I haven’t been regular in my blogging these days or my radio show for that matter, the Obama Administration’s Stimulus hasn’t caught up with me yet, the recession has hit home, etc. etc. yadda, yadda, yadda 🙂 During my time of reflection, I decided to share my thoughts concerning the creation of this blog several years ago and Muslim blogs in general.
The creation of this blog is directly rooted to my conversion to Islam. I have told this story 100’s of times and will not go into specifics, but what’s important about my conversion is that it came about as a direct result of the misinformation I had been given about Islam and Muslims. After the attacks on 9/11, I sought out a Qur’an with the sole intention of validating the prejudices and misinformation that was definitely going around at that time. As I continued to read the text and subsequently study Islam, it became obvious to me that Islam was not what the propagandists claimed it to be.
After my “controversial” conversion to Islam and as I grew in more knowledge of my new faith, it became increasingly clear to me that Muslims had to speak out. What I felt then, what I experienced later, and what the polls even show now, is that the more people know about Islam and the more actual Muslims they know, the less likely they are to buy into anti-Muslim/Islam sentiments. What this means is that Muslims have to be out there, we have to be on the forefront of the information exchange regarding our faith and who we are.
So I sought out to share my views, opinions, and random thoughts never claiming to be a scholar and never claiming that I’m the go to source for all things Islam. I believed then and I still do now that it’s very important for Muslims to show others, that we are no different than they are. We have to show them that we have the same aspirations, desires, and goals as everyone else. Our religion is not a point of contention or division but the guide and backbone of our spiritual outlook much like those of other faiths. In the war of ideas and in the battle of civility as it relates to anti-Muslim/Islam sentiment, Muslims could win many battles and ultimately the war, if we just opened the door and shared our views. When people meet Muslims, they tend to find out that we are just as ordinary and boring as they are. There is nothing hiding behind door #3, we aren’t hiding under their beds trying to get them, and contrary to popular belief, we have no interest in where they worship or how or what they believe.
What never ceases to amaze me about Muslims I have had this conversation with is that many seem to believe that it is not important for us to blog or enter other social media venues and outlets. To these Muslims I humbly ask, why do you think your harassed for your name or your dress? Misinformation, especially the venom hurled at Muslims and Islam juxtaposed with images of terrorists and their wicked deeds, fuels the propaganda that seeks to make us out to be the despicable “other”. This leads to an attitude that devalues the humanity of Muslims and makes it much easier to disrespect, destroy, and slaughter us wholesale. If your no longer valued as an equal, than your easily disregarded and cast aside. I realized early on that as a black American named Robert, that I could walk around all day without a second glance because I don’t “look like a Muslim”. But what about my wife who wears hijab? What about my sons with their Arabic names? How will and how are they viewed and treated based on the misinformation and subsequent ignorance of others? If we did nothing to counter these ideas, we allow ourselves to be victims. I for one will not allow my family, friends, or myself to be the victim of ignorance rooted in the false perceptions spread because of the actions of others who I don’t even know, especially when I have the ability to do something about it. How many Muslim women, men, and children have been harassed because of their names, dress, etc. How many Mosques have been vandalized? Silence is not the answer.
We have to be vigilant, but we should not be so full of zeal that we allow ourselves to commit actions or say things just as vile as the ignorant. We have to be better than them. Over the years I have lightened up, but there was a time when every errant comment, every insult, etc. would set me off in a blogging frenzy or screaming on the radio, but now it’s just comical. I have even had people insinuate about me like I’m some sort of 5th column, not even realizing that I’m more likely to be playing my Xbox360 or reading a vampire novel, than I would be finding a way to disrupt others “way of life”. The challenge that we Muslims face is how do we best communicate these realities to a world that has drank the anti-Muslim/Islam Kool-aid? My answer is to this question is the Muslim blog.
Muslim blogs like blogs in general provide a means to communicate to a broad audience the reality of our lives. We just have to put it all out there. Blogs are not the end all, but they are a start. Personally, I believe Muslims just need a new PR guy, because the current one needs to be tarred and feathered. It doesn’t take much to blog, just a willingness to share your thoughts. Over the years, I have done as much and will continue to do so as long as I have something to say, and unfortunately for those of you who continually stumble upon this blog, I always have something to say.
Thanks for reading,