Friday, July 25, 2008
Well, I had meant to post this a few days ago as it was developing but now it's really picking up speed, I've noticed. You might notice a link on my blog to the 'Whyislam.org Forum' where I frequently post (and occasionally function in an admin role), which is basically a discussion board to talk about Islam, geared towards non-Muslims who might have questions.
My own decision to embrace Islam came after talking to volunteers on the whyislam.org forum, so I have a lot of respect for those who post there and operate that forum. I think it's a great organization, operated by knowledgeable and sincere volunteers who are trying to earn the pleasure of Allah SWT. So I was pretty excited when I got an email asking me to donate to a new Whyislam project--subway ads! I thought it was a neat campaign and told a few of my friends about it.
A few days later I heard that the New York Post had run an article (Training Day for Jihadists, it said!) attacking the campaign, the ads, the organization, and even Imam Siraj Wahhaj who had tried to drum up support for the project! They tried to smear the campaign with associations to terrorism. But if you read the article, you'll notice that they of course give the phone number and website to which the ad directs! So basically... directing more people to the whyislam volunteers!
That New York Post article caused other news outlets to take notice, like this one at FOX, where you even get to see the ad (including the direction to the whyislam hotline and website), this one from NBC, and even these two at CNN!Why do they even have a story? Because they are linking the ads with who they call a "controversial imam" Siraj Wahhaj. Anyone who is even remotely familiar with Imam Siraj Wahhaj knows better, that this is a man who has tried his hardest to improve the conditions of American Muslims. For such a respected persona to have his reputation tarnished is troubling, yes.
However, please stop to consider the following. Because Imam Siraj Wahhaj promoted the campaign, the media was able to pick up on him and develop a story in an attempt to smear the entire ad campaign. But in fact, all they have done is provide free publicity for a campaign that is still trying to raise money to sponsor subway ads!
How many more Muslims are now aware of the campaign thanks to the media coverage, and likely to donate? How many more Non-Muslims have now been exposed to the campaign that will visit the whyislam website and hotline to learn about Islam! While the whyislam volunteers were still struggling to reach their subway audience, Allah SWT spread their message across the country!! This is really a blessing--and it goes to show that Allah is going to help those who are sincere in their da'wah.
If you want to learn more about the subway project, to donate, and to see the ads, you can visit its website at http://www.youdeservetoknow.org/