Muslims and Islamophobia
Shantanu Bhagwat, blogger
Events of the last few weeks have once again thrown into sharp relief why numerous commentators across the political divide, ideologies & cultures worry greatly about Islam. Some do not just worry; they fear.
They worry about and fear an ideology that apparently condones killing of “followers” who may have second thoughts[i]; they fear an ideology which justifies war and violence against the “infidels” and enemies as long as it is for a “just” cause[ii]. They fear an ideology that shows no qualms in killing and maiming fellow believers simply because they have a difference of opinion or interpretation.
They worry about an ideology that considers half of humanity somehow “lesser” than the other half[iii]; that condemns young girls to a lifetime of ignorance and servitude[iv] and that justifies people getting into a paroxysm of rage over perceived or real “insults” to their sacred texts, symbols or figures.
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In the following article translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi of New Age Islam, the author Shakeel Rasheed laments the large-scale conversion of Muslims to Christianity. 20, 000 Muslims already have, though many seem to retain their Muslim names. He blames Christian evangelists for this and, like Muslims world over, accuses them of making use of immoral techniques, taking advantage of problems facing Muslims to covert them to Christianity. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that Muslims leaving Islam in large numbers, not necessarily converting to Christianity, but becoming just ex-Muslims, is a worldwide trend.
Talking about the trend in Africa a prominent Islamic scholar of Libya Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani told Al-Jazeera recently: “Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa’s main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non-Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people.”
The Libyan Sheikh goes on: “When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, the number of Catholics has increased from one million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let us round off that number to 330 million in the year 2000. … There are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.”
The stories which “Maulana” Mohammad Rahmatullah Mir Quasmi, administrator of a large madrasa in the Bandipura region of Kashmir told Mr. Rasheed of the spread of Christianity in the valley of Kashmir shocked the author. The “Maulana”, he reports, is fighting a lone battle against the Christian preachers of Kashmir.
But there is not the slightest hint of introspection among Muslims in Kashmir or elsewhere why Muslims are leaving Islam in droves. Most Muslims are just happy at the lie spread by Islamophibic media in the West that “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world”. Muslim numbers may be growing in some countries due to immigration and large-scale reproduction among Muslims in a bid to perpetuate our poverty and illiteracy. The Islamophobes in the West, however, have their own agenda: spreading the fear of Islam. But Muslims and our media in particular love to lap up this lie and keep repeating this a thousand times, thus further spreading the Islamophobic lie.
Time we gave some serious thought to what is really going on in the world. Why are Muslims everywhere, not just in Kashmir or Africa, leaving Islam in droves is a question that should engage our minds, if Islam has to survive on this planet. Another question that needs to engage our minds is: does it matter to the world or Allah if the number of Muslims is diminishing. Is there any reason for us as a humanity to be worried? From all accounts Muslims are only as bad or good as other religious communities. If anything, we may actually be worse, judged from several social parameters of human behaviour as much as the parameters of taqwa that God set for us. God has promised that He will destroy Muslims and bring a better community on earth if Muslims fail to keep their covenant, so why should we as humans worry? – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Anger is the five-letter word that brews, spills over and cascades into the hearts of both the malicious instigator and the violent reactionary. It is a viral emotion and, once embedded, replicates within the individual, fed by the memories of injustice, persecution, and moral righteousness. Anger is present in much of the news cycle these days, especially when the media turns its eyes to the Muslim world....
C. M Naim
I have huge respect for Javed Anand and the work he has been doing for a few decades. But I would like to raise some caveats concerning his piece ‘On the other side of fear’ These are acts of personal piety, and one must be thankful for them. But the same boxed space — actually there is nothing special or prominent about it — in Sahafat (Delhi) that carried Yahya’s letter contained on September 29 a letter on the same subject of the video from a Muhammad Ziaur Rahman, department of Urdu, Delhi University, under the title: “Yahud wa Nasara Musalmanon ke Khullamkhulla Dushman (Jews and Christians are blatant enemies of the Muslims)”...
A gutter quality amateurish video “Innocence of Muslims” made by some dedicated anti-Islam goons had gone un-noticed by almost all Americans and almost every human being on earth. The makers of the video would have been rotting with boredom in their Californian holes, if true to traditions; some among us had not resurrected their piece of excretion and brought it into the lime light. Inevitably, Muslims all over the world took to the streets and went on a rampage....
In the piercing aftermath of 9/11, Fareed Zakaria pointed out that "there are billions of poor and weak and oppressed people around the world. They don't turn planes into bombs. They don't blow themselves up to kill thousands of civilians... There is something stronger at work here than deprivation and jealousy. Something that can move men to kill but also to die". Zakaria did not blame Islam per se; his scorn was focused on its Arab heartland....
The mainstream political rhetoric concerning Islam in Norway has undoubtedly changed for the better in the past year. The number of ordinary citizens willing to contest Islamophobic discourse publicly has risen. But popular attitudes often remain stubbornly unchanged. A 2012 survey indicates that Norwegians hold more negative attitudes towards Muslims than towards any other minority group, except the Roma. Such negative attitudes are more prevalent among Norwegians who profess adherence to rightwing political parties.
A hybrid-theocracy is known for a minute liberal space, accompanied with a huge space where Sharia is informally implemented or not resisted. After all, with all the fascination that a lot of people have about revolutionary Iran, Pakistan may end up becoming a theocracy through a slow and gradual process. The liberal-secular population, which can now be counted on finger tips, was upset by what it considered as the government’s capitulation....
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam
Calling the US gurdwara attack an instance of Islamophobia masks a deeper reality. It restricts the larger phenomenon of White Racism to anti-Muslim bigotry, which can be explained away by 9/11 and other acts of Islamist extremism. Islamophobia, while deplorable, can be shown to be the result of political causes, a manifestation of “zealots seeking revenge”. The charge of White Racism strikes deeper into the heart of Western civilisation. It tears down the façade of ‘Enlightenment’ that the West prides itself in, which in fact loops back to feed the racial supremacism that drives people like Page.
In political terms, the affair can be analyzed from two angles: from the tactical perspective as an anti-U.S. manipulation; or from a strategic one, as an anti-Muslim psychological attack. The film was produced by a Zionist group composed of Jews of double Israeli-American nationality and by an Egyptian Copt. It was completed several months ago but was released at a calculated moment to provoke riots targeting the United States....
He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News....
I hope our party leaders wake up now, and rescue the party by purging the gratuitous allegations and gossip from the party. These men and women have no shame in denigrating Muslims. Let these guys say similar things to Jews and the African Americans; they will be hounded and chased down like wild pigs. Shamelessly, they feel that they have a free ride on Muslims, Mexicans, Gays and Lesbians. That is not only unpatriotic, but downright immoral to treat a fellow Americans in that fashion. They are an embarrassment to our civil society. In fact, they are not tearing Muslims, they are tearing America apart; shame on them. No group of Americans need to be targeted, we should always nail the bad guys and not their affiliations, consider the following scenario;...
There's a call to dialogue, from a small Muslim community to law enforcement officials, echoing across Florida. It's a call for understanding, tolerance and education, to cross cultural boundary lines and request leaders on both sides to ask questions, share a meal and discuss concerns. Teaching cops to get inside the mind of a terrorist has become his full-time job....
It's a standard debating technique. Your opponent offers a counter-argument. You respond with a smile, saying, "You make my point for me." It often works but only rarely is it completely true. One of those rare occasions has arisen right here on Comment is Free – via the thread below Mehdi Hasan's valedictory piece for this site....
Even in polite society, fear-mongering, negative stereotyping and abuse are now out of control – as I know from bitter experience. Have you ever been called an Islamist? How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction. Whether it's tweets, blog posts or comment threads, the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious. "Get out of my country, goatfucker." How many other political columnists have to deal with such "feedback"?...
To Shave or Not To Shave
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
What is it about Muslim beard that pricks non-Muslims where it hurts the most? Psychologists call it “conditioning”. People learn from their experiences and behave on that basis. And “Muslims with beards” have, over the past few decades, given some rather rude lessons to non-Muslims. Virtually every terrorist attack, be it in New York, Bali, Madrid or London, has been carried out by bearded Muslims. The most prominent faces of Islamist extremism, from Osama bin Laden to Omar Bakri Mohammad, sport long, flowing beards. This has “conditioned” non-Muslims to link bearded Muslims, if not all Muslims, with terror. …
Demographics Unit dispatched “mosque crawlers” (informants) and “rakers” (undercover police officers) to engage in the “human mapping” of mosques, cafes, bookstores and other hangouts within “communities of interest.” These communities consisted—or still consist, as officials have not denied that the program is ongoing—of people with roots in twenty-eight predominantly Muslim countries as well as those designated “American Black Muslim.” Imams—including those reputed to be close to law enforcement Cabdrivers, food-cart vendors and college students were all fair game, and not a single detail of their lives seemed too small to record….
Mitt Romney declared that Park51 had “the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda.” Rudy Giuliani called it “a desecration.” And Sarah Palin famously tweeted, “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate [sic].” A month later, a cabdriver in New York was asked, “Are you Muslim?” When he said yes, he was stabbed in the neck....
Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists. On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X, he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive - all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage....
A colleague from Hyderabad office came to meet me. He said he has come to Mumbai for his wife’s treatment. She is to be operated in a few days. Blood will be needed for the operation. I told him there is a list of blood donors in the office. ... He nodded but said that the blood should be that of a Muslim. ... We, the Muslims, are busy proving that all the Islamophobic propaganda and misunderstandings created after 9/11 are true. Because of our foolish actions people get excuses to propagate that Islam is not fit for a pluralistic society and that it treats every religion with hatred. And that Islam wishes its followers to be detached from all others. All this is only because of our stupidity. On the other hand, enemies of Islam wish to separate it from all other religions under a pre-planned scheme. ...
The response of Europe’s political class to the presence of Muslim minorities can be described most generously as a moral panic, and most accurately as a repressive legislative and rhetorical onslaught. A number of states from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean have gone to extraordinary lengths to ban what women can wear, what people can say, and where and how they can worship....
Sheila Musaji Islamically befuddled
“This shocking New York Times article describes a girl only, public school prom especially created to accommodate the religious practices of observant, female Muslim students. Further proof of the Islamization [sic] of America, as outlined in my book. Get the practical guide to the resistance…
The original slaves have broken free of their shackles but still suffer discrimination; the Jews have squashed blatant ant-Semitism, but bear the indignity of subliminal racism; the so-called ‘Latinos’ are stigmatized as aliens who will forever change the complexion of this country. But the most feared and loathed Americans today are the Muslim citizens of this country. This is no accident. It is the result of a well-orchestrated propaganda war against Islam and Muslims by a coalition of anti-Muslim fear-mongers....
People are relying on fear, mistrust, [and] nurturing the victim mentality. You can see this among Blacks, Latinos, [and] Muslims. Sometimes they play the victims. Victims are talking to each other. We are the victims of your colonization, legal colonization. It’s the way you accept the role given by the dominant: you become the victim. Yet pushing victimhood was the principal purpose of the conference. Moreover, Ramadan contributed to that narrative by implying that assimilation—the antidote to the balkanization caused by nurturing a victim mentality—was impossible in the U.S.