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WHEN NON-MUSLIMS COMMUNICATE WITH MUSLIMS:
A Quick Guide to Preparing IEC Materials
in a Culturally Diverse Society

 
     
 

by ANN LOURDES C. LOPEZ

 
 


Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference.”
-Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, UNESCO, 1995

 
  IT STARTS WITH YOU…  
 
  1. Be aware that you do have concepts, attitudes and habits determined by your upbringing at home, education whether formal and non-formal, and the influence of your religion and socio-economic status.
  1. Be sensitive about how these perceptions and actions may affect your work or your behavior.
  1. Acquire basic information on Muslim Filipinos, eg their culture, religion, history, social groupings, their aspirations. Don’t be an ignoramus. Remember, the key to understanding is information.
  1. Be respectful about what Muslims revere, eg the Qur’an, the Prophet, tenets of Islam, their mosquesm their religious leaders.
  1. Discover commonalities. Many things bind us as a people, such as family values, our religiosity, common elements in law and justice, and a shared history in the fight for freedom from colonial rule.
  1. Be a friend. Friendships bridge gaps of cultural or religious differences.
 
 

GETTING DOWN TO WORK…

 
 
  1. Don’t lump Muslims into one homogenous Islamic group. Even among themselves, various interpretations of the aspects of their religion exist. For example Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim, prohibits men from having more than one wife.
  1. Don’t label the aspects of their culture as “Muslim.” There is not one culture but several cultures among Muslim Filipinos, eg Tausug, Maguindanao, Maranao, Yakan, Sama, etc.
  1. Don’t use terms that Muslims consider negative. For example, the Sama people react negatively to being called “Bajau,” which to them is a derogatory term.
  2. In the design of print IEC materials to be disseminated in the community, avoid the use of photographs of people.. Conservative Muslims point out that Islam discourages such use.
  1.  Don’t place or superimpose external text (like a slogan) or another photo/illustration/image on a photo/illustration/image of the Qur’an.
  1. Avoid using photographs of mosques that show them in a negative light, eg a dome with peeling paint.
  1. Avoid using black as a background for the design of your IEC material. Some Muslims react negatively to the use of black which to them connotes darkness.
 
 

A LITTLE LEARNING MAY HELP A LONG WAY…

 
 
  1. Any translation of the Qur’an from its original Arabic script becomes just a translation of its meaning. For example, the Qur’an in English is the “English Translation of the meanings and commentary.”
  1. Some Muslims regard the Arabic script of any portion of the Qur’an as sacred. For them, any material with this Arabic script, therefore, becomes sacred and must be treated with due reverence.
  1. Depending on your source, Muslim Filipinos comprise from 11 to 16 distinct ethnic groups. The most numerous are the Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug and Sama.
  1. While historically the term “Moro” was used disparagingly by the Spanish against Muslim Filipinos and was in the past abhorred by the Muslims themselves, they have adopted it as a badge of pride for being a people unconquered by colonizers.
  1.  In an Islamic wedding ceremony, the groom and father of the bride are the ones who stand before the imam or person solemnizing the marriage. The bride and her mother stand behind.
  1. “Muslim” refers to the people and “Islam” to the religion.
 
     
 
 
 
 
MASS MEDIA AND MUSLIM MINDANAO
  Editorial Policies Relevant to Covering Muslim Mindanao
  Research Studies
on Media Coverage on Mindanao
 
     
 
  Copyright 2011 Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication