The way Islam has been portrayed in the media in the past ten years has affected the everyday lives of most Muslims, especially young adults who are still trying to discover themselves and define their identities.
With everything from slurs to newly-formed stereotypes, Muslims are experiencing the repercussions of the actions of terrorists who claimed to be Muslim. Everywhere we go, there is someone who treats us like we have personally wronged them and carry the belief that killing is a noble thing when we actually believe the opposite: it is unforgivable and amongst the highest level of sin. Many people turn solely to the media for coverage without taking into consideration that it is often swayed by political views and financial benefit. Even though Islam has gradually begun appearing in the news in a more positive light recently thanks to a few brave political commentators like Keith Olbermann, the Muslim community still hasn’t been doing enough to educate others about the values that Islam truly embodies. Why not use the most powerful method to lift such deeply-set fallacies? Education is an essential component of establishing peace worldwide and an understanding of others. “Islamophobia” developed due to the lack of education about the core values and beliefs of Islam and has now overtaken many people who blindly believe that Islam and anything derived from it is something violent and terrible. Aside from educating others in a noninvasive way, I believe that all Muslims should serve as ambassadors to Islam. It’s imperative to accept the fact that, at this point, any wrong action by a Muslim, even a small one, is likely to be used as a representative sample of the whole religion due to how little people truly know about it. Being president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at my high school for the past two years has allowed me to apply these values. Throughout the course of meetings and events, a personal goal of mine has been to make the MSA serve as a support group for members and encourage them to speak up for their religion. In doing so, I have noticed that the MSA has allowed members to build confidence and get in touch with their religious background. By working to dispel common misconceptions about the creed and way of life of Muslims myself, it becomes easier for others to follow in my footsteps and learn how to correctly represent themselves as Muslims to a community that has become so susceptible to skewed media coverage.