Saturday 24 November 2018

Islamophobia and how to counter it

Islam is the fastest growing religion of the world and many ‘fear’ that a day may come that the total number Muslims may surpass the total number of majority Christian religion in many countries. This a fear is made to take its roots among the Christians that Islam is a threat and so stems the notion “Islamophobia,” which has now a root cause of religious intolerance because f which radical and anti-Islam groups are getting popular both overtly and covertly to “check” Islam from growing. 

In fact religious intolerance is gaining momentum in many countries to an extent that even the Jews have started to feel that their greater danger is not from the Muslims, but from the Christian white supremacy. Thus this religious intolerance which is gaining momentum the world over is creating a phobia which may not be as real or big as is being projected in media. A recent “terror’ attack in Melbourne Australia made Australia media crying Terror Islam.  And when many such attacks are made by white Christians, specially in the USA where it has almost become a norm, no one labels the white Christians as terrorist. In fact after each such white Christian attack, there always is a statement that the attacker had mental problems, was depressed or under the effect of some unimaginable disease.

In Britain, slapping, spitting and pushing of Muslims and subjecting them to terrifying racist attacks, specially females, is a routine to an extent that media takes no note of it. But even if one Muslim retaliates in self defence, the entire media becomes hysterical that the Muslim was in fact radical, just waiting for an excuse to burst out.

The anti-Muslim sentiments erupted in early 70s and then on to an extent that in a report by the Runnymede Trust's Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997)  which concluded that the "anti-Muslim prejudice had grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary was needed." And thus to the satisfaction of everyone and to round up the Muslims everywhere they could be found to be under the pretext of Islamophobia. 

And thus the use of the term Islamophobia has become common to express "dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force." But this is not the end as there many more terms used to express the same effects like anti-Muslimism, intolerance against Muslims, anti-Muslim prejudice, anti-Muslim bigotry, hatred of Muslims, anti-Islamism, Muslimophobia, demonization of Islam, or demonization of Muslims.

The intensity of Islamophobia have recently gained momentum, specially after the September 11 attacks in the USA, the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and multiple terror attacks in Europe. Some even associate the rising fears due to increased presence of Muslims in the United States and in the European Union.

Now we all know and even the majority rationale thinkers know that the 9/11 attacks were engineered to find an excuse for the USA to move out and attack stable Muslim countries of Iraq and Libya and create such a chaos that for years altogether the presence of US and its allies' forces remain in the Middle East to ensure "peace and stability of the region" they themselves destabilized, and to expand their scope of operations further in the region. And now we see the clear manifestation of this agenda as Yemen and Syria are under a constant state of war and which has also allowed the other stake holders like Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to settle their own scores and gains. 

The creation of ISIS to many is part of the manifestation which played a great role in projecting 'barbaric Islam' beheading Christians and even Muslims to instill fear of Islamophobia. When one sees videos of people being beheaded, this really scare them and thus an intrinsic hatred has been developed and whenever any radical Muslim takes a solitary action, this validates their game plan to tarnish the image of Islam, and allow the US and its allies stay in troubled region. 

Now how can we counter the effects of Islamophobia and help constitution of an atmosphere which is free from radicalization and allows non Muslims to feel at ease when in company of Muslims. To my mind here are some of the approach lines:
  • First and foremost reaction to islamophobia should be humility, yet steadfastness in the face of toughest of opposition and hostility. We should not forget how our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was subject to horrible insults and hate crimes in his lifetime. He remained steadfast, patient and tolerant in the face of toughest of the opposition. Even when people of Taif stoned him and Angel Gabriel wanted a nod from the Prophet to destroy the entire community, the bleeding Prophet did not opt for the extreme action, for He was confidant that one day his opponents would understand the truth He was spreading. And so did it happen, and world witnessed it. So let us be prepared for the worst and with our steadfastness and conviction persuade those on the opposing end that Islam is a religion of peace and we as Muslims would never support any act of terror for it goes against our very basic ethos.
  • All Muslims are not terrorists - but some terrorists are Muslims. This actually is the main thrust line we should discuss whenever we are confronting a hostile crowd. After all the young men killing own countrymen, specially in USA, does not mean that all Americans are lunatics or mentally sick.So why for the action of few radicals the who Muslim community or the religion of Islam be blamed.
  • There is a misinformation being spread that Islam is a violent religion which encourages killing. This is simply outrageous. In fact Islam teaches that 'Whosoever kills a person ... it shall be as if he has killed all mankind.' So how can Islam promote terrorism and allow killing of the innocents.
  • While islamophobia seems to be dominant anti Muslim sentiment, it may be noted that a very meager percentage of general public supports the notion. So we must find like minded people from other side of the fence and launch campaigns to show our unity with the society and dissociation with any acts of violence involving Muslims.
  • We must stress that the hate game of religions, faith and races are one and the the same thing. The purpose behind each move is to disturb peace for the ulterior motives of a very minority. The United We Stand slogan to combat all acts of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia must be professed and actively pursued.
  • In fact we should use islamophobia same as antisemitism is used to hit back at the Jews. We Muslims too are sufferers of islamophobia the same way Jews are or for that matter people of any faith or region.
  • We mus allow interfaith gatherings by opening our doors to people of other faiths so that they see for themselves how peaceful we profess our religion. In some countries, Muslims invite people of other faiths to join in on their religious days like Eid for inculcating and fostering love and understanding of each other.
  • While doing so, we should also be on the look out for the hate preachers in our mosques and community centers and root them out before they pollute young innocent minds and instigate them for the fulfillment of their ulterior motives. 
  • We must involve our local counselors and people who matter in community that they should support their Muslim community in fight against islamophobia. By involving them, we will have a better voice to be heard and understood appropriately.
  • And last but not the least of course is to dispel the notion of Jihad. A least understood Islamic term, Jihad cannot be waged without the proclamation of the head of an Islamic country. ISIS and groups like these do not have moral and religious authority to kill people on the pretext of Jihad.  Remember, "The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war. Muslims use the word Jihad to describe three different kinds of struggle: A believer's internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible. The struggle to build a good Muslim society." And we should let others to understand this very clearly. It has become a fashion to think of war mongering no sooner the word jihad is heard. Anyone who is using jihad for own designs should be discouraged with firm hand so that he does not bring bad name to the community and religion as a whole.
All is not bad it seems. In a recent report, Muslim Advocates found 80 instances of 'clear anti-Muslim rhetoric' employed by political candidates in 2017 and 2018. And it is claimed that Anti-Muslim campaigning in the US is a 'losing strategy'.

So let us start right from this do on to fight the notion of islamophobia and present to the world a model that has been enshrined in the Holy Qur'an and as practically exhibited by our noble and revered Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

For more posts, please refer to our reference page: Islam and the rest of the WorldYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.

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