Islamophobia has existed almost since the beginning of time: from the time our Prophet Nuh called his people towards the oneness of Allah, through each era of each prophet including the era of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). That is, today’s Islamophobia is not something unique or isolated.
The difference between Islamophobia during the time of the prophets and Islamophobia today is that when the prophets and their communities went through it, they had the support and comfort of their prophet with them. The prophets were not only able to comfort their people through their own wisdom, but also through divine revelation.
One may ask: how do we gain some of the confidence as the people of the past? How do we raise confident children, who have strong personal identities and aren’t ashamed of who they are, especially in this sensitive age of social media? How do we teach them to react when they are confronted with an uncomfortable or hateful situation?
Alhamdulilah for the most complete religion that we have been blessed with; a religion that wasn’t only for the time of medieval Arabia but has been carved into stone for us until The Day of Judgement. For us, our answers lie in the words of the Noble Quran and the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).
As Allah tells us in the Quran:
لقد كان لكم في رسول الله أسوة حسنة لمن كان يرجوا الله واليوم الاخر
There is certainly for you, in the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) excellent character for those who have hope in Allah and the last day.
This ayah speaks volumes to any of us who want to ponder, learn and implement the Prophetic way in our daily way of life. Our beloved Prophet was victimized in his time, along with his companions (may Allah be pleased with them). But regardless of the trials he suffered, he never compromised his sense of character.
The many scenarios that took place during their lives are analogous to the islamophobic incidents we hear of today. As much as I would love to mention the many hardships they encountered, one blog post wouldn’t do them justice. But the one incident that is very close to my heart is the story of the Prophet Muhammed’s (peace be upon him) trip to Ta’if.
He had travelled to Ta’if to introduce city’s chiefs to the religion of Islam. The unfortunate consequence was that our Prophet (peace be upon him) was pelted, hit and humiliated by the rich and poor, young and old of the city.
Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) took refuge under the shade of a tree, where the angel Jibrail came and asked The Prophet if he would like the angels of the mountains to bring together the mountains that surrounded the city of Ta’if and crush its inhabitants.
May Allah send his countless mercy and blessings on The Mercy to Mankind, peace and blessing be upon his soul: his reply was in the negative! Subhanallah! His compassion and kindness are the ultimate example of how we need to react to the unfortunate yet divinely ordained hardships we may encounter.
Allah mentions in the Quran:
أم حسبتم ان تدخلوا الجنة و لما يأتكم مثل الزين خلو من قبلكم ….
‘Do u think you will enter into jannah, without the trials of your predecessors crossing you?’
In other words, these hardships are a given. Everyone encounters different hardships in different ways and some of us may encounter them in the form of Islamophobia.
We need to teach our children and ourselves how to react in The Prophetic way—with the wisdom and traditions he left behind for us. That is, the wisdom of kindness and calm.
We need to learn the Sunnah of Our Beloved: how he was ever so kind to everyone around him even those who hurt him and hurt those whom he loved. Through his kind and gentle actions, he not only let an entire city live, but also transformed a disunited Arabia into one big family who prayed together, ate together, celebrated together and hurt together. Through his example of kindness, foes became brothers and sisters. Even his enemies couldn’t help but love him!
Many times the people who are islamophobic just don’t have enough knowledge—they have never really met and interacted with Muslims. We must ensure to educate our children in Islamic and secular education, so that they have the knowledge to be able to communicate with wisdom with everyone around them. With this education, they will in shaa Allah become confident individuals who can exemplify our beautiful religion and fight injustice when they encounter it.
As parents it’s our duty to teach our children to learn and love the actions of Our Beloved (peace be upon him). We must teach them to embody his character by being the best kind of human they can be: one who shows love, compassion, kindness, leadership, intellect, humbleness and most of all mercy. Part of our children’s confidence and pride should come from being from the most honourable ummah of the most honourable prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). Through our actions and interactions we directly and indirectly teach Islamophbic people who we are and what we live for.
I leave you with two beautiful quotes to ponder over:
تعلموا العلم و تعلموا السكينة و الوقار
Aquire knowledge- learn tranquility and dignity
(Omar Ibn Khattab)
Go my friend- bestow your love even on your enemies, if you touch their heart, what do you think will happen?
Fatima Mulla Panchbhaya, a mother of three and resident of Toronto, Canada, pursued her advanced Islamic education in the U.K, where she graduated from a six year Islamic theology and jurisprudence course. Over the course of the six years, she completed comprehensive studies of Hadith, Quran, tafseer, aqaa’id, fiqh, Arabic grammar and academics. Over the years she has been teaching Islamic studies to sisters of various age groups in different masajid. Currently, she teaches youth and also helps with a small community Muslim youth club in her local area.