Communicating in a post-truth era: Lessons for Muslim leaders
Ralph Keyes writes in his book “The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life” about the hold casual dishonesty has on society, where deceiving others has become a challenge, a game and a habit. He stresses how deception has become the normal way of life with the lines between truth and lies getting increasingly blurred every day. This article applies Keyes’ claims in the context of the Islamic world which is rife with misinformation and through selective reporting of biased media outlets. As a result, many impressive political achievements of Muslim countries in the global south go unnoticed by the region and the rest of the world.
A very pertinent and recent example of such is the historic feat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) mega conference that was organised in Pakistan last month amid political chaos and the increasing threat to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s position in power. Perhaps that is one of the reasons there was such little coverage of the conference, which discussed some major issues from Kashmir to Ukraine, yet remained unnoticed by larger groups. One can speculate whether this was due to the distraction of the impending vote of no confidence against the head of government or whether the Islamic world has not mastered the art of effective communication in order to further their cause and achievements,
Imran Khan’s commendable speech at the conference also covered major topics such as the war in Ukraine and rising Islamophobia but did not receive the attention it deserved. He called on Islamic countries to mediate in the Ukraine war crisis, an event which does not see the involvement of Islamic leaders at the forefront except when purchasing oil is concerned. He also stressed members should take stronger actions against oppression against Muslims all over the world, citing examples from Palestine and Kashmir, stating that “one of the ideas of the OIC is to protect Islamic values.” This was a historic speech by the Prime Minister of a nuclear nation, who not only vowed to protect his own people, but paid special attention to crises all around the world. Unfortunately, it did not receive the media coverage it needed from local and international organisations.
The Islamic community must come together to work on methods of information dissemination that uphold our common values, and this must be done not just through mainstream media, but by keeping up with contemporary forms of content creation like films, TV shows and video apps.
So why do achievements and landmark statements from Islamic countries and leaders go unnoticed? It is important to understand how western media is often responsible for propaganda to further their own causes and use certain language and jargon to create the desired impact. This is indeed a formidable challenge for the Islamic world that derives its common values from the Holy Quran and must use these values to create communication methods of our own.
The Islamic community must come together to work on methods of information dissemination that uphold our common values, and this must be done not just through mainstream media, but by keeping up with contemporary forms of content creation like films, TV shows and video apps. The currently dominating content creators including publishing houses, other digital mediums, films, apps, and entertainment sources portray West-based knowledge, fuelling ignorance and anti-muslim sentiment around the world.
Khan’s statement at the OIC is of paramount importance if read in context with the digital age, where the state cannot bar content or engage in censorship, it must rather produce its own to counter misleading western narratives.
For the Islamic community to effectively fight Islamophobia and misconceptions about their religion, the only option is for us to produce content based on knowledge, academic pursuit and Islamic history, reflecting the values taught by the Quran and Sunnah. Examples of these include the immensely popular TV show production by the Turkish ‘TRT world’ who have created shows like Ertugul, Usman and Abdul Hamid, which highlight the true essence of Muslim achievements in the past. These TV shows were then dubbed into several languages to be viewed by people across the world, building an especially dedicated fanbase in Pakistan with viewers glued to their screens in the evenings, cheering for historic Islamic leaders.
For Muslim countries to take the lead on promoting Muslim values, we must utilise not only mainstream media, but also other digital platforms. Media applications, games, cartoons and social media must also be employed to counter the West’s systematic misinformation campaigns against Muslims-- which are racist and deeply damaging on a global level.
- The writer is a PHD in Government and Public Policy and can be reached at @DuraniIftikhar