Muslims and Islamophobia
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
A violent display of intolerance towards sectarian and religious minorities along with terrorism directed at non-Muslim neighbours continues to plague several Muslim countries. For instance, hundreds of Shias have been killed recently in Pakistan. Hindu girls continue to be abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. Taliban’s war on girls’ education continues. Indian city of Hyderabad was recently attacked. Despite a ban on his organization and a 10 million dollar US bounty on his head, Hafiz Saeed continues to strut around the country and taunt the world.
Rights violations are reported from all over the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Tunisia. A fascist ideology is seeking to forcibly convert the world to its version of Islam. An intra-Islam clash of civilisations appears to be going on. Some Muslims are resisting a determined attempt to colonise their minds. From Bangladesh and India to Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, etc. We can see Sufi Ulema loudly denouncing Islamo-fascism, exclusivism, supremacism and jihadism.
But the mainstream moderate Muslim majority and their governments continue to remain largely silent onlookers. What message do we Muslims give to the world community by keeping quiet on such humiliation to Islam? Will the world community be wrong in deducing that all Muslims believe that the Taliban, the products of petrodollar-funded Deobandi-Wahhabi-Salafi madrasas, are correct in their understanding of Islam? That Islam does indeed stand for forcibly converting the world to its point of view? That Salafi-Wahhabism is the real Islam? That Taliban truly represent the larger world Muslim community? And if that is the case why should the fear of Islam not grow in the world? Why should we complain of Islamophobia?
Regardless of what interpretation of Islam a Muslim state follows, however, it should NOT be allowed to impose its ideology on its citizens. It is incumbent on the world community to make sure that all signatories to the UN Charter and its various covenants implement its provisions in letter and spirit.
I know it for a fact that the larger Muslim community does not subscribe to the Talibani, Jihadi, Salafi –Wahhabi-Takfiri ideology that accuses overwhelming majority of Muslims of apostasy and considers them wajibul Qatl (deserving death). But are we not creating just this impression by staying silent when such blood-curdling threats are given and then carried out? Do we have any ground to blame the Christian fundamentalist, Zionist, or Hindu Islamophobes for spreading the fear of Islam? Are we not doing that ourselves?....
This is a key difference for "new atheists." To us, the fight against religious ideology isn't a struggle against human rights but a struggle for them. Human beings have rights and are entitled to respect. Books and beliefs don't and aren't. Instead of judging these religions by the actions of a few, we judge them more objectively: by the contents of their sacred texts…
Zain Ul Abedin Qasmani
Unfortunately, since the past couple of years, many of you may have noticed that Pakistan is being portrayed as the ‘bad guy’ in many videogames. This negatively impacts many people who will come to believe with certainty that Pakistan is an enemy state, worthy of only hate. Imagine the thoughts of a child playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II, trying to kill the ‘villain’ hiding in the ‘terrorist country’ of Pakistan. Insinuating that Pakistan is a ‘terrorist country’ plants the seed of hatred in a child’s mind from his/her early years....
Andrew Zak Williams
“Critics of the New Atheists are free to take issue with their tone, but to dismiss them without addressing the substance of their arguments constitutes an implicit admission that they just might have a point.” You can see his point. Plenty of Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Anglicans surely feel aggrieved when their god is put under the microscope and found to be the product of unintelligent design....
Perhaps a mosque could invite a known anti-Semite from the Muslim lunatic fringe to speak on the dangers of Halakha to the American legal system, or perhaps the viciousness of kosher slaughter. This should not be considered confrontational or hostile to Muslims as long as the group arranging the program publishes a statement saying: “We reject the categorizing of any religious majority based on the actions of a minority. …. We do, though, believe that it is appropriate to speak about the actions of that minority.”...
I do, however, absolutely agree with the general argument made in both columns that the New Atheists have flirted with and at times vigorously embraced irrational anti-Muslim animus. I repeatedly offered to post Harris' email to me and then tweet it so that anyone inclined to do so could read his response to those columns and make up their own minds. Once he requested that I do so, I posted our exchange here....
"Sharia law" and "Islamophobia “are popping up more often these days, but are they still largely undefined to most Americans? While the horrible hostage violence in Algeria last week was brief, it received considerable attention from the media. But the Algerian situation was an offshoot of on-going strife in Mali which has been raging for nearly a year with virtually no attention….
America's Middle East policy has been enthusiastically endorsed. Not at the UN or Arab League, however, but by the powerbrokers of Hollywood. At the Golden Globes, there were gongs for a heroically bearded CIA spook saving hostages and American face in Iran (the film Argo); a heroically struggling agent tracking down Bin Laden (Zero Dark Thirty) and heroically flawed CIA operatives protecting America from mindless, perpetual terror (TV series Homeland).
What is interesting about the prevalence of Islamophobic crime as of late is that, to some extent, it hasn't even been directed at Muslims. And when the perpetrators of this sort of crime are confronted with the fact that the brown person they murdered or assaulted didn't represent the ideology they thought they were combating, they rush to justify their attack.
As Muslims we should identify ourselves with the culture and land we associate with. Islam also teaches this but unfortunately Islam's true liberal teachings are not being told to us by our traditional Islamic organizations in the West that are in the hands of mainly Islamists.
Islam can only be understood on their terms, they say. And their terms are violent and intemperate. Their strict literalism, inability to grasp context, gross and frequent generalizations, and mind-blowing a historicism make them into radicals, only on the opposite side of a chasm into which both have thrown decency, history, common sense, and reality. In place of analysis, they offer us a Xerox machine.
Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam
Recently Shariah Law again came into focus in the UK, for wrong reasons though. A British Court granted divorce to an Iranian born lady Aghdas Bidaki against her husband who had a temporary marriage (mutah nikah) with a British lady 20 years junior to him and has two children from her. The 62 year old millionaire property dealer Houshang Jaffri had refused to give divorce saying Shariah permitted him to have four permanent marriages and as many temporary marriages or mutah nikah as he wished. However, the Bristol Country Court adjudicated that his behaviour was unreasonable.
Of course, those in the throes of this phobia are in denial. They never recognise it as such. Instead, they cling to their "deeply held convictions" that, for example, allowing people of the same sex to marry each other will ruin it for everyone else. They cling to their rosary beads or the backs of their trousers insisting it is a moral objection. But a glance at those objections unfailingly reveals an unwarranted belief that something bad will happen if you grant gay people the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts....
At this stage of discussing Islamophobia, it is worth moving beyond politicised uses of the term and to look for a more rigorous way to understand and to measure it. Once we have a common conceptual language and better tools for tracking Islamophobia, we can more accurately assess its trends over time, its variation over space or social groups, and its intensity relative to negative attitudes and emotions aimed at other minority groups….
Afaque Siddiqui, New Age Islam
We all know, Islamic history is full of wars and beheadings. In this case, what will be the basis of our proving Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being “Rahmatul Lil Aalameen”? … I have Allama Mohammad Junagadhi’s analysis and references with me which have been distributed among the Urdu knowing Muslims of the world by the Saudi Arabian government and its Head Shah Fahad bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. The said references and analyses were examined through various tests and scholarly researches. My citations have been taken from this very translation and references.
The said film does not show any good deeds or acts of Prophet (pbuh) but only the episodes that show him in bad light. After the scene of Hazrat Zainab (ra)’s marriage it shows the meeting with Hazrat Maria Qubtiya in Hazrat Hafsa’s tent. This scene also is taken from the references of the Holy Quran. In the very beginning of Surah At-Tahreem, God says, “O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives?”....
The past several years have not been easy for the Muslim World. Apart from the wars that have been fought in many countries, either voluntarily or involuntarily This was enough to ignite protests from the Middle East to Africa, to South and East Asia where people raged in the streets, burnt property, killed innocent people, and demanded death not only of the alleged perpetrator but also punishment of the countries that allegedly sheltered the perpetrator......
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam
Violent Islamism has only contributed to all the problems it purportedly aims to resolve. And yet, many Muslims continue to look upon violence as a justified or even necessary “reaction” to real or perceived Islamophobia. A senseless video leads to worldwide violent protests and dozens of needless deaths. Every now and then, we continue to hear of disparate Muslim groups trying to bomb some part of the world and kill still more people just so that their own grievances get aired. What such thinking reflects is a lack of the reflexive consciousness that makes human beings distinct from animals.....
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Despite all efforts by the civil society, Islamophobia in the West is on the increase, partly fuelled by continuing terrorist attacks, exclusivist attitudes and xenophobia among Muslims and mistreatment of religious and sectarian minorities in the Islamic world on spurious grounds like blasphemy.
Last year we had to suffer the killings of 77 innocent people in Norway. Now comes a report from Finish Intelligence, warning us that Islamophobic extremist groups exist with agendas and ideologies akin to those of the Norwegian mass murderer. SUPO has found that there is an “ideological preparedness to commit violent acts” and that the manifestos of these groups are specifically focussed on Islam as a culture.”
While the civil society and governments in the West must refrain from strengthening Jihadis, installing them in power in place of secular Muslim governments, and protecting the ideological founts of Jihadism in Saudi Arabia, we Muslims too need to introspect. What are we as people and our governments in the Islamic world doing to fuel this growing fear of Islam? If news emanating from Islamic countries consistently tells a tale of hatred and killing and forced conversion, how can it NOT lead to growing Islamophobia in the world?
While several Muslim countries like Egypt, Libya, Iran and Iraq are constant sources of such bad news, the worst case scenario is in Pakistan. Christian, Hindu, Shia, Ahmadi, all religious and sectarian minorities, are facing atrocities. Hapless Hindus have even begun to leave the country following a wave of abductions and forced conversions. Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has found that hate content has grown further in school text books.
Deliberate misinterpretation of selected portions of Islamic scriptures and their propagation to foment hatred against all minorities has grown manifold. Mainstream Muslims who see Islam as a blessing to mankind have no option but to rise against this misuse of Islam by exclusivist Wahhabi terrorist groups supported by Pakistan Army’s intelligence agency, the infamous ISI. Indeed Muslims everywhere must oppose the exclusivist-literalist interpretation of the Holy Quran that claims that all its verses are of universal application regardless of context. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, addressing the United Nations, 21st session of Human Rights Council, Geneva on 14 September, 2012
To be a prominent Muslim means suffering a daily diet of bigotry and even outright hatred. This week, Mehdi Hasan – who, other than my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, is Britain's only prominent Muslim journalist – wrote of how, every day, he is attacked as a "jihadist" and a "terrorist". He has been described as a "dangerous Muslim shithead", a "moderate cockroach", and worse. I beg fellow non-Muslims – stand with them too, before this hatred spirals further out of control....
The Moscow court made its position clear by imprisoning the three women band members, a verdict supported by the offended parties, Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church; though one member of the band has won her appeal. In regard to the anti-Islam film, those offended by and protesting against it (Salafists in the main) demand nothing less that the death penalty for the makers of the film...
Munir Sami: Look, the same thing is coming to the fore. The freedom of expression and freedom of religion are interlinked. We say whatever we like during our speeches in mosques here. Have you ever heard that the government of Canada has arrested an imam of a mosque? Similarly, we abuse Jews every day. In the verses of the Quran ‘fansurna ala qaumil kafireen’ is said constantly. Isn’t it? All our prayers end with ‘fansurna ala qaumil kafireen’ (Allah, give us victory over the infidels). Has anyone ever asked you what are you doing, brother? So on the one hand you are constantly using the freedom of expression and freedom of religion and as a result the number of mosques is increasing in Canada and in Europe. You are not looking at it from an ethical point of view. Aren’t they allowing you to build mosques under the freedom of religion? …
Munir Sami: Geopolitics has come into the play. It’s all hypocrisy and when you demand your right on the basis of hypocrisy the world will know that you are lying. The lie will appear on your forehead. Whoever says that there is no Shia-Sunni divide is the greatest liar and God’s curse is on him. They are shamelessly telling a lie every day. In Pakistan Shias are killed every day, Ahmadis are killed, Christians are killed. Why don’t they stand by their side? Go and do all this in front of the American consulate here and say, “O Americans, you continue to give aid to Pakistan and violence is unleashed against those sects. We request you to come and help us.’ But they do not do it and call it a Jewish conspiracy. They know that the American government can’t do anything about the freedom of expression even if it is filled with filth and vulgarity. But we do not go and protest because we do not want to in the first place. …
Munir Sami: I have a point. First if it is a hate (crime) in Canada, in entire Europe and in America, wherever these demonstrations are being held, all have hate crime laws. I advised someone that the world’s wealthiest Muslim country Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries should collectively establish a Anti Hate Crime and Anti Islam hate crime Fund and put hundred million dollars in it and then file an ideal suit in Canada and in America. We will use the best lawyers in the US. The lawyers here are ever ready to accept money. Pay them $400-500 according to their demand. We shall file a case through them and pursue the case up to the Supreme Court. We will challenge it and see if it can be done or not. But nobody is coming forward. One question is being raised. Why is not all this demonstrations and violent protests being held in Saudi Arabia? It is happening in Pakistan but this time no noticeable demonstration is being held in Iran. You have seen that they are good at gathering millions on Fridays. But this time they did not do that. Why did not they do it in Saudi Arabia? Because the right to freedom of speech does not exist there in the first place.
Transcript and Translation from Urdu by: New Age Islam Edit Desk
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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By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
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....