Nobody could deny the adverse impact of 9/11 on Muslims, ever since it took place. Following the incident, there has been a 1700 per cent increase (from 28 incidents to 481) in hate crime against Muslim Americans between 2000 and 2001 alone as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Although the numbers decreased with each passing year, the statistics have never been the same as how they were prior to 9/11.
There has also been an upsurge in negative stereotypes towards Muslim Americans as an aftermath of the unfortunate tragedy. However it is not just this community which is affected, but those who possess any resemblance to a Muslim or even distantly related to Islam are also living in fear.
Although researchers have suggested that the attitudes towards Muslim Americans are situationally variant, the fact that the image of Islam in the minds of the Americans has become distorted could not be disputed any longer.
WIth the biased media making things worse by feeding the public with false and sensationalized information, some members of the public begin to point their fingers towards any Muslim group that claim to be responsible for causing such devastating event. Some even went as far as putting the blame on the religion of Islam itself.
For the purpose of moving their own agenda, historical events and textual references in Islam are quoted unjustly and misrepresented in such a way that they influence gullible people or sway their judgment into thinking that Islam is a religion rooted in terrorism.
This deliberate brainwashing of the minds is a concentrated effort made towards the public and it is the contributing cause in the rise of hate and Islamophobia amongst the people in the west. The practising Muslims who are innocent have to regrettably suffer the oppression due to this grievous misunderstanding.
Behind the untold discrimination
Perhaps the 9/11 tragedy is somewhat both a challenge and a blessing for Islam.
It is remarkably a challenge with regards to the discrimination, oppression and obstacles faced by Muslims around the world, with those living in America included. The image of Islam has been tainted with notions of violence. Rumours are everywhere, claiming that Islam spreads by force and conquers through the sword.
Some Muslims in Europe are killed for being Muslim, while numerous others in the Middle East are bombed and their homelands shattered under the pretence of combating terrorism and upholding justice for the fallen victims of 9/11.
However, if one were to look at the other side of the coin, 9/11 has become a gateway for people to talk more about Islam. The level of curiosity raised has sparked interest in some people to study more about this peaceful religion. They are intrigued; is there really a religion that encourages its believers to act with violence? It cannot be true! Praise be to Allah, they found the truth and able to return to this path of Allah.
This is proven by the Association of Religion Data Archives that recorded a 67 per cent increase in the number of Muslims residing in America, a decade after the incident took place. If during the year 2000 the number was 1 million, the number grew to 2.6 million in 2010, and further to 3.3 million in 2015.
“Despite Islamophobia, thoughtful Americans who are curious about the real nature of Islam might go out of their way to discover the teachings of the religion from reliable sources,” Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University Bloomington Asma Afsaruddin told PRI.
A lot of things about Islam have caught their attention and piqued their interest which then resulted in their reversion to Islam. One of those, according to Afsaruddin, is the egalitarian aspects of Islam. Having gone through social injustice in their local society, these people embraced Islam upon learning about fairness and justice in Islam — they realized they finally found the long-yearned solution to their problems in Islam.
Some reversions even made it to the headlines, such as Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who converted after being held captive by Taliban.
So, were they not worried about the hate and vengeful rage they would have to face after reverting to Islam?
For some of the reverts, none of these matters when they had finally met with the true faith and purpose of their life. As one of them who now lives in Brazil, Collins Telles, said:
“I never cared about being accepted. I knew that I had found God, and that’s all I ever wanted.”