By Yasmi Adriansyah, Ph.D., lecturer of International Relations, the University of Al Azhar Indonesia, Jakarta.
“To be honest, at first, I was a little scared when about to give a public lecture at your university, an Islamic university. Yet I was surprised with the warm welcome as well as the open-mindedness of your academic community to me, a non-Muslim. Since then, I am pleased to call myself a spokesperson for Islam.”
This statement came from Dr. Hermawan Kartajaya to me personally on the sidelines of an event in Indonesia where he was one of the speakers. I was the moderator of the event. Hermawan, a prominent global marketing guru who is based in Jakarta, proved his statement.
At a recent international seminar at the University of Al Azhar Indonesia in collaboration with the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) titled “The Future of Entrepreneurs”, Hermawan spoke eloquently on the beauty of Islam, including the lessons from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as an entrepreneur.
Hermawan also promoted another speaker at the seminar: Ahmed Mohamed Osman. He said that brother Ahmad is the first Arab-Muslim who leads the prestigious Washington-based ICSB. Hermawan believes that with the leadership Ahmed, an Egyptian, the often ‘parted’ between Muslims and non-Muslims worlds can be narrowed and even further connected, at least in the area of businesses and entrepreneurship.
The willingness of, and proofs from, Hermawan are indeed commendable for our contemporary turbulent world, particularly with the rise of Islamophobia across the globe.
The world needs more and more spokespersons of Islam. If the Muslims themselves act as spokespersons, it is normal and even should be. Yet if the spokespersons are non-Muslims and prominent figures like Hermawan, it is highly ‘selling’. The world needs more spokespersons of Islam such as Hermawan.
Islamophobia is a clear and present danger in our contemporary world. The 2018 report of the Islamic Organization Cooperation (OIC) titled “The Eleventh OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia” clearly demonstrates that the hatred against Islam has been rising.
Several reports state that Islamophobia rose soon after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The tragedy happened a long time ago in 2001 and, arguably, the world in recent years should be less Islamophobic. Yet the 15 March 2019 mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, proves otherwise.
Islamophobia is still a threatening phenomenon for world peace.
In addressing Islamophobia at national, regional, and global levels, the world needs more spokespersons of Islam. Unquestionably an organization such OIC has been attempting tirelessly in addressing this matter.
From the statements of its Foreign Ministers to various work programs, the OIC has been working with a hope that the global Islamophobia will be reduced. Yet it is not an easy task. Other friendly international communities need to lend their hands, particularly the prominent non-Muslims, who will act as the spokespersons or ‘ambassadors’ of Islam.
One may question why the Muslim world needs non-Muslims to be their spokespersons? Should it be the task of the Muslims themselves? Indeed the Muslims shall act as the spokespersons of Islam. It is part of the da’wah obligation or spreading out the messages of Islam as the blessings for the universe (rahmatan lil ‘aalamiin).
The role of prominent brothers like Ahmed from ICSB will certainly give a signification contribution to this. And there are many other Muslim brothers and sisters who are doing so tirelessly.
Nonetheless, the existence of non-Muslims as the spokespersons should also have given an impact in increasing a positive image of Islam and decreasing Islamophobia sentiments. Particularly if the non-Muslims are prominent figures such as Hermawan.
As a marketing thinker and guru, Hermawan has written several best-selling books co-authored with Philip Kotler, a world-renowned thinker who is often called ‘the father of modern marketing’. As a simple proof, their books have been translated into more than 20 languages and is sold in many countries.
Assuming that Hermawan and other prominent spokespersons of Islam write about, for example, ‘the Beauty of Islam that I know as a non-Muslim’, ‘Learning Business and Marketing from Prophet Muhammad’ and other interesting titles, it will arguably give a high impact for their readers around the world.
To conclude, let us invite more spokespersons of Islam like Hermawan. They are highly wanted in this turbulent world. Hopefully, by doing these attempts, the rising tension of Islamophobia can be reduced. As a result, the peaceful world can be further promoted for the current and future generations. (AK/Sj/P2)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)