DEFINING ISLAMOPHOBIA

“PHOBIA” IS DEFINED AS FEAR – SO ISLAMOPHOBIA IS FEAR OF ISLAM. GIVEN ALL THAT IS HAPPENING, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE FEAR OF ISLAM OR ISLAMOPHOBIA?

Fear of Islam is not the problem. The problem occurs when this hatred cloaked in fear becomes irrational in spite of the real, easily verifiable facts available about Islam and ordinary Muslims today from respectable, independent and best selling non-Muslim sources, that are often overlooked.

By ignoring these indisputable facts and relying instead on hate-inciting, fear mongering sources, we are left with irrational Islamophobia, which is the irrational hatred veiled as fear for Islam and ordinary Muslims.

SO CRITICISING ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IS ISLAMOPHOBIA.

No, not really.
In the words of a widely respected American Jew on the definition of Islamophobia:
 Criticism of Islam is not an Islamophobic act in itself, so long as that criticism is accompanied with some kind of intellectual rigour. An Islamophobic act is one that portrays Islam, and therefore Muslims, as a threat.

Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, overturn our democratic institutions, and then implement Sharia. That’s Islamophobia, and no different than saying, “Jews are plotting to overtake the world,” which it was, not coincidently, a Nazi generated trope. (Source: Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, 8 April 2017, CJ Werleman, Muslim Press)

MUSLIMS HAVE AN ENLARGED SENSE OF VICTIMHOOD AND LOVE TO EXAGGERATE ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS.

With over 101 anti-Muslim hate groups in America, out of 917 total hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organi- zation that tracks hate crimes in the country, anti-Muslim hate crimes and varying forms of discrimination stemming from public policy and political speech is real.

“Anti-Islamic rhetoric is not difficult to come by . . . It’s unfortunately prolific and so numerous that I didn’t even bother to find examples. You can just Google it.” (Source: Stop Criminalizing Children of Color for Being Children by Heather Hamel, 22 September 2015, The Huffington Post)

In the words of “The Islamophobia Project” started by the Huffington Post: “It’s when a Muslim mom tells her daughter to maybe not wear the hijab today. It’s a Muslim father having to explain to his children that no, they’re citizens, they can’t be deported. It’s how almost every Muslim in a movie is depicted as a terrorist, and it’s why cable news channels only ask Muslims if they condemn terrorism”. (Source: 6 Rules Of Islamophobia In America, Christopher Mathias, 23 January 2017, The Huffington Post)

BUT YOU MUSLIMS CRY FOUL AND SCREAM ISLAMOPHOBIA AT EVERY TURN.

Those that scream “Islamophobia” as soon as anything critical is leveled at Muslims are unfortunately stumbling down the same dark alleyway the power brokers within the Holocaust industry trail-blazed decades ago. Granted, the media discourse over Islam and ordinary Muslims today indeed resembles the manner in which Jews were vilified a hundred years ago but not all negative criticisms directed towards ordinary Muslims should be labelled Islamophobia.

Irrational Islamophobia is not about criticising Islam and Muslims which everyone is free to engage in but is about repeating false data and information in written, verbal or audio form – already repeatedly discredited by reputable, credible scholars, academics and experts and not disseminated by fear-mongering, hate-inciting talking heads and publicity hungry talk-show hosts.

Put simply, criticising ordinary Muslims isn’t Islamophobia however repeating already discredited statements and myths about Muslims and Islam is. As French philosopher Albert Camus once said: “Misnaming things adds to the misfortunes of the world”.

Therefore an Islamophobe is someone who prefers to incite hatred and fear in the hearts and minds of people by conflating fact with hyperbole fiction. Not someone who criticises Muslims.

HOW CAN MUSLIMS EVER COMPARE THEMSELVES TO WHAT THE JEWS WENT THROUGH 100 YEARS AGO?

Prior to the Holocaust, the Nazi propaganda machine spoke about the “Jewish problem” and how allegedly the Jewish community was organised in a diabolical scheme for world domination, and that Jews were liars and could not be trusted or be loyal to the state. Those are verbatim the same arguments that we hear made against Muslims today and which far too many Americans [and Europeans] find acceptable. It is the same hate with a new target . . In both cases, masses of otherwise reasonable people, were and are misled by leaders to demonize an entire group of people and portray them as a threat. The “threat” is fabricated using outright lies, half-truths, and double standards. (Source: Facts about Muslim faith ignored as fear-mongering, fabrications spread by Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida 9 March 2016, Brandenton Herald)

 In the words of a notable Australian Jew and a prolific writer, CJ Werleman:

Look back at Nazi Germany – they didn’t start killing Jews on day one. The German public would’ve never accepted systematic violence against Jews in 1932. It took eight years of unrelenting anti-Semitism in the media and elsewhere before crimes against Jewish populations became normal and acceptable behavior. (Source: Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, 8 April 2017, Muslim Press)

 Therefore when examined closely, it becomes clear the same misinformation strategy was used on the Jews and thus, enabled otherwise normal human beings to collaborate with the Nazis and starve, torture and kill millions of innocent Jews by stripping away the individuality of every Jew and manufacture chambers full of inexplicable hatred into death. History must not repeat itself.

OKAY BUT THE ISRAELIS ARE SOMETIMES KNOWN TO DEFLECT ACCOUNTABILITY BY LABELLING ANY CRITICISM AS ANTI-SEMITIC. AREN’T MUSLIMS TODAY DOING THE SAME THING?

Has this accusation ever stopped any self-respecting media platforms from reigning in their criticisms about Islam or Muhammad (PBUH)? Never. In fact, how many credible and unbiased media reports can you find that attest to how the media is failing to shine the spotlight on Islam today? None.

If there is one religion that receives far too much unfair, unbalanced and negative coverage, it is Islam. As a result, you are now beginning to find small but emerging number of articles and news clips criticising the media for unfairly putting the spotlight only on Islam and brushing all ordinary Muslims with the same tar – and in comparison, less so on people of other faiths, states, ideologies and failed foreign policies. Therefore the claim that Muslims are shielding themselves behind the accusation of calling its critic, “bigots and Islamophobes” carries little factual merits.

Little not zero factual merits – because there are admittedly instances where bigotry and Islamophobia are exploited by some so-called Muslim countries to deflect criticism for discriminatory laws in places like Saudi Arabia, (Aceh) Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere. Often times, these laws are falsely implemented in the name of Islam for political expediency and for this, so-called Muslim-majority countries need to be held to account and foreign media coverage ought to be vigorous and balance.

“As secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: “The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom”. (Source: Why should I respect these oppressive religions? on 28 January 2009 by Johann Hari, The Independent)

WHY THEN DOES IT SEEM MUSLIMS ARE USING ISLAMOPHOBIA AS A CATCH ALL PHRASE TO SILENCE ANYONE CRITICAL OF ISLAM AND MUSLIMS?

Islamophobia is to repeat previously discredited myths and conflating fact with fiction when it comes to Muslims and Islam. Criticising Muslims is not Islamophobia nor is criticising a Muslim-majority country Islamophobia.

Where even the slightest signs of “Islamophobia” misuse appears, especially by some Muslim-majority countries in cases related to apostasy, blasphemy or honour killings among other issues, ordinary Muslims young and old, male and female should openly condemn these Muslim-majority countries for misrepresenting Islamic shariah (for example, jailing victims of rape) and tailoring their beliefs, especially if they ever tried deflecting any form of criticism by misusing the shield of Islamophobia.

This is all the more the case even if this means one runs the risk of being labeled a “self-hating Muslim”. Besides, how can we, ordinary Muslims not condemn something that is in direct contradiction to the decisions taken by none other than Muhammad (PBUH) himself?

In his lifetime, not a single person was hanged, beheaded or killed as a result of apostasy and blasphemy so whoever does it now (in the absence of a true, equitable Islamic state) cannot possibly be following the religion of Muhammad (PBUH), says unqualified sheikh yours truly, given how this should no doubt be the start and end of an irrefutable argument.

SO IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CRITICISE ISLAM, MUSLIMS AND MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES WITHOUT BEING ACCUSED OF HATING EVERY MUSLIM?

Granted, the idea behind Islamophobia can sometimes be abused by some Muslim-majority countries to shield themselves from criticism of their misuse of Islamic shariah (opinion of Islamic law) for example, in matters relating to women’ rights to drive or open a bank account to beheadings, apostasy and blasphemy.

Often times, the action of these so-called Islamic countries is a deviation from the true teachings of Islam and yet by employing the banner of Islamophobia, they dishonestly deflect criticisms directed at them, straight out of the playbook pioneered by generation after generation of astute politicians within the State of Israel. Politicians who will deflect any criticism against Israel wasting no time labelling it as an act of Anti-Semitism instead of what it actually is: Criticism of Israel’s foreign policy when it comes to the illegal occupation, settlement expansion and extra-judicial killings of ordinary indigenous Palestinians among a long list of other injustices.

On both fronts, this should be roundly condemned by ordinary Muslims the world over.

BEING MUSLIM IS A NOT A RACE SO WHEN CRITICISING MUSLIMS, HOW CAN WE BE BRANDED RACIST?

Yes, Islam itself as a religion does not denote a race since Muslims come from almost every racial and ethnic grouping in the world. There are Indonesians Muslims as well as Arabs, Chinese, Australians, Indians, Africans, Turks, Canadians, Hispanics as well as white Americans and Europeans among countless of other ethnicities that represent Islam today but when it comes to Islam and Muslims, statements made on TV and in news report are usually sensational or distorted and reporting is often deeply “racist”. The actions of a certain race for example Arabs, is evenly applied on all other Muslims across the world. Therefore, “racist” not in the conventional sense given how not a single race can represent Islam or Muslims.

In the words of Dr. Anne Aly, Australia’s first female Muslim MP who says it best:

Because (attacks on Muslims) have the same motivations as racism and the same impacts of racism. If you look at its mobilisers then you would consider hate speech against Muslims, racism. (Source: This Muslim Politician Nailed Why The “Islam Is Not A Race” Argument Doesn’t Work Is it racist?, Mark Di Stefano, 2 April 2017, BuzzFeed)

WHY WOULD ANY RESPECTED AND WIDELY FOLLOWED CELEBRITY, POLITICIAN, TV ANCHOR OR AUTHOR LIE ABOUT MUSLIMS AND ISLAM?

According to Fear, Inc., 2.0, an in-depth report published by the Center for American Progress, there are organizations in the United States with clear malevolent motives, which they in fact often openly state. These have to do with their fundamental desire for more aggressive U.S. foreign policies and providing the rationale for the ever-growing national security state.

In fact, the most common tactic of Islamophobes is to use the most extreme of examples to get attention and solicit funds. Others unapologetically court controversy to raise their TV or radio ratings, sell more books, increase social media following or secure the media limelight to gain lucrative speaking engagements. Rarely does it matter the statements are based on lies, paraded as facts. It is simply about sensationalism and generating more views for the website, media platform or other wealth generating tool that is, books, talk-shows or other publicity platforms.

In fact, the more outrageous and belligerent a commentator is these days, the higher the following of that individual. The rarely unspoken reason to make such hate-filled, often debunked controversial statements is to boost the sale of his or her books or to facilitate a spike in his or her TV or radio ratings, if not run for the office of the President of the United States, as evidenced by recent events.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS AND KNOWN STRATEGY OF AN ISLAMOPHOBE?

A leading number of them may outwardly seem perfectly ordinary, eloquent and even funny but in fact hold views that are out of touch with reality, inhumanely ignorant and toxic. Since a lie told often enough ends up feeling true, the tactic of repeating widely debunked anti-Islamic rhetoric and Islamophobic trope is the most effective form of politically-useful bigotry employed by these individuals for cheap applause.

Relying on a deceptive and dishonest propaganda strategy focusing on a broad range of Islamic and non-Islamic issues, ranging from feminist movements, terrorism, Islam and Christianity, these hatemongers peddle negative, unqualified and misinformed messages to sow discontent and fear in the hearts and minds of non-Muslims who watch and follow their programmes down the rabbit hole of unjustified assumptions and disastrous conclusions, implicitly backing the anti-Muslim bigotry – all in the name of bottomless dumbing down entertainment.

Serving as examples, an anti-Muslim hate group might purchase advertising space for anti-Islam messages but when the publisher rejects the business on account of its hateful content, the group will then lead a suit for allegedly violating their free speech rights, as part of its lawfare strategy. Regardless of who wins the legal challenge, the controversy generates the much-coveted publicity. Soon after the case is dismissed in the local court, little time is wasted spinning the outcome as “a rigged system” or the absurd, “victory for Shariah in America”.

Other common methods include “self-anointed activists” fighting against “creeping Shariah” by obstructing the building of community centers and mosques, and dragging town hall meetings into court rooms so as to deliberate anti-Islam talking points in the court of law. Even in cases where religious equality perseveres and the case is thrown out of court, the endgame of the Islamophobia network is to pollute the public discourse by conflating a tinge of facts with gallons of misinformation and when handed a loss, disreputably claim “in infiltration of Islam” or “victory of jihad”, paying zero attention to the misuse of words and its real meanings.

Last but not least is the ultimate red herring strategy, which is a nationwide campaign to stop Shariah law from ever being introduced in countries like America by enacting new statutes or constitutional amendments to prevent the introduction of non-American or British laws. Never mind how Shariah law dictates a Muslim should obey the law of the country they live in, thus advocating nothing short of strong national pride but this is beside the point. The end-goal is to defame Muslims and Islam through ballot and votes, using sheer paranoia and red herring defeating a non-existent threat and riding the wave of publicity from the news coverage it generates.

BUT MUSLIMS WANT THE SHARIAH LAW TO REPLACE LAWS IN THE WEST.

The fear of Shariah law in the West is completely unwarranted and a total red herring, best illustrating how the irrational Islamophobia industry thrives by spreading untruths about Islam and beliefs of ordinary Muslims.  In Islam, Muslims follow the Qur’an (divine revelation) and Hadiths (narrated sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), making them legally binding texts for all Muslims.

Meanwhile, Shariah (law opined by Islamic scholars based on their understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith) is the interpretation of statements and principles from the Qur’an and Hadith and varies from place to place. It covers marriage, divorce, inheritance and punishments for criminal offenses among a divergent range of issues. Every verdict, is however open to interpretation. Not only do ordinary Muslims from different countries across the world sometimes have a different Shariah opinion on a single given subject, scholars them- selves can reach widely different conclusions based on their understanding of the Qur’an and Hadiths.

As an example, Shariah calls for Muslims to be honest, be kind to orphans and widows and donate money to charity. On these matters, there is of course less room to manoeuvre since every Muslim is expected to be nothing short of being honest, kind and donate as much as possible to the poor. Therefore, when a Muslim is kind and honest and gives money to charity, he is not only following the Qur’an and Hadith but also following the Shariah.

Put another way, to ask Muslims to disavow Shariah is like asking a Christian to renounce the Bible because for example it calls for women to be stoned to death if she is not a virgin at the time of the wedding. (Source: Deuteronomy 22:13–21) Shariah also provides a framework under which circumstances a Muslim is allowed to divorce, participate in a war and decide on inheritance matters. Here, opinions can be diver- gent given the number of factors that could come into play. You will therefore not find a single book on Shariah because the rulings vary from country to country influenced by social, economic and cultural factors.

Like the tax law of a given country, only specialists that is, Islamic scholars with in-depth knowledge of both the Qur’an and Hadith are best able to diagnose the best Shariah law for a given situation. Again, these non-binding rulings different from country to country.

Last but not least, a Muslim is divinely instructed in the Qur’an to abide by the rules of the country in which they live (4:59), which in effect nullifies any argument to sidestep local laws in place for one’s interpretation of Shariah law.

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