Amidst the era of Fourth Industrial Revolution, Muslims around the world have been forced to come face to face in confronting the social and spiritual challenges sourcing from both inside and outside of the community which in return, have terribly affected Islam’s image as a whole. The 9/11 tragedy surely has left the non-Muslim community with bad images of Islam where the incident is believed to be responsibly executed by Muslims. This incident becomes the major turning point of the whole world’s view and perception towards Islam later prompting the term Islamophobia to be catapulted and unfortunately, along with time, the hatred does not seem to tone down instead keep splinting fire to the Muslim world. Misconception and misinterpretation of Islam is depicted in various forms of discrimination and hatred shown towards Muslims which are based on no concrete justification. Although many challenges may come from the outer circle of Islam but the greater threat towards Islam comes from within where insincere Muslims and Islamic imposters are the first that must be tackled down. Therefore, causing a grander awakening of Muslim millennials’ consciousness of demolishing the stereotypical thinking of what non-Muslim have towards Islam. Muslims have become strongly determined to prove that Islam is a religion for all and are not afraid to utilise everything in their capability radius to keep manoeuvring and thriving in many professional industries and other noble fields, ergo the absolute sophisticated way to counter all the misconceptions of Islam.
Despite the hatred non-Muslims throw to the Muslims, the Muslims are still thriving in many fields such as economy. The halal market in western countries has reached its peak where it tapped to almost two trillion-pound sterling in Britain. Besides that, there are also many restaurants or cafes in western countries that sells halal food and it has attracted many people including the non-Muslims. It seems ironic that non-Muslims enjoy eating at a halal restaurant despite all the misunderstanding between them. Although there are some differences in the taste of food, halal restaurants are very famous in western countries.
Moreover, a famous Muslim Olympian, Ibtihaj Muhammad is also an active business woman. She opened her own boutique for Muslim women and a role model of many. Consequently, a hijabi Barbie doll of her character and skin colour was produced and the public admires it tremendously. Besides that, the well-known singer from Malaysia, Yuna, is also known as a fashion icon to Muslims and non-Muslims due to her unique sense of style.
In short, Muslims are still trying hard to show that they are the future of many western countries by thriving in the economy field. Furthermore, young Muslims use popular culture as a method to ease their angst and disappointment. Popular culture is part of the growing up process for young people. It is impossible to separate popular culture from this particular group of people. Thus, some millennial Muslims around the world take advantage of this opportunity to translate Islamic idealism in popular culture and breaks the negative stereotypes towards Muslims.
Once again, Olympian, Ibtihaj Muhammad, breaks the stereotype of anti-Muslims rhetoric in the United States especially for Muslim women who thinks that they could not play sports due to their faith and their limitation in sports. Another Muslim figure who endeavours in popular culture; music industry, is the Muslim singer-songwriter, Maher Zain. Maher Zain has been recognised by the music industry as an entertainer who produce music that was influenced by his faith and has strong religious overtones. Maher Zain produces Islamic song that focuses on the true nature of Islam as a peaceful religion, remembering God and the prophet, as well as how women should be respected and treated with kindness.
These Muslim millennials as well as other important Muslim figures in popular culture has proven to the world that Muslims can be someone who is inspired by their beliefs and at the same time not constrained by the limitation imposed by the religion. In addition, Muslim millennials become determined from their disappointment by venturing themselves in volunteer work. Volunteerism is basically seen as the backbone of a community. The involvement of volunteers contributes to the community to run organisations and various social events. As Muslims, their part is not simply to perform their obliged duties such as salah and zakat, however they are urged to go play against a more extensive part by attempting to improve the community they live in. To the Muslims, it is a way of interpreting their love to Allah into good deeds that they reinforce their faith.
Islam is said to be a belief of action and needs to be embraced and displayed by working hard to make the world a better place and not seen as how dark the world has become. Additionally, there is a solid ethic of volunteerism in Islam. The act of volunteering does not only revolve around fundraising and study circles at the masjid. Muslims see their existence as world citizens, where working for a higher society or community must not be restricted to Muslims only, yet it should be extended to the non-Muslim community too.
Living in a multicultural and multiracial community is tough to start with. Nevertheless, without Muslims joining in lending proper help and guidance as a community, somehow any shortcomings would affect them as well. In conclusion, discrimination and prejudice is all too common to the western countries. Many individuals of various foundations have seen different sorts of separation that have prompted an absence of trust and genuinely understanding one’s way of life or foundation. Western or any other multiracial and multicultural countries need to realise that their nation is one big melting pot, where all sorts of backgrounds coming together and that there is no room for stereotyping and prejudice. In some ways, when there is news of a terrorist attack, they automatically think of Islamic people who hold the ideology of seeing western countries destroyed. However, the western society does not realise that these extremists can come from any background or religion.
It is uplifting to see Muslim youths nowadays would rather serve proactively in corporate fields or pursuing their passion than sitting down complaining how unfair the world is to them. They feel that it is time to be independent and spend time wisely in promoting a refreshing image of Islam, at the same time, putting their interests to a higher and more professional field. The Muslim millennials are still struggling living their lives as normal as possible to break the negative stereotype cycle of Muslims such as the role model of Ibtihaj Muhammad. The public display of her faith does not only represent black Muslim women like her, but all Muslims in the west worthy of representing at the highest levels.