Speaking to the a News Agency in Virginia, Hidaya Nawee hailed as “eloquent” the contents of Ayatollah Khamenei’s message.
In a historic letter on January 21, Imam Khamenei asked Western youths to try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of the religion in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns.
Here is what the American Muslim girl has said of her views on the letter:
reporter: Regarding the recent letter from Iran’s Supreme Leader to the youth of Europe and North America, how could it be (more) effective in attracting those youth to the real and authentic Islam?
Hidaya: Firstly, I believe the Sayed (Ayatollah Khamenei) must be commended for writing such an eloquent letter. In terms of its effectiveness, I think you will be more inclined to research the authentic Islam because they are being challenged to in a non-coercive way. Sayed (ha) wrote it respectfully and his word choice shows he is not at all undermining the intelligence of his audience in the least. With the existence of this letter, the youth living in the West are given one of two choices: either they stay willfully ignorant or they learn more about the true Islam. Those who stay willfully ignorant, cannot blame Islam for the horrendous acts of a few, because Sayed (ha), like many before him, has stated Islam condones nothing but peace.
reporter: How capable is the message in preventing or at least reducing the ongoing Islamophobia in the West?
Hidaya: In my experience, people are divided into two when it comes to Islam: those who have already made up their minds that anything pertaining to this beautiful religion is evil, and those who haven’t. Some of those who have made up their minds would not be convinced if the Prophet (SAWS) came and spoke to them. I don’t think the letter will do much for those people. However, the vast majority of Western youth have a thirst for Islam, as evidenced by the fact that it’s one of the fastest growing religions in the world. A lot of them fear it, and this letter makes it clear that they have nothing to fear except the mainstream media that is feeding them these misconceptions. This letter is perhaps the most capable thing we had to reduce Islamophobia in years. It is our responsibility to make sure it reaches the audience it’s meant for so that it can have the most impact. If this letter reaches the right audience, Muslims and non-Muslims alike can combat Islamophobia together.
reporter: Do you think America’s mainstream media are interested in publishing the Supreme Leader’s letter?
Hidaya: No, I don’t believe the mainstream media is interested in publishing this letter. There are a lot of forces at play in order to make sure that people fear Islam. The mainstream media for the most part is not a friend to Islam or Muslims, so I don’t see them publishing a letter like this or anything else that puts Islam in a positive light.
reporter: How do you evaluate the content of the letter?
Hidaya: The contents of this letter are powerful and inspirational. I think Muslims and non-Muslims alike will be motivated to gain more knowledge about Islam and what it means to be a true Muslim.
reporter: In your opinion, could this letter be a new chapter in paying attention to Islam by Europeans?
Hidaya: I definitely think it could be the start of a new chapter for Islam in the West. My only concern is that the enemies of Islam will get their hands on it and twist and bend his words. Even if that were to happen though, I am confident that this letter will affect at least one person to change their perception of Islam and as we all know, change begins with one individual or idea.
reporter: Can this letter show the differences between authentic Islam and the one that ISIL and other terrorist’s groups have made?
Hidaya: I definitely think that this letter does show the difference between true Muslims and the likes of ISIS. ISIS wants you to believe that Islam is a religion of the sword. This letter shows that Islam is the religion of intellect and logic and kindness. Islam only cares about the intellectual sword and how you wield it.
reporter: If the letter reached the hands of the youth of Europe and North America and then they study the authentic sources of Islam, will it change anything special?
Hidaya: I think that could change everything. Right now, most of the people fighting Islamophobia and injustices against Muslims in the West are other Muslims. If we are able to get more American/European youth to learn more about the true Islam, even if they choose not to accept it as their religion, they will correct their peers when they have misconceptions about Islam. I think it is more powerful for non-Muslims to correct one another’s misconceptions than it is for a Muslim to do so.
reporter: In your opinion, what is the next step in order to enlighten the youth in the West on introducing real Islam?
Hidaya: More than anything else, I think Muslims need to start living by the teachings of Islam. One of the most widely used quotes in the West is “actions speak louder than words.” In my opinion, Muslims speak more than they act. Our Imams (AS) have said repeatedly that we should let others know we are Muslim not by words but by actions. Often times, Muslim youth (and their parents now too unfortunately) behave as if they are ashamed of being Muslims, trying to be “modern” by forgoing the most important teachings of Islam. We need to be proud of Islam and act according to its true teachings at all times. Living the true Islam is what will attract non-Muslims to this beautiful religion.