Media Guide to Islam-Yalonis
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This a Guide Written by Public Opinion Expert Chris Yalonis on how the Western media can more accurately and effectively cover Islamic and Muslim issues

This a Guide Written by Public Opinion Expert Chris Yalonis on how the Western media can more accurately and effectively cover Islamic and Muslim issues

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  • 1. The Journalist’s Guide to Islam & Muslims Commissioned by: Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs- State of Kuwait State of Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs With the guidence of: Ameen for Public Affairs - Kuwait Advisory for Research and Consultancy- Middle East A Study by: Communique Communique Partners a Market Partners Intelligence Consultancy © 2005 by Communique Partners LLC
  • 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSJournalist’s Guide to Islam & MuslimsCopyright © 2005All rights reserved. No part of this publicationmay be reproduced or transmitted in any formor by any means, electronic or mechanicalincluding photocopying, recording, or any Introduction 5information storage or retrieval system,without prior permission in writing from the Western Public Opinion 6publishers. Drivers of Media Coverage 9Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs- State ofKuwait Overview of Islam, the Religion 12Ministries complex, Block 16P.O.Box: 13 Safat, 13001 Kuwait Modern Day Islam 14Ameen for Public Affairs Glossary of Muslim Terms 18P.O.Box: 131 Sharq, 15452 KuwaitPhone: +965 246 0483 Fax: +965 246 0484 Glossary of Common Muslim Phrases 19info@ameenpr.comwww.ameenpr.com Reporter’s Rolodex 20Advisory Research and ConsultancyP.O.Box: 1174 Sharq, 15462 Kuwait Websites / Resources 22Phone: +965 246 0480 Fax: +965 246 0481info@advisoryme.com Articles 23www.advisoryme.com Books 23Communique Partners LLCA Market Intelligence Consultancy Guidelines for Journalists 24822 D StreetSan Rafael, California 94901 USAPhone: 1-415-453-9030Fax: 1-415-480-2089Chris Yalonis, Presidentinfo@communiquepartners.comwww.communiquepartners.com
  • 3. INTRODUCTIONW elcome to The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims. Thisreference guide is developed for journalists, This guide was edited by Chris Yalonis and Gabrielle Mogannam, of Communique Part- ners, a market intelligence and consulting firm in San Francisco. They are the authors of a ma-by journalists and analysts, with the jor global study done in 2005 on the perceptionaim of helping ensure accuracy when of Islam and Muslims, which includes inter-covering Islam and Muslims, especially in views of major experts on Islam and the media, public opinion surveys in Europe and the US, astheWestern media. well as analysis of important reports and books on the subject. The study was commissioned byDespite the fact that Islam is one of the fastest The Kuwaiti Ministry of Islamic and Culturalgrowing religions in the World, few journalists Affairs, with the guidance of New Future, aunderstand it. Few know where to go for leading Kuwaiti media firm. Study objectivesaccurate and balanced information about one included an analysis of the perception of Islamof the world’s major faiths. in the West, its drivers, the role of the media, and the means to improve multicultural and re-For many journalists, it’s sometimes difficult ligious understanding. The study can be foundto separate religious belief from the influence at www.islamperceptions.org.of politics and culture. There is considerableconfusion as to who speaks for Islam. In fact,too much misinformation about Islam is passedalong as fact. Too often harmful stereotypes thatbreed intolerance are being reinforced.This guide is intended to clear up some of theconfusion and make it easier for journaliststo prepare informed stories. This Journalist’sGuide to Islam is not intended to be compre-hensive. But it covers most of the areas that ageneral assignment reporter might encounterduring the course of preparing a story with anIslamic angle. It is also not intended to serve aseither a defense or an apology for Islam. Ratherit is written for any journalist who requiressome ready and timely resources.It starts with a historical context of the percep-tion of Islam and Muslims in the West and thedrivers of that perception. It then provides abasic overview of Islam, its core beliefs andits presence in the world. The guide looks ata few important themes, including jihad andthe role of women in Islamic society. We offersome guidelines in covering Islam and Muslims,including required sensitivities. Finally, we of-fer some useful resources, particularly on theWorld Wide Web. In short, we hope this assistsjournalists in doing their job more easily andeffectively. The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 5
  • 4. WESTERN PUBLIC OPINION I n national public opinion polls run in Western Europe and the US in 2005 by Communique Partners, Muslims rated the WESTERN PERCEPTION - A HIS- TORICAL PERSPECTIVE: “Experts”, some legitimate and some question- able as to credentials, emerged to speak on Is- lam, often incorrectly, in media interviews. The and Islamic culture, preferring to show graphic images of fiery imams, gun toting militants, and anti-American demonstrations, with emotions Western Perception of Islam and Muslims has biggest question on most American’s minds was and actions taken in the name of Islam. “If it lowest in overall favorability among various “Why do Muslims hate us so much?” President bleeds, it leads”. News directors will lead news long been dominated by confrontation and neg- religious groups. 27% of those surveyed ativity. In Europe, Islam was a direct military George Bush early in the immediate days after coverage with terror attacks, anti-American overall had a very or somewhat unfavorable threat for centuries. Christian thought-lead- 9/11 made a concerted effort at communicating demonstrations, and hostage images to shock ers saw Mohammed in a lowly state. European to the public that Islam was a religion of peace and engage jaded viewers. The absence of a opinion of “Muslims who live inside my and that the vast majority of Muslims are not countering view contributes to the selecting colonialism rooted in Islamic territory. Europe country” and even a higher percentage had anti-American or terrorists. Yet, in the years of these stereotypes and people start to believe had a direct experience with Islam, but never a negative opinion of “Muslims outside my welcomed it in Europe. following, according to many analysts, that mes- them. country” and “Arab Muslims”. sage has not been adequately reinforced by the In the US, there has been little experience or Bush administration. Stereotyping in movies, TV shows, cartoons, A quarter of the respondents believed that all representation of Islam up to the 1980’s. Today, and other media: Some cartoonists say the easi- or most Arab Muslims are anti-American, but Muslims represent between 1-2% of the US est way to describe a Muslim is a guy in a funny only 9% believed that all or most Arab Mus- population, 3% in the UK and 7-10% in France DRIVERS OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION headdress. Few western TV programs and mov- lims favor terrorism. Only 17% believed that and between 5-10% of the other EC countries. OF ISLAM AND MUSLIMS: ies have characters of Middle Eastern descent. If all or most Arab Muslims favor modernity and The US embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979 they do, they have been often been stereotypical, only 6% believed that they are in favor of equal defined much of America’s perception of po- Much Western literature and popular culture wide-eyed, bumbling, radical militants. rights for women. litical Islam. In the 1990’s, US perception con- has portrayed Arabs and Muslims negatively over the past 200 years. This has occurred in the Public Perception tinued to be dominated by militant, extremist Stereotyping: The per- Ignorance of and lack of empathy with Islam and political issues. These were reinforced by absence of really positive and hopeful and ac- is widespread. Half of the respondents said curate images of Muslims that include everyday ception of Muslims and the attacks on US embassy’s and military bases Islam varies by coun- they had very little or no knowledge at all of in Africa, and the Middle East. The general people but also heroes, people who are extraor- Islam or Arab Muslims. 76% said that “my re- dinary people. try, ethnic group, and perception was that the primary public face of whether the discussion ligion and Islam are very different” or that they Islam was anti-American and militant. “do not know enough to determine if their reli- TV coverage of terror and war: Most people’s is about Muslims as gion and Islam have a lot in common”. The 9/11 attacks in the US dramatically in- perceptions of Islam and Muslims in Europe individuals or Islam as creased the visibility of Islam. “The image of and the US are shaped by media coverage. The a political movement. Media is influential in shaping the percep- Islam is not something that a lot of people media has been slow to cover ordinary Muslims The majority of people tion of Arab Muslims. The study identified TV thought about prior to 9/11. But after 9/11, in the US and Europe documentaries and news as the most influential a broad new group of Americans sought have a favorable opin- media in molding feelings about Arab Muslims, out books on Arabs and Muslims, and there ion of Muslims as individuals, as neighbors, followed by newspapers. Each of the other me- emerged many news talk radio and TV pro- friends and work colleagues. But in a politicized dia outlets, such as books, magazines, movies, grams and lectures on Islam and Muslims”, says context, Muslims and Islam are viewed mostly and websites had half the influence of TV. A Akbar Ahmed, Chairman of Islamic Studies at negatively, especially those of Arab descent. quarter of the all respondents read or watched American University. TV regarding Islam and Muslims at least 1 or Common stereotypes include: more times a week, mostly news about the war • Terrorist on terror and in Iraq. About 37% had very lim- • Anti-American ited exposure to news and information about • Anti-modern Islam and Muslims (once every 2 months or • Anti-women rights more or never in the past year). • Anti-democracy • Shady rich, oil sheik Important as an impetus to the creation of this • Religious zealot, using Islam to justify militant guide, nearly three quarters of the respondents extremism believe that the media depicts Arab Muslims and Islam accurately only half of the time, not often or never. Conservative “experts” and pundits: Until recently, there has been a predominance of Clearly, this is a call for a more accurate, bal- mostly conservative, anti-Arab leaning “experts” anced depiction of Islam and Muslims by mem- and pundits that make themselves available for bers of the media. news and media interviews. For example, there are about 300 think tanks in the US, mostly in the Washington-Boston corridor. The large6 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 7
  • 5. DRIVERS OF MEDIA COVERAGE majority of them are conservative-leaning and many of them have set up Middle Eastern sec- tions and Islam studies groups. Some of these N ews coverage of the Muslim world, against this backdrop of historical and ideological conflict has tended to toward these interests. Support for this view has also come from research that finds very few dif- ferences in coverage of the Middle East across groups tend to write and speak publicly on the various Western nations. France and England, dangers and threat of Islamic fundamentalism portray Arabs as monolithic, generally for example, have had more direct involvement and extremism. Many see Islam increasingly aggressive and incompetent in nature, historically in the Middle East, having colonized as a monolith and cultural and security threat. while the focus on terrorism has added the and then partitioned the region, than has had These conservative think tanks are often funded the United States. But in many cases, national by wealthy conservative and pro-Israeli donors element of irrationality and threat. interests and common cultural biases, make for and foundations. The members of the think Some argue that Islam and Arabs are portrayed similar coverage. tanks, or “fellows”, have an academic aura in negatively because they present a culture in op- their reputation and positioning, but in truth, position to Western values, and because Western their writings and talks are not held to the peer political and financial interests are in opposi- review as in university circles. But they are often tion to certain local interests. on TV and radio and lecture circuits, placed by highly paid professional speaker bureaus and In modern times, concepts of democracy, liber- public relations firms. There has been few coun- alism, freedom of expression, moderation, and tering Islamic spokespeople. tolerance have become political and cultural characteristics of Western societies. Concepts Israeli-Palestinian conflict: About 70% of outside these features tend to be seen as ideo- Americans are slightly or very pro-Israel. Jewish logically opposed and unacceptable. It is in this interest groups have been active in American context that Islamic fundamentalism, com- politics and opinion making for over 40 years. monly associated with terrorism, fanaticism, They are well funded and have relationships violence and the codes of punishment in Islam with news professionals and journalists. Many (e.g. cutting hands, stoning, rape, etc.), has been other ethnic, religious and industry groups have widely reported and defined as a threat to West- successfully funded PR and lobbying efforts. ern values. Relative to these groups, the European and American Muslim communities do not have Some analysts have accused the media of be- strong PR or lobbying efforts. ing a propaganda machine dominated by the system’s elites and used for “managing” public Christian Fundamentalists: Leading Christian opinion. To the extent that Islam is contrary spokesmen in the US, such as Pat Robertson, to Western interests, its treatment in the news Billy Graham, and Jerry Falwell have made anti- would follow this pattern of biasing and man- Muslim public comments and even hold well aging and the manufacturing of negative per- formed anti-Muslim positions in their lectures ceptions and stereotypes about Arabs, Islam HAS ISLAM REPLACED and preaching. COMMUNISM AS THE WEST’S and the Middle East. An example here would Silencing of Muslim self-criticism: Relative to include the widespread coverage in 2005 of the BIGGEST THREAT? other ethnic groups, Muslims in the West do young Pakistani woman whose punishment by not tend to speak up and write editors or call village elders was to sentence her to a gang rape. Along these lines, some have even argued that in to news organizations or TV shows when Given that women are raped in Western cities as Communist ideology has retreated from anti-Muslim and anti-Arab broadcasts are as brutally as anywhere else, why would such a international attention, Islam has replaced it, made. This contrasts with the Jewish, Hispanic story receive such coverage (a 2-page spread in appropriating the old imagery of difference, or African American communities, which are Newsweek, for example), except to maintain threat and irrationality originally associated much more vocal. Muslims do not want to ap- stereotypes of Islam already manufactured. with Communism. Terms such as “Islamic pear openly critical of fellow Muslims, lest they fundamentalism,” like “Communism,” have be- be seen as contributing to the extensive forces of The underlying theme common to this ap- come ideological constructs, allowing Islam to condemnation. proach is of Western ideological, state govern- be defined as a threat to Western interests and ment or corporate influence on news organiza- Muslims as extremists threatening the values of tions and reporters that results in stories skewed Western societies.8 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 9
  • 6. SIMPLICIFCATION OF COVERAGE: “Christianity” by grouping together and thereby sible and less well in- ignoring distinctions between, France and Ar- vestigated. Thus a story Another issue has been the common simpli- gentina, Russia and the United States, Catholics of a Hezbollah attack fication in coverage of “Arabs” or “Muslims,” and Protestants. might easily be char- treating these populations in a generally undif- acterized as “another” This issue is also relevant for analysis of cover- attack in a “continu- ferentiated manner as single entities. Group- age of “Arabs.” There are a number of different ing” conflict, without a ing together the vast complexity of the Islamic countries grouped under this label, stretching more detailed investi- or Arab worlds under the labels of “Islam” or over two continents, as well as distinct groups, gation into the reasons “Arab,” fall prey to precisely the kinds of biased diasporas and nations without countries, each behind the particular frames of understanding propagated by Western with varied histories, religions, cultures and attack, or more gener- news coverage. Islamic nations stretch from politics. Labels not only hide true complexity, ally, into the reasons Africa to Asia with roughly 1.2 billion follow- they hinder true understanding. Western cov- and nature of a contin- ers around the globe There is also a significant erage of Muslims and Arabs has often treated uing conflict. Secondly, Islamic diaspora, with estimates of 1.5 million them as a generalized “other” and ignored the conventions of fairness Muslims in Britain, and 5 million in the United vast complexity that belies those labels. force stories into two States (Husseini and Naureckas, 1993). Most Muslims in Britain are of Pakistani and Indian sides, often neglecting descent, while among the 5 million Muslims in MEDIA CONTRAINTS: important other forces a reporter assigned to an international story, the United States, roughly 42 percent are Afri- that explain the issue An important explanation for biased coverage more completely. Understanding a Palestin- to have a foreign news desk, to have a reporter can Americans; 24 percent are South Asian; 13 focuses on the requirements and practices of ian attack, for example, requires not only the spend an extended stay in a foreign country, or percent are of Arab descent; 5 percent are Afri- newsgathering in Western press agencies. This is Israeli and Palestinian sides (the two sides for to have continuing or investigative coverage of can; and 16 percent come from a host of other a business that is highly conscious of costs and an “unbiased” or “balanced” story), but also an international story. origins. profits and is only marginally aware of complex probably various factions within each side, as Islam is one of three major religions (Judaism Islam is also fractured along important religious international history and events. Constraints are well as the influence of key religious leaders and and Christianity having preceded it) that claims lines as in, for example, Shiite and Sunni Mus- on news stories, reporters and organizations. neighboring states or forces. Thirdly, reporters connection to the prophet Abraham’s monothe- lims. How well could all this diversity be studied compete among themselves to have their stories In terms of stories, the pressure of deadlines for istic understanding of God. Believers consider in terms of coverage if the only category was published. This prestige of bylines forces stories example, forces stories to be short, easily acces- Islam the final divine revelation of the one, true that of “Muslim”? It would be akin to studying to be shorter and to fit within expected frames God, and a corrective and perfection of the of coverage of particular issues. previous revelations. Islam is an Arabic word Reporter constraints translate to high turnover derived from salaam (peace), and is generally rates of international reporters and common translated as “surrender or submission to the unfamiliarity with international events leading will of God.” to less investment in international stories and Islam offers a complete system for govern- less critical judgment in coverage. It takes an ing societal and personal conduct, including extended stay in a locale for a reporter to realize economic, political and moral guidelines, and the complexities of that place. A lack of prepa- teaches that God will decide eternal reward or ration for international coverage leads to stories punishment on a future Day of Judgment. with facile generalization and gross oversimpli- fications. Reporters’ unfamiliarity with a foreign setting as well as general concerns for efficiency also lead to an over-reliance on official sources who are easy to access and considered “safe” in journalistic terms. Organizationally, the common standards of newsworthiness force coverage when there are single, important events to the detriment of continuing coverage of important but slower- breaking stories. This tends to focus stories on negative events, simplify complex events and fails to provide historical context. And lastly, organizational resources greatly influence the ability and likelihood of a news organization to have space for an international story, to have10 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 11
  • 7. OVERVIEW OF ISLAM, THE RELIGION A fter Christianity, Islam is the second Universe, The First, and The Last. of the Qur’an and close adherence to its teach- ings. They believe in 12 heavenly Imams (per- most widespread of the world’s Muslims consider Allah the creator of all hu- fect teachers) who led the Shi’ites in succession. religions, claiming more than 1.2 billion man beings and the god for Christians, Jews, Shi’ites believe that the 12th Imam, the Mahdi adherents, primarily in Asia and Africa but Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and oth- (guided one), never died, but rather went into increasingly in Europe and the Americas. ers. hiding. The Mahdi awaits the optimum time to reappear and guide humans towards justice and Islam views itself as a universal faith, but its peace. origin in the Arabian Peninsula and the fact that MUHAMMAD: many of the religion’s holiest places are in the Middle East give Islam an Arab ethnic flavor Muslims believe Muhammad was the last SOURCE OF ISLAM: Prophet of God to humankind and the final that remains strong today. Only about 10 to 12 Messenger of God. He was born in 570 C.E. percent of Muslims worldwide, however, are (Common Era) in Makkah, Arabia. The legal sources of Islam are the Qur’an and Arabs. Islam has developed diverse expressions the Hadith. The Qur’an is the “exact word of while taking root in various cultures around Muhammad, considered to be the summation God;” The Hadith is the report of the sayings, the globe. Indonesia, for example, has a larger and the culmination of all the prophets and deeds and approvals of the Prophet Muham- Muslim population than all the Arab countries messengers that came before him, was entrusted mad. combined. Significant populations of Muslims with the power of explaining, interpreting and also reside in India, Iran, other parts of East living the teaching of the Qur’an. Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 45 na- THE SPREAD OF ISLAM tions have majority Muslim populations and There are two major branches of Islam, based approximately 30 other countries also have siz- largely on the divisions between successors to During the 100 years following Muhammad’s able Muslim communities. death, Islam spread to many parts of the world, including West Africa, the Indian subcontinent There are about 200 million Arabs. and Indonesia, as well as large parts of what had • Arabs can be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, an been the Roman and Persian empires. It has atheist or a follower of another faith. been commonly said that Islam was spread by • Arab Muslims constitute only about 10% of the sword, a claim that dates back to the time of The Qur’an encourages followers to acquire the Muslim population of the world. Christian crusades in the Holy Land. More than knowledge and explore the universe. Islam anything, that depends upon the perspective. made tremendous contributions to the intellec- Because Islam historically combined the roles of tual, scientific and cultural progress of human- ISLAM AND MUSLIMS: spiritual and political leader in one person, po- ity during a time when Europe was regarded as litical and territorial aspirations often were con- being mired in the Dark Ages. The period from fused with missionary zeal. Moreover, because the 10th century to the 13th century is often The word “Islam” is derived from root words Muslim beliefs and values were often at odds known as the Golden Age of Islam. Muslim Silm and Salam, which mean “peace.” with the prevailing culture, Muslims found scholars contributed to a variety of fields: Art, A Muslim follows the teachings of Islam, a themselves as much under attack, as on the at- music, physics, medicine, education, literature, monotheistic religion characterized by a doc- tack. More to the point, Muslims believe it was astronomy, geography, mathematics and archi- trine of submission to God and to Muhammad their witness of faith that accelerated the spread tecture. Cairo, Baghdad, Cordoba and Samar- Islam across most of the known world. kand were centres of scientific research. Their as the chief and last prophet of God. universities, in Spain, Egypt and elsewhere, were the Prophet Mohammed: Sunni, with the most “...I became more than ever convinced that it followers, and Shiite. unequalled. Islam is credited with opening the was not the sword that won a place for Islam ALLAH THE ONE AND THE ONLY in those days in the scheme of life,” Mohan- way for the European Enlightenment. Sunni Muslims constitute a 90% majority of the GOD: faith’s believers. Considered to be mainstream das Gandhi wrote in Young India. “It was the traditionalists, Sunni Muslims often practice rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the For Muslims, Allah is the name of the “One and Prophet, the scrupulous regards for his pledges, their faith within secular societies and adapt to Only God.” his intense devotion to his friends and follow- a variety of national cultures. Like all Muslims, Sunnis follow the sources of law -- the Qur’an ers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute • Allah has a total of ninety-nine different and Hadith. trust in God and in his own mission. These, and names, including: The Gracious, The not the sword, carried everything before them Merciful, The Beneficent, The Creator, The Shi’ite Muslims promote a strict interpretation and surmounted every trouble.” All-Knowing, The All-Wise, The Lord of the12 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 13
  • 8. MODERN DAY ISLAM T he roots of modern day Islam were sown a couple of centuries ago when the once proud Muslim empire began to help them sort out the social, cultural and political factors that have become interwoven with the Islamic beliefs and customs in different about gender reveals a more favorable per- spective on women. A vocal array of academic scholars emphasizes the Islamic tradition’s pow- state or governing body can declare jihad. Islam condemns suicide, terrorism, kidnapping and hijacking. All such acts are regarded as criminal countries around the world. It is also important erful female characters, its progressive laws and and should be punished. People who undertake to be overwhelmed by expansionist to avoid the temptation to label terrorist activi- its revolutionary views on women and faith. such actions in the name of Islam have hijacked movements dominated by European ties as Islamic or ascribe responsibility to Mus- the religion for their own political purposes. In lims. Simplistic, sensationalized reporting load- Islam counts women among some of its most wartime, Islam prohibits soldiers from harming colonialists. Much of the Muslim world is revered spiritual teachers, and it credits women ed with newspeak or jargon must be replaced by civilians, children, women, the elderly and reli- still suffering the impact of those exploits. clear, accurate and nuanced reporting. with guiding the Prophet Muhammad and pro- gious men, including priests and rabbis. Now Muslims the world over are looking tecting his legacy. The Quran speaks explicitly to reassert themselves after a long period of to women as well as men and declares them DAILY LIFE: spiritual equals. Muslim religious law is based SOME ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES: humiliation and oppression, sometimes at not only on the words and revelations of men, the hands of foreigners and sometimes at For many Muslims, Islam is a religion, culture • Oneness of God: Islam rejects the idea of but also on the witness and insight of women. and a way of life. The Quran advises its ad- multiple manifestations of Allah. the hands of their own leaders. Muslims are • Oneness of mankind: People are created herents on prayer and conduct, but also on all The women at the origins of Islam -- Khadijah, not a monolithic group. Further, there is no aspects of daily living from clothing and food to Aisha, Fatimah and others -- played key roles in equal in the Law of God. There is no centralized authority within Islam. finances, dating, marriage, and family. shaping its future. Aisha, one of Muhammad’s superiority of one race over another. In some Muslim countries, there are enforce- most beloved wives, is the source of more than • Oneness of Messengers and the Message: That is why contradictions are evident to people 2,000 hadith, the revered collection that records Muslims believe God sent different able laws that affect daily life regarding, among both inside and outside the Muslim commu- the words and deeds of the Prophet. messengers throughout the history of other things, dress, education and employment. nity. Those contradictions often catch the eye of humanity. All came with the same message In non-Muslim countries such as the U.S., some reporters looking for an angle. Unfortunately, At its inception in the Arabian Peninsula in the and the same teachings, but some people Muslims choose to strictly follow all aspects of while there are a variety of interpretations, sixth century A.D., Islamic law gave women misunderstood and misinterpreted them. The Islam in daily life, while others may only follow media accounts headline the extremes without new rights, and today it continues to protect a prophets and teachers of Christianity and some rules, such as prayer and dietary rules, but paying attention to the viewpoints of moder- woman’s right, among other things, to divorce Judaism are also the Prophets of Islam: Noah, choose to wear Western clothing rather than ate, mainstream Muslims across North America or to receive financial support if her husband Abraham, Isaac, Ismail, Jacob, Moses, David, traditional robes or dresses. and elsewhere, who comprise the majority. It is divorces her. In contemporary times, Muslim Jesus, and Muhammad. Amid the various guidelines, the overarching a complex situation that, all too often, is over- women have led not only mosques -- in Iran, • Angels and the Day of Judgment: Muslims theme to all aspects of living an Islamic lifestyle simplified for the benefit of readers and viewers, for example -- but political parties, feminist believe in unseen creatures created by God is moderation. to the point where news accounts are distorted. movements and modern nations such as Paki- for special missions. Muslims also believe in This does an enormous disservice to the broad- stan, Turkey and Bangladesh. a Day of Judgment when all people of the er Muslim community because the reporting WOMEN AND ISLAM: world will be brought for “accounting, reward tends to be alarmist, reinforcing stereotypes and and punishment.” setting the stage for racial or religious profiling. When the Western media portray Muslim WHAT IS JIHAD? • Innocence of Man at Birth: Muslims believe women, it is most often as victims of oppres- people are born free of sin. Only after they sion. Indeed, countless Muslim women across There is no term in Islam that is so misused or abused as jihad. Contrary to popular under- reach puberty will they be accountable the globe are struggling for basic human rights. for sinful acts. Forgiveness through true In Saudi Arabia, women are forbidden to drive, standing, jihad does not mean holy war. The concept of holy war does not exist in Islam. It is repentance is always available. travel alone and enter all but selected gender- segregated professions. a term that originated during the Crusades by the Christians. Nor is it a war to force Islam on The Taliban regime in Afghanistan barred girls others. The Qur’an states, “There is no compul- from school and ordered the beating of women sion in religion.” (2:256) Rather jihad means to if they ventured outside without a burkha cov- struggle or strive for a better way of life. It refers ering them from head to toe. to the difficult task of implementing Allah’s will at every level of life, personal, social and While some believe Islamic law condones these political. The most urgent task for a Muslim is and similar practices, increasingly others, both to remove injustice and wrongdoing from one’s within and outside Islam, dispute and even heart and from society. The most important It is important to put the apparent tensions and condemn such interpretations. Those who con- struggle is purifying the heart. The only time contradictions within the Muslim community demn these practices point out that centuries that jihad is permitted in a combative sense is in into context. Reporters must seek out Islamic of patriarchy and misogyny have shaped Islam self-defense—as a defensive war waged against scholars and commentators. Journalists report- religious traditions. And they argue that a care- unjust leaders, not against the people of a coun- ing on Islam must cultivate trustworthy sources ful reading of the Quran and Islam’s teachings try. Furthermore, only a recognized head of14 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 15
  • 9. PRACTICES OF ISLAM: CELEBRATIONS: News organizations often use major celebra- God instructed Muslims to practice five pillars: tions to focus on religious activities, such as Christmas and Easter for Christians, and Passo- Declaration of Faith: ver and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for A Muslim must express his or her faith by de- Jews. So it should be, for these are important claring in Arabic,“ there is no God but Allah events in the lives of believers. From the Islamic and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” perspective, there are two major celebrations, Muslims must recite it, understand it and follow Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. These events will it by action in their daily life. Faith without ac- vary from year-to year because of the Muslim tion, and action without faith is fruitless. use of the lunar calendar. In North America, it is important for news organizations to be mind- ful that the dates for the beginning of important Prayer: Eid Ul-Adha: It comes at the end of the pil- activities such as Ramadan are determined by grimage to Mecca. This is the greater of the two whether or not a new moon is sighted. Often- Muslims are required to pray five daily prayers. festivals and usually falls about 2 ½ months times, Muslim organizers cannot provide an It is to be performed with mental concentra- after Eid Al-Fitr. Even though only about two exact date till the day before the event. Gener- tion, verbal communication, vocal recitation million Muslims actually make the pilgrimage, ally, the Muslim community rents a large facility and physical movement to attain peace and all Muslims celebrate its end. Here Muslims such as an auditorium or sports arena for com- harmony. There is also a special congrega- celebrate the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to munity prayer to mark these celebrations. tional prayer on Friday at noon delivered in the sacrifice his son, Ismail, and Ismail’s willingness mosque. It lasts about an hour. Ritual cleanli- Eid Ul-Fitr: It comes at the end of the fasting to be sacrificed. (This is not to be confused with ness is essential. Prayer can be performed any- month of Ramadan. It is a time of great joy and Jewish and Christian belief that it was Abra- where. In recent years, more and more employ- gratitude as they complete their obligation of ham’s son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah who ers and educational institutions have created Support Almsgiving: fasting. A special Eid prayer, visiting relatives was to be sacrificed. Rather, Muslims believe areas to which Muslim employees retreat for and friends, exchanging greetings and good that it was Abraham’s son Ismail, through his prayer. Islam teaches that wealth is a trust from Al- wishes characterize the festival. Children often wife Hajir, who was to be sacrificed.) Because lah and the poor and needy have rights on the receive money and new clothes. Sweets and of Ismail’s total obedience, an animal was sacri- wealth of the rich. It is a sin not to share one’s other delicacies are served to guests. ficed in his stead. Fasting: wealth with the needy or to allow them to suffer from hunger or disease. Muslims are required Islam relies on a lunar calendar. Fasting takes to make an annual payment to charity called place during Ramadan, the ninth month in the zakat, as a means of purifying their wealth. The lunar calendar. Every Muslim who has reached amount is based on a percentage of their in- the age of maturity, usually around the age of come or property. 14 or 15, is required to fast. The fast begins at dawn each day and ends at sunset. Eating, Pilgrimage to Mecca: drinking and smoking are not permitted be- Muslims believe that the Prophet Abraham, tween dawn and sunset. For those who are mar- acting on God’s command, built a place of wor- ried, sexual relations are prohibited from dawn ship in Mecca solely for the worship of the one to sunset. The sick, pregnant women, nursing God. Known as the Ka’bah, Mecca is the centre mothers, women who are menstruating and of the Islamic world. It symbolizes the worship people traveling are all exempted from fasting. of Allah alone and is a symbol of Muslim unity. People excused for medical reasons are required Once in a lifetime, Muslims are required to to feed a poor person one meal each day. Oth- make a pilgrimage or ers are required to make up lost days later. As in other spiritual traditions, fasting is regarded as hajj to Mecca —if health and wealth permits. a blessing from Allah. It is regarded as spiritual As many as two million Muslims from around training that enables a person to resist tempta- the world gather annually in Mecca for the Hajj. tion and develop self-control. Pilgrims dress in simple white garments to em- phasize their equality before Allah without dis- crimination because of race, color, language or nationality. It also reminds them that, regardless of their circumstances in life, they will all be buried wrapped in a simple sheet.16 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 17
  • 10. GLOSSARY OF MUSLIM TERMS GLOSSARY OF COMMON MUSLIM PHRASES Adhan: Call to prayer. Halal: Permissible by Islamic law. Ahl al-kitab: “People of the Book.” The term Masha Allah: “Due to Allah.” Pronounced when referring to Jews and Christians. praising. Allah: God. Hijab: Clothing Muslim women wear in public. It is generally loose fitting and includes a head Alhamdu-lillah: “All praise is due to Allah.” A Pillars of Islam: The 5 basic devotional-ritual Chador (Persian chaadar): A large cloth worn covering. Also called a khimar. Qur’anic phrase repeated by Muslims in all situ- duties of Islam: as a combination head covering, veil, and shawl, ations of life. usually by Muslim women, especially in Iran. Imam: Prayer leader. Shahada: testifying that “There is no god but Allahu akbar: “God is Great.” Used when ac- God and Mohammed is the Messenger of God.” Da’wa: Literally “invitation.” The invitation of Intifada: “Shaking, uprising, insurrection.” This knowledging or recognizing an individual or an non-Muslims to Islam. word usually refers to the Palestinian resistance event. Salat: “five daily prayer services;” to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and Du’a’: Individual, private supplication. the West Bank. Assalamu Alaikum: “Peace be upon you.” An Zakat: “almsgiving;” Islamic greeting. Eid: A day of festivity and major religious holi- Isa: Prophet Jesus; Arabic name. Sawm: “fasting during daylight in the month of day. Bismillah: “In the name of Allah.” All actions of Ramadan; Jihad: Effort and striving in the path of good— a Muslim should begin with this phrase to en- Fatwa: An Islamic decree issued by a mufti or a does not mean, or translate, as holy war. Hajj: “pilgrimage to Mecca.” sure good and meritorious conduct. religious lawyer on a specific issue. A fatwa has no weight unless accepted by the community of Qur’an: Islam’s revealed scripture. Subhana Allah: “God alone is worthy of praise.” Insha Allah: “God-willing.” A phrase often scholars, their consensus is recognized as legal Used in appreciation or time of achievement, or used. opinion to be followed. Islam has no central Shari’a: Islam’s law. blessing. authority, which allows diversity of opinion, Jazaku Allahu Khayran: “May Allah reward Ummah: The Muslim “community” or ideal though major scholars agree on core issues. you.” A form of saying thank-you. state worldwide. Fiqh: “Understanding” in matters of religious law (shari’ah). Hadith: “Report, account.” A tradition about Mohammed, what he said or did. The hadiths were collected and came to be a record of the Prophet’s Sunna, second only to the Qur’an in authority for Muslims.18 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 19
  • 11. REPORTER’S ROLODEX Mahmoud Ayoub Ann E. Mayer Tudor Lomas Professor of Islamic Studies Associate Professor of Legal Studies Department of Religion Wharton School of the University of Pennsylva- Jemstone Director Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. nia, PA. The Jemstone Network Ltd E-mail: mayoub@blue.temple.edu E-Mail: mayera@wharton.upen.edu Heldre Cottage, Office: 215-204-5603 Office: 215-898-5717 Collards Lane, Home: 215-849-6571 Haslemere, Mayer is an authority on comparative law, hu- Surrey GU27 2HU man rights law, and Islamic jurisprudence Phone: 00 44 1428 641000 Ayoub is well versed on the religious fundamen- Fax 00 44 1428 643675 tals of Islam, Muslin-Christian relations, and Email: tudor@jemstone.net interfaith dialogue. Born and raised in Lebanon, www.jemstone.net he has a doctorate in the history of religion Seyyed Hossein Nasr from Harvard University. Professor of Islamic Studies George Washington University, Washington, Lomas is Director of the Jemstone Network, a D.C. media and development consultancy which he E-mail: zsirat@gwu.edu established in 1999 after four years on second- Alan Godlas Office: 202-994-5704 ment from the BBC to an EU-funded project Associate Professor of Religion aimed at increasing contacts and understanding University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Born and raised in Iran, Nasr is among the lead- between media professionals in the Middle East E-Mail: godlas@arches.uga.edu ing Islamic scholars in the U.S. Nasr is fluent in and Europe. Office: 706-542-1486 English, Persian, Arabic and French. He received his education in Iran and the U.S., where he received his doctorate from Harvard University. Dr. Richard Stone Godlas is a leading academic expert on esoteric Nasr is the author of 20 books and hundreds of and mystic Islam, including Sufism. He has cre- articles. The Runnymede Trust, Suite 106 ated a Web site on Islam that offers a comprehen- sive scholarly review of Islam, as well as of Suf- The London Fruit & Wool Exchange ism, Arabic, Western religions and related topics. Brushfield Street http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/home.html Roger Hardy London E1 6EP Tel: 020 7377 9222 BBC Middle East Analyst Fax: 020 7377 6622 Freelance Journalist Email: info@runnymedetrust.org Ingrid Mattson Contact through BBC website: Professor of Islamic Studies http://news.bbc.co.uk Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study Dr. Stone is chair of “Islamophobia” (A report of Islam and Christian/Muslim Relations, Hart- by the Commission on British Muslims and Is- ford Seminary, Hartford, CT. Roger Hardy is a BBC Middle East analyst and lamophobia) E-mail: imattson@hartsem.edu freelance journalist who has specialized for Office: 860-509-9531 many years in the Middle East. He was an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Fax: 860-509-9539 Inquiry, 1997-1999, and is chair of the Uniting Britain Trust and of the Jewish Council for Ra- Mattson, a Canadian convert to Islam, is an cial Equality. He is vice-chair of the Runnymede academic expert on Islamic law or Shari’a. Ad- Trust. ditionally, Mattson is a source on contemporary issues related to Islam and American Muslims. She is vice president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).20 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 21
  • 12. WEBSITES / RESOURCES ARTICLES BOOKS Websites for Journalists covering Islam and • Sayyed Yousif al-Khoei • Dr. Ahmed, Akbar (1998) Islam Today: A • The mission of the Anti-Defamation League Muslims: Islam and the West: Western Media Short Introduction to the Muslim World, I.B. is to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry of all Coverage of Islam – a critical review Tauris kinds. One section of its Web site details how http://www.maynardije.org/resources/covering- Article available at: http://www. ADL leaders have responded to anti-Muslim news/accuracy/ honestreports.com/documents/islamophobia. • Ernst, Carl (2003) Following Muhammad, and anti-Arab-American violence. pdf Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ http://www.adl.org/ World, University of North Carolina Press shows/muslims/ • George Gerges Islam and Muslims in the Minds of America • Esposito, John (2002) What Everyone Needs http://www.faithandmedia.org/pdfdocs/guide- • The American Academy of Religion operates Article available at: http://www.fathom.com/ to Know About Islam, Oxford University islam.pdf Religion source, a free service that offers jour- course/21701771/sessions.html Press nalists referrals to scholars with specific exper- http://mediaguidetoislam.sfsu.edu/home/index. tise in a variety of topics, including religion and htm • Dealing with the Media, Guidelines for • Said, Edward (1996), Covering Islam: How politics, social issues, education, pop culture Journalists the Media and the Experts Determine How and ethics, among others. The service includes From the 2004 report from the Commission We See the Rest of the World, Vintage scholars who are not AAR members, and most on British Muslims and Islamophobia (See Other Web resources on this topic: of the sources live or work in North America. Pages 72-80). Article available at: http://www. • Dr. Ahmed, Akbar (1989) Discovering Islam: The referral service is supported by the Pew • Informational Resources on Arab-Americans, insted.co.uk/islambook.pdf Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, Charitable Trusts. Use of the service is restricted the Arab World and Islam Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis to journalists and other authorized users. You http://www.adc.org/education/aainfores.htm • Roger Hardy (BBC Middle East analyst and Books Lt must register to use the service. To sign up, go freelance journalist who has specialized for to http://www.religionsource.org/ or call 404- • 100 Questions and Answers about Arab- many years in the Middle East.) • Bukhari, Zahid H., Nyang, Sulayman S., 727-4725 Americans: A Journalist’s Guide Islam and the West: Bridging the divide Ahmad, Mumtaz, Esposito, John L.(2004), http://www.freep.com/jobspage/arabs/index. Article available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/ Muslims’ Place in the American Public htm hi/talking_point/special/islam/3182669.stm Square: Hope, Fears, and Aspirations, Altamira Press • The Quran online (1 or 2) • Freshta Azizi 1. http://www.hti.umich.edu/k/koran/ Scholars Press for Better Understanding of • Philip Hitti and Walid Khalidi (2002), History 2. http://www.islam.tc/quran/ Muslim Opinion of the Arabs, Palgrave Macmillan; 10th Article available at: http://www.voanews. Revised edition • The South Asian Journalists Association com/english/NewsAnalysis/Freshta-Azizi- provides a stylebook, sources and a roundup Understanding-Muslim-Opinion2004-11-02- • Bernard Lewis (1997), The Middle East, of coverage for journalists. voa46.cfm Scribner; Reprint edition http://www.saja.org/stylebook.html • Jemstone • Newswatch is a site dedicated to diversity Islam & The West in journalism, with commentary on media Article available at: http://www.jemstone. performance. net/islam.php http://www.ciij.org/ • Maynard Institute for Journalism Education http://www.maynardije.org/ • The Religion Newswriters Association maintains an extensive set of resources on religion and covering religion. http://www.religionwriters.com/22 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 23
  • 13. GUIDELINES FOR JOURNALISTS T he Society of Professional Journalists has passed a resolution urging members and fellow journalists to take STORIES: • Seek out and include Arabs, Muslims, South to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself. • Consult the Library of Congress guide for Asians and men and women of Middle steps against racial profiling in their transliteration of Arabic names and Muslim Eastern descent in all stories about the or Arab words to the Roman alphabet. Use coverage of the war on terrorism and to war, not just those about Arab and Muslim spellings preferred by the American Muslim redouble their commitment to: communities or racial profiling. Council, including "Muhammad," "Quran," • Use language that is informative and not • Cover the victims of harassment, murder and and "Makkah ," not "Mecca." inflammatory; other hate crimes as thoroughly as you cover • Regularly seek out a variety of perspectives the victims of overt terrorist attacks. • Portray Muslims, Arabs and Middle Eastern for your opinion pieces. Check your and South Asian Americans in the richness of • Make an extra effort to include olive- coverage against the five Maynard Institute their diverse experiences; complexioned and darker men and women, for Journalism Education fault lines of race Sikhs, Muslims and devout religious people and ethnicity, class, geography, gender and • Seek truth through a variety of voices and of all types in arts, business, society columns generation. perspectives that help audiences understand and all other news and feature coverage, not the complexities of Islam and relations • Ask men and women from within targeted just stories about the crisis. between the Middle East and the West. communities to review your coverage and • Seek out experts on military strategies, public make suggestions safety, diplomacy, economics and other VISUAL IMAGES: pertinent topics who run the spectrum of race, class, gender and geography. • Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing • When writing about terrorism, remember Americans and Europeans mourning those to include white supremacist, radical anti- lost in terrorist attacks. abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity. • Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing • Do not imply that kneeling on the floor rescue and other public service workers and praying, listening to Arabic music or reciting military personnel. from the Quran are peculiar activities. • Do not represent Arabs and Muslims as • When describing Islam, keep in mind monolithic groups. Avoid conveying the there are large populations of Muslims impression that all Arab Americans and around the world, including in Africa, Muslims wear traditional clothing. Asia, Canada, Europe, India and the United States. Distinguish between various Muslim • Use photos and features to demystify veils, states; do not lump them together as in turbans and other cultural articles and constructions such as "the fury of the Muslim customs. world." • Avoid using word combinations such as "Islamic terrorist" or "Muslim extremist" that are misleading because they link whole religions to criminal activity. Be specific: Alternate choices, depending on context, include "Al Qaeda terrorists" or, to describe the broad range of groups involved in Islamic politics, "political Islamists." Do not use religious characterizations as shorthand when geographic, political, socioeconomic or other Please visit www.islamperceptions.org for more information on this topic. distinctions might be more accurate. • Avoid using terms such as "jihad" unless you are certain of their precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations. The basic meaning of "jihad" is24 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 25
  • 14. Design concept & layout: Syntax www.syntaxdigital.com26 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims 27
  • 15. 28 The Journalist’s Guide to Islam and Muslims