Having finished the programme at mosque and said my farewells, I proceeded to the exit. My eyes scanned for where I had left my shoes and found them to be missing. Of course panic did not set in as of yet; I had obviously misplaced them I thought to myself. Making another circuit of the room I proceeded to check every rack near the exit and every other potential place I could have left them. Now the initial thought that ran through my head was someone must have accidentally taken my shoes instead of theirs. So I hunkered down and proceeded to wait. During this time every possible scenario flashed through my head, from me having actually gone barefoot to mosque (which I’m pretty sure I didn’t however absent-minded I am) to my shoes being camouflaged with the shelf (I ran my hands around the shelf to make sure!). Finally, after a long period of waiting, the unthinkable thought hit me – had my shoes been stolen? Immediately I quashed this thought, or at least I would have liked to think so. Surely my shoes hadn’t been stolen, surely not by Muslims, and most of all, surely not in a mosque! Yet it was the only plausible solution.
The point I’m trying to make is that even if there was the slightest possibility that my shoes had been stolen in these circumstances the repercussions would have been huge. Yet this wasn’t the first straw of my perfect religion being followed by well, less than perfect followers, no, this was the last and it nicely brings me onto the point of this whole article/rant.
Throughout my previous years I have experienced various instances in which we, as ‘Muslims’, give fuel to the fire of the public perception of Islam in general. For me, it’s an issue which has been brushed under the carpet for too long. To finally admit that we, as a community and as individual ‘followers’, really need to practice what we preach would be a breath of fresh air. Before I go any further, don’t assume I am an idealist as I am far from it. I understand that human beings will never be perfect. To be honest, I am as much of a realist as you can get. My problem stems from when I see non-Muslims around me following their moral compass and behaving in a more ‘Islamic’ fashion than the so-called Muslims around me. This occurs even with the thorough framework of Islam laid out for us.
Islam for me, is a perfect religion (surprise, surprise) that teaches me how to live every aspect of my life. From the spiritual aspect, to giving me a way to follow my moral compass, to giving me guidance on how to interact in every social scenario imaginable; it hasn’t ceased to give me the answers to the questions I have had thus far in my life. And yet, Muslim and Islam are some of the words used in the same sentence as terrorist, benefits, scroungers, oppression of women, discrimination etc. The common stance of the general Muslim public is to simply blame the media for this. Although I am behind this viewpoint to some extent, there is an obvious underlying problem which we do need to address. The average non-Muslim has not read the Qur’an or the Sunnah (although I have no sources for this, I am pretty sure!) Therefore, the general non-Muslim’s perception of Islam will come from his interactions with the followers of this faith in his day-day life. In my opinion, we completely underestimate the impact our behaviour has on people’s perception of Islam. The instant we step out of our houses, I wish this was in the forefront of our minds. We are representatives of our religion at all times and every Muslim should have this at the forefront of their mind. This is even more important in the West where we already have our backs to the wall due to the general misconceptions surrounding us. If we remembered this, think how different our actions would be…