Clearing Misconceptions with the Help of Orlando Billboards

misconceptions about muslim faith

Terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) continuously try to twist the teachings of Islam for their own gains. They are hiding behind their own versions of the religion to justify the atrocities they commit all over the world. With terrorists spreading their own versions of Islam, numerous misconceptions have circulated. And as non-Muslims become more and more confused about what Islam really is, it becomes easier for them to blame practitioners of true Islam for the sins of terrorists. Atif Fareed, the president of the AMCC, intends to clear such misconceptions by spreading the true words of Islam through towering billboards spread throughout the major cities of the United States.

Atif Fareed’s billboard campaign was initiated in Orlando and has now spread across other cities such as New York and Denver. The message conveyed by each billboard is different but Fareed says that the common message can be summarized by the following points:

• Muslim Americans are your neighbors.
• Muslim Americans are your doctors.
• Muslim Americans work in the community.
• Muslim Americans pay taxes.
• Muslim Americans are part and parcel of American society.

One of the billboards state that “Muhammad always taught love, not hate; peace, not violence.” This one alone shows that whatever IS and other terror groups are following, it is not true Islam. The real Islam reaches respect of other faiths. And this Islam is the one Muslim Americans are following. Muslim Americans respect other religion and in return want others to also respect theirs. Fareed encourages fellow Muslims especially community leaders to reach out to non-Muslims and initiate camaraderie among people of different faiths.

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AMCC has also created an information center and a website about Islam and Muslim Americans. The toll-free number for the info center as well as the URL of the website can be found on all of the billboards. Everyone, especially non-Muslims, is encouraged to call the number or visit the website if they have any doubts or if they have any questions about Islam. The best way to clear misconceptions is to be clear about the truth. The information center has reported weekly call numbers of more than 800 which makes the campaign a huge success according to Fareed.

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AMCC calls for everyone to withhold judgment for the practices of any faith they know enough about the said faith. Islam is not keeping any secrets. The billboards show that Muslim Americans want all to know more about their faith.

Muslim Leaders Denouncing Terrorism

muslim condemns terrorism
One of the glaring complaints against Muslims after the 9/11 attack were about accusations that Muslim leaders are staying silent when it comes to terrorist attacks. Weeks and even months after 9/11, people continued to send written mail and emails to newspapers and other publications complaining about the lack of condemnation from Islamic leadership. There were also those voicing out the same complaint through phone-ins on radio shows. There were actually numerous fatwas and other statements from Muslim leaders that condemned the attack on innocent civilians that claimed the lives of almost 3000 people and brought injury to more than 6000. These fatwas were simply paid little attention by mainstream media.

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Today, Muslims are finding other means to make their denouncement of terrorism more apparent. They share their sentiments in social media and other online forums. Muslim leaders have also started making denouncements via live television. Atif Fareed, the president of the American Muslim Community Center cites below notable instances showing that Muslims are also joining in the global war against terrorism.

  • In 2011, Pew Research conducted a study in which Muslim Americans were asked how much Muslim Americans support extremism and 64% said they believe extremists get close to zero support from Muslims in the US. This means that almost 2/3 of Muslim Americans believe that their community is loyal to the United States.
  • In 2010, Pakistani Politician and Islamic Scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri issued a Fatwa denouncing terrorism. The Fatwa was backed by the Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt.
  • In 2008, Jama Masjid Trust, an influential Muslim, caused 9 Mumbai militants who were responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to not be given a Islamic burial. He explained that anyone who can commit such atrocious acts should not be called and treated as a Muslim.
  • In 2007, Pew research conducted a survey on Muslim countries that revealed that more than 92% of Muslims believe that suicide bombing in public places cannot be justified.
  • In 2015, majority of Muslim leaders all over the world expressed anger over the November Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people.

Atif Fareed believes that all of these public denouncements of terror acts prove that terrorists do not represent Islam. Therefore, Americans should stop pointing their anger to Muslim Americans each time a non-Muslim country gets attacked by terrorists. Muslim Americans are your neighbors and we should be working together in helping our great nation improve and in combatting the global threat of terrorism. Fareed has also called upon mosques and Muslim centers to accommodate non-Muslims who simply want to know more about Islam.

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