Manner is the best way
Let us recall the example set by Prophet Muhammad SAW. In a famous incident, it was reported that his neighbour, a Jewish woman, tried to make his life miserable by scattering rubbish at his doorstep on a daily basis. One day, he noticed that garbage stopped appearing. He enquired about her absence, and learnt that she was ill. Instead of rejoicing at her misfortune, he visited her. Out of his gentleness and consideration to her well being, the lady accepted Islam.
Imagine if this were our reaction today, where we repel bad behaviour with kindness. Our tools need not be that of aggression, for our Islamic manner, if implemented properly, is the best shield we have to defend the honour of Islam.
Regardless of their belief system, Islam demands that non-Muslims are treated justly as any other human being. The Prophet (SAW) warned us:
“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)
A True Story
A few days after September 11, a man with a long beard, Arabic dress and turban, entered a mall in New York. This was during a time where the environment against Muslims and Islam was extremely hostile – Muslims were spat, shouted and cursed at. A middle aged man, in a three piece suit, held the door open for the Muslim in the most polite and respectful manner. The Muslim was surprised. He was a Muslim, so why was the other man so gracious to him? The non-Muslim man, almost in tears, and recalled that when his wife was expecting their third child, with two young children to take care of, he was called away by his company to be stationed abroad. He had to leave immediately, and it was a year before his assignment was completed and he was reunited with his family.
During this time, his wife delivered the baby. He was very concerned about his wife having to cope with such a difficult period by herself. It turned out that during his time away from home, their Muslim neighbours were constantly helping her out. They helped to take care of the children, mowed the lawn, cooked for her daily and even helped her with the housework every single day. The man cried, recalling the kindness of his neighbours, saying that he loved Muslims and had a high level of respect for them. Their Muslim neighbours had taken care of the family better than anyone else he knew.
If only every Muslim behaved this way. What kind of reaction would be get from the people? The Muslim man ran after him, and asked him: what about the media and the news? He replied that his Muslim neighbours had given him the real news about Islam, through their kindness. This overwrote what he saw on the media about Islam, and this was what he understood Islam to be. Muslims can burn all the bad press about Islam, not with fire, but with beautiful conduct, manner and generosity. If all of us did this, no one would ever believe any media or adverse reporting about Islam.
We can, person by person, family by family, community by community, rise to the occasion and elevate Islam through our conduct and behaviour. May we all be the cause of elevating Islam and not the cause of disgracing the name of Islam, ameen.