On paper it seems a good idea. The problem of a rather negative public opinion of Islam has been recognised through a YouGov poll. A staggering six out of ten of us admit we don’t know much about Islam; not surprisingly, a majority of us form our opinions of Islam from what we see from various television outlets and 69% of Britons feel that Islam encourages repression of women. The response to this has been to offer a public relations rethink on Islam: say hello to InspiredByMuhammad.com.
The campaign has been set-up by the Exploring Islam Foundation, headed by Lord Patel with some very impressive ambassadors including a former MTV presenter and the editor of popular Muslim magazine, Emel.The results are bad reading for all of us. The surprise for me, however, isn’t the findings of the poll; when you hear of Muslim training camps for terrorists, Islamic clerics calling for the death of Jews and Islamic law suppressing minorities in Islamic countries, the results can hardly be described as a surprise.
For an organisation that describes one of its aims to be to ‘raise awareness about the belief, practice, history, and cultures of Islam’, there’s a dangerous lack of context in their message. Sure they have pages of young Muslim professionals, showing off their success and, inspiring themselves with the legacy of the Prophet - but what if we take their logic to the opposite side of the argument?
Sultana Tafadar, the barrister on their flagship posters, believes in women’s rights, but can we can have a little more discussion of the misogyny faced by millions of women in the Islamic world, perhaps?
‘I believe in social justice. So did Muhammad’, says Rupon Miah - so do explain why the majority of Islamic countries are ruled by minority elites with an authoritarian eye, please?
If young Muslims can be inspired by Muhammad to contribute to women’s rights, then they can also be inspired by Muhammad, as we have seen, to blow themselves up in tube stations. Who is in the right? It is this question EIF should be answering.