Unfortunately, over the past two decades, Muslims have been pushed into a corner by right-wing extremists, and silenced by cancel culture. Some fear the government, fearing backlash if they speak out, others are afraid of the media. Unnecessary fear has been created. Allah commands, “Fear me alone”, therefore we must be bold. Why should we fear what other people think about our faith?
We should be brave enough to live for the Almighty Lord. Faith is a clear message, a mission, it’s a call to action and its result is positive accomplishment and service to others. Islam gives an amazing way of life to share, a religion of reason, and spirituality full of benefits. It gives us meaning and purpose and makes us self-confident. Tell me where else will you find this kind of forthright powerful message? The Majestic Quran is the best book, so we have a great deal to share. People are needy of these beautiful teachings and they’re waiting.
The British law guarantees freedom of speech
People often say we live in an Islamophobic, aggressive atheist and strong secularist society, so we are naturally fearful. There will be discrimination; however, we must remember that the Human Rights Act upholds religious freedom. We are safeguarded by the legislation that prohibits discrimination based on religious beliefs.
The 9/11 terror attacks in New York not only killed 3,000 innocent and injured thousands of people, but it sowed seeds of hatred between the West and Muslims. The wretched process of demonisation was unleashed. A heyday for extremists! On one side Islamophobia (the dread and hatred of Islam) and on the other side anti-West rhetoric. In this clash, many things have become confused and misunderstood, including Islam and other important concepts like diversity, inclusivity and terms like Jihad.
The bravery of ordinary people in the Quran
The stories of the prophets show extraordinary bravery in the face of hostility and rejection from their people. Since the prophets were special, it is expected that they would be tough in the face of hostility. They had strong character, patience, endurance and forgiveness. “For the benefit of people, We have presented all kinds of examples in this Quran, were you to bring a miracle the disbelievers will still say ‘you preach falsehood’. Allah has sealed the hearts of those who don’t know. Therefore, be patient. Allah’s promise is true. So, let not the disbelievers frighten you” (Al-Rum: 58-60).
Ordinary men were also brave in the face of similar hostilities. Here I will mention three such examples. First, the magicians who had a duel with Musa, they recognised he was not a magician, but a prophet with extraordinary power when his staff turned into a snake that swallowed their contraptions. They recognised the difference between magic and miracles so, they fell into prostration and accepted faith in the Lord of Musa. Pharaoh was furious and ordered their killing. The Quran notes their bravery and praises them.
Another example is mentioned in Surah Yaseen, a man came from the far side of the city to support the three messengers who had been preaching there. The brave man stood up and warned his people that they would face punishment if they did not listen to the truth. However, they murdered him. The Quran tells the readers about his place in paradise.
The third story is about Pharaoh, who threatened to kill Musa. A believer stood up and challenged him saying why was he persecuting somebody who was preaching belief in one God? There are many more examples like these that we can take from the Quran as a source of inspiration for standing up and speaking the truth. All these stories tell us to be brave and speak the truth. This is real bravery.
If we are not brave there is the danger of becoming a doormat, feeble and weak citizens, who can’t stand up against injustice and discrimination. This is endangering the whole society, since we are not engaging in civil dialogue and justice. We must build a better future by finding common ground between the Muslim community and the wider society otherwise we will slide deeper into partisanship and extremism.
The way out requires a new way of thinking about developing moral and spiritual values. We need to teach history, citizenship, responsibilities and rights but more importantly, we must teach Quranic moral values of honesty, kindness, patience and forgiveness. Values that will develop the ability to tolerate disagreement but still engage with each other. In practice, this means to give our students and worshippers thorough access to the Quran.