Ibrahim Khan from educational charity 1st Ethical asks if Muslims are stuck in a victim mentality and recommends how they can get out of it.
These past few weeks Muslims have got very, very angry. We had outrage expressed at the lack of coverage of the Chapel Hills shootings; the hashtag #notinmyname trended every time ISIS committed some new act of barbarism; and the CharlieHebdo coverage was decried as fueling Islamophobia.
This increased volume from our community has led to a new charge being levelled at Muslims: You complain too much.
And you know what? There’s some truth to that statement. My entire social media feed is flooded with outrage, complaint, and victimhood. All it seems we talk about is how oppressed and misrepresented we are.
Even as a fellow Muslim I sometimes feel like we’re complaining too much, so what must it look like to those outside our community then?
Well, they will tell us: “Shouldn’t you be doing something positive rather than venting your frustrations reactively every time something happens which affects Muslims? Shouldn’t you actually be helping your community so that you leave a lasting impact on the hearts of your neighbours, rather than annoying them by incessant complaint?
And what do you think that complaining and posting on Facebook and Twitter actually achieve other than letting you get it off your chests?”
Missing the point
But you know the biggest point this person misses?
It’s that Muslims all over this country are already quietly doing positive, charitable, educational, and trend-setting projects in their communities.
From the Preston Mosques that raised nearly 40k for their local cancer hospital, the Muslim Girls School that has broken into the top 100 schools nationwide after just running for three years, to the Blackburn Darul Uloom, feeding the residents of a Salvation Army homeless shelter.
Amazing community work is being done up and down this country.
So mosques are not all insular and backward, as community secretary Eric Pickles’ recent letter implied. Muslim schools are not failing and radicalizing, as the Trojan Horse fiasco suggested. Darul Ulooms are not churning out future extremists as the right-wing papers like to allege.
But these stories are not covered because they don’t fit the narrative, and because it’ll confuse a readership that has become programmed to think “terrorist” when they read “Muslim”.
It’s our fault
But there’s a bigger reason why these stories are never covered: They’re never told in the first place – and that’s our fault.
We must realise that “the media” is not a large monolithic robot army controlled by a master Islamophobic puppeteer. In reality it’s mainly manned by low-paid journalists hungry for stories and looking to report truthfully on events.
But they can’t report on things they never hear about.
As a Project Coordinator at Ist Ethical, I work with Muslim institutions all over the country, and I get to hear the Muslim success stories first hand. I know Muslims are far more active, integrated, and confident participants in society than the mainstream media coverage would suggest.
Just for starters, research conducted by Gallup indicates that 77% of Muslims strongly identity with Britain while only 50% of the wider population do, and a survey carried out by ICM found that Muslims are the most charitable faith group within the UK.
However, whilst our impact on the ground is inspiring, as a collective, our contribution to the mainstream media narrative is paltry – and that’s something we can only blame ourselves for.
But that is also something we can do something to rectify.
1st Ethical have launched the Medi2a Hub as a one-stop online platform where the public can read about and share the good news stories taking place within Muslim institutes, whether this is visits to care homes, food drives held for the homeless or litter picking projects carried out in local streets.
If your Muslim faith school has achieved outstanding results or your mosque has done something exceptional, or your charity has passed a milestone, you need to use the Medi2a Hub to share your good practise with the rest of the world.
By doing so you will contribute to lessening the sting of Islamophobia that currently pervades mainstream discourse.
To add to this positive chorus of authentic Muslim voices:
1. Visit the Medi2a Hub