وَإِذَا جَاءهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُواْ بِهِ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَى أُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لاَتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
If a matter regarding [the community’s] safety or fear comes to their knowledge they spread it. If they would rather refer it to the Messenger and those in command amongst them, those who are capable of discerning [the news] would know it…. [an-Nisā: 83]
This Verse indicates that manipulation of the news media in order to demoralise Muslims, is nothing new. Such psychological warfare was waged against Islām from the very beginning. What I wish to address is not the menace from without, but how Muslims allow themselves to be manipulated.
Why do we allow their media to set the agenda?
As Muslims we should have concern over our brethren wherever they may be. However, have you noticed how CNN and her sisters have greater sway in dictating where our concern should lie rather than an educated and informed Muslim leadership? The fact of the matter is that an educated, informed and sincere Muslim leadership is rarely to be found. Our leaders are steered by outside news agencies no less than the general public.
For example, the Muslims of Myanmar have been facing oppression and genocide for decades. When did our leaders appeal to our consciences and remind us of these Muslims? Only when they appeared in the western media! Our leaders have gone back into silence on the issue. Are the Muslims there in peace and security? Or have the leaders returned to silent mode simply because the media is silent on them?
Another example, an influential “Islāmic” organisation issued a statement condemning the pagan Tunisian custom of forcing a woman to marry her rapist. Fine, shouldn’t they be commended for such a statement? Not at all. They should be taken to task for only mentioning it after Tunisia had outlawed the practice. Why could they have not defended our sisters before that? Why only mention it when it was highlighted by the media in the wake of the Arab revolutions. When Morocco outlawed its similar practice a while later, there was much less media attention. Not surprisingly, the said organisation issued nary a word, neither before the outlawing nor after. I have yet to hear a squeak in regards the victimisation of Pakistani sisters. See my article Shattering the glass vessels of the Nabi.
How many places and issues are there which should concern us, but only receive mention when our mental colonial masters allow us to wag our tails in that direction? We even use the words our masters tell us to use, since our mental surrender is complete.
The Crimean Khanate
So Russia and Ukraine are squabbling over Crimea, and those are the only parameters within which Muslims might mention this news. Why should it concern only me that they squabble over a land of empty Masājid, an Islāmic land from which the Muslims were driven from? Am I the only Muslim with access to books and the internet? Was history written solely for my reading pleasure?
Why are the following facts not mentioned our discussions?
· Crimea was an Islāmic state from 1441 until its destruction at the hands of Russia in 1783.
· The very name Crimea comes the Tartar language of these Muslims, from the word Qirim, meaning, “My Hill.”
· The Muslim Tartars made up 4 fifths of population at the time of the Russian invasion.
· They had built close to 1600 Masājid and Madāris [Islāmic houses of worship and learning].
· One Khān built the entrance of the Zincirli Madrasah in such a way that the one entering would have to lower his head out of respect to Islāmic knowledge. Today the Muslims do not know of this Muslim nation at all.
· On 18th May 1944, Stalin deported the entire Tatar population from Crimea. Have you looked at a map of Ukraine and asked how it is that so far south, cut off from Russia, there is a Russian majority? The answer lies in 1944.
How terrible that we do not know our Islāmic history. Note that 18th May 1944 was not that long before 14th May 1948. What makes the exile of one Muslim population of less significance than that of another? I do not belittle Palestinian suffering in any way, nor do I deny the sacred rank of Palestine over other lands such as Crimea, but it seems that Muslims tend “glamorise” and “romanticise” certain lands and people over the other. Part of the problem is how we allow the media to dictate the agenda. How else to we explain the attention given to Iberia and Palestine whilst other nations are treated with complete silence?
It is the need of the hour that Muslim journalists contribute more than copy and paste from the west. Our dialogue must not be controlled by the colonialists. We are indeed slaves, but slaves of Allāh, not the west.