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Networking the Ummah

How do we connect? And how do we communicate? In this increasingly interdependent world, the importance of being connected and communicating effectively is being felt in all facets of life.

For all individuals and organizations, being able to pool and access resources, to work with rather than against or even in parallel to others in the same field, to find efficient means of coming up with solutions and above all to serve others, whether for altruistic reasons or for pure profit, is a challenge they face currently to become or stay relevant in the society.

The prevalence of the Internet over the last few years has been compared to the introduction of the telephone or use of electricity in everyday life. Today it's the upper and middle classes; in the future it will be all classes and all socio-economic groups. All will eventually feel its presence. In the future it will not be defined as the internet but will in fact be broken down by the services or information provided through it.

But what does this mean to Muslims?

The Muslim community or the Ummah is as varied as any other group of people. From the affluent and influential in the West to the poverty-stricken in Africa, to the disenfranchised and besieged in Palestine, Chechnya as well as those under despotic Muslim rulers under Western control.

Well, quite appropriately, there are those of us who have the ability to harness the power of this new communication medium, particularly those in the West, for the betterment of the whole Ummah, especially for those who are in need of what it can provide. In fact, it is our responsibility.

In a sense, the Internet has provided a leveling of the playing field. For well over a century, the power to influence the masses has been in the hands of those whose interests lay in discrediting Islam and Muslims.

And they have used it well.

This power has traditionally been in publishing both of news as well as fictional works and was transferred to cinema and television as they became influential. These media continue to be a strong force. However, the delivery of the same information, written or visual will be more and more dominated by the internet and the ability to publish on the internet is certainly more affordable than on the traditional media.

So the first challenge to publish is easier and relatively inexpensive. The second challenge of being read or the publishing material being influential in the lives of the masses is a bit more daunting.

Traditionally Muslim publications have targeted the Muslim population or, in other words, we have been preaching to the Muslim-born and that also with the wrong assumption that Muslims know the basics of Islam.

This will need to change. Our message has to be directed to those who do not know about Islam but crave to know in the midst of misinformation. Our message needs less rhetoric and more reasoning. Our message needs integrity, authenticity and honesty. Our message needs to answer questions and handle concerns regarding Islam and world events involving Muslims.

The enemies of Islam are already harnessing this new medium's power. Are we in a position to accept this challenge to use this technology to enhance our network by working with increased synergy, planning and cooperation and deliver what humanity needs?

That remains to be seen.

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