In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“ISLAMIC WORLD: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS”
MEDİA PERSPECTİVE: THE USE OF MEDİA AND MASS COMMUNİCATİON TOOLS FOR ENGİNEERİNG THE SOCİETY
Text of the Speech of Dr. Luqman Abdur Raheem, Amir of The Muslim Congress, Nigeria at the the “25th International Congress of the Union of Muslim Communities” in Istanbul Turkey, 25-29 May, 2016
Today, Islamic world is passing through a critical period in its history. We as Muslims irrespective of geographical enclaves, languages and colours are confronted with many problems and we find ourselves at a crossroad, between aspirations and desperation forced on us by the adversaries of Islam through mass communication tools of the global media. Specifically, the BBC, VOA, CNN, SKY NEWS and other western-controlled media organisations have designed potent mass communication tools for CRIMINALISING, PROFILING, DEMONIZING AND STERIOTYPING Islam and Muslim, a phenomenon called by the scholars Islamophobia. The inestimable power of the media and its potency made a former President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson to declare that, if given an option to choose between a Government without the Press or the Press without a Government, he would not hesitate to choose the latter (Salam, 2016).
At this 25th Congress of the Union of Muslim Communities, we need to understand that Media war is a war of religious supremacy; war between forces of light and darkness; and a war between bearers of truth and falsehood. The battle is historical and endemic! We can only manage it to our advantage, if we are better organised, but we cannot avoid it completely. Allah counsels:
وَلَن تَرْضَى عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلاَ النَّصَـرَى حَتَّى تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَى وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَآءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ
Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: Verily, the guidance of Allah, that is the only guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allah neither any protector nor any helper. Q2:120.
The growing hatred for Islam and Muslims as mentioned above is historical, we are the blessed community with blessed Book. The enemies of Islam are only jealous of the gift Allan has given us. The hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) says it better.
Abu Musa (May Alla be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The example of Muslims, Jews and Christians is like the example of a man who employed labourers to work for him from morning till night for specific wages. They worked till midday and then said, ‘We do not need your money which you have fixed for us and let whatever we have done be annulled.’ The man said to them, ‘Don’t quit the work, but complete the rest of it and take your full wages.’ But they refused and went away. The man employed another batch after them and said to them, ‘Complete the rest of the day and yours will be the wages I had fixed for the first batch.’ So, they worked till the time of `Asr prayer. Then they said, “Let what we have done be annulled and keep the wages you have promised us for yourself.’ The man said to them, ‘Complete the rest of the work, as only a little of the day remains,’ but they refused. Thereafter he employed another batch to work for the rest of the day and they worked for the rest of the day till the sunset, and they received the wages of the two former batches. So, that was the example of those people (Muslims) and the example of this light (guidance) which they have accepted willingly (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 37, Hadith 11 and Book 36, Hadith 471).
IDEAL ROLE OF THE MEDİA İN ENGİNEERİNG THE SOCİETY
The media represents the mass communication tools through which valuable information, news, entertainments and promotional messages are disseminated to the people and society. Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet. Media perform three roles in engineering the society: Information, Education & Entertainment.
From the above-highlighted roles of the media, the media organisations should see themselves as the fourth arm of government, because they are at vantage position, to serve as watch dog agencies at regional, national and international levels, striving to hold three levels of governance accountable, responsive and responsible for delivery of good governance, development, security, justice and international peace. For other disadvantaged people in the world that are not Muslims, the media as an entity has performed creditably well in keeping alive their agitations and aspirations. In the case of the Muslims in Rohingya, Palestine/Gaza, Chechnya and other volatile parts of the world, the media has not been balance, fair and responsive; it has consistently demonstrated double-standards in handling the affairs of the Islam, Muslims and Muslim countries.
MONOPOLY OF THE MEDİA AS TOOLS AGAINST ISLAM
At present, powerful media organisations are mostly owned and controlled by non-Muslims. Worse still, the experienced journalists, versatile pressmen and prominent media consultants working in these organisations are majorly non-Muslims and some nominal Muslims. It is therefore easy to use the media to the disadvantage of the Muslims and Islam. Even, the conscious Muslims working in the powerful media organisations are not given a space to defend Islam or carry out balanced reporting on issues affecting Islam and Muslims. They want all their media employees to be CONFORMISTS, because ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune’.
In the developed countries like France, America, Britain and Germany, influential media organisations have exploited issues of terrorism and insecurity as instrumental justifications to stylishly breed and promote Islamophobia, leading to unwarranted hatred, resentments and attacks on Muslims and their beliefs, properties and lives.
Media is re-engineering the global society to suite the agenda of the imperialist western nations. In the process of actualising this selfish agenda, issues that are central to Islam and Muslims are trivialised leading to conflict of ideas and worldviews. The western media deploy the following mass communication tools against Islam and Muslims with different degrees of intensity.
I. Stereotyping: This is an instrumentality of framing that allows Muslims to be ‘framed up’ and decorated in a garb that does not belong to them. Examples Bearded Muslims are terrorists.
II. Profiling: This is a media instrumentality of data collection on Muslims and interpretation of Muslims’ actions in a way that makes the general public interpret, perceive and respond their feelings, calls, rights, agitation or aspirations in a negative way.
III. Misinterpretation: This is another technique used by the media through large scale translations of the Quran and Hadith to mislead ignorant Muslims and the general public.
IIII. Propaganda: This is a psychological instrument used by the media for promoting negative views about Islam and Muslims. It is also used for influencing the attitude of the public and/or a section of the populations to have bad impressions about Islam, Muslims and Qurán.
V. Identity Theft: This is a situation where a group or individuals assume false Islamic personality to carry out criminal activities and demonise Islam and Muslims. Media aid this agenda because it serves their cause. Identity thieves in the world include Boko Haram, ISIL, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations. They dress like us, speak our language, quote copiously from our Qurán and pretend to be fighting our cause, whereas they stand for ideologies far from Islam. The head of ISIL said: “In the name of God the Great we shall kill, slaughter and drain the blood of every single unbeliever, every apostate and every traitor that supports them until we establish our new world Caliphate. We will wash our hands with the blood of the infidels” (Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of The Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant).
VI. Double Standards: The is the policy which allows two people, groups to be treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them. The following are six instances where double standards are used against Muslims causing Muslims to endure physical and mental hardships.
• No one abuses a Jewish man for growing a beard based on religious beliefs. But, a Muslim is labelled a terrorist, extremist or fundamentalist for having beard!
• When a Christian Nun covers her body from head to toe it is an act of devotion to God. But if a Muslim woman wears hijab she is ridiculed and discriminated!
• When a western woman stays at home full-time to look after her children, she is respected for being devoted to her family. But if a Muslim woman stays at home for the same reason she is considered as a prisoner a woman without freedom/rights!
• A young woman can wear any dress she prefers and enter any higher educational institute. But if a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab into higher educational institutes she is ridiculed and nicknamed!
• When a Christian, Jew or anyone else commit murders their religion will not prop up. But if a Muslim commit the same crime, it will be blamed on Islam!
• When someone fights and sacrifices his life for his country, he is venerated as a hero. But if a Muslim fights and sacrifices his life for his country he is labelled a terrorist.
• When facing a problem any solution will be accepted and considered novel, if found useful. But if the solution is from Islam, it will be rejected! This hypocritical split personality and double-standard is what Martyr Sayyid Qutb called the Hideous Schizophrenia in his book, Islam the Religion of the future.
EFFECT OF MEDIA ATTACKS ON MUSLIMS AND MUSLIM WORLD
I. It has created an identity crisis for Muslims who have suffered from stereotyping, inferiority complex and Islamophobia.
II. Muslim nations lack self-confidence and low self-esteem in the comity of nations
III. The Muslim communities are desperate, unorganised and hopelessness as they have been ravaged by unending war, unemployment, poverty and economic deprivation.
IIII. Confusion and ambiguity concerning moral issues which have been liberalised in Muslim nations – Gay, Lesbian, interest-based banking, alcohol, nudity, pornography etc.
V. Muslims and Muslim nations suffer low spirit of competitiveness in relating with liberal ideologies.
VI. Low level of intellectualism engagement by the Muslim intellectuals and Islamic scholars.
Without doubt, Muslims have been able to use the social media to some extent to tell their stories and counter stereotypes about Islam and Muslims judging by the activities of organisations like ESAM, Jamatul Islamiyyah, The Muslim Congress and several other organisations but there are still more rooms for improvements. This Congress is implored to consider the following eight (8) recommendations:
I. We as Union of Muslim Communities need mega media organisations such as CNN, BBC, VOA, Al-Jazeera to project the ideals of Islam and aspirations/agitations of Muslims across the globe.
II. We must build human capacities of the Muslim youths (male and female) to take up career in media organisations as broadcasters, newscasters, news reporters/journalists, photographer, investigative writers, public affairs analysts and media consultants.
III. Existing and New Muslim media organisations MUST position themselves as the 4th arm of government by holding national and international governments accountable and responsible for delivery of good governance, justice, security and global peace through consistent reporting and feedbacks on critical global issues.
IIII. The Muslim mega media, when established should tell the stories of Muslims and Non-Muslims the way they are without prejudice; they should also keep alive the agitations of the Palestinians, Rohingya, Palestine/Gaza, Chechnya and other oppressed people without demonstrating double-standards as presently being done by western-owned media organisations.
V. In the interim, as Islamic organisations, we must learn constructive engagement with the society and liberal movements. We must explore and exploit media visibility to communicate our ideals, goals and programmes to the society. We must issue press releases, make press statements on global issues. This could be better carried out through engagement of Muslim media experts/consultants to manage the media affairs of our organisations. Islamic scholars and intellectuals have the gargantuan responsibilities in this direction.
VI. Muslim media organisations should re-engineer the decadent world through SOUND information dissemination, SOUND educational programmes/documentaries and SOUND entertainments with rich Islamic contents.
VII. All Muslim should use the social media constructively, creatively and innovatively to tell our stories, report unpleasant events against Muslims and supress Islamophobic tendencies in our countries.
VIII. Finally, for sustainability of the proposed Muslim mega media, there is need to establish a foundation or foundations and funding channels to make the dream a reality. In doing this, we must be prepared to pay the price.
Thanks for the opportunity given me to present this paper.