For the last two days, I was at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. We had a WhyIslam Da'wah booth there to give the message of Islam to the non-Muslims. This is my observation and reflection.
Many non-Muslims stopped by our booth, many of them were very curious, some had never heard about Islam and were very happy that we were there to inform them about what this religion was about. However, there were many other people who were angry, and harbored negative views about Islam and Muslims. Their opinions and views weren't just negative. They HATED Islam and Muslims. They called us "backwards" and "terrorists" and said that we had an "agenda" and that we were here to take over America. This really hurt me.
I wasn't hurt, because I took anything they said personally, rather, I hurt for them. It is because they are missing out on a beautiful religion, a perfect way of life, a deen that has a solution to this world's every problem. A religion that would provide for them the ultimate peace, which every human being desires.
We listened to them patiently, spoke to them and had long conversations with them. I tried to understand why they thought so horribly about Islam and Muslims. The obvious answer was the MEDIA. However, there was something more. I learned that one of the main reasons why they hated us was because at some point in their life, they had had a negative experience with a cultural Muslim who had bad akhlaq (bad manners and/or character).
Clearly this is not an intelligent way of thinking, because how can you judge more than 1.8 Billion people based on your interaction with one or few people? As unfair as that is, it still happens. This is mainly because the media constantly hammers into their brain that Islam and Muslims equal backwards, terrorist, foreigner, oppressors, UN-human, cult, etc. So then, when they have a bad interaction with a person who may not even know anything about Islam, but claims to be a Muslim, their fears and views are confirmed.
There are many other reasons why they think we are so bad, but this is what I observed, and many of them told me this themselves. I ended up having to apologize for the actions of few people who made Islam look so bad, so much so that they didn't even want to consider the possibility that this religion is a TRUE and PERFECT way of life. A religion that they are in dire need of, if only they knew.
There is good news to all of this though. After explaining to them what true Islam is, many of them left with smiles on their faces. They thanked us for clarifying many misconceptions and said they would read the literature we had provided for them and that they would continue to learn. I can't help, but keep thinking about how many non-Muslims are out there hating Islam and Muslims. I urge all the Muslims to practice their best akhlaq when they are interacting with a non-Muslim, because your interaction with them may bring them close to Allah or completely turn them away. If they turn away because of you, believe me, you don't want that on your account. Although it seems unfair that Islam is being judged based on our actions whereas that wouldn't happen to a person of some other religion, I want us to remember that the reward Allah has kept for us is Paradise. Our hardship in this life pales in comparison to what Allah has set as a treasure for us.
The scholars have said that a lot of da'wah that Muhammad (peace be upon him) did was in his Salah (prayer). He would get up in the middle of the night and pray and cry for the guidance of humanity. Please remember to make dua for the guidance of our non-Muslim brothers and sisters so that they may be guided to Islam. I ask Allah to forgive us for our mistakes and to never let someone turn away from Him, because of us. Allahumma Ameen.