Maria Akbar says that while we all get triggered and outraged when we see the Quran burned or the Prophet (pbuh) attacked, we unthinkingly ignore the constant, insidious mockery of Islam that we see on popular streaming services like Netflix.
Muslims all over the globe were enraged to say the least at seeing the Quran burned recently by a far-right extremist in Sweden and Denmark. A barbaric act of terrorism against Muslims, making a mockery of everything we stand for and believe in.
I would argue that this serves no other purpose except to infuriate and intimidate Muslims, but it does not take us by surprise since we have faced similar challenges in the past.
The Ummah has not remained silent on this issue. Videos and posts have been made across various social media platforms as well as it being reported on the mainstream news. Thankfully, Turkey was recently in talks with the Norwegian ambassador in Ankara which resulted in Norway cancelling its own permission for extremists to burn the Quran.
As a Muslim, words cannot really describe how I feel upon hearing about the Quran being burned, let alone seeing videos of it. I’d describe myself as a relatively calm person, however the rage I feel towards this is difficult to contain.
But I find comfort in the Quran itself, knowing that Allah, the Most High has made it His task to preserve the Quran. In one ayah, Allah SWT says: “They desire to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths but Allah will perfect His Light, though the disbelievers hate it.” (Surah Saff, verse 8).
From this I take that, regardless of what anyone says or does against Islam, Allah SWT will protect, raise and honour the Quran. I find solace in that.
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Subtle mockery of Islam
The burning of the Quran is visibly a hateful crime against Muslims and does not require much contemplation from any Muslim or non-Muslim to see how this is the case. Therefore, to stand firm against this and speak up against it is the obvious reaction.
But as Muslims, we do also need to be weary of the way in which a mockery is made of Islam in more subtle ways. It may be the case that we are aware of it, however the younger generation may not be, and therefore it is our responsibility to ensure that we safeguard them from this.
One notable example is through TV and film. Most of us tend to wind down at the end of the day by putting on something to watch, as it doesn’t require much thinking and is entertaining. The growth over recent years through various subscription services such as Prime TV, Netflix, Apple TV show just how many of us watch it. And the fact that the audience is so huge, gives an unparalleled opportunity for producers to push through agendas. You only need to spend a few minutes scrolling through Netflix to see this.
Despite airing series that have been popular amongst Muslim viewers such as “Ertugrul” and “The Nakba,” I would argue that most content on Netflix relating to Muslims is against Islam.
There is no other faith that is portrayed in Netflix programmes the way that Islam is. There are various docuseries such as “Terror in Mumbai” and “Terror at the Mall” which depict “Islamist” terror attacks, yet there is no other series of the kind in relation to any other faith. That is not to say that no other faith has performed terror attacks, but the only ones that Netflix has bothered to make a series out of are those that are instigated by those who wave the banner of Islam. Where is the balance?
What’s more troubling is the mockery that is made of Islamic values through series. The Islamic position in regard to the LGBTQ movement is now clear to everyone, especially after the uproar after recent events in the World Cup hosted by Qatar.
But in one series, which does not deserve to be named, a young woman who calls herself a Muslim is portrayed as wearing the physical headscarf, despite wearing indecent clothing otherwise and practising open homosexuality. She is questioned by others as to why she even bothers to wear the headscarf and she goes on to say that it is her personal interpretation of Islam. This is just one example of unapologetic mockery being made of Quranic teachings.
It is also the case that when Muslims are utilised, the most liberal of us are used to portray the faith which is of course an inaccurate depiction of our way of life. One such series utilised rebellious “Muslim” women to talk about how their strict upbringing prevented them from pursuing relationships with non-Muslim men.
These women mention things that are made to sound absurd to a non-Muslim audience, but are only really accepted by Muslims once we submit to Allah. It is therefore incorrect to only portray certain values that Muslims may have, as they may not make sense to the non-Muslim viewer. What’s more, they may not even make sense to a Muslim, but when a Muslim submits to Allah and accepts Tawhid we believe that Allah SWT decrees all matters through His infinite wisdom.
So overwhelmingly the agenda appears to be one sided, pushing out subliminary messages about Islam to viewers. These series are digested by viewers often without thinking and therefore have the potential to affect us subconsciously. So caution does need to be taken when viewing material or when allowing our children to view material.
We must be aware of the subtle anti-Islamic material that we digest, since the eyes are the window to the chamber that is the heart, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This will undoubtedly affect us, shaping our thoughts, values and ideas. It is important to raise awareness when we come across these situations as well.
The cost-of-living crisis may just be the perfect reason to stop our subscriptions, and thus support, for these streaming services that are damaging to Islam.