Islamic Values vs. Popular Media in America
August 29, 2011
Values are those things that matter most to an individual. They are the ideas and beliefs that shape an individual’s actions, character, and how they perceive the world. Popular media can have a great impact on a person’s values. Media such as music, television, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, movies, and news reports all can shape a person’s ideas and beliefs. For Americans, values come in the form of freedom; the ability and right to freely think, speak, choose and practice their beliefs without opposition and oppression. American Muslims can have great difficulty in exercising their right of freedom of speech and religion along with the opposition of practicing their beliefs due to the nation’s perspective of Islam portrayed by popular media. To understand Muslims’ challenge in holding Islamic values in America, once must identify what their values are. Muslims are those that are an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion. Their beliefs and values are based on Holy Quran, which confirms the previous scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. Islam is also shaped by the life and saying of the Prophet Muhammad who was a slave and messenger of God. Once a person’s understands the correct meaning of Islam, they will clearly see how it is misrepresented in popular media. Islam is a religion of peace and believing in one God. Islam is very tolerant of other religious beliefs and its adherents are not cruel, evil, and violent terrorist as often portrayed. Because of the terrorist acts of 9/11 against the World Trade Center, Americans have grown hatred towards Muslims, even those who reside and are born in the county. Popular media in general goes against the values of Islam. Islam is against premarital and extramarital sex, the use of intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol, oppression of sex and race, nudity and exploitation of sexuality, violence, theft, desire of materialistic property, and the belief that there is no god or multiple gods. Anyone can turn to any media source and observe advertisement and promotion of such acts. Islam is about justice, fairness, righteousness, being aware and accountable for ones acts, and being consciences of the reality of life after death. Media is a social institution which is a key component of contemporary western society (Aly, 2007). After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America’s awareness of the Qur’an increased (Hedahl, 2009, pg 226). Hedahl (2009) stated that it went from being reported as a sacred text from the late 1990’s to a manual of war and destruction. During an investigation of Osama Bin Laden, Fox News uncovered a 2000 manual called Military Studies in the Jihad against the Tyrants (Hedahl, 2009, p. 226). America began perceiving Islam negatively because of the news coverage of the hijackers and reports linking the concepts of jihad and the Qur’an in stories. Hedahl concluded, “This Fox Network story exemplifies the prevalent discourse of 2001, which said Muslims are not to be trusted; and the story exacerbated the overly fearful feelings about Muslims that existed in America after 9/11(2009, p. 226). The lack of understanding of the cultural and religious values of Islam is causing great plight on Muslims across the country. Most Americans only know what they are exposed to about Islam from media, instead of going through legitimate means of learning going to a local Mosque or Masjid, reading the Quran in full themselves, or even approaching and asking an Muslim. A poll posted by the Washington Post (2006) stated that 46 percent of Americans have a negative view of Islam. The same article state that those Americans who have a negative view of Islam believe that...