb”. In a religious sense, as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), “jihad” has many meanings. It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslims or believer, as well as working to inform people about the faith of Islam. If military jihad is required to protect the faith against others, it can be performed using anything from legal, diplomatic and economic to political means.
If there is no peaceful alternative, Islam also allows the use of force, but there are strict rules of engagement. Innocents – such as women, children, or invalids – must never be harmed, and any peaceful overtures from the enemy must be accepted. Military action is therefore only one means of jihad, and is very rare. To highlight this point, the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H.) told his followers returning from a military campaign: “This day we have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad,” which he said meant returning from armed battle to the peaceful battle for self-control and betterment.In case military action appears necessary, not everyone can declare jihad. The religious military campaign has to be declared by a proper authority, advised by scholars, who say the religion and people are under threat and violence is imperative to defend them. The concept of “just war” is very important. The concept of jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence. In most cases, Islamic splinter groups invoked jihad to fight against the established Islamic order. Scholars say this misuse of jihad contradicts Islam. One good example is the ISIS who is currently labelling their selves as Muslims even though they do not even exemplify what a true Muslim is. Because of these people many in the Muslim community are suffering on religious discrimination, many cases have been reported of mosques being burned down. We are now being labelled as killers by the international community, but before all the labelling and discrimination we should also realize that there are 2 billion Muslims in the world, if we are really killers we would have killed everyone within a week.
Am I right or am I wrong? You have the benefit of the doubt.
Let me end this with a quote from Sheik Ahmed Deedat “The biggest enemy of Islam is the ignorant Muslim, whose ignorance leads him to intolerance, whose actions destroy the true image of Islam, and when the people look at him they think that Islam is what he is.”