Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tuning out

There are four media cycles at least concerning Muslims:

the war on terror as exemplified by the recent Heathrow story

the oppression of Muslim women as exemplified by the recent Misbah/Molly story

the integration question as exemplified by the parallel communitites argument

the freedom question as exemplified by the Danish cartoons story

There are over a billion Muslims all over the world in many different countries. Everyday the news wires of each news agency such as Reuters or Associated Press pick thousands of different stories from across the world. But what makes one small incident in Cairo or Nelson make it to the front page of a newspaper or become the first item of the nightly news programme? The editorial decisions are based upon judgements on what 'is news at this moment in time'.

Within the context of invasions, terrorist attacks and the maturing of a second generational Muslim presence within the West, the Muslim story has climbed to the top of the list. The four media cycles are how individual stories are made sense of and made available to 'the masses'. Everyday, there are probably numerous stories for each of the four themes. However, the public would become bored with a story on Muslims everyday on each theme. So just as political scandals go through yearly cycles (it's not that the journalists find out once every year, it's that they decide to tell everyone else once every year), so Muslim stories are going through approximately monthly or bi-monthly cycles with a big story almost every three months. Anything much more than this would lead to boredom or hysteria.

This is why we all need to calm down. Muslims need to unplug from the mainstream media and recognise the media cycles for what they are. There could be countless other media cycles but this is how the media or major sections of it decide to construct the present picture. The argument that we would be missing out on news is weak, because how much of the above, for example the Misbah story or now Jack Straw's views would have been news without the media's intervention. The internet provides countless alternatives. At present, there is no end in sight to this perpetual media harassment, there are enough Muslims in enough situations throughout the world who can jump and down at the slightest provocation to keep this harassment possible for a long time to come yet. (Just as a quick example, when Sky News was trying to make a story of the Pope's comments, they had pictures of Muslims around the world demonstrating, but for anyone who looked carefully enough, they were fairly feeble demonstrations with some involving not more than forty people with the usual one person leading the sloganeering).

Instead we should focus our efforts on making friendships with non-Muslims from across society.

Finally, just to underline the seriousness of this deceit: rocket launchers, chemicals and a nuclear biological suit were found at a house in Nelson. Two men have been arrested and charged under the Explosives Subtstance Act 1883 (not any of the Terrorism Acts). This apparently is not worthy of being an important story.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I just want Allah.

Where is Allah in all of this?

What do you mean?

Everyone prays and fasts, but where is Allah in all of this? Has it become a ritual?

Are you judging people?

No, I’m just asking, all this talk of following the rules, but what is it all for? Aren’t we missing the point?

What do you mean?

Well, Allah says: ‘Pray so that you may remember Me’.


Have we lost sight of it, has it become a community thing, an identity thing or a ritual thing or something?

Are you sure you’re not judging people?

I suppose I am. I want to hear someone talk of Allah Himself. People talk of jannah and jahannam and the sunnah but what of Allah Himself?

I don’t get what you mean…

I mean, we’re missing the point. I just want Allah.

If you seek Allah, a good place to start would be here.