Saturday, 3 October 2009

American Sympathy For Discrimination Against Muslims

Have you ever tried googling for "Islam" in the news? I did and majority of the stories were related to spreading fear about Islam and talks of militants and suicide bombers adding to the already present Islamophobia. But I was happy to come across this particular article which shows that the effort Muslims are making in talking about the real side of Islam and spreading the understanding of it's teachings is starting to make a difference.

Fewer Americans see Islam as violent, poll finds

The percentage of Americans who believe Islam encourages violence has declined in recent years but remains far above where it was in 2002, while very basic knowledge about the faith has shown modest increases, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Most Americans also believe Muslims are discriminated against, a finding that suggests empathy for a community whose leaders often say they are regarded with suspicion and hostility.

The nationwide survey of over 4,000 adults in August found that 58 percent of Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the United States. By contrast the same numbers for atheists and Mormons are 26 and 24 percent respectively.

"The fact that Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination is a substantial finding ... It is sort of like the public looking at itself in the mirror and there is some empathy for a group facing discrimination," said Michael Dimock, an associate director at the Pew Research Center.


As a group, only gays and lesbians were seen worse off than Muslims in this regard with 64 percent saying they faced a lot of discrimination.

Thirty-eight percent of those polled believed Islam was more likely than other faiths to encourage violence, down from the 45 percent who held this view two years earlier.

But that number has fluctuated over the years and in 2002, when it was first asked the year after the Sept. 11 attacks, only 25 percent of the U.S. public said they thought Islam encouraged more violence than other faiths.

"Within other religious groups, fewer than four-in-ten people express this opinion (39 percent of white mainline Protestants, 38 percent of white Catholics, 33 percent of the religiously unaffiliated and 30 percent of black Protestants.)"

Over the past several years, Pew has found that Americans' knowledge of the most basic facts about Islam has increased modestly though many remain in the dark about the faith.

"A slim majority of Americans know the Muslim name for God is Allah, and a similar number can correctly name the Koran as the Islamic sacred text. Overall, 41 percent of the public is able to answer both questions correctly," Pew said. In 2002 only 33 percent responded to both questions correctly.

But 36 percent of Americans remain "unfamiliar with either term," according to Pew.
The article talks of how it's mainly the politicians who have a stronger view of Islam as a violent faith.

Another article on the same study by the Associated Press reads:
"Americans are learning more about Islam, and familiarity with the faith makes people more likely to view Muslims favorably and less likely to believe Islam encourages violence, according to a new study.

The "small and gradual, but noticeable" change has an affect, Smith said. Those most familiar with Islam were least likely to link the religion with violence. Fifty-seven percent of people who knew the names Muslims use to refer to God and their sacred text, and were also acquainted with a Muslim, said Islam did not encourage violence more than other faiths.

The same percentage of that group said their overall opinion of Muslims was favorable and 70 percent of that group said there's discrimination against Muslims.

Only 21 percent of those with a low familiarity with Islam had a favorable opinion of Muslims, and less than half of that group saw a lot of discrimination against them.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Pew's findings back up his own group's research. He blamed a "vocal minority" in the U.S. for fanning anti-Muslim bias with increasingly harsh rhetoric since 9/11.

"Unfortunately, people have focused on that tiny, tiny minority of Muslims who have carried out violent acts, and claim to act in the name of Islam," he said. "Ninety-nine point nine, nine percent of all Muslims will live and die without coming near an act of violence."

Seemi Choudry, a 20-year-old Muslim student at Loyola University in Chicago, was skeptical of the report's findings that said Americans were more familiar with Islam.

"If they are learning Islam through mass media and pop culture, that's easily accessible stuff," she said. "I don't know that's the type of Islam that I would want to be infiltrated with."

The survey did not address where or how Americans were getting information about Islam.

Choudry said she has not experienced any discrimination personally, but feels that Muslims on the whole are treated differently.

"We do suffer discrimination, which is the consequence of a lack of knowledge or ignorance," she said.

Most of the findings came from a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Aug. 11-17 among 2,010 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. Some findings also came from another survey of 2,003 adults conducted Aug. 20-27.

Hooper said continuing education about Islam is the key to fighting prejudice. In June, CAIR began a campaign to distribute free copies of the Quran to 100,000 local and national leaders, from President Obama to local school principals.

"When knowledge about Islam goes up, prejudice goes down," Hooper said."

This is definitely a good sign thanks to the efforts taken by the Muslim as well as the non-Muslim community to change this impression among the general public. This again shows that it is so important for Muslims to practice good character and the true teachings of Islam and spread it's message to the people.

Hadith that we can reflect on:
Narrated Asma' bint Abu Bakr: My mother came to me, hoping (for my favor) during the lifetime of the Prophet asked the Prophet, "May I treat her kindly?" He replied, "Yes." Ibn 'Uyaina said, "Then Allah revealed: 'Allah forbids you not with regards to those who fought not against you because of religion, and drove you not out from your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them.'.......(60.8)

Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned Allah's Apostle saying that he was neither a Fahish nor a Mutafahish. Abdullah bin 'Amr added, Allah's Apostle said, 'The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.'

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he heard Said ibn al-Musayyab say, "Shall I tell you what is better than much prayer and sadaqa?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Mending discord. And beware of hatred - it strips you (of your deen)."

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he heard Said ibn al-Musayyab say, "Shall I tell you what is better than much prayer and sadaqa?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Mending discord. And beware of hatred - it strips you (of your deen)."

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Said ibn al-Musayyab from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry."
Also refer to my previous post here.


Ikram Kurdi said...

That is great mashAllah.

quest said...

Much inspiring perspective. JAK!

Nasreen said...

Alhumdulillah. InshaAllah, the Islamic content on our little blogs is helping with some of that posiive outlook towards Islam as well. :D

Anonymous said...

What a nice blog. I add to my following list

Nasreen said...

Jazakillah khair. :) MashaAllah! You are a doctor as well! Will be commenting on your blog soon. :D