The Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, called Takbir in Arabic simply means “Allah (GOD) is (the) greatest”. It is a core part of every Muslims daily vernacular. It is uttered incessantly by both the pious and non- pious. It is a proclamation of submission and devotion, and also performed when saying holy prayers. For many it is a phrase of great beauty, which expresses gratitude.
In the West, however, particularly segments of Europe and the United States, the phrase has been tarnished by attacks perpetrated by jihadists. Often a precursor to any terrorist strike. It is a phrase if loudly expressed in public that spreads fear and suspicion. It is a phrase which has been seized on by Islam’s detractors, and used by segments of the media to instil fear of anyone who utters it.
So how does the Muslim world reclaim this phrase that expresses happiness and joy for the majority, from the extremists who have misappropriated it? How can Islam begin to address the many misconceptions that abound about its religion?
Many Muslims have expressed to us that they believe” That it is the biggest act of heresy to shout God’s glorious name when committing the worst crime against God”. They fervently believe that we mustn’t allow terrorists or agendas of fear to own any of the words, concepts or devotions found in the sacred text of quarter of the world’s population. That would give them exactly what they want.
But how can this be changed? How can fear be replaced by understanding? How can perceptions be reframed? We are often asked this question by the Gulf-based institutions we consult for, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. But one of the most important ways is for the Governments of Muslim Countries to evidence that they are Thought Leaders and drivers for change, on the issues that demonstrate their belief in democracy and change.
They need to demonstrate what they are doing to transform governance, and to empower their people. They need to show the revitalisation of their economies which comes through tax and administrative reforms. They need to argue the case for transformation of health and Education and for championing of women’s development. Using structures such as Prime Ministerial/Presidential Delivery Units, they need to implement metrics and KPIs that demonstrate how this change is being effected. Change leaders need to be installed to oversee disruption to enhance transformation throughout their countries. They will also need content management systems that use end-to -end software platforms for serving the right content, at the right time, to the right people. They will need to embrace Multi-channel communications. In this way they can continue the process of countering Islamaphobia.
Quentin Anderson is Executive Chairman www.dvcconsultants.com Leaders in Thought Leadership, Stakeholder Engagement and Measurement Programmes and Content Marketing.
Dr Peter Davis MA PhD sat on the Global Advisory board of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (2013-2017). He also advises governments and international agencies on governance and economic development policy. His clients include the governments of Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Bangladesh and the UK; and institutions including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the UN.