The recent Huffington Post opinion piece by Joyce Dubensky entitled “The Real Muslim Problem,” is a great example of what we need in mainstream media. Dubensky offers a new, and often overlooked, perspective regarding Islam and Muslims. In her piece, she cited examples of Muslims involved in peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan and also mentioned the incorrect perceptions of Islam held by two people at an event celebrating interfaith projects.
It is unfortunate that the two people the author mentioned who believe the actions of a few Muslims to be representative of the entire Islamic religion often reflect the views of many Americans. The first person at the event said he does not trust any Muslims from certain parts of the world. The second person brought up a video in which a Muslim woman talks about her disdain for the immodesty of Western women; the woman at the event told Dubensky that this video meant Muslims want to take over the world and impose their views on everyone else.
Usually in the mainstream media Islam is closely associated with wars and terrorism. This kind of portrayal is harmful not only to Muslims but also to misinformed people of every faith who continue to wrongly equate Islam with violence and intolerance.
I am glad Dubensky countered the uninformed opinions of those people with examples of Muslims who are working toward peace. The article was also educational in that Dubensky explained the role of Shaykhas, or women who study sacred Islamic texts. Countering the usual association of oppression with Muslim women, Dubensky has highlighted real Muslim women who are empowering their communities.
Dubensky successfully emphasizes the importance of not making the mistakes of giving into fear, overgeneralization and hatred.
The real Muslim problem is many people’s ignorance about other faiths, especially Islam. This is an issue because it allows people to believe the many inaccurate stereotypes that exist about Muslims instead of understanding that no individual action or person represents the 1.57 billion Muslims in the world.
Dubensky’s rare example of positive reporting on the Muslim community combats stereotypes about Islam which is prevalent because “we’re so uninformed about each other and so often swayed by misinformation.” If we learned more about one another this accurate image of Muslims would become more common. By opening a window to the lives of American Muslims, Dubensky has begun to help quench that curiosity.