Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series exploring the differences between Islam and IS. Read part I here.
The Problem with the Western Perspective
Western media has not done a good job representing the Muslim population in a balanced or even accurate manner.
The impact of that neglect has been very negative in terms of the treatment of Muslims and people from the Middle East as well as the knowledge level of that part of the world.
“Most people know nothing about Islam,” Ghafur said. “If they did, they would realize that IS are extremists to us [Muslims] as well. I don’t assume that all Christians are affiliated with the KKK, but many people here connect Islam to terrorism. People simply don’t know what it means to be Muslim.”
Padder said the worst part about the Western perspective of IS being shared in our media is that it only serves to affirm inaccurate stereotypes placed on Muslims — that they are a violent religious group.
Padder pointed out that while the violent perpetrators are Muslims, so are many of their victims, as well as much of their opposition.
“The West is seeing a story of Muslims promoting violence,” Padder said. “It is impossible for my focus to be on IS. My heart is wrapped up in the Muslims experiencing the violence — the victims, those being ruled by the sword. Muslims are also the victims of IS.”
Transitioning from Violence to Peace
Both Padder and Ghafur said they believe that IS will not survive under a rule founded on violence.
“With the global denouncement of IS by Muslims around the world, their success is simply unrealistic,” Padder said.
“You can’t fight for peace; peace means you stop fighting,” Ghafur said. “You can’t unite people by separating them, saying one way is right. It’s very much Orwellian: In 1984, it goes, ‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.’ It’s so backwards it’s laughable. It’s the same concept with IS. Hitler told Germany he was uniting the world too.”
But once this terrorist organization is put down, what is to prevent more from rising in its place? Terrorism seems to be the Hydra monster of the Middle East. Muslims need to be proactive in their battle against the stereotypes placed upon them and Westerners need to be better educated about the whole story going on in the Arab world.
“It is not enough for Muslims simply to disassociate from IS,” Padder said. “They have a responsibility to speak out as a faith to stop the terrorism.”
What story are you listening to? For every person involved in this conflict, there is a unique perspective and individual point of view. Don’t simply accept the story given to you by Western media, and don’t listen just to this part of the story told by Padder, Ghafur, Alshaikh and me.
If you want to understand something going on in the world, get the story from as many different angles as you can.
Follow Akela Newman on Twitter: @AkelaRenae