When we hear the word ‘brand’ we may think of Gucci and Prada but the concept of brands and marketing apply to non-profit (but very prophetic) parts of our life as well. I think we can all agree at this point that Islam is getting trashed in the media. Whether it’s television news networks, talk radio, online papers, or really unnecessary memes, Islam is getting hit from every angle. While we try to deal with this issue as well as we can, there is no end to the barrage of hate. The root issue is that we simply cannot control our brand.
At the end of every season, Louis Vuitton burns their extra stock. This might seem incredibly wasteful and unnecessary but it allows the company to control their brand’s image. The only way to have a Louis Vuitton anything is to purchase it with your enormous piles of wealth. If we saw the homeless person strutting around downtown with the latest Louis, the value of their products would decrease dramatically.
But Muslims can’t just burn their extra or damaged stock – that’s probably a war crime. And anyone can claim to be a Muslim without meeting any basic requirements. So we end up stuck with individuals in the group who are more than just unsavory. After every “Islamist” terror attack we find ourselves in the same situation – posting rants on Facebook so our non-Muslim friends don’t beat us in front of our children. It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting, and, frankly, it’s unfair – right? Although it seems easy to tire of defending the religion and yelling, “ISIS isn’t Muslim”, the definition of a “Muslim” is incredibly convoluted and makes it difficult for us to separate ourselves from the tiny “Muslim” minority who are violent. No one knows where to draw the line and here is why:
That’s right I said it. As much as we may claim that we are one, we are not one. We can never truthfully be one because our sects exist for a reason. We differ in beliefs or practices or ideological structure. Whatever the difference is, it is real so let’s stop ignoring it. Historically, most sects have sub groups, which argue that any other group is not Muslim. Now while most of us don’t agree with this radical view, erasing sectarian lines requires that we erase all lines – which means including the very people who call us disbelievers. If we decide to stand united and claim that we are all Muslim then we must truly accept every person who claims to be a Muslim.
Terrorists and Freedom Fighters
Politics ruin everything, including the image of Islam. Perhaps we could argue categorically that anyone who kills is not a Muslim. Period. Done. Article over. Winner winner, halal chicken dinner. But Muslim men who fight for their countries armies and kill to protect their families’ safety seem justified. So perhaps we should exclude those who kill unjustly. Wrong – defining what is a just or unjust killing is incredibly difficult. Both Bashar al Assad and Salman al Saud have indiscriminately attacked all Sunnis or all Shias and yet they remain supported by some of their sects’ followers. Maybe not so much Bashar al Assad but Salman al Saud is still going strong and highly revered. So where do we draw the line?
To be honest, there is no easy solution here. It is wonderful that all Muslims can stand and agree that Daesh (ISIS) is not Muslim but most of the time it’s not that simple. How can we control our image in the media when we can’t control who calls themselves a Muslim. Perhaps our only solution lies in another facet of the Louis Vuitton business model – dealing with counterfeits.
Let us make ourselves impeccable. Let us meticulously correct our behaviours to the point of becoming flawless, just, kind, honest, compassionate individuals so that a well trained eye will see the difference between our Islam and the knock-off version ISIS is selling.