A new initiative has been launched in Britain aimed at encountering bias against Islam, following outrage among Muslims around the world triggered by the screening of a blasphemous video in the US.
The initiative commissioned by a London organization, Discover Islam, distributes copies of the Holy Qur’an and other materials about the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in English to non-Muslims with the aim of educating them about the divine faith.
Young Muslim volunteers distribute free Qur’ans in shopping centres and certain areas including schools and universities and public libraries across the UK capital to introduce a positive image of Islam to non-Muslims.
“Our goal is not to convert people, but simply to ask them to read about Islam for themselves, instead of listening to everything people say about it,” said Naif Sheikh, who is a volunteer with Discover Islam.
“We began distributing literature about Islam in mid-August, not long after the [blasphemous] video ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was published on the Internet, and weeks before it caused an uproar around the world. We have distributed tens of thousands of books, including the Qur’an and other books recounting the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and explaining Islamic precepts, all in English,” Sheikh added.
“Our goal is to educate. So our discussions with passers-by are relaxed and enjoyable. The people we encounter are usually very receptive, and rarely turn down the books we offer them.”
“By encouraging non-Muslims to read about Islam, we’re hoping to dispel certain false ideas, which have unfortunately been further disseminated by this awful video. For example, we hope people will question the idea that Muslims are hostile to other monotheist religions, when actually, Muslims believe in all the prophets. In our religion, Jesus and Moses are prophets just like Muhammad, and thus are respected,” the Muslim volunteer noted.
According to Naif Sheikh, the majority of non-Muslims in the Western world do not have a negative or false image of Islam, but every Muslim is nevertheless duty-bound to raise his/her voice in support of the religion.
“Keeping silent would have meant we approved of what this video said about Islam, ridiculous as it is.”