HOMOSEXUALITY, BLASPHEMY AND APOSTASY IN ISLAM

HOMOSEXUALITY

 MUSLIMS ARE ALL AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS.

There is no denying it. Some Muslims are homophobic. But this is not a remarkable admission in light of the fact that most endeavors to restrict the civil liberties of the LGBTQI community in the U.S. have been led not by Muslims but by Christians . . . It’s also important to stress that the only two Muslims in Congress, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana, are fierce advocates of LGBTQI rights. Last year, Carson helped to introduce the Equality Act, which would extend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. For his part, Ellison was named by Think Progress in 2012 as one of the most pro-LGBTQI members of the House of Representatives . . . For many years, members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I. community have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community against any acts of hate crimes, Islamophobia, marginalization, and discrimination. Today we stand with them shoulder to shoulder. The liberation of the American Muslim community is profoundly linked to the liberation of other minorities – blacks, Latinos, gays, Jews, and every other community. We cannot fight injustice against some groups and not against others. Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia – we cannot dismantle one without the other . . . In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, for instance, American Muslims launched a crowd-funding campaign for the victims and their families. The campaign, Muslims United for Victims of Pulse Shooting, cites a Qur’anic verse and Hadith, or saying of Muhammad [PBUH]. In less than two weeks, they raised more than $75,000. (Source: American Muslims Send A Powerful Message Of Solidarity To Orlando Victims, Carol Kuruvilla, 14 June 2016, Huffington Post)

DOES ISLAM ACCEPT HOMOSEXUALITY?

In an interview with a leading Islamic scholar in America, following the Orlando shooting, Sheikh Humza Yusuf had the following to say: As we say in the Orlando statement, we are committed to Abrahamic morality, but it should not be imposed on others. America is about choices, including those to live certain lifestyles . . .

I have studied the tradition, and the vast majority of Muslims would never accept the lawfulness of an active homosexual lifestyle. I don’t see that happening. But there is also no authority in the tradition for any individual to take things into his own hands and impose their version of the religion on someone else. (Source: Muslim leaders: ‘We will not allow the extremists to de ne us’, by Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor, 15 June 2016, CNN)

SO MUSLIMS HATE HOMOSEXUALITY?

While Islam and many other religions including the other two Abrahamic faiths have a clear position on homosexuality, in an excellent summarised response to the issue, interfaith presenter, Sajdah Nubee sums up a key point when it comes to the matter at hand:  Muslims [as individuals] do not condemn homosexuality. Who are we to judge? Islam meanwhile does not condone homosexual relationships [and the Qur’an very clearly condemns it] but every Muslim [also] believes in free will to act and that our actions will be judged by God on Judgment Day. If we’re doing good, as we should, the correct narrative will take care of itself because we’re already a visible force to combat untrue rhetoric. (Source: What It Means to Me to Be Unapologetically Muslim by Sajdah Nubee, 10 March 2016, Huffington Post)

BUT THE JUNE 12 ORLANDO PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASS SHOOTING KILLING 49 AND INJURING 53 CLEARLY PROVES MUSLIMS ALL HATE HOMOSEXUALS.

Religiously motivated legislation from the right-wing Christian lobby has been trying to stifle gay civil liberties ever since the gay rights movement came into existence.

The Christians, not Muslims are against LGBTQI equality. If conservative Christians truly cared about the fate of LGBTQI people, one ought to shed some light on the Church’s contribution towards LGBTQI discrimination and stigma for years let alone decades. (Source: Conservatives Try To Scapegoat Islam To Avoid Responsibility For Perpetuating Anti-LGBT Violence, 13 June 2016, Zack Ford, Think Progress)

As an example: A Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez spewed a hate- filled, homophobic sermon just hours after the Orlando massacre . . . praising the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida . . . Video footage of the sermon, which was uploaded to the Verity Baptist Church’s YouTube account, showed Jimenez telling churchgoers, “I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. As Christians, should we be mourning the death of these 50 vile, perverted predators?” . . . Jimenez doubled down on those remarks in an interview with The Sacramento Bee, noting, “All I’m saying is that when people die who deserve to die, it’s not a tragedy.”. He was later removed from his church. (Source: Pastor Who Praised Orlando Shooting May Lose His Church, 23 June 2016, Curtis M Wong, Huffington Post)

AT LEAST 10 MUSLIM COUNTRIES (YEMEN, IRAN, IRAQ, MAURITANIA, NIGERIA, QATAR, SAUDI ARABIA, SOMALIA, SUDAN AND THE UAE) and ISIS – SAY HOMOSEXUALITY IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH THEREFORE, ISLAM IS CLEARLY AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY.

There are no verses in the Qur’an that specifies the punishment for homosexuality. Surah Al-Nur refers to “men who are not in need of women”, without condemning them. In the story of Lut (A.S), the Qur’an describes the punishment Allah sent to the deviant people of Prophet Lut (A.S) who were not only homosexuals but polytheists, alcoholics, pedophiles, etcetera.

On the issue of “Mukhannath” (hermaphrodite) even Muhammad (PBUH) recognised hermaphrodites around him, without ever enforcing the punishment (hudud) upon them. Therefore in accordance to Shariah, being a hermaphrodite is not a sin because this is considered the creation of Allah. It is thus also in reference to the 13th century Syrian scholar Al-Nawawi who once said: “If a person is gay, we have to treat them with mercy”.

Having said that, there is a following Hadith (narrated sayings and actions of Muhammad (PBUH), which is classed as genuine (saheeh) but comes with qualifiers: Al-Tirmidhi (1456), Abu Dawood (4462) and Ibn Maajah (2561) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Lut (A.S), execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”

QUALIFIERS: This Hadith indicate the permissibility of executing gays caught in the act of perpetrating this heinous sin. Which establishes that the Shar’iah does not necessitate absolute execution in every single case. The Jurists mention that such hadith merely indicate to the permissibility of execution in the event that the leader or government of a certain place deem it to be the best course of action for that particular society. The matter is to the hands of the leader and government officials. If they deem it politically beneficial, they are permitted to execute the homosexual caught perpetrating the act. Similarly, if they deem it better to counsel and advise the perpetrator to repent from the sin or to apply another form of punishment, they are permitted to take that course of action as well.

Secondly, in the realm of the Islamic criminal law, penalties (hudud) in Islam are mainly meant to act as a deterrent factor and not to be widely applicable without keeping in mind the strict restrictions and meticulous conditions that should be carefully considered before the execution of such penalties. Any rising speculations regarding meeting one or more of the conditions of applying the penalty leads it to be at halt.

One of the major common elements in most of the major penalties to be applied is the element of the “availability of trust worthy and honest eye-witnesses” to testify to the validity of the crimes committed and the existence of a specific state of affairs. If that state of affairs is not present, the hudud is not to be imposed. Therefore there are important qualifiers to meet before any capital punishment is to be handed out.

Islam is an ultra-benevolent religion. There’s firmness but no harshness. There are laws but to serve more as a deterrent. Lest we forget some of the strongest advocates for Islam at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) were formerly the biggest enemies, hypocrites, wrongdoers and sinners against Islam.

For example, homosexuality is considered a major sin in Islam but so is disrespecting parents; having sex outside marriage; severing ties of kinship; theft – all considered equally grievous along with 10 other major sins on the list of 15 major sins in Islam. Yet disproportional condemnation is reserved exclusively towards homosexuality and not nearly as much passionate intolerance directed towards some of the other major sins listed above, laying bare the hypocrisy among some Muslims today.

Therefore, self-labelled Islamic majority countries or extremist groups where they cane, hang or throw homosexuals off buildings are simply doing this based on their whims framing it dishonestly as an Islamic law when this is not strictly based upon injunctions from the Qur’an or Hadith, the only two sources where jurists studying Islamic law are supposed to derive its rulings from

BLASPHEMY IN ISLAM


 WHAT IS THE EXACT POSITION OF ISLAM ON BLASPHEMY?

Blasphemy laws historically began in Christian Europe as a means to prevent dissent and enforce the church’s authority. They were exported to Muslim majority nations via British imperialism. Today, just about every Muslim majority nation that has blasphemy laws can trace them back to British statute from centuries prior.(Source: This is what the Qur’an actually says about blasphemy, Qasim Rashid, 12 May 2017, The Independent)

Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan too, has pointed out that:

“There are more than 200 verses in the Qur’an, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called “blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet” but nowhere does the Qur’an prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.” (Source: Blasphemy and the law of fanatics by Fareed Zakaria, 8 January 2015, Washington Post)

Yet thousands of misinformed, easily manipulated Muslims sympathise with murderers and mobs who kill or imprison individuals accused of blasphemy when the fact remains:

That the Qur’an prescribes no punishment for blasphemy. Period.

The misguided idea that Islam requires that insults to Muhammad (PBUH) [or religious edicts] be met with violence is a creation of politicians and clerics to serve a political agenda, and ironically, nowhere are these archaic blasphemy laws more abused than some Muslim-majority countries with the worst records for fair governance such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Sudan. (Source: Blasphemy and the law of fanatics by Fareed Zakaria, 8 January 2015, Washington Post)

Yasir Qadhi, an assistant professor of Islamic studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee takes a more nuanced view: “Loving the prophet (PBUH) is a necessary requirement of (faith). Defending his honor is a sign of belief. This is done by following his teachings and practice, not by murdering in his name,” Qadhi wrote in a widely shared Facebook post. “Even for those who believe that the penalty for blasphemy should be death: by unanimous consensus of all the scholars of Islam, this must take place after a legitimate trial, by a qualified judge, appointed by a legitimate Islamic state. Under no circumstances does Islam allow vigilante justice”.

Therefore even if a punishment is to be vetted out for blasphemy, one ought to ask where in the world are you going to find a legitimate Islamic state, not a Muslim-majority country that pretends to be Islamic but a true Islamic state like those during the Islamic renaissance or during and after the advent of Islam?

This is precisely why notable scholars like Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim have written extensively about the place of Shariah (Islamic religious law) in predominantly Muslim societies of the world. In his book, Islam and the secular state, he argues: “The coercive enforcement of Shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, Shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce Shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not Shariʿa or the Islamic tradition, according to an introduction prepared by the Harvard University Press.

Therefore it is easy to blame Islam and ordinary Muslims for transgressions undertaken by politicians (such as in the 2017 case of ethnic Chinese, Christian Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama who was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam in Jakarta, Indonesia), countries with Muslim-majority population (13 of which punish blasphemy by death) and the extrajudicial killings that such laws inspire (such as for example in Pakistan and Bangladesh, among others) or individuals with a Muslim name who commit acts of terror – but is this really fair when the Qur’an and Hadith, read in context and clarity, remains the best form of refutation in terms of what is morally right and wrong, permissible and forbidden.

Evidently it therefore appears: “Blasphemy laws don’t exist to protect God: they exist to protect the fragile egos of corrupt clerics”, in the succint words of Qasim Rashid that captures the essence of this entire debate. (Source: This is what the Qur’an actually says about blasphemy, Qasim Rashid, 12 May 2017, The Independent)

 

APOSTASY IN ISLAM


WHY IS THE APOSTATE KILLED IF HE OR SHE DECIDES TO LEAVE ISLAM?

To understand apostasy, it may be best to start by referring to the example of Thumana ibn Uthal, from the time of Muhammad (PBUH). Thumana pretended to come into Islam and when presented with an opportunity, killed a group of Muslims but was soon after captured and tried for his crimes. Muhammad (PBUH) however decided to forgive him instead and ordered his release. Seeing this, Thumana accepted Islam and became a real Muslim. This eventual conversion of course was not always the case.

At the time of Muhammad (PBUH), many tribes were against Muhammad (PBUH) and his small but fast-growing number of Muslims. In order to dissuade, disburse and/or make a dent in the overall number of people joining Islam and forming a true Islamic state, the opponents of Muhammad (PBUH) developed a strategy of nominating people from within their tribes and asking them to falsely accept Islam and when faced with the right opportunity, kill as many Muslims as they possibly could get their hands on

(note: shades of similarity with a common strategy used by Islamophobes today who enlist the help of certain ex-Muslims or “reformed” Muslims who conflate fact with fiction and present their misinterpreted version of Islam to prevent people from really understanding the religion).

It is however important to note, no one was ever killed under this law during the time of Muhammad (PBUH), since the purpose of this law was not only to protect Islam, but the freedom of conscience for those of all faiths, which was being threatened at the time. Nonetheless and given the particular circumstances at the time, it successfully acted as a useful deterrent.

WHAT IS THE LOGIC NOW OF IMPOSING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR LEAVING ISLAM AS IF, HE OR SHE IS COMMITTING TREASON?

In modern day societies, we call the act of entering a state as a citizen and betraying it treason, which is often punishable by death, life imprisonment without pardon or solitary confinement. The following excerpt however provides an interesting counterpoint on the subject: The most commonly heard argument heard in favor of punishment for apostasy posits this: That apostasy is tantamount to treason, which is a capital crime in most nations in the world, including secular Western ones . . . This argument can be rejected outright based on the fact that Muslims throughout the world are already divided into nation states that have their own treason laws, as well as into sects and intra-sectarian denominations. In the absence of a global community or leadership there is no rational basis for a treason argument . . . The Qur’an has stated in its singular eloquence “There is no compulsion in matter of faith: distinct is the way of guidance now from error” (2:256). It is time, we as Muslims, lived up to that ideal. (Source: Empathy For Apostasy: The Acceptance Of The Ex-Muslim Is Long Overdue, Khwaja Khusro Tariq, 8 March, 2017, Huffington Post)

However since this matter relates to theology, it is best to include an excerpt from an article that explains the entire controversy relating to apostasy:

The death penalty for apostasy relies at the core of it on an authentically verified Hadith from Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] who said, “Whoever changes his religion kill him.”

This statement, however, would seem to contradict numerous verses in the Qur’an that guarantee freedom of belief, few of which include “There is no compulsion in religion” [2:256], and “Whoever so wills may believe and whoever so wills may deny” [18:29] . . . How could one reconcile the Qur’an with the Hadith in this issue without committing an inconsistency whereby the Hadith is rejected out of hand, even though the same transmission rules for accepting veracity of any other Hadith were applied to this one?

Moreover, one could ask whether it is an Islamic objective to artificially inflate the numbers of Muslims by including those who would not be so if they had the option . . .

Although the above-mentioned Hadith is authentic, it is also established that Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] never ordered the death penalty to be carried out on people known during his time to have apostatised. Of such people was a Bedouin man who came to Medina (during a time of political and military power for Muslims) to announce his Islam, but apostatised and left the city a short period later without receiving any penalty for his subsequent rejection. Given how the Prophet [PBUH] treated individuals who entered and left Islam, and the numerous verses in the Qur’an guaranteeing freedom of belief, the Hadith decreeing a death penalty for apostasy becomes more puzzling.

This can be resolved by turning to another authentic Hadith where this penalty is mentioned, but with a qualifier: “. . . the one leaving his religion and abandoning the group”. In addition, another verse in the Qur’an, which can further resolve this conundrum speaks to a strategy adopted by a rival sect in Medina in one of their attempts to create a schism within the nascent Muslim community by pretending to enter Islam in the morning, then leaving it in the evening [3:72] . . .

It is interesting to note here that prior to entering Islam, the two biggest tribes in Medina were engaged in a lengthy civil war that only ended when their allegiances were redefined from the tribal to the religious. If these new allegiances were jeopardised, it was highly likely to lead to civil strife and loss of life again.

Hence, the Hadith about the death penalty is not about apostasy in the strict sense of no longer believing in Islam per se. Rather, it is about what can be considered in modern terms political treason.

In his book The Empathic Civilization, social critic Jeremy Rifkin notes the evolution of human social units over time and how that affected our a affiliations and allegiances. In our early history we began with blood ties, progressed to tribal allegiances, then to religious associational ties and finally today to national ties. Contemporary Muslim scholar Abdallah bin Bayyah previously commented on a problem in how modern Muslims approach scriptural sources where they “misunderstand the text, ignore the context, and thus misapply the ruling”. (Source: Islam, Saudi and apostasy: Does Islamic law really proscribe the death penalty for apostasy? By Mohamed Ghilan on 10 May 2014 on Aljazeera.com)

WHY THEN DO SOME MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES IMPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY FOR APOSTASY?

Here is another article (excerpts only) that talks about Sudan (but is just as equally applicable to many, many Muslim-majority countries today), which has a government that claims to be “Islamic” but has done little to demonstrate just that:

Governments like that of Omar al-Bashir’s love to use religion to legitimise their authority and call themselves and believe to be Islamists. It appears that whatever directive is taken, be it legal, social or military, it uses religion as the underlying justification and legitimisation for it. But as with all like-minded, undemocratic governments, such rulings are based on twisted truths and the bending of religious teachings to suit political needs. (Source: Sudan: A misconception of apostasy: Sudan’s recent apostasy death sentence is a manifestation of the wrongful use of religion in politics by Dallia M Abdelmoniem, Aljazeera.com)

In a nutshell, calling yourself an Islamic country does not make you “Islamic” and therefore, countries that claim to call themselves Islamic do it for political and diplomatic reasons more than religious reasons.

To illustrate this point, to kill a human being for allegedly eating beef when this is more communal or politically motivated does not mean India where the majority of citizens are Hindus, is behaving like a rogue Hindu state. On the contrary, this is about politics, pure and simple and less to do with religion.

Coming back to the issue of apostasy, implementing a punishment for apostasy that was never once handed out even at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) calls into question the basis of what these so-called “Muslim” countries like Nigeria, Saudi, (Aceh) Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, etcetera, are pretending to do.

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ANTI-FEMINISM WITHIN ISLAM

SINCE SAUDI ARABIA IS THE BIRTHPLACE FOR ISLAM, DON’T MUSLIMS FOLLOW WHAT THE SAUDIS PREACH?

Saudi Arabia as a country only came into being in 1932 (less than 90 years ago) or over 1300 years after Muhammad (PBUH)’s death, so no, Saudi is not the birthplace of Islam.

Mecca and Medina are indeed two key cities located within present-day Saudi Arabia. By governing the cities Mecca and Medina after its founding, the Saudi royal family has self-appointed itself as the guardian of the two Holy mosques but this does not in any way make them leaders over the Muslim community worldwide.

PRESENT-DAY MIDDLE EAST IS MODELLED ON AN IDEAL ISLAMIC SOCIETY.

Considering the simple, ascetic lifestyle Muhammad (PBUH) encouraged Muslims to lead, it is shocking the number of Muslim leaders living in sheer opulence in the Middle East and elsewhere today.

It is also worth asking how does one generalise the entire Muslim world with the actions of what for example, Saudi Arabia which accounts for less than 2 percent of the world’s Muslim population that is, 29 million population does especially when no other Muslim-majority country around the world has the kind of regressive laws some Middle Eastern countries are infamous for.

Therefore, one could argue present-day Middle East does little to resemble the equal rights Muhammad (PBUH) promised when he was sent to mankind as a Prophet. Having said that, the West is also not exactly a beacon for women’s rights either. America today ranks top of a notorious list, in terms of women abuse and rape in the world today (where every two minutes a women is raped and where 44 percent of the victims are under the age of 18) according to statistics by RAINN, America’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. But finger pointing is a cop-out and can go on until kingdom comes.

It is more important people understand, Islam as a religion is not based on the Islam practiced in for example, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East or (Aceh) Indonesia but true Islam practiced privately within the homes of genuine ordinary Muslims around the world – that every Muslim firmly believes:

Only God-Allah is the able judge of what is right and wrong and not some Arab cleric who delivers lengthy speeches on moral codes and religious edicts and yet remains eerily silent when it comes to condemning the chauvinistic rule of some tyrannical dictators in the Middle East.

HOW CAN MUSLIMS THEN STILL BE STUCK WITH A SEVENTH-CENTURY VIEW WHEN IT COMES TO ITS WOMEN?

A number of Middle Eastern countries have strangely regressed to a view that is anything but seventh century, or after the passing of Muhammad (PBUH). Women enjoyed great rights and mobility then unlike present-day Middle East and in many respects the seventh century was inarguably the best century for women given the voluminous rights given to women, a large portion of which the West finally introduced 100 years ago or 1300 years following the advent of Islam.

Consent in marriage, freedom to work and control over economic livelihood, freedom from violence were all indeed unheard of among the monotheists religions until the arrival of Islam in the seventh century. But not long after those rights were established men mobilised to undermine these revolutionary advancements and corrode the gains made by women. (Source: Yassmin Abdel-Magied said nothing wrong. She should not have to face this venom, Joumanah El Matrah, 21 February 2017, The Guardian)

In fact like in all monotheistic religions, middle aged men controlled how Islam was to be understood and consequently a tradition was produced that favoured the worldview, interests and needs of men, thus there is no denying a large portion of what we see today is the corrupted cultural practices labeled Islamic, when it is anything but.

For example, homosexuality is considered a major sin in Islam but so is disrespecting parents; having sex outside marriage; severing ties of kinship; theft – all considered equally grievous along with 10 other major sins on the list in Islam.

Yet disproportional condemnation is reserved exclusively towards homosexuality and not nearly as much passionate intolerance directed towards some of the other major sins listed above, laying bare the misogynistic hijacking of Islam today by Muslim men which many Muslim feminist theologians, academic and circuit speakers today armed with decades of scholarship are working very hard towards reclaiming while on the other hand – overcoming the mainstream media narrative on Muslim women which is riddled with hyperbole, stigma, and misinformation.

DIDN’T MUHAMMAD MARRY A SIX YEAR OLD AND CONSUMMATE THEIR MARRIAGE WHEN SHE WAS ONLY 9-12?

Scientifically verifiable, girls from that century and many generations thereafter the world over used to enter puberty much earlier due to varying climatic and geographical conditions then and thus, used to get married much sooner. Even boys were married off by the age of 10-13. This however was not limited to the Middle East but all over the world, including in Christian, non-Christian and atheists communities for a good part of the last 1,900 years. In fact, the idea of setting the age limit to 18 only came about less than 100-150 years ago.

Fast forward to 2017, Florida is one of 27 US states today that permits children of any age to be married with their parents’ permission and a ground-breaking report issued in 2011 found that some 9.4 million American girls were married before age 16. Nevertheless, it may be worth guessing the 18-year age limit may be too young in another 50-70 years.

Focusing on the question at hand and at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) 1400 years ago, the concept of schooling or seeking a career didn’t exist either therefore the fact that Muhammad (PBUH) married Aisha, when she was young was never an issue, not even to the Islamophobes of that era, as this was perfectly normal.

What was not normal however was to stay married as women were used and disposed of during the era of ignorance (Jahiliya), before the advent of Islam but remarkably, Aisha and Muhammad (PBUH) remained married until his dying day when he died with his head in her lap, widowed at aged 20.

To however understand why this marriage took place when it did, Dr. Resit Hay Lamaz, author of the remarkable book “Aisha: The Wife, The Companion, The Scholar” explains it best:

Given the unique proximity to Muhammad (PBUH) thanks to the marriage, “Aisha’s bright, inquisitive mind and quick wit facilitated the transmission of knowledge that would have been next to impossible to transmit. Therefore as a direct result of this marriage, the 9-year old Muhammad (PBUH) married became the most important interpreter of the Qur’an and the main teacher of Hadith, becoming the foremost transmitter of Islam unlike any other. Perceptive scholars such as Hakim have said that one-fourth of the body of religious knowledge [Hadith or narrated teachings of Prophet Muhammad – PBUH] was transferred to us through Aisha [given her unrivalled proximity]. Following Muhammad (PBUH)’s death, when possible controversies arose, Aisha was a kind arbitrator. For mistakes on religious issues that emerged, she was a dignified corrector and a decisive and patient example of the straight path of Islam.

If there is one woman responsible for the huge important expansion in the rights of women, Aisha is to be credited first and foremost. Aisha defended women not because they were right. She did not refrain from admonishing women who were wrong, who went too far, who were trying to force the boundaries of religion. Justice and equity was the essence of her decision-making, illustrating how the young nine-year old he married came to become revered throughout the Muslim world rightfully, as the Mother of all Believers”.

BUT ALL RELIGIONS INCLUDING ISLAM HAVE A PATRIACHIAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS ITS WOMEN.

From peddling stereotypes that show Muslim women as constantly oppressed to the hijab, which is seen as the epitome of oppression, the idea that Islam encourages unfairness towards women has been a favorite claim of the Islamophobia industry for years.

There is nothing in the Qur’an to justify the controlled seclusion of women. The Qur’an gave women rights of inheritance and divorce, legal rights the Western world didn’t have until the end of the 19th century.

As an example, Muhammad (PBUH)’s first wife or the very first person to become a Muslim in the Prophet’s era, Khadija (R.A) was a noble businesswomen before they met and there are plenty of historical documents that prove she held her own therefore if not anything else, the Saudi government may have appointed themselves the “Guardian of the two Holy Mosques” but they are not all role models for Muslims within the country let alone, outside the country, a bitter truth most ordinary Muslims will privately, if not publicly admit.

ALL FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGIONS (INCLUDING THOSE ROOTED IN JUDAISM OR CHRISTIANITY) SEEK TO CONTROL FEMALE SEXUALITY.

The key problem with this argument is that it conflates a moral right with a factual inaccuracy. While it is perfectly right to criticise any culture that limits women, one ought to at the very least understand Islam is a religion and not a culture. If the Saudis for example, who account for less than two percent of the world’s Muslim population and are not in any way, shape or form representative of Islam impose prohibitive restrictions on the movement and rights of women, it has more to do with their culture than the rights given to women in Islam. Besides, if this were in any way Islamic, why are the same restrictions not applied in other fifty-odd Muslim-majority countries around the world?

Progress towards women’s rights in the West had to wait until the late-19th and early-20th centuries and even to this day, fast forward a hundred years there remains a huge disparity in those rights, regardless of whether people in the West admit or deny it. Wage inequality, glass ceiling, high heels and dress code expectations to name a few, are still issues in many parts of the West.

Quoting directly from another important article on the subject: “Islam on the other hand institutionalised gender equality upon its inception, in far worse circumstances”. (Source: Islam Is Actually A Feminist Religion: 5 Myths About Islam, Mint Press News)

 The pre-Islamic environment of 7th century Mecca, with its tribal- ism, lack of law and order and constant warfare, was strongly male- dominated. The advent of Islam challenged the status quo and sought not only to introduce a new kind of social order but to limit the excesses of Meccan society, which directly harmed women and girls. (Source: No, Islam Is Not Inherently Misogynistic. Here’s Why by Bina Shah, 23 July, 2015, Huffington Post)

It is therefore bewildering why the religion that had revolutionised the status of women is still being singled out and repeatedly misrepresented as so repressive of women. This misinformation about Islam is inarguably one of two most widespread myths about Islam in our world today, with the role of violence in Islam as the other contentious issue often exploited and misrepresented by Islamophobes.

Having said that, this may in large part have to do with the way the loudest voices (and most unrepresentative of ordinary Muslims) act, speak and behave in public, while calling themselves Muslims.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record for this has been repeated more times than it has been necessary, it is unfair to blame Islam if a group of people or a given society does not follow the edicts based on the Qur’an and Hadiths (narrated sayings and recorded actions of Muhammad – PBUH).

After all, it is only fair to look at what the religion of Islam or any other religions says about women and not what its deviant followers or people who call themselves Muslims do. Put simply, blame the driver, not the car.

ISLAM AND MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES SHOULD BE CRITICISED IN THE MEDIA
 FOR FEMALE GENETILIA MUTILATION (FGM), FORCED MARRIAGES AND HONOUR KILLINGS.

People or countries that show little sign of wanting to bring to an absolute end to female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages and honour killings should not only be condemned and criticised but every e ort should be made to boycott these countries however, we need to first get our facts straight.

Female genital mutilation, forced marriages and honour killings are all often misreported as inherently Islamic issues, despite well-substantiated evidence of their presence in many other non-Islamic cultures around the world, including in Africa, sub-continent Hindu India and many non-animist countries around the world.

In fact, why does the fact that Islam has clear precedents calling against all of the above seem to matter little in the generic media reporting while the fact that these are practiced by some Muslims and non-Muslims as part of their ancestral tradition and patriarchal culture (and not religion) matter so much? The key is education and generating willingness from the community. Else nothing will change and women and girls in these cultures will remain in the same quagmire.

WHY THEN IS FGM SUCH AN ISSUE IN SO MANY MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES IN AFRICA?

Muslims account for only 12 percent of the population in Liberia while Christians account for 85.5 percent of the population and yet half of Liberian women and girls are estimated to have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), illustrating how FGM is not an Islamic issue but a cultural practice in Africa with zero health benefits that no doubt needs to be banned.

The same could be said for Eritrea that has a 50 percent Christian population or Ethiopia where Christians make up to 62 percent of the population and Kenya as well as Central African Republic where 83 percent are Christians. In all these cases, FGM remains a prevalent issue today.

Undeniably, FGM is also a challenge for a number of Muslim-majority countries in Africa including Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti while Nigeria and Gambia, are two leading Muslim-majority countries in the African continent that have decided to move with the times with the relevant legislations enacted recently to help bring this barbaric practice to an end.

In reality though, unless tough legislation is enacted and properly enforced, it will remain an uphill battle to accelerate change in this abhorring form of child abuse and the lives and wellbeing of millions more girls will continue to be put at risk.

WHY ARE MUSLIM WOMEN DISRESPECTED IN ISLAM AND REQUIRED TO COVER UP SO MUCH?

In the words of Imam Mongy Elquesny, leader of the Northwest Indiana Islamic Center in Crown Point:

“If your definition of disrespect is due to the requirement of women in Islam to dress modestly then you can make the same argument for nuns and the Virgin Mary being disrespected in the Christian faith . . .

You can also make the argument that those women in the entertainment industry who are encouraged to not dress modestly are creating an environment that focuses on the physical appeal of women rather than their intellect. Therefore, that ends up disrespecting women too”. (Source: Muslim leaders address questions about Islamic faith, culture by Jerry Davich, 3 April 2016, Chicago Tribune)

WHY DO MUSLIM WOMEN INSIST ON WEARING THE HIJAB OR HEADSCARF?

Hijab has little to with the headscarf given how Hijab encompasses much more than an article of clothing. In the eloquent words of Rawan AbuShaban:

Hijab refers to one’s behavior, speech, countenance, and dress. It is a habitual practice that is applicable to both men and women. Not engaging in obnoxiousness, boisterous behavior, resisting flirtations, prolonged staring, and idleness with the opposite sex, and wearing clothes that conceal one’s gure, and preserve one’s beauty . . . Hijab isn’t something one wears; it is how one is.

A person’s hijab is one’s modesty in its entirety. It is an Islamic code of conduct, respect for oneself and for one another. (Source: Differentiating the Hijab From the Headscarf by Rawan AbuShaban, 15 Feb 2016, Huffington Post)

In a separate article, Assignment Editor/Producer and Writer Slma Shelbayah at CNN shares:

“At a time when a woman’s body is often depicted sexually in the fashion and media industry, it can feel liberating and empowering not caving into these idealized images . . . Let me not forget those who are forced to wear hijab unwillingly. They also exist. To their perpetrators, I say, “you do not represent Islam nor do Muslims want to be associated with you for imposing your political agenda on women . . .

It sits on my head so silently, yet says so much as a symbol. It makes me stand out from the crowd. It screams that I am different. And though my body is physically covered, the scarf puts all of me on display”. (Source: Removing hijab, finding myself By Slma Shelbayah, Assignment Editor/Producer and Writer, CNN, November 11, 2015, CNN)

Perhaps Dr. Ali Merad, a professor of Arabic literature and civilisation at the University of Lyon, France says it best:

“If a woman wears a short skirt and drinks wine, Frenchmen don’t care about her skin colour. But when she wears a headscarf, France becomes neurotic”. (Source: Dining with Terrorists, Author, Phil Rees)

WEARING A BURQINI IS AN OBVIOUS SIGN A PERSON DOES NOT WISH TO ACCEPT THE CUSTOMS AND HABITS OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THEY HAVE DECIDED TO LIVE.

Telling Muslim women they have to be at least semi-naked in order to prove their inclusiveness is astonishingly hypocritical:

Politicians too talk constantly about integration, and then proceed to push to the fringes the very women they claim are oppressed and excluded from society. (Source: Five reasons to wear a burkini – and not just to annoy the French, Remona Aly, 15 August 2016, The Guardian)

In France, a nun in traditional dress is seen as going about her day, whereas a woman in a headscarf is taking over public space in the name of Islam. (Source: The West can have burkinis or democracy, but not both, Yascha Mounk, 27 August 2016, Foreign Policy Magazine)

If there was any doubt that the French belief in freedom of expression is wholly one-sided, it has surely vanished now. France cannot be in favour of free expression when it offends Muslims, but whines about provocation when Muslims and others choose to be different. (Source: France defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to o end – so why can’t a Muslim woman in a burkini ‘o end’ us too?, Sunny Hundal, 25 August 2016, The Independent)

Isn’t it bizzare that when the Saudis tell you how to dress it is oppression, but when France does it, it’s called liberation. If women in thongs and string bikinis can express themselves, who is being harmed if a women chooses to cover up on a beach? (Source: Burkini controversy puzzles North Jersey Muslim women, patricia Alex and Monsy Alvarado, 28 August 2016, USA Today)

A burqini is simply a garment, for example, for a modest person, someone with skin cancer, or a new mother who doesn’t want to wear a bikini. It is not symbolic of Islam.(Source: Why we wear the burkini: five women on dressing modestly at the beach, Carmen Fishwick, 31 August 2016, The Guardian)

As sociologist Agnès De Féo said during an interview with CBS News:

It is easier to accuse French Muslims “than to solve real social problems: unemployment, poverty, and social inequality”. (Source: France’s burkini bans justifiable security measures or Islamophobia, Pamela Falk, 25 August 2016, CBS News)

The French establishment talks about “liberty, equality, fraternity”. It claims to want Muslim women to achieve independence from their men, but deprives them of the means to acquire it, by keeping them indoors. This is a betrayal of its own core values. (Source: How a legal misunderstanding is fuelling France’s witch-hunt of Muslim women, Christine Delphy, 29 August 2016, The Guardian)

In fact, if the self-professed feminists of the world really want Muslim women not be oppressed, it may be worth asking what we are all doing about the rising Islamophobia slowly becoming a legitimate ideology in the West, because that Islamophobia disproportionately hurts visibly Muslim women most.

Susan Carland, a lecturer at Monash University’s National Centre for Australian Studies, says it best: Yet for something about which so many people are adamantly sure, I feel there is very little information from the women actually involved . . . It’s uncanny how often people try to demonstrate their concern about the alleged oppression of Muslim women by humiliating them. (Source: If you want to know about Muslim women’s rights, ask Muslim women by Susan Carland, 7 May 2017, The Guardian)

YET THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ISLAM THAT LEADS INEXORABLY TO THE SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN.

We ordinary Muslims need to fully [re-learn], understand and acknowledge the unique rights of Muslim women in Islam and distinguish this [indisputable] fact with the un-Islamic and poor treatment of women in certain if not most Muslim-majority countries today. While Islam offers more than equal rights to women in our midst, the powers that be as well as patriarchal societies in Muslim-majority countries continue to repress such rights to women in their own societies. Muslim women today suffer social and cultural marginalization, political exclusion, economic discrimination and threats, and acts of violence all over the world. (Source: How can the rights of Islamic women be improved? By Maha Akeel, 23 March 2016, Newsweek)

The point is, women are certainly not mistreated in Islam but also do not enjoy the optimal equal rights in many Muslim-majority countries they rightly deserve.

However, the same argument could be made for many non-Muslim countries around the world today.

From violence and rape against women that has become rife in reality and on TV, the cinema and on stage to the unashamed mourning of celebrities accused of sexual abuse let alone mainstreaming of pedophilia, pornography and sexual abuse, the West is hardly a beacon for women rights.

After all, aren’t celebrities in the West often compelled to take their clothes off to “grace” covers of magazines with soft-porn photo shoots to help with their profile while advertisements involving women having orgasms about food are increasingly commonplace today? Indeed, no one does it better than the West when it comes to reducing women into “empowered” sexual objects especially since pornography, became widely available on the internet at the turn of the century.

In fact, some women are under so much pressure today to be “sexy” that they have stopped standing up for themselves and each other in matters relating to sexual abuse, body shaming and rape. Again, volumes have been written about this, to no avail.

Granted, rape is not only just confined to the West but is endemic in many shady, impoverished corners of the globe as well but to claim women in the West are better of than their counterparts in the East let alone parts of the Middle East could not be more further from the truth and is most certainly an issue that can be vigorously argued from almost all sides.

WHY THEN ARE FEMINISTS THE WORLD OVER CONCERNED ABOUT DETERIORATING RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN ISLAM?

How then would you explain the deafening and choking silence from white feminists (ever ready to liberate Muslim women from Muslim patriarchy) and yet stony, hypocritical silence when it came to condemning the French and the EU courts for policing women how to dress and restricting the fundamental liberties of Muslim women in France?

Women’s rights are theirs, and the subject has no place being bandied about by uppity Muslim women. Feminism is something the West beneficently imposes on Muslims, never something that can be indigenously theirs, and certainly never in a form that isn’t Western, liberal and secular. To them, the only way a Muslim can be a feminist is to view Islam with the same unwavering misogyny-goggles they do. (Source: Yassmin Abdel-Magied and the Australian crucible, Susan Carland, 25 February 2017, The Saturday Paper)

Citing a number of further examples of leading commentators starting with: Sunny Hundal at the Independent Newspaper wrote: “France cannot be in favour of free expression when it offends Muslims, but whine about provocation when Muslims choose to be different. This is astonishingly hypocritical.” (Source: France defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to o end – so why can’t a Muslim woman in a burkini ‘offend’ us too?, 26 August 2016, The Independent)

Arundhati Roy too, eloquently put it: “Coercing a woman out of the burka instead of enabling her to choose is an act of violence, humiliation and cultural imperialism.” (Source: The burkini ban is misogynistic – and Western feminists are turning a blind eye, Huda Jawad, 13 August 2016, The Independent)

A nun is allowed to wear a headdress and not be called oppressed because she is devoting her life to Christianity, but as soon as a Muslim woman wears a headscarf, suddenly it’s called oppression and racists say these women are being forced to do things, but people forget it’s their own choice. (Source: Muslim girls fence against Islamophobia in the UK, Zeb Mustafa, 8 July 2016, Aljazeera.com)

There have been multiple incidents of schoolgirls being forbidden from wearing ‘long skirts’ to school – not when they’re worn as a fashion statement, but when they’re worn by Muslim girls because then it suddenly becomes a ‘religious symbol’. (Source: Dear white people of France: being forced to undress wasn’t exactly the liberation I was longing for, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, 24 August 2016, The Independent)

Given such, can a Muslim be faulted for asking where were the usually loud intersectional feminists of the world or actresses trying to brand themselves as feminist icons when Muslim women came under attack in one of the self-professed leading democracies of the world?

Alarmingly, the decision the EU judges made is strikingly like the anti-Jewish legislation that was passed in Germany prior to the Second World War. The Nuremberg laws specifically targeted a social group by restricting them on an economic level. Jews were banned from professions such as midwifery and law, and state contracts were cancelled with Jewish owned businesses. That is not dissimilar to telling a woman that she is not welcome at a workplace if she decides to identify as a member of a given faith. (Source: Europe has started to enshrine Islamophobia into law – history tells us this can’t end well, So a Ahmed, 14 March 2017, The Independent)

Therefore, how can we consider ourselves advocates and guideposts for feminism for the progression of all women and at the same time sideline Muslim women who are fighting systematic discrimination in the West?

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

Q&A WITH AN ATHEIST

RELIGION IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL EVIL ESPECIALLY WHEN SCIENCE AND HUMANISM PROVIDE SUCH REAL HOPE FOR HUMANITY.

If one were to take religion out of the equation for one moment, would the world become a better place? If yes, how would one explain this? “Defenders of religion claim Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb.” (Source: Dawkins on religion, June 2013, Al-Jazeera)

In fact, atheists nowadays like to argue how atheism should not be held responsible for the actions of some authoritarian regimes that worked very hard to expunge religion from under its control (e.g., Pol Pot, Stalin, Chairman Mao, etcetera) but then: We should not forget what happened following the establishment of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, two nations that actively promoted “state atheism” by violently suppressing religious expression and persecuting faith communities: “While it wasn’t atheism that motivated Stalin and Mao to demolish or expropriate houses of worship, to slaughter tens of thousands of priests, nuns and monks and to prohibit the publication and dissemination of religious material, it was anti-theism that motivated them to do so. (Source: Sam Harris and “New Atheists” aren’t new, aren’t even atheists on 21 Nov 2014 by Reza Azlan, Salon.com)

In many ways, the persecution of religious minorities continue unabated to this date among millions of Muslim and Christian minorities in China today.

Besides, if you truly believed that religion is “one of the world’s great evils” – as bad as smallpox and worse than rape; if you believe religion is a form of child abuse; that it is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children” – if you honestly believed this about religion, then what lengths would you not go through to rid society of it.? (Source: Sam Harris and “New Atheists” aren’t new, aren’t even atheists on 21 Nov 2014 by Reza Azlan, Salon.com)

 For a Muslim, being an atheist is like living life without a guiding rulebook on how best to act, which probably works for some but may not work for others.

I think that encouraging people to change their actions is more essential than trying to change their beliefs. If everyone in the world became an atheist, it wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems; if everyone became kind and good, it would. (Source: Why I ditched God for good by Ariane Sherine on 3 December 2013, The Guardian), religious or non-religious.

In fact, here are two additional excerpts about religion versus atheism worth pointing out:

#1: I’d say the conclusion is obvious that the only thing as disturbing as the religious is the modern atheist . . . Similarly, [Christopher] Hitchens appears to have become obsessed with defying religion, so made himself one of the most enthusiastic supporters for a war he saw as being against the craziness of Islam. But the war wasn’t about God or Allah, it was about more earthly matters, which the people conducting that war understood. (Source: Just because you’re an atheist doesn’t make you rational by Mark Steel, 29 Dec 2011, The Independent)

 #2: I also see Richard Dawkins differently. I see him as a grown up version of that 16-year-old kid, proud of being smart, unable to under- stand why anyone would believe or think differently from himself. I see a person so removed from humanity and so removed from the ambiguity of life that he finds himself judging those who think differently. I see someone doing what he claims to hate in others. Preaching from a selfish vantage point. (Source: The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes by Chris Arnade on 24 December 2013, The Guardian)

MEN OF RELIGION ARE VERY VIOLENT.

Karen Armstrong, bestselling author on history and religion said in an interview in late November 2014:

“No state, however peace-loving it claims to be, can afford to disband its army, so when people say religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history this is a massive oversimplification. Violence is at the heart of our lives, in some form or another . . . “Blaming religion”, Armstrong argues, “allows Westerners to ignore the essential role that violence has played in the formation of our own societies – and the essential role that our societies have played in seeding violence abroad”. (Source: Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps” on 23 November 2014 by Michael Schulson, Salon)

 RELIGION CAUSE WARS AND DEATHS.

If we think religion has been a negative force in modern world history, consider the alternative. Religion couldn’t have done worse than the history of savage secular violence and unprecedented butchery that dominated the history of the West in the twentieth century, marked by two world wars, fascism, Nazism, and communism – none of which had anything to do with religion. Secular extremism has only offered us worse. The real problem lies in the nature of human aspirations, good and bad. We in the West will be on a sounder path if we can de-Islamize our perceptions of regional issues and view them simply as universal human social and political problems for which we, too, share some responsibility . . .

The true horrors of the twentieth century have almost nothing to do with religions: two world wars, Fronco, Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Rwanda – the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, all involving secular, even atheist regimes that seized upon dogmatic ideas and brutally implemented them at all cost. (Source: A World without Islam, Author, Graham E Fuller)

 SO YOU ARE SAYING ALL ATHEISTS ARE  TROUBLE MAKERS?

While there is a minority but loud group of atheists who are profoundly disrespectful of fundamental individual rights and the basic right to freely worship, the vast majority of atheists and self-professed agnostics are open-minded and respectful of other creeds. In fact, a number of high pro le atheists today like Richard Dawkins are increasing gaining more detractors than followers as time goes by – and as their true colour emerges.

Richard Dawkins is yet another example of a man hugely disconnected with the massive growing movement of atheists today, frequently criticised for his narrow-mindedness and his insistence of “preaching from a selfish vantage point”. (Source: The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes by Chris Arnade on 24 December 2013, The Guardian)

 Not every atheist looks up to Ayaan Hirsi Ali given how she has a tendency to speak from both sides of her mouth: “We believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents a sadly common voice in the atheist community that attacks and provokes, rather than contributes to constructive criticism or dialogue”, according to a statement by a group of students. (Source: Yale Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics, Yale University)

“Sam Harris genuinely appears to view himself as a voice of science and reason . . . Harris must be aware that Middle Eastern nations have repeatedly been subjected to humiliating wars of invasion, conquest and expropriation that have killed millions of people. They play no evident role in his thinking about the state of Islam”. (Source: Atheism, Islam and liberalism: This is what we are really fighting about on 12 Oct 2014 by Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com)

 BUT ATHEISM IS COMPLETELY AGAINST VIOLENCE.

The Chapel Hill shootings in February 2015 is perhaps a useful example of a militant atheist. On February 10, 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were all killed in their home in Finley Forest Condominiums on Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States. A year later in Oregon, there was yet another school shooting in the US by proud atheist Chris Harper, a 26-year-old who shot and killed nine people and injured at least seven others. Before each person was killed execution style, he asked each of his victims: “Are you a Christian?” and “if you are a Christian then stand up” and as they stood up, he continued ‘because you are a Christian you’re going to see God in about one second’ followed quickly by a gunshot. The Las Vegas shooting (worse mass shooting in recent US history) by Stephen Paddock (known atheist or anti-theist) on Oct 1 2017 is yet another example.  Again, it is wrong to argue this applies to all atheists. The vast majority are open-minded and respectful or at the very least, indifferent to other beliefs and creeds.

STILL, ATHEISM IS THE BEST OPTION FOR MANKIND.

“As practised by Richard Dawkins and his ilk (the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, et al), what is branded as “New Atheism” now amounts to a fanatical religion, degenerated into an o beat cult, entirely contradictory to the delusion they are preaching that they are atheists . . . The manner, however, in which Dawkins and his coreligionists preach and practise their atheism is not much different than the manner in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi preaches and practises his Islam, or John Hagee confesses his Christianity, or Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan his Judaism. They are all fanatical absolutists, dead certain in their hateful convictions, and without the slightest human doubt about their fanatical dogmas. They are all interdictions and punishments: no room for error, no time for introspection, no interior space for tolerance . . .

Judaism produced its Maimonides, Buber, and Levinas, Christianity its Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard, Islam its Rumi and Ibn Arabi, Hinduism its Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, and Mirabai. But who have these profoundly fanatical atheists produced to teach them patience, humility, and forgiveness? Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris – an abiding love of humanity and our frailties? They are each more vindictive, arrogant, and spiteful than the other. Can you imagine if these vindictive fanatics were to rule the world, legislate its laws, and execute its mandates? Anxiety-ridden, obsessive, and hypochondriac – they excel in the neurotic behaviour they then attribute to “religion”. (Source: Is there a Theology to this New Atheism? By Hamid Dabashi, 27 September 2015, Aljazeera.com)

BUT RELIGION IS NOT RATIONAL. MEN OF RELIGION BELIEVE IN GOD WHILE ATHEISTS BELIEVE IN SCIENCE.

In the words of a Hira Amin, a PHD student at Cambridge: “Just because I believe in God does not make me a less rational human being. The prevalent belief that science answers all questions is astonishing. As Western philosophers of science point out, science cannot answer questions surrounding the issues of morality, meaning and purpose. Science can only study the physical world, not the metaphysical. Religious people do not reject science; we believe there is more to life than just physical matter”. (Source: A post by Hira Amin, PhD at Cambridge University extracted into an article titled what is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today on 9 July 2014 by Emma Howard, The Guardian)

FAITH MEANS TO BELIEVE WITHOUT REASON.

This is false. Islam requires faith, not blind faith, as there is a world of scientific evidence, if one were to read the Qur’an and make a genuine effort to reflect and understand it from a neutral – scientific and historical stance. A good example is that of the carbon-dating of a parchment of text from the Qur’an kept at Birmingham University, which sparked an almost irrelevant debate in June 2015 as to when the Qur’an was compiled, when the key point about the miraculous nature and contents of the Qur’an was stupendously overlooked. Back in the day, the Qur’an was compiled by followers who wrote down Muhammad’s [PBUH] words on “pieces of papyrus, at stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather, wooden boards” according to Cyril Glasse in The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam.

Based on the carbon-dating of a parchment of text from the Qur’an on hand, leading Oxford academics claimed it originated between 568-645 AD, or five full years before the Qur’an is widely believed by Muslims to have been compiled in year 650, or eighteen years after the death of Muhammad (PBUH), who is generally thought to have lived between 570 to 632. The book was put together under the rule of Uthman, the third Caliph and close companion to Muhammad (PBUH), who was elected from 644 to 656. The academics argued this “may change our understanding of the way in which Islam’s holy book was compiled.” Needless to say, the assertion was disputed by many fellow academics.

What was unfortunately not as widely covered was the fact that: “A study of the orthography of the pages – the spelling, grammar and other conventions of language shows that it can be dated to the second half of the seventh century and therefore fits in with the more traditional explanation of the Qur’an’s development. Among the telltale features that indicate that it is from a later version of the holy book are the use of verse markers and marks denoting how a consonant should be pronounced. Such devices, it is argued, were not in use during the Prophet’s life.” Dr. Mustafa Shah, senior lecturer in Islamic studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, told The Independent Newspaper: “When you look at this, it is clear they simply t with the stylistic conventions of Arabic linguistic form of the later seventh century”. (Source: Scholars split by claim that Koran scrap rewrites story of Islam by Cahal Milmo, 5 September 2015, The Independent)

Nonetheless, this begs an important question how was so much information about modern day radar technology, the contraction motion that facilitates birth, the solidity of the atom and electron orbits, bone loss at old age, the ozone layer at the poles as the sun rises, the cloning of living things, the pulling motion that facilitates birth, the expanding universe, earth’s gravitational force, fossilization and iron content, the sun’s hydrogen and helium content, oxidation in the blood, the sun’s trajectory, orbits and the rotating universe, earth’s geoid shape, layers of the atmosphere, the formation of petrol, sub-atomic particles, pulsating stars, weight of clouds, formation of rain, how the process of photosynthesis begins in the morning, seas not mingling with one another, darkness in the seas and internal waves and hundreds of other scientific facts – known 1400 years ago regardless of whether the Qur’an was compiled in year 568-645 which in any case is unlikely given how the “use of verse markers and marks denoting how a consonant should be pronounced were not in use at the time” – or after 650 which is more likely given the “stylistic conventions of Arabic linguistic form of the late seventh century”, illustrating best the metaphysical and miraculous source of the Qur’an could not have been a human.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

ANTI-IMMIGRANT CITIZENS OF THE WEST

THE 2014 SYDNEY SIEGE WAS ALL ABOUT ISLAMIC TERRORISM.

What do the actions of a widely acknowledged mentally ill patient with a history of certified mental illness who, had a Muslim name have to do with Islam and why are crimes committed by people of other back- ground rarely if ever, linked to their faiths?

When an individual with a Muslim name is responsible for 2-3 deaths, it is mislabeled as “Islamic terrorism” but when a white American goes on a shooting spree killing 6 people at around the same time in a different time zone, he is called “gunman on the loose”.

During the Sydney siege [in Australia], a shooting spree incident unfolded in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA that left 6 dead . . . International media agencies described the perpetrator, the now-deceased Bradley William Stone, simply as “a suspect”, “a gunman on the loose” and even “a Montgomery man”. No hashtag campaign was necessary to assure white people that the rest of the world will ride with them to keep them safe . . . The same can be observed of the reaction to the mass killings committed by the Norwegian Anders Breivik in 2011. While Breivik had claimed himself a baptised Christian in his 1,500-page manifesto, the world did not expect Christians to condemn terrorism in the same way Muslims had. (Source: Why #illridewithyou is an ill ride by Nazry Bahrawi on 18 Dec 2014, Aljazeera.com)

As it turns out the next day, this “suspect” or “gunman on the loose” was an ex-Marine, Iraq War veteran: An Iraq War veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives in a shooting and slashing frenzy was found dead of self-inflicted stab wounds Tuesday in the woods of suburban Philadelphia, ending a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed schools and left people on edge . . . Suspected gunman Bradley William Stone, 35, smashed through a glass door at his ex-wife’s apartment . . . before ring multiple shots and killing her. He then fled with their two children . . . to the two nearby communities of Lansdale and Souderton, where he killed five people and severely injured one more. (Source: Ex-Marine wanted in 6 killings commits suicide by Kathy Matheson and Sean Carlin on 16 December 2014, Associated Press)

Just over two years later in January 2017, a 26-year-old man drove his car into a crowded Melbourne street, killing ve people including a child. Travelling around an intersection then speeding down a footpath on Bourke Street, smashing through pedestrians, another 15 people were injured, with four in critical condition, including an infant. Dimitrious Gargasoulas, a Greek Christian, had a history of mental health and drug abuse and was in fact arrested by police the weekend before when he assaulted members of his family.

Yet despite the terrifying ordeal for those on the street at the time, there was no mention of the word “terror” in any of the news report when he was no more mentally disturbed than Monis, who was responsible for two deaths including one ricochet police bullet that was meant for Monis but killed a hostage instead. Why can’t the same standard be applied to all forms of violence instead of pointing the finger at Muslims and Islam every time an individual with a Muslim name is involved in an act of violence?

Lastly as a relatively recent example in July 2017, a masked catholic gunman burst into a high-end casino with an M4 automatic assault rifle and set re to a gaming room in Manila, Philippines, leading to the deaths of 36 people who died from inhaling smoke. Lo and behold the authorities insisted it was not a terrorist attack although one can’t imagine if this was any less terrifying that what is often labeled a terrorist attack, skewing the perception further that any violent act undertaken by a Muslim (regardless of mental health) is always about terrorism.

BUT ASYLUM SEEKERS LIKE MONIS FROM THE SYDNEY SIEGE IN DECEMBER 2014 WERE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS, HAD GONE ON GOVERNMENT WELFARE FOR YEARS, ONLY TO HAVE THEM KILL HIS OWN FELLOW CITIZENS. ORDINARY CITIZENS CAN’T BE BLAMED FOR WANTING TO HALT IMMIGRATION.

Is it logical to look at the one person who was a certified psychiatric patient seeking counseling who committed an act of violence and ignore the hundreds of thousand of people whose lives countries like Australia has transformed by admitting them as citizens giving them a life that would have been impossible elsewhere? While a number of them may be criminals or living in impoverished neighbourhoods, crime does not have a skin colour or race.

Unless of course what is being said is that every one of those asylum seekers is a criminal today and no white American, white European, white Australian or white Canadian is in prison today or that there is no such thing as a violence prone white person and that white Aussies are all white collar professionals? The issue isn’t about an asylum seeker gone rogue but a mentally disturbed citizen whose case was being looked after or in this case, neglected by the Australia healthcare system let alone, the much-touted taxpayer funded, billion dollar state-interventionist police surveillance in the Western world. Yet despite all the fancy software and hardware, the Australian government failed to prevent the horrible incident.

IF THE SYDNEY SIEGE DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM, WHY
 BRING AN ISIS FLAG AND STICK IT UP IN THE WINDOW AND KILL PEOPLE IN THE NAME OF ALLAH?

There was nothing normal about the delusional Monis. Dressed as an Iranian cleric, he was a Shia and initially held up the ISIS (self-professed Sunni group) flag upside down at the cafe. To understand the Middle East, you need to understand how politically sectarian (Sunni versus Shia) the conflict has become today. Put another way, the fighting is in essence a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, not only was Monis deviating from Islam but clearly the group (ISIS) he was claiming to support was massacring Shias by the hundreds at the time of the incident so to say he was confused is to say the least about the state of his psychotic mind.

Last but not least and just because a certified mental case invokes the name of Allah or misquotes from the Qur’an while committing an act of violence does not make it Islam’s fault unless you believe a pedophile priest having sex with a choir boy while exclaiming “oh my god” makes it the fault of Christianity or a bank robber who wears a George W Bush mask while robbing a bank makes it the fault of the President of the United States. 

ASYLUM SEEKERS, REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS ARE BIG THREATS
TO WESTERN DEMOCRACIES. ALSO, WHATEVER IS HAPPENING IN THE MIDDLE EAST DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST.

The following article written by a journalist at the Independent, who scored a bull’s eye on why “we” can’t afford to abandon asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants after being responsible for all the pillaging over the last century, says it best:

After years of ferocious migrant-bashing, the national psyche has been successfully reprogrammed: millions of our citizens truly believe that humans from the old Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and the Middle East are flocking to get at those gorgeous council flats and big, fat, state handouts. So easy isn’t it? Just blame those who can’t answer back. Don’t think too deeply about why there is this movement of peoples and how they feel before, during and after they leave their homelands. Fear is a terrible thing. It depletes compassion . . .

In 2011, David Cameron, on a visit to Pakistan, accepted that Britain was responsible for many of the world’s intractable problems. It was the first and only time I recall a British leader accepting that colonialism left fractures and stains, which have led to discord and failed states. (Margaret Thatcher, as well as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, extolled the Empire and the subjugation of millions.) . . . No, you can’t just blame white people for post-colonial chaos and failures. Since independence, leaders have almost all been incompetent, corrupt and callous . . . Dictatorships and one-party rule, profligacy and greed, have despoiled potentially productive nations, turning them into hopeless, dependent, unsustainable entities. But the case against old European imperialists is strong and indubitable . . .

Then there is the continuing support this country gives to oppressive regimes, the arms we sell, and the wars we have launched in the past 20 years. Iraqis never chose to become resented refugees, nor did Afghans. Libya is now the export depot for hungry, frightened, distressed people. The allies who bombed the place have gone and feel no obligation for the mess they left. Many Isis insurgents are from Saddam Hussein’s old Baathist army. True, we did not intervene in Syria, but for decades Bashar al-Assad was propped up by us, as was his equally heinous father.

Many of the migrants trying to get into Europe come from these places. They are hated perhaps because they remind us of our bad policies and actions. Are these then our noble British values? . . . The EU, IMF and World Bank must transform the system; our leaders need to tell more truths about the dispossessed. Xenophobia, withdrawal of welfare and gunboats won’t stop the tide of humanity coming to our shores. They come because they have no choice. But the West does. (Source: Don’t blame migrants – the West helped to create their plight by Yasmin Alibhai Brown on 24 May 2015, The Independent)

From the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a Jew who was mugged when everyone else left him by the wayside to the woman at the well who used her pitcher to give a thirsty Christ (PBUH) water (that is, woman stopped to help this stranger), the Bible too, has teachings that should not be sidelined. In an excerpt from a notable Christian in the UK and a true believer in Gospel values who had a highly respect- able position on refugees, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker in April 2015 said: Britain has a moral imperative to accept refugees from conflicts in which it has participated. After a week in which the death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe grew to 1,700 so far this year, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said there was a duty to treat the survivors with compassion. In a piece for the Observer published online, he writes: “They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities. A political rhetoric that characterises them as willful criminals rather than helpless victims is as unworthy as it is untrue.” The UK’s pivotal role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq prompted a sectarian war that the UN said had forced two million Iraqis to flee the country, an involvement that ran alongside the 13-year Afghanistan war and was followed by the 2011 attacks on Libya, both of which precipitated significant regional instability and migration. Walker writes: “The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land. (Source: Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars on 25 April 2015, Mark Townsend, The Guardian)

IMMIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM WAR-TORN COUNTRIES ARE NOT EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY.

The seeds of intolerance to the influx of Muslim immigrants were planted, if not reinforced well over a decade ago. Europe’s pivotal role in the 2003 illegal Iraq invasion led to a sectarian war that forced at least two million Iraqis to flee the country (and directly created conditions that led to the birth of ISIS). The 2001 “War on Terror” in Afghanistan did no less in producing its own population of displaced people. Europe’s beleaguered role in the 2011 attacks on Libya created yet another dimension of regional instability and cross-regional migration, while the dictatorships of both Bashar al-Assad and his father, long propped up for decades by US and European countries created another millions of refugees that are today approaching the shores of Europe. Nonetheless, the majority of terror victims . . . possibly as high as 95 percent, are themselves Muslims. It is no wonder, then, that Muslims make up a huge part of refugee crisis, which has seen 6 million Syrians, half of them children, fleeing the civil war; 100,000 Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State, among many other desperate people, risking their lives to escape the turmoil of the Middle East. (Source: Together, we can conquer Isis’s savage worldview by Deeyah Khan, 22 November 2015, The Guardian)

The fact that Europe competes with America in selling weapons to oppressive regimes and the weapons used in those regional conflicts created floods of legitimate, frightened let alone distressed refugees fleeing the dreadful combination of indiscriminate attacks in the form of barrel bombs, beheadings, suffocating sieges and abhorrent atrocities by ISIS is not likely to be mentioned either when a populist party with a strongly anti-immigration agenda [targeting a blue-collar and provincial middle-class] electorate tries to win the next round of local or regional elections in Europe. For instance, French arms sales to countries in the region [Africa and the Middle East, for example] neither take into account their human rights record nor the fact that those countries contribute to the war. (Source: Don’t let ISIL divide France by Alan Gresh, 15 Nov 2015, Aljazeera.com)

STILL, A SIMPLE PARTIAL SOLUTION TO TERRORISM MAY BE TO BAN MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS.

When times were good, lets open the door to immigrants and let them take up all the menial jobs, as we are or were too good for these jobs. Their children are brought up and educated in our countries, pay taxes and speak the local language better than their immigrant parents and yet they are never one of us but following the decline of the manufacturing industry and the growing urgency for austerity, we suddenly feel they ought to “go back home” as they are not as white as the indigenous population are or suddenly, have not assimilated as well as they should.

Also, in almost every case of a major terror attack since 9/11, the perpetrator has either been an American or European born and bred or someone who was already living in the country legally.

Therefore, why do right-wing xenophobic politicians like “Dutch Trump” Geert Wilders and the wretched lady Le Pen point their finger at refugees every time an act of terrorism occurs when an overwhelming majority of the suicide bombers who struck Paris in 2015 were French nationals?

Even the 9/11 terrorists were not refugees. They entered the U.S. by obtaining tourist and student visas, which are far easier to get than going through the arduous procedures involved in asylum seeking.

MUSLIMS DON’T CONTRIBUTE, INTEGRATE AND ASSIMILIATE INTO WESTERN SOCIETY SUCH AS IN FRANCE OR THE UNITED STATES.

“There are several million Muslims in France, and the vast majority are integrated into French society and for those who aren’t, it’s less a question of religion than their social and economic situation”. (Source: Claude Dargent, Professor at Sciences Po University in Paris)

In the astute words of Felix Marquardt, a Parisian Muslim and cofounder of the al-Kawakibi Foundation:

“Being Muslim in France is not easy, it’s a complicated condition especially if you are a woman wearing a veil, you are a victim of discrimination and if you’re a man [with a Muslim name or beard] you find it hard to get a job”. (Source: France likely to close more than 100 mosques by Anealla Safdar, 3 December 2015, Aljazeera.com)

 In Britain, Masuma Rahim, a clinical psychologist says its best: For too long, Muslims have been cast as a risk to public safety and security. We have been vilified by politicians and the popular press; we have been described as “terrorist sympathisers” and accused of being unwilling to integrate into British society. But what those accusers fail to understand is that it is difficult to integrate into any society if you’re permanently being cast as a threat to the world around you, and if the solution to that threat – a “final solution”, as Katie Hopkins might term it – is for your places of worship to be monitored and your schools to be investigated on the most spurious of charges. (Source: Dear Theresa May, come and meet some Muslims. It might help if you knew us, 20 June 2017, Masuma Rahim, The Guardian)

Therefore, this persistent idea that Muslims are not assimilating is clearly not true. Surveys by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Pew Research Center suggest that the attitudes of U.S. Muslims about country and community are similar to those of adherents of other religions.

A Pew poll several years ago found that Muslims, more than 3-to-1, preferred to adopt American customs rather than retain their distinct identities. (Source: U.S. Muslims Are the Collateral Victims of Terror Attacks, Albert Hunt, 19 June 2016, Bloomberg)

Muslims have also made contributions to society in many ways ranging from engineering, culinary, fashion, finance and banking, medical and sciences. While “there are many challenges including illiteracy, sectarianism and identity crises, these problems are not that much different from other communities around the world”, according to Muhammad Akhter, a doctor in Essex in a blog written for Muslim matters. (Source: What is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today?, 9 July 2014, Muslim Matters)

Working as educators, mayors, judges, lawmakers, athletes, soldiers and members of Congress, Muslim Americans constitute 1-2 percent of the population but account for about 5 percent of the country’s physicians. (Source: It’s not just Trump – the US is gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria by Moustafa Bayoumi, 14 December 2015, The Guardian)

This despite the fact that a large proportion of Muslim doctors face discrimination on a regular basis (Note: There are over 15,000 Pakistani- American physicians in America alone). In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Bioethics found that 24 percent of Muslim physicians have experienced religious discrimination in the workplace. (Source: I Thought My Ivy League Degrees Would Protect Me From Bigotry. I Was Wrong by Altaf Saadi, M.D., at Massachusetts General Hospital, 18 January 2016, Huffington Post)

Muslim Americans do not just live and work in the United States. They have given their lives too, to the country. Often overlooked in media reports, 60 Muslim innocent lives also perished at the World Trade Center. One of them was NYPD cadet and first responder, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died at the Twin Towers on 9/11. Then there are at least 14 Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after the 9/11 attacks.

Furthermore: A recent study by Duke University showed that Muslim Americans helped catch more terrorism suspects and perpetrators than the United States government itself. (Source: 10 Reasons You Should Not Fear Muslims by Omar Alnatour, 26 January 2016, Huffington Post)

In a separate 2011 study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, tips from Muslim American communities helped thwart terrorist plots in 52 of 140 cases involving Muslim Americans. This means that at least 37 percent of foiled domestic terror plots have been thwarted with the help of Muslim Americans. (Source: To Fight Terrorism, Treat Muslim-Americans With Respect by Tara Lai Quinlan and Deborah Ramirez, 8 December 2015, Huffington Post)

Therefore, there is no basis for claiming Muslims don’t integrate, contribute or assimilate into local societies in the West, at the very least no more than any other groups of immigrants in the West today.

THERE ARE NO BENEFITS TO WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS.

In an article written by Nadya Tolokonnikova, Russian member of the Pussy Riot band, rightly pointed out:  “Migrants are innovative and entrepreneurial. In the 19th century, a third of the population of Sweden, Ireland and Italy emigrated to America and other countries. The U.S. is the very best example of how dynamic a country of immigrants can be . . . (Source: I Live Without Borders, Nadya Tolokonnikova, 22 October 215, The Huffington Post)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS WANT TO KILL ALL NON-MUSLIMS

THE WEST BELIEVES IN PEACE WHILE MUSLIMS LOVE VIOLENCE.

In comments on HBO’s Real Time, [Bill] Maher in 2015 said: “For the last 30 years, it’s been one culture that has been blowing s—t up over and over again”. (Here he meant Islam, not America, go figure.) (Source: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bill Maher? By Mike Mennonno, 23 Sept 2015, The Huffington Post)

Serving as another example of grandiose malarkey: While demagogues like Pam Geller likes to say “Civilized men can disagree while savages will kill you when they disagree” (Source: Texas shooting: Who is Pamela Geller? By Ann Colwell, 4 May 2015, CNN), is she talking about Western nations who have been responsible for far more civilian deaths than all terrorists groups combined claiming to be Muslims?

BUT MUSLIMS HATE NON-MUSLIMS AND WILL NOT MISS A CHANCE TO KILL THEM.

In December 21 2015, a group of men from al-Shabab halted a bus near the town of Mandera, Kenya. They ordered all the passengers off the bus before telling them to split into groups of Muslims and non- Muslims so that they could set aside the Christian passengers for execution. The Muslims on board refused their demands. Instead, they threw a human shield around the Christians. Brave Muslim women took o their headscarves and handed them to non-Muslims to wear for protection. Standing united, the Muslim passengers then dared the extremists to kill them too. Instead, fearing repercussion from a nearby village, these misguided zealots ed the scene of the hold-up, licking their wounds from the powerful show of solidarity, people of the world today could learn aplenty from. (Source: Muslims in Kenya offer a Christmas present to the world, 27 Dec 2015, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim & Beth Ellen Cole Al Jazeera.com)

This is not a rare event and happens more frequently than is reported by the mainstream press. In July 2017, a Filipino Muslim in the Philippines saved 64 Christians from execution by Islamist militants, after he hid them from a group of heavily armed gunmen who stormed the city of Marawi on the island in June 2017. Norodin Alonto Lucman, a Muslim former politician and traditional clan leader, opened his home to around 71 people, including 64 Christians, when they could not escape. These are two of many recent examples reported by the press.

WHY THEN DO MUSLIMS CELEBRATE 9/11?

Muslims do not celebrate 9/11. There is no evidence of this at all. While the vast majority of Muslims around the world were horrified by the scenes of the falling towers, there were no doubt pockets of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world who could not help but wonder:

How 19 random men have finally brought the horror and destruction that the West brought into Muslim lands over the last few decades in the form of illegal invasion and carpet bombing of Iraq, dishonest brokering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support of Arab dictatorships and many other such examples that have been exhaustively covered by renowned writers such as Robert Fisk, Phil Rees, Jessica Stern and Amira Hass among many others.

Similarly it could be argued, there are pockets of people in the West who don’t exactly mourn when Muslims are killed in conflicts far from the West. Some even cheer the killings of Muslims by the American Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. In fact, you will find YouTube videos of American soldiers cheering the death of Iraqis and Afghanis (lest we forget, two Muslim countries that had nothing to do with 9/11).

These cheerleaders of Muslim casualties or American soldiers who kill indiscriminately however do not represent America or Western values the way Muslims who cheer death and destruction in the West do not represent 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. People with varying levels of moral values exist everywhere.

ALL MUSLIMS, YOUNG AND OLD ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR STANDING UP AGAINST TERRORISM TODAY.

When the towers fell, millions of children who are Muslim teenagers today weren’t even born then. How are they at fault and why do they have to put up with bigotry, hatred and Islamophobia so common- place today? For some Muslims and non-Muslims alike, they are growing up with an incomplete understanding of a series of events that led to 9/11. For some it was day 1 since the world changed. To a minority within this group, most parents will find it hard yet important to explain how a series of misguided foreign policies of the West nurtured the seeds of hatred and anger in Muslim world and led a small fringe of individuals with Muslim names, who do not represent Islam or ordinary Muslims, to commit an act of terror that changed the world forever. Is it therefore, fair to expect Muslim teenagers who weren’t even born on 9/11 to defend themselves against common- place anti-Muslim bigotry today, a position of attack they did not start nor were they any part of ?

Why do 1.6 billion Muslims around the world have to pay for the misguided actions of 19 individuals with Muslim names when there is zero evidence their actions had anything to do with Islam? Instead, all readings indicate their act was a violent form of political protest that led to the deaths of almost 3000 innocent lives including 60 Muslims who died on that day too. (Source: Muslims Weren’t Cheering On 9/11, Mr. Trump. They Were Grieving For Their Loved Ones by Christopher Mathias, 24 Nov 2015, Huffington Post)

“Conflating extremists who claim to be Muslims with the vast, un-extreme majority of Muslims worldwide perpetuating the assumption that extremism is the default, that Muslims share inherent traits that make them worse than others who are not Muslims, and that all Muslims are guilty of extremism until proven innocent . . .” (Source: Its not just Bill Maher: Islamophobia on cable news is out of control, Max Fisher, 8 Oct 2014,Vox.com)

MUSLIMS ENVY THE DEMOCRATIC VALUES OF THE UNITED STATES.

Never mind that the “values” of the United States includes supporting corrupt and brutal dictatorships and occupations, launching wars of aggression based on lies, violating its own constitutional principles to detain indefinitely, torture and even murder of suspected enemies (including its own citizens). Or that a small but politically powerful percentage of American citizens seem as determined to incite violence in the Muslim world as their counterparts there seem determined to launch violence against Westerners. (Source: Why ‘they’ still don’t hate us by Mark LeVine, on 27 September 2012, The Independent)

BUT SURELY, ISLAM IS AGAINST DEMOCRACY.

To illustrate Islam’s support for a democratic government, verse 4:59 of the Qur’an clearly outlines the people must take their vote as a responsibility and thus choose the most appropriate and suitable person to lead them. The Qur’an then exhorts those in authority to exercise justice . . . The Qur’an also promotes dialogue and consultation to gauge public opinion and decide matters fairly as illustrated in 42:39. In 4:60, it requires Muslims to “obey those in authority among them” (4:60) . . . Therefore if dictators in the Middle East [supported by Western governments and powerful Arab tribes] or radical Muslim preachers oppose the teachings of Muhammad (PBUH), then they’re solely to blame. (Source: The truth about whether Islamic values are compatible with Western values, Atif Rashid, 17 July 2016, The Independent)

Islam therefore can’t be blamed given its stance on freedom or human rights, something it started to espouse and establish long before Western democracies caught up just over a hundred years ago. How is it fair to blame Islam if the rulers, autocrats and dictators in the Middle East (read: “puppets fully supported by the West”) do not want to abide by the laws of Islam?

AT THE VERY LEAST UNLIKE THE MIDDLE EAST, ALL LIVES ARE VALUED EQUALLY IN THE WEST.

In an observant article, Jewish Rabbi Michael Lerner points out the double standards of the West:

“When the horrific assassinations of 12 media people and the wounding of another 12 media workers resulted in justifiable outrage around the world, did you ever wonder why there wasn’t an equal outrage at the tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed by the American intervention in Iraq or the over a million civilians killed by the U.S. in Vietnam,…

or why President Obama refused to bring to justice the CIA torturers of mostly Muslim prisoners, thereby de facto giving future torturers the message that they need not even be sorry for their deeds. (Source: Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy by Rabbi Michael Lerner, 11 March 2015, Tikkun Magazine)

In a separate article, the author points out two rather uncomfortable questions worth reflecting on:

(1) Why are our thoughts with the victims of the horrific attacks but not with those who suffer serious verbal and physical discrimination as a result of the actions of a few psychopaths who call themselves Muslims?; &

(2) Why is there an outpouring of sympathy for cartoonists whom we have crowned icons for free speech when a 42-year old maintenance worker was also killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks and two police officers including a Muslim officer Ahmed, who was first to arrive at the scene were also part of the final death toll? (Source: Charlie Hebdo: The 12 victims of the Paris shootings, 8 Jan 2015, Clear Barrett, Financial Times)

Last but not least, the following observation perhaps says it best: It is easy to separate wars in the Middle East with our own security in Europe and the United States. This way we the public, do not have to see what our disastrous foreign policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and beyond are doing and how our Western governments are creating the endless conditions for the rise of monstrous groups like ISIS and others, to which our homegrown lone wolves belong. (Source: How politicians duck the blame for terrorism, Patrick Cockburn, 20 March 2016, The Independent)

MUSLIMS CAN AT LEAST CHOOSE TO LIVE PEACEFUL, UNDISRUPTIVE LIVES IN THE WEST, UNLIKE PRESENT DAY MIDDLE EAST.

This depends on where you compare living in the West to:
“The fact of the matter is that the majority of Muslims like myself no longer know where to turn. The mentality of “with us or against us” remains at the forefront of both extremist ideologies. After all, both the Islamic State and religious reductionists are quick to point out comparative religious scholars like Karen Armstrong that emphasize peaceful texts as apologists for Islam.

As I received death threats from ISIS, I have also been flagged in international airports as a security threat . . . Both worlds – the secular and the extremist – are limiting my voice, mobility and access . . . I am not alone. The majority of Muslims – often described as simple-minded, indifferent, non-violent, but easily misled – are being targeted by reductionist thinkers at different ends of the spectrum.

They are attempting to strip away creative, new ways of thinking and force us to buy into a friend or enemy binary lens”. (Source: War on Islam Comes to Our Backyards by Manal Omar, October 9 2015, Huffington Post)

THERE IS NO REASON FOR MUSLIMS TO FEEL THREATENED IN AMERICA.

“There remains, among many Muslims, a sense of besiegement, and a growing frustration at perceived legal double standards. North Carolina authorities did not treat the February [2015] slaying of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill as motivated by bigotry. In July [2015], a judge permitted bail for a Tennessee man on trial for plotting to re- bomb a New York Muslim community”. (Source: For a teen aspiring to be president, being Muslim is a hurdle in post-9/11 America by Oliver Laughland in Dearborn, Michigan, and Spencer Ackerman in New York, The Guardian).

More recently in June 2017, a 17-year old teenage Muslim girl Nabra Hassanen, was grotesquely killed by Darwin Martinez Torres, a bat-wielding motorist who ran over and dumped her body in a pond near a Virginia mosque. Yet the crime was labelled “road rage” and not investigated as a hate crime, with the perpetrator facing no more than one count of second-degree murder, a gross miscarriage of justice that is slowly but steadily becoming a regrettable mainstay in the United States.

Furthermore, the fact that the Supreme court in July 2017 upheld parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0 [until it was again overturned in Oct 2017] and in doing so, legitimised blanket discrimination against a religious group has temporarily, enshrined a version of Islamophobia into practice, (Source: Trump doesn’t want Muslims in the US. That’s OK with the supreme court, Moustafa Bayoumi, 26 June 2017, The Guardian),with the U.S Customs and Border Protection happy to carry on its decades-long arbitrary “random profiling” of Muslims that for the rst time in U.S history is backed by a seal of approval from none other than the supreme court.

Therefore, why should Muslims not feel threatened? In fact in an excellent analogy, how would ordinary Americans have reacted if the tables had turn on the following incident?

“What would the news say if a bunch of Muslims – some dressed in camouflage showed up outside a church with automatic rifles and signs denouncing Christianity? When Christians do the same thing to a mosque in Texas, it elicits little more than a yawn, however (take a look at some of the photos [visit online accompanying this article] to see whether Muslim worshippers should have feared for their lives).” (Source: Christian Terrorism by Chris Weigant, 1 December 2015, Huffington Post)

MUSLIMS HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

To millions of patriotic, law-abiding Muslims men and women who serve as fire fighters, policemen, public officials, not to mention entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, lawyers and teachers born and bred in Europe and the United States as well as incoming immigrants and asylum seekers, it is important they fully understand the hypocritical right-wing polemics regularly seen on TV, online and in print is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity. Most importantly, this is not going away anytime soon.

Even if Trump had lost the election in November [2016], Islamophobia would not have slunk into the shadows but by winning, the repercussions for those fighting Islamophobia is likely to be devastatingly challenging given the loud, inherent message that it is okay to spew hatred and vitriol as a politician against Muslims for the sake of being elected, even if it means attacking an already vilified minority with zero accountability. His win has demonstrated how widespread anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming, especially among white Evangelicals Christians, moving up from fringe hate groups into mainstream political discourse and now, as the much dreaded official policy coming directly from the White House.

While there are some Muslims who continue to hold out hope that Trump may be more bluster than real threat, if the President of the United States is the very archetype and instigator of Islamophobia, then vilifying Muslims, scapegoating Islam, vandalising mosques and attacking anybody who looks Muslim is only fair game, blurring the line between the person on-the-ground torching mosques and politician supporting blanket surveillance of Muslims. Words by people in public office shape perceptions, which shape public policy, which often determines whether people live in peace or chaos. (Source: Donald Trump: The Islamophobia president by Khaled A Beydoun, Al Jazeera English, 9 November 2016)

Worse still, the existing cabinet members and advisers of the Trump administration have thus far been discussing the real threat of extremism with all the sophistication of a middle-school social-studies class. Therefore, the American dream will no doubt become a living night- mare for many minorities (not only Muslims) under Trump’s presidency. Muslims in America and around the world indeed have plenty to worry about.

AT LEAST MUSLIMS ARE SAFE IN THE WEST AND CAN PRACTISE THEIR FAITH FREELY.

In over a decade since 30 September 2005 when Flemming Rose, the Foreign Editor at Jyllands-Posten myopically commissioned drawings of Muhammad (PBUH), well over a thousand mosques (if not more) across the United States, Australia and continental Europe have experienced at least one incident of vandalism, easily devolving into a partial laundry list:

including graffiti painted over its walls, bacon or severed pig’s head hung on the door of prayer halls, feces and torn pages of the Qur’an thrown at the entrance, multiple gunshots, smoke bombs, Molotov cocktail and small explosive devices thrown within the mosque’s compound, re attack burning down mosques, armed demonstrators picketing at mosques, group of intimidating motorcyclists driving around in circles, threatening letters, bile-filled phone and online messages as well as threats of violence and many other varied forms of attempted arson.

Therefore, Muslims in the West have regrettably been given plenty of reasons to be frightened.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

HEAD-CHOPPING & SUICIDE BOMBINGS AMONG MUSLIMS

THERE WAS A MUSLIM WHO TOOK HIS 8-YEAR OLD SON TO SYRIA. HE CUTS OFF A PERSON’S HEAD AND POSTS A PICTURE OF HIS SON HOLDING THE CHOPPED HEAD WITH
A NOTE SAYING “PROUD OF MY SON . . .”. MUSLIMS ARE SO BARBARIC.

 This, among many other abhorring atrocities have been widely condemned by every Islamic leader, scholar and infinite number of ordinary Muslims worldwide and yet this does not excuse people from forming biased views against Muslims and Islam.

There are plenty of Christians, non-Christians or Atheist psychopaths out there who commit inhumane, psychopathic acts of violence but these are never associated with their faith or lack of it. Why?

Then there is the issue of drones and carpet bombings. A hundred times more innocent civilians (including children, aid workers and journalists) die in drone attacks and F16 bombs, in an absolutely grotesque and inhumane way (not only having their heads chopped o but limbs torn to bits) and yet where is the condemnation from ordinary citizens of the West for these barbaric acts of state terrorism regularly visited upon Muslim civilian population? Worse still, people ask, why are Muslims angry?

Therefore, 99.97 percent of the Muslim population cannot be held responsible for the actions of persons and groups representing 50,000 (maximum exaggerated estimate) who joined groups like ISIS (or whatever next they mutate into), accounting for less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population worldwide, killing innocent civilians, aid workers and journalists.

WHAT’S WITH THE HEAD-CHOPPING  FASCINATION AMONG MUSLIMS THEN?

During the Crusades, Christians used to catapult the severed heads of Muslim fighters over the walls of besieged towns, as a form of “threat display”. (Source: The slow-motion wreck of American values – Salon.com, 22 Sept 2004, Salon.com).Japanese soldiers training for action during the World War II were deliberately de-sensitised and shown how to decapitate living prisoners. (Source: Don’t underestimate Islamic State. More atrocities are on their way, 21 July 2016, Abdel Bari Atwan, The Guardian). In 2006, US soldier Steven Green, along with four colleagues gang-raped, then murdered 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in front of her parents and siblings (who were then also killed), and said this at his trial: “I didn’t think of Iraqis as human”. The key singular tactic appears to be dehumanizing “the other” so that you are completely “desensitised” from an act of violence. (Source: Former US soldier guilty of rape found hanged – Al Jazeera English, Feb 18, 2014, Aljazeera.com). Unfortunately, abhorring violence is not limited to any race, culture, background, belief system or skin colour, evidently.

WHY THEN ARE MUSLIMS RESPONSIBLE FOR SO MANY BEHEADINGS AND SUICIDE BOMBINGS?

Surely hellfire missiles fired from Predator drone attacks that blow body parts of innocent civilians, aid workers and journalists into small bits and pieces and the advanced weaponry used in carpet-bombing cities into ashes are infinitely more inhumane. These attacks kill far more civilians grotesquely than beheadings and suicide bombings combined, by many multiples over. Interestingly, neither form of killings originate from Muslim lands but from so-called “civilised” America and Europe.

BUT MUSLIMS PREFER SUICIDE BOMBINGS AS A WEAPON

It is wrong to behead people physically with a weapon like a [sword, machete or] a knife [and uploading it on YouTube] but how is that any different from blowing people’s heads [or limbs o with a remote controlled] drone [or a barrel bomb]? Is it less evil when [NATO- backed] militias are committing similar acts of horror [except they do everything possible to prevent these acts from being captured on video?] (Source: Arundhati Roy, Author and winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in an interview titled “Things That Can And Cannot Be Said” by John Cusack, 16 November 2015, Outlook India)

MUSLIM MARTYRS JUSTIFY SUICIDE BOMBINGS BY TAKING A LITERALIST APPROACH TO ISLAMIC SCRIPTURE.

Islam unequivocally condemns self-immolation (suicide) and there are no two sides to this argument. The Qur’an is crystal clear how people who take their own lives are guaranteed anything but heaven (sorry, no references in the Qur’an and Hadith about angels as servants, winged horse let alone 72 virgins).

Besides, suicide-led killings is a relatively recent phenomenon (over the last 75 years) and was never used during the time of Muhammad (PBUH) or for centuries thereafter, proving unequivocally how there is zero scope for suicide killings in Islam unlike individuals or groups with Muslim names who use this as a weapon, clearly misinformed about the very clear position of Islam and the Qur’an when it comes to suicide-led killings of themselves and others.

MUSLIMS WERE THE FIRST TO PIONEER SUICIDE BOMBINGS.

“Suicide bombing was almost unheard of in the Muslim world in the 1950s to the 1970s, even at the height of the revolutionary fervour of Arab nationalism and the disastrous defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel . . . It was the Shi’a of Lebanon who first began to successfully employ suicide bombings in Lebanon, with devastating effect against American targets that is, the US embassy and the US Marine barracks in the early 1980s. But it was the Hindu Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who were the first to operationalize regular use of the suicide vest in the 1980s, with one of the highest rates of suicide operations in that era . . . As the American forces discovered two decades later in Iraq, kidnapping and suicide attacks are simple, cheap tolls of combat that a superior military can find difficult to counter.” (Source: Graham E Fuller, Author, A World Without Islam)

 RELIGION IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF SUICIDE BOMBINGS.

If there is someone qualified to speak on the subject, it is Robert Pape, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. In Year 2005, he published a book “Dying to Win”, based on an extensive study of the causes of suicide terrorism: “Compiling a database of suicide attacks globally from the early 1980s to 2003. He found most attacks were secular and motivated by feelings of a lack of self-determination within the local community. “From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, every suicide terrorist campaign since 1980 had as its main goal to establish or maintain self-determination for territory that the terrorists prize. Religion is rarely the root cause although religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations to serve the broader strategic objective”. (Source: Robert Pape, Author, Dying to Win)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS SUPPORT ISIS


SIXTY-THREE (63) MILLION MUSLIMS BACK ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS).

A Pew Research poll titled “Views of ISIS overwhelmingly negative” available online published in November 17 2015 indicates the exact opposite of the “63 million” figure accomplices of hate and terrorism often like to misrepresent, stigmatizing a lot of Muslims worldwide as extremists.

The poll based on a sample size of no more than 1000 people per country in eleven Muslim countries or 11,000 Muslims in grand total (out of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide) were asked for their views of ISIS. The “63 million” magic number is derived by inversely applying the number of poll respondents who had a positive view of ISIS against the population of that given Muslim country, creating a twisted interpretation of the poll outcome.

Incidentally Fox News personality and anti-Muslim demagogue Sean Hannity made the same claim citing the same “63 million Muslims” number when this poll was published and was roundly condemned by Media Matters for America for spreading misinformation. Donald Trump too, made a similar claim in a CNN interview on March 9 and not for the first time mocked for his ignorance. Niall Ferguson (former husband of none other than Ayaan Hirsi Ali no less, who once said “We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot”. I think we are at war with Islam and there’s no middle ground in wars.”) too, has erroneously cited the same number in his writings, adding fuel to re the misinformation about Islam and Muslims, spreading like wild re today, thanks in large part to irresponsible reporting and near absent fact-checking by the press.

In fact for people who love big numbers, a true, verifiable number that may be worthwhile using is 61.9 million. The exact number of Americans who voted for Trump, arguably the most xenophobic, sexist and racist man alive today, illustrating where the actual problem of the world lies.

Also, in 1943, the Nazi party became a political force after Hitler’s Nazi Party received 43.9 percent of the votes. Should the 17 million Germans that supported the party therefore be implicated for the crimes of Hitler? Sixty years later – and just before the illegal Iraq invasion in 2003, 47-60 percent of the US public supported the war. Are 136 million Americans therefore responsible for the chaos that ensued since the epic mismanagement of Iraq, the direct loss of over 4 million lives since and the generational damage the West has wrecked in the Middle East today?

IF ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT PEACE, WHY DID SOME MUSLIMS LEAVE THE WEST TO JOIN GROUPS LIKE ISIS?

While there have been numerous reports of Muslims abandoning their lives in the West and migrating to cities controlled by ISIS, no one really quite understands why but to over-simplistically say this has to do with religion is to associate the barbaric actions of ISIS with that of religion, which are issues on two opposite ends of a very long pole. Nothing groups like ISIS have done thus far can be traced back to the teachings and actions of Muhammad (PBUH). In fact, their actions are in direct contradictions to his pacifist teachings.

However, if one truly wants to come close to understanding if this is representative of Islam or ordinary Muslims, the first step ought to be to understand the simple numbers involved.

We are talking about a very small number of no more than 50,000 (maximum exaggerated estimate) that have left for ISIS and other militant groups out of 1.6 billion Muslims so less than 0.03 percent of the global Muslim population.

It is hardly fair to broad-brush 1.6 billion Muslims for the actions and decisions taken by less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population today. Nevertheless, it is important we understand why these lost souls chose to migrate to areas previously controlled by the nearly defunct ISIS (or whatever next they mutate into).

To conclude this has to do with “religious motivation” is simply false. In fact, the article below explain why these people think what they are doing is for religion when what they are doing is precisely the exact opposite of what Islam allows them to do. The following article also provides a snapshot of ISIS and its credibility among 99.97 percent of the Muslim population globally:

When ISIS beheaded 21 of Egypt’s Coptic Christians earlier this week [in early February 2015], they claimed to be doing God’s work. They quoted religious sounding terminology like “ fighting until the war lays down its burdens”, not ceasing until the Promised Messiah returns to “break the cross” and “kill the swine”. As a Muslim, one watches in dismay. Religious concepts and terminology ripped out of context and proper use to justify the death of 21 innocent human beings. When meaning is lost, only words remain, and in this case they’re religious sounding but totally devoid of religious truth. Let me share with you some real religious truths: the Koran likens the murder of an innocent life to the murder of the entire humanity, such is its gravity. The Koran also declares that there is “no compulsion in matters of religion”. It declares that religious war, like the one that ISIS is claiming, is totally forbidden. Permission is only granted in situations such as when a religious community has been severely persecuted and has lost all semblance of freedom of conscience. None of these conditions exist for ISIS to claim legitimacy. However, the Koran, whose message ISIS butcher at every turn, even instructs Muslims to protect the religious freedoms of others when they are persecuted and threatened . . . Today we are left perplexed by the same question – are ISIS extremely selfish or just mad? There’s a good chance it’s both, although if there one thing that their actions have made absolutely clear is there is nothing “Islamic” about ISIS. (Source: You only need to read these passages from the Koran to realise that there’s nothing ‘Islamic’ about the Islamic State by Adam Walker on 19 February 2015, The Independent)

HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY OBEYING ALLAH GIVEN HOW MUSLIMS ARE KILLING CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA?

During the medieval and early modern periods that is, for up to 1400 years since the advent of Islam up to seventy years ago, following the fall of the Ottoman empire, Christians and Jews generally received better treatment in Muslim lands than Muslims and Jews received in Christian lands, an indisputable and historical fact.

However to really respond to this false statement and severely misinformed view, it is best to share a Letter to the Editor by yours truly (updated since), that focuses on the same subject: The barbaric actions of ISIS has everything to do with power and politics and clearly nothing to do with religion.

Arab Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and Shias as well as their churches and places of worships have co-existed peacefully in Iraq and Syria for centuries. In fact before the civil war in 2010, this group of minorities accounted for 26 percent of the population [in Syria].

If Islam were about killing other non-Muslim Arabs 1400 years ago, there would not have been any minorities left in the region today.

To falsely claim today’s sectarian conflict is a continuation of an ancient religious divide is not only a misreading of history but a complete fabrication of it. In fact for centuries non-Arab minorities have relished the opportunity of living in cities ruled by Muslims. This is true during the Crusades when crusaders recruited by quoting out of context verses from the Bible, as well as at the time of the Islamic Golden Age, when the international language of science was Arabic.

Furthermore, Sunni Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS a group that preposterously claims to be Sunni itself and yet not only do Sunni Muslims account for the largest victims and casualties but are also actively fighting the grotesque savagery of ISIS today, more than any other ethnic group. If it weren’t for the false intelligence, illegal invasion of Iraq, non-existent post-war planning and the disbanding of the Iraqi army in 2003 let alone the installation of a puppet government that unleashed a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle, ISIS and its spiraling descent of madness would not have been formed today.

ISIS, like other deviant Muslims and groups today, that account for less than a fraction of 0.03 percent of Muslims worldwide justify their actions by quoting out-of-context verses from the Qur’an but if they claim to be following their religion, what religion are the rest of more than 99.97 percent of Muslims worldwide following?

In the current culture of Muslim witch-hunting and blaming Islam let alone Allah for every- thing, this simple yet important question is worth reflecting on. (Source: Letter to the Editor, 3 December 2015, South China Morning Post)

Put simply, the Qur’an, Islam and Muslims have been around for approximately 1400 years (since the seventh century) while “Islamic” terrorism has been around for around 30-40 years (late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon), therefore how can Islam all of a sudden become a problem?

IF MUSLIMS ARE SO WELCOMING, WHY ARE SO MANY CHRISTIANS FLEEING THE MIDDLE EAST?

In a clear and concise explanation by James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, he writes: Before the Bush Administration’s disastrous 2003 invasion, there were 1.3 millions in Iraq. Despite assuming some religious trappings, Saddam Hussein’s ruthless dictatorship was secular and, therefore, provided Christians some degree of religious freedom. One result of the US invasion that overthrew Saddam’s regime and the dismantling of Iraq’s state apparatus was to unleash a civil war of armed sectarian militias, a feature of which was the “ethnic cleansing” of entire neigh- borhoods of Sunni and Shia Muslims and, of course, vulnerable Christians – who had no militias to protect them.

During the first five years of the Iraq war, the Christian population of Iraq declined from 1.3 million to 400,000 – with no one in the Bush Administration attending to their plight. Only with the emergence of bloody ISIS, did the West pay attention to the fate of Iraq’s Christians. (Source: The Arab World’s Christians: Easter, 2017, 15 April 2017, James Zogby, Huffington Post)

GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND MANY OTHERS HAVE UNEQUIVOCALLY HELPED PROVE THE QUR’AN IS VIOLENT.

ISIS has absolutely nothing to do with religion but the absurd misinterpretation of Islam and the Qur’an. Even the apartheid regime is known to have used the Bible to justify its inhumane policies. Similarly, run by individuals with Muslim names who invoke the name of Allah or quote verses from the Qur’an before committing abhorring acts of terrorism, the vast majority of Muslims not only condemn ISIS but there is a colossal irony in how the group which has the largest number of victims of terrorism (Muslims) are often blamed for it.

There are no violent, extremist or provocative verses in the Qur’an, only distorted, misquoted and purposefully misinterpreted ones. (Source: There is not a place in paradise awaiting terrorists – but there are abusive hate preachers who exploit vulnerable young Muslims in this life by Atif Rashid, 31 May 2017, The Independent)

Using perhaps a simple yet effective litmus test as anecdotal evidence, if the entire Qur’an had said nothing else but “do good and avoid evil” in clear and simple terms, you can be sure there will still be people with interpretive biases who will take this verse out of context and commit murder and spread mayhem justifying their actions using this simple verse.

One must not forget that Malala Yousafzai read the same Qur’an, but interpreted the text as a call to education and female empowerment. But to those who fear monger, ISIS is the face of Islam instead. (Source: Post London Attack, Here’s How Muslims Can Help Fight Terrorism, Hasan Piker, 22 March 2017, Huffington Post)

Given such, there will always be people (both ISIS let alone the Saudis, Nigerians, Somalis, Sudanese and others), who will twist verses in the Qur’an to justify their actions. Fundamentally, verses in a book cannot be held responsible for the acts of terror some individuals with Muslim or Christian names commit in the name of their religion.

BUT LOOK – THE QUR’AN PROMOTES VIOLENCE.

The most cold-blooded partial verse may be “Kill them wherever you encounter them” (Qur’an 2:191), which is often cited as evidence of Islam’s intolerance. But the rest of this verse and passage indicates that this references the tribes who were persecuting Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers, and furthermore counsels that fighting is to stop when persecution stops: “If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further] hostility, except toward aggressors”. (Qur’an 2:191-193).(Source: An Atheist’s (Somewhat) Relaxed View of the Qur’an by Ronald A. Lindsay on August 1 2014, Huffington Post)

OKAY BUT THE RISE OF ISIS PROVES THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ISLAM THAT ENCOURAGES VIOLENCE AND INTOLERANCE.

ISIS is as much Islamic as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda is Christian, which it isn’t. Nevertheless, one should not forget how ISIS came into being: Without the US invasion of Iraq, there will be no ISIS. Without the disastrous post-war polices of de-Baathification, the Sunni minority would not have felt marginalised and gravitated towards their own Sunni devils (al-Qaeda) shunning the Shia devils, who as part of the government in Iraq, were just as brutal. Thus, the primary factor behind the rise of ISIS is a foreign occupation, a lesson that seems to be lost in the hullabaloo over how to label ISIS. (Source: The Hubris of the Islamic Label on 25February 2015 by Parvez Ahmed, Huffington Post)

 In other words, if it weren’t for the sharp wrong turn with the disastrous let alone illegal invasion of Iraq by the 48 countries as part of the “coalition of the willing”, extremism that has mutated to its current shape and form would not have been given the much needed oxygen it needed to expand and thrive today.

On a lighter note: “If the rise of ISIS proves all Muslims are inherently violent, than the fact that 5 of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim makes us all Muslims Noble Peace Prize winners?”

FYI, the winners include: (I) Shirin Ebadi (Iranian activist, 2003); (II) Mohamed ElBaradei (former head of the Int’l Atomic Energy Agency, 2005); (III) Muhammed Yunus (micro nance pioneer, 2006); (IV) Tawakkol Karman (Yemeni activist, 2011); (V) Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani activist, 2014) (Source: Words by Hend Amry, Libyan-American) 

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

COUNTER-TERRORISM POLICIES FUELING ISLAMOPHOBIA

MASS SURVELLAINCE OF MUSLIMS HELPS FIGHT TERROR.

Instead of exploiting terrorists attacks in the West by making the case for bulk data surveillance, intelligence agencies ought to instead explain for themselves how and why they were not able to uncover any trace of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 or the series of coordinated attacks across Paris in November 2015 that led to the killings of 130 innocent civilians let alone for example, the scale of Salah Abdeslam’s network and his ability to avoid capture for six months after the attack.

What is the point of spending billions on a multi-layered, cumbersome intelligence apparatus, hacking email accounts, tapping cell phones or drowning oneself in secret information if we have to be caught at-footed every time with a surprise attack (zero knowledge of the respective networks that carried out both the Paris and Brussels mass attacks), all the while sowing resentment through discriminatory levels of surveillance and harassment among its Muslim citizens?

In fact, what is the point of being able to “read ISIS communiqués when the government ignores the socioeconomic, ethno-cultural and urban subcultural background” of what’s happening within the local communities? (Source: A message from Molenbeek: ‘We are not terrorists’ by Aleksandra Eriksson, 19 November 2015, Aljazeera.com)

From the swift collapse of the Iraqi security forces to the rise of ISIS to the Russians beginning their full-scale bombing campaign in Syria, what is the point of having hundreds of thousands of analysts and intelligence operatives spending close to US$70 billion annually on counter intelligence when it runs counter to gathering intelligence and the West is caught o guard when these so-called trigger events take place?

Therefore, mass surveillance has not proven to help thus far, and the case against it grows stronger every time there is an unexpected attack on civilians.

WE SHOULD THEN TACKLE RADICALISATION BY SPYING ON MOSQUES.

Over in the UK as well as in America, the abject failure of the Prevent strategy, if it can actually be called a strategy – has increasingly become a pathway to stigmatising all young Muslims. (Source: What to do when the book police arrive: read on, AL Kennedy, 7 August 2016, The Guardian), sowing the seeds of mistrust and fear of Muslims and Islam by the British government.

Similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s disastrous CVE programme, functionally tailored to police Muslim Americans, “Prevent” (read “country-wide spying on Muslims and state-backed Islamophobia”) is yet another valid example of misguided intelligence. Why isn’t anyone honest enough to point out the intelligence apparatus ought to stop confusing religiosity for extremism and radicalisation does not take place in mosques?

Worse still, planting informants at mosques and schools and spying on Muslims en masse has never worked in the past and there is no evidence to support it will work in the future. Instead, the principal source of brainwashing and recruitment is the hard-to-govern internet, an area Western governments need to find a way to master.

In France, Xavier Bertrand, a former French labor and health minister, said in a parliamentary statement in late November 2015: “The focus should not be on mosques, but on countering radical websites. “It’s Imam Google. That’s where they go, not to the mosque”.

Mosques are places where people of faith go to hear hopeful messages in good times as well as in periods of adversity. Therefore if the real intention is to develop a containment strategy of extremism thinking, the mosque actually serves as an indispensable source.

In fact, in nine out of 10 cases if not more, individuals with Muslim names that have participated in acts of terror are not known to visit mosques bringing into question the lopsided rationale of intelligence gathering at mosques.

“If you listen to anti-terror judges, they will tell you that radicalisation takes place outside of mosques. It happens in jails or clandestine circles or via the internet”. (Source: Activists decry mosque closures in France by Anealla Safdar, 3 December 2015, Aljazeera.com)

Writing for the Independent, Joshua Stewart sums it up:

Prison is where this experience can be connected and ne tuned into a “higher purpose.” For the recruiter, vulnerable people and gang members are ideal recruits – they are people who may require protection when inside or validation that their lives can have purpose – and that the state has always been “against them”. The dangling of religion and ideology forms what we might call a “tangible legitimiser” of past and future behaviours. (Source: What we do know about the Paris Orly attacker should concern us – terrorism doesn’t always start where we think, Joshua Stewart, 20 March 2017, The Independent)

BUT SPYING ON MUSLIMS HELPS COMBAT TERROR.

For more than six years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a secretive police-spying program targeted New York and New Jersey Muslims solely because of their faith. But after the program was exposed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by The Associated Press, an NYPD officer was forced to admit that all that spying had been for naught.

In a sworn deposition submitted to the court as part of a lawsuit, the chief of the NYPD Intelligence Division, Lt. Paul Galati, conceded that the mass NYPD surveillance of Muslims had yielded exactly zero leads into criminal or terrorist activity. (Source: American Mosques Are Actually A Great Deterrent Against Violent Extremism, Christopher Mathias, 21 June 2016, Huffington Post)

Although right-wing groups or white supremacist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Brotherhood account for the vast majority of the violence ordinary Americans face today, the US government has developed the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme to counter terrorism among Arab- and Muslim-American community exclusively, a segment that accounts for less than 5 percent of all acts of violence since September 2001 while curiously, nothing similar exists for white supremacist or self-professed Christians or other groups prone to gun violence. Why?

WHY ARE MUSLIMS AGAINST SELF-SURVEILLANCE?

Why do politicians push for more “self-surveillance” among Muslims but do not ask Christian churches to police themselves for the actions of white supremacists especially given more civilians have been killed by right-wing white Christian violence in the West than by Muslims (including the abhorrent massacre in Orlando in June 2016)?

Even the New York Times reported in 2015 that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.

As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June [2015] in the New York Times, Islam- inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities. (Source: You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists by Ian Millhiser, 30 November 2015, Think Progress)

As a regrettable example once every couple of days, there is a news report of some disaffected “white person emptying his gun chamber at a movie theater, clinic, school or church, yet no one proposes to lock down white neighborhoods or close American borders to white men” (Source: Trump, Cruz ideas are just plain stupid, Leonard Pitts Jr., 25 March 2016, Miami Herald) because of it but lo and behold, when a shooting is caused by an individual with a Muslim name, the rules change. Why?

Americans are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing, violent extremist than by a Muslim violent extremist, and many, many times more likely to be killed by gun violence than violent extremism generally. And yet, the government doesn’t seem concerned with either gun violence or violent extremism arising from non-Muslim communities. (Source: Is Islam Responsible For The Orlando Nightclub Shooting?, 14 July 2016, Todd Green, Huffington Post)

BUT PEOPLE WITH MUSLIM NAMES WHO COMMIT TERRORIST ATTACKS IN THE NAME OF ISLAM ARE ALL RELIGIOUS.

If you were to examine the profile of every single self-professed Muslim “lone-wolf ”, that has committed an act of violence in the last decade, you will notice how these acts are perpetrated by radicalised people made vulnerable themselves by mental health issues or petty crimes (the classic “crime-terror” nexus), individuals who have been promised redemption by online extremist clerics and religious zealots in jail.

To restore a sense of significance in their lives, they are led to feel a greater sense of purpose foolishly thinking an act of terrorism will win them a ticket into eternal rewards in the afterlife. A scam does not get any bigger than this.

In the words of Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer with extensive experience with Mideast extremist organizations: “Those who truly crave religious immersion would go to Al-Azhar in Cairo”, referring to the thousand-year-old seat of learning for Sharia and Qur’anic studies.

“If martyrdom is seen as the highest religious calling, then a reasonable expectation would be that the people with the most knowledge about Islamic law (Sharia) would desire to carry out these operations with greater frequency but those with the most religious knowledge within the organization itself are the least likely to volunteer to be suicide bombers”. (Source: ‘Islam for Dummies’: IS recruits have poor grasp of faith, By Aya Batrawy, Paisley Dodds and Lori Hinnant, Aug 15, 2016, Associated Press)

According to most scholars and terrorism experts who study terrorism, religion is not a motivating factor for terrorists. In fact, most militants are religiously illiterate. Marc Sageman, a former CIA analyst and psychiatrist is on record saying very few terrorists know and understand the Qur’an or other Islamic texts and traditions. They may not be uneducated but their engagement with Islam is shallow and uninformed. (Source: Is Islam Responsible For The Orlando Nightclub Shooting?, 14 July 2016, Todd Green, Huffington Post)

In fact, an AP analysis of thousands of leaked ISIS documents in 2016 revealed most of its recruits from its earliest days came with only the most basic knowledge of Islam. A little more than 3,000 of these documents included the recruit’s knowledge of Sharia, the system that interprets into law verses from the Qur’an and “Hadith” (the narrated sayings and actions of Muhammad [PBUH] . . . According to the documents, 70 per cent of recruits were listed as having just “basic” knowledge of Sharia – the lowest possible choice. Around 24 per cent were categorized as having an “intermediate” knowledge, with just five per cent considered advanced students of Islam. Five recruits were listed as having memorized the Qur’an . . . ISIS’ most notorious new supporters appear to have an equally tenuous link with religion. Mohamed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel, who killed 85 people by plowing a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France, was described by family and neighbors as indifferent to religion, volatile and prone to drinking sprees, with a bent for salsa dancing and a reported male lover. (Source: Islam for Dummies’: IS recruits have poor grasp of faith by Aya Batrawy, Paisley Dodds and Lori Hinnant, Aug. 15, 2016, Associated Press)

WHAT ABOUT MUSLIM REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS. THEY ARE ATTACKING THE WEST.

In a candid article on right-wing violence, the author raises at least five important points worth remembering:

(1) To date, no ISIS member or Syrian refugee has ever bombed or planned to bomb a black church or home;

(2) Nor have they [Muslims] walked into a Bible Study in the basement of a black church and unleashed a hail of bullets;

(3) Neither are [Muslims] at fault for the continuing epidemic of unarmed black men, women, boys, and girls murdered by police officers in the streets of America;

(4) They [Muslims] have not turned our communities into militarized zones;

(5) Nor have black people mysteriously died in their prisons.

(Source: American Terrorist by Michael W Waters on 25 November 2015, Huffington Post)

WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT MUSLIMS WHO ARE GETTING RADICALISED FURTHER.

We are often told endlessly about how terrorism radicalises Muslims. What is not as often pointed out is that terrorism radicalises all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. Individuals with Muslim names who commit acts of terror, and non-Muslim citizens of the West who overreact in ways, ultimately detrimental to everyone else around them, as the May & June 2017 attacks in Portland, USA and Finsbury Park, UK, among others illustrate.

In Portland, USA a 53-year-old U.S. Army veteran Rick Best and 23-year-old recent university graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai- Meche were both murdered, while 21-year-old poet Micah David-Cole Fletcher was severely injured, by a knife-wielding white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian, when the three of them tried to prevent him from harassing a Muslim woman in a headscarf on their commuter train in Portland, Oregon in late May 2017.

At the Finsbury Park Mosque, UK an elderly Muslim man was purposefully struck and killed by a van driver Darren Osborne, following late night prayers in Ramadan in late June 2017. Worse still, Richard Gear Evans son of the owner of the Van hire company, Stobart Group, later said: “It’s a shame they don’t hire out tanks”, illustrating the culture of hatred towards Muslims.  Nonetheless, are white Britons en masse or ordinary white Americans asked to condemn these heinous acts just as Muslims are perpetually asked to condemn Islamist acts of violence? Just as equally important, is the question being asked: Who radicalised these persons?

Given the typical draconian measures every time there is a terrorist attack, which in turn often encourage racism and the disproportional media coverage of attacks by lone-wolves with Muslim names who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, governments in the West are responsible for planting the seeds for radicalisation and essentially helping extremists recruit by fueling the narrative that the West is anti- Islam and anti-Muslim. Social exclusion and the idea to isolate the Muslim community is the root cause of radicalisation (Source: I’ve studied radicalisation – and Islamophobia often plants the seed, Sarah Lyons-Padilla, 13 June 2016, The Guardian)

 “The counterterrorism apparatus is the key element in disadvantaging Muslims. We should talk about people being attacked on buses or refused service in shops, but what stands behind all that is government counterterrorism policy”. (Source: Muslims face ‘worsening environment of hate’ in UK by Simon Hooper, 18 November 2015, Aljzeera.com quoting David Miller, a professor of sociology at the University of Bath on government counter- terrorism policies that were the “backbone” of Islamophobia in the UK)

Citing an example of a failed anti-terror legislative strategy in Australia: Almost 60 pieces of legislation dealing with terrorism have been passed since 2002 . . .There is no evidence that the vast array of powers that police security agencies and government lawyers have had since 2002 in Australia have stopped a terrorist attack. There is certainly no evidence that the latest proposals will do any such thing – if anything, as noted above, they are an invitation to radicalise. (Source: Welcome to authoritarian Australia, where more anti-terror laws won’t keep us safe by Greg Barns on 13 October 2015, The Guardian)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MOST TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS . . .

NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS BUT MOST TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS.

A trite, statistically and factually false cliché that could not be further from the truth. In the 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office report tracking deadly terror attacks in America, it found far-right extremists have killed more people in America between 9/11 and 2016 than Muslim extremists.

“Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far-right groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).”That’s a margin of almost three to one.

In a separate report titled “A Dark and Constant Rage” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), it noted how rightwing extremists (85 percent of whom are anti-abortionists and anti-immigrant extremists) have been responsible for at least 150 acts of terror in America over the past 25 years, killing 255 people and injuring 600 more. The New America Foundation meanwhile has counted 11 attacks by Islamic extremists since 9/11, compared to 21 by far-right extremists.

Ninety six percent of domestic terrorism [in the U.S] is committed by white men. The exact figure is disputed, but all statistics have it at more than 90 percent. (Source: Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam by Omar Alnatour on 9 December 2015, Huffington Post)

Even the New York Times reported in 2015 that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims. While the numbers vary due to different methodologies, the writing on the wall is too plain to see.

Over the Atlantic in Britain, official statistics too, found 91 out of a total 260 people held on suspicion of terrorism offences were white, the highest number since 2003. White suspects made up 35 per cent – or again, one in three – of all terror related arrests in 2016, compared with 25 per cent in 2015. Home Office figures also showed 41 per cent of people who were investigated under anti-terror legislation between 2009 and 2016 were white.

It is however important to point out Muslim extremists, are more deadly in terms of the number of people killed in each of their attacks, yet far-right terrorists are far more active and consistent in carrying out deadly attacks on American soil, especially when one considers “41 percent of the deaths attributable to radical Islamist violent extremists occurred in a single event – the 2016 attack at Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida”. (Source: Congress by the Government Accountability Office)

Despite this, attacks by Muslims in America receive on average, about 41⁄2 times more coverage than similar attacks by far right extremists. In other words, media coverage disproportionately emphasise the smaller number of terrorist attacks by Muslims, consequentially leading Americans to have an exaggerated sense of that threat, according to a recent Cato Institute report, a leading American public policy think tank.

Of course, counterbalancing savagery is never useful but it is often made to appear anybody making this obvious point is seeking to limit the responsibility of terrorism by Muslim extremists and its apologists when the unequivocal purpose should not only be to avoid downplaying the threat posed by Muslim extremists which is real but shine the much needed spotlight equally on the terror threat from far-right white extremist groups instead of not daring to speak its name.

Robert Fisk of the Independent Newspaper surmises it best: “If Muslims attack us, they are terrorists. If non-Muslims attack us, they are shooters. If Muslims attack other Muslims, they are attackers.” (Source: We love to talk of terror – but after the Munich shooting, this hypocritical catch-all term has finally caught us out, Robert Fisk, 24 July 2016, The Independent), laying it bare the shifting goalposts when it comes to media reporting.

Thanks to the reliably biased media coverage and media timidity when it comes to the under-reporting of violence perpetrated by right- wing white extremists, there exist a vast difference between false public perception and the number of actual cases in which Muslim extremists or black Americans have claimed lives.

WHITE SUPREMACISTS KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN MUSLIMS – IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE 9/11 ATTACKS (3000 DEATHS) AND ORLANDO SHOOTINGS (49 DEATHS).

Sure but why start counting on 9/11 alone when white extremism and Muslim militancy has been a mainstay since the 1990s, if not earlier? Also, why not encompass the “nearly 4 million civilians killed during the War on Terror by America and its allies since 9/11”, according to the Center for Research on Globalisation?

THE ISSUE WITH MUSLIMS IS NOT BODY COUNT BUT INTENT. KILLINGS IN THE NAME OF ISLAM ARE USUALLY ACCOMPANIED BY SHOUTS OF “ALLAHU AKBAR” AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS “DON’T MURDER WHILE SHOUTING “JESUS IS LORD”.

When George W Bush launched his illegal invasion into Iraq, thus unleashing a Pandora’s box of events triggering regional upheaval and the loss of up to four million lives, he claimed “God spoke to him”, but are Christian leaders put on the dock for repeated questioning and endless condemnation?

In November 2015, an evangelical Christian, Robert Dear killed three and injured nine at an anti-abortion clinic in Colorado. He even praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work”. In court, he praised Army of God, a Christian terrorist group that is responsible for similar killings, such as Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who also bombed a lesbian bar.

Then there is Reverend Paul Jennings (1994), Scott Roeder (2009), Micah Johnson (2016) and many other Christians with similar motives. Does the name Robert Doggart ring a bell? It should but it’s unlikely you heard about him. Doggart, a Christian minister who wanted to carry out a mission for God, was arrested for planning to murder Muslims in Islamberg, New York, a primarily African American Muslim community.

Doggart had hoped to kill the Muslims there using explosives, guns, and even a machete to cut the people “to shreds.” Doggart’s trial is currently scheduled for August . . . If Doggart had been a Muslim cleric plotting to slaughter Christians, does anyone doubt it would have made national news? (Source: Coverage of the Istanbul Bombing Proves Once Again That American Media Care Little About Muslim Lives, Dean Obeidallah, 1 July 2016, Huffington Post)

 With white Christians accounting for the largest number of mass shootings in the US, do we demand the pope to condemn mass shootings every couple of days?

In India, Muslims are killed for allegedly slaughtering cows and eating beef, not by real Hindus but right-wing zealots who commit acts of violence in the name of their religion.

In Israel, illegal settlers kill indigenous Palestinians believing God unequivocally gave Jews the West Bank, citing Genesis 13:14-17 but it is simply unfair to implicate Jewish leaders, Rabbis or Judaism for the crimes of those with an intolerant view of others.

Atheists do not escape scot-free either. The “anti-theist” Stephen Hicks from the January 2016 Chapel Hill shootings of three Muslims and Chris Harper from the Oregon killings of Christians, are two of many examples of anti-religious people who commit acts of violence but atheists collectively are never called to account, illustrating how religion is not always the cause for violence. Why?

White Americans are never asked to publicly condemn their actions but an unfair perpetual finger is pointed at Muslims demanding that “moderate Muslims” deny, condemn and disavow (read: bow and scrape) to the world the actions of a minority of deviant Muslims who commit acts of violence. Why?

STILL, THE GUNMAN FROM THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING IN FLORIDA WAS A MUSLIM.

Scapegoating Islam is nothing but a cheap shot. Omar Mateen, an American born, did have a Muslim name but:

he drank alcohol, used to hit his ex-wife and reportedly was a homosexual himself. He pledged allegiance to ISIS (a group condemned by vast majority of Muslims) minutes before he went on a US home-grown hatred-filled shooting rampage. Is it really that difficult to see the obvious disconnect between his actions and Islam?

Intriguingly, almost similar background conditions apply to Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the convicted felon and truck driver in the Nice attack in France in July 2016, who:

“ate pork, drank alcohol and never went to the mosque”, according to his family.

In fact, mass shootings are not unique to Islam nor are they alien to America. There are over 300 each year. Recently, Esteban Santiago, a Christian and Iraq war veteran opened re on unsuspecting travelers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in early January 2017, killing five and injuring six others. In a year before the shooting, he had at least five run-ins with police in Anchorage, Alaska. Yet no red flags were raised and not a single media report curiously attributed his mass shooting to domestic terrorism or religion.

Also, the same parallels can be drawn with the Paris Orly airport shooter (a Muslim drug addict with an extensive criminal record) in March 2017 and the white 17-year old French teenager (incidentally, son of a far-right French politician) who went on a shooting rampage a few days apart, armed with a rifle, a revolver, a pistol and grenades, in the southern French town of Grasse.

One was immediately labelled a “terrorist act” while the other was “mentally disturbed”. No million- dollar prize for guessing which one was which.

IF YOU MUSLIMS REALLY BELIEVE IN PEACE, WHY ARE MUSLIMS ATTACKING AMERICA?

If an individual with a Muslim name commits an inhumane act of violence, it is instantaneously labeled “an act of terror” but if a gun-totting white person does the same, it is sidelined as a “criminal act” or he is classified as “mentally disturbed”.

“According to an affidavit from the FBI that was led in federal court, Mr. Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell had told an under- cover FBI agent he was interested in “doing something on a f***ing big scale” and writing “in the spirit of Dylann Roof ” on the wall of the building where he would commit the killings. Roof who was only charged with a hate crime was sentenced to death in January 2017 for killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston but was not slapped with a terrorism charge.” (Source: FBI: South Carolina man bought gun for attack “in the spirit of Dylaan Roof ”, 16 February 2017, CBS News), thus illustrating “terrorism can be committed by a person who doesn’t have a foreign- sounding name or brown skin”. Meanwhile, Glendon Scott Crawford is also another of many examples. Sentenced in December 2016 to 30 years in prison for trying to build a weapon of mass destruction to kill Muslim Americans, he was not charged with terrorism nor did we see wall-to-wall media coverage about his case – something we would’ve likely witnessed if he were Muslim. (Source: White supremacist gets 30 years prison for his plot to kill Muslims and Obama, 19 December 2016, Reuters)

 In fact, a report published in 2015 confirmed violence by white Americans since 9/11 is a much bigger threat for ordinary Americans than violence committed by Muslims. In the words of a rare but important media report itself:  “CNN’s Peter Bergen noted earlier this year [that is, 2014], since 9/11, extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology”. (Source: A Cop Killing and a Beheading: How Fox News Picks and Chooses Its ‘Terrorism’ Targets on 30 Sept 2014 by Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America)

Therefore, to misrepresent Muslims as the enemy could not be further from the truth but at least in the short-term, this is not likely to change unless the media, politicians and right-wing groups stop conflating the actions of criminals (with a history of drug dealing, armed robbery, violence and/or theft) or misguided individuals with that of ordinary Muslims and Islam – and truthfully acknowledge the role and growing threat of far-right, white violence (read “terrorism”).

 IF ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT PEACE, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY “LONE WOLF” ATTACKS COMING FROM MUSLIMS, EVEN IN PLACES OUTSIDE AMERICA?

In the following article published by The Star, based on documents by the Canadian intelligence agency (excerpts only), the excerpts focuses on how the notion of the Western world at war with Islam plays right into terrorist’ recruitment strategies. “Lone wolf ” attacks more often come from white supremacists and extreme right-wing ideologies than from Islamic radicalism, internal CSIS documents say. Citing recent academic research, the unclassified documents note extreme right-wing and white supremacist ideology has been the “main ideological source” for 17 per cent of so-called lone wolf attacks worldwide. Islamic extremism accounted for 15 per cent of such attacks, the document noted, while left-wing extremism and “black power” groups followed with 13 per cent. Anti-abortion activism (8 per cent) and nationalism/separatism (7 per cent) rounded out the list, while in 40 per cent of cases there was no clear ideological motivation. “Lone actors tend to create their own ideologies that combine personal frustrations and grievances, with wider political, social, or religious issues,” note the documents prepared for Michael Peirce, assistant director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service . . . “This study confirms that lone actor terrorism runs the gamut of ideological persuasions.” . . . The CSIS documents explicitly warn that the notion the Western world is at war with Islam plays into terrorist recruitment strategies. “International terrorist groups place a high priority on radicalising Westerners who can be used to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries,” the documents read. “The narrative that the West is at war with Islam continues to exert a very powerful in influence in radicalising individuals and spreads quickly through social media and online foray.” . . . Ziyaad Mia, who has been following the government’s proposed new spy powers for the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, said anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada is a growing concern, particularly in the context of the rhetoric from top government officials . . . “Some of this xenophobia is being stoked by political leaders. And I think that is a problem,” Mia told the Star . . . “Some of our political leaders need to tone that rhetoric down and actually calm people down . . . and tell people this is not the right way to go, instead of stoking the fears of xenophobia by talking about the war on terror and (that) we’re in this sort of apocalyptic con ict with the Islamic State.” (Source: CSIS highlights white supremacist threat ahead of radical Islam by Alex Boutilier on Mar 15 2015, The Star)

WHAT ABOUT THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE BY MUSLIMS IN EUROPE?

Here is another article (again, excerpts only) that debunks the myth “all the terrorists have been of Islamic background”: Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent. As Europol, the European Union’s law- enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs. We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on. Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question. Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti- Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts ll the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. (Source: Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close by Dean Obeidallah on 14 January 2015 on Thedailybeast.com)

REGARDLESS, MAJOR TERRORIST INCIDENTS ARE USUALLY PERPETRATED BY MUSLIMS.

Three of four of the biggest mass killings over the last twenty years were carried out by far-right white Christian supremacists: (I) Timothy McVeigh (Roman Catholic) killing 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995; (II) Anders Breivik (a baptised Christian) killing 77 in Norway in 2011; and (III) Stephen Paddock’s (atheist) Las Vegas Country Music Festival mass shooting in October 2017 killing at least 59 people (deadliest mass shooting in recent history) – while the series of coordinated attacks across Paris by self-proclaimed Muslims in November 2015 led to the killings of 130 innocent civilians – and yet no one expects ordinary Christians or the Pope or atheists to condemn terrorism in the same way Muslims are expected to. Why is that?

In fact, it goes back to an often repeated but widely ignored fact that when a self-proclaimed Muslim commits an act of terror in the name of Islam, he is identified with his faith but if an atheist or a follower of another religion commits an act of terror, it is called just that, skewing the overall number and perception of “terrorist” incidents against Muslims.

HOW CAN THE ROLE OF ISLAM BE DENIED IN RECENT TERROR ATTACKS?

“When George W. Bush told us that God called him to go to Iraq and when clergy blessed the war effort and when there has been no account- ability for horrors of Abu Ghraib and torture or the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans in what can only be described as a failed war based on a lie, have Christians been called upon to reexamine the principles of our faith?”. (Source: Were the Murders at Charlie Hebdo Really About Islam? By James Zogby on 17 January 2015, Huffington Post)

 When a Muslim commits a terrorist act, his faith is always mentioned while people who bomb abortion clinics are not called Christian terrorists and the IRA are not called Catholic terrorists. When ISIS in Libya brutally beheads Ethiopian Christians, they are labeled Muslims but when Muslims in Central African Republic (CAR) facing death threats are forcibly converted to Christianity, according to Amnesty International, (Source: CAR: Unprotected Muslims forced to abandon religion, 31 July 2015, Amnesty International) the finger is pointed at local militias rather than Christianity.

Thousands died in violence and hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes following a March 2013 coup in CAR and yet Christian leaders are never asked to apologise. Muslims meanwhile are expected to condemn ISIS when the actions of ISIS have no basis in Islam.

Christians were also not expected to say sorry for the lone-wolf actions for the Oklahoma City bombing, yet Muslims are being constantly expected to condemn let alone apologise.

Therefore, if the violent actions of individuals who call themselves Christians have nothing to do with Christianity, the actions of individuals with Muslim names or “lone-wolves” who commit acts of violence also have nothing to do with Islam. The motivations are political.

YOU SOUND LIKE YOU ARE JUSTIFYING TERROR ATTACKS. SUCH BARBARITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FOREIGN POLICY FAILURES.

It is astounding how one fails to see how the illegal Iraq invasion, war in Afghanistan and Libya, blanket support of hideous allies in the Middle East, the betrayal of Palestine, the complicity in extrajudicial killings and torture and ongoing deep prejudices, kick-started by neo-con opportunists well before 9/11 have made the world inflammable and unsafe today, a fact widely acknowledged by renowned intellectuals the world over such as Noam Chomsky. This is not a justification of terror attacks in the West but a partial explanation to events unfolding today on our shores.  Terrorism as we know it today is unfortunately a response to misguided foreign policies of the West. But it is not simply about misguided foreign policies only, either. The seeds of terrorism are broadly planted by at least five divergent parties nurturing the growth of this evil.

These include:

(1) misguided foreign policies and exploitation by leading Western governments with large defense industries that call themselves democracies (For example US, Europe among others);

(2) Unnecessarily hatred-inciting and blatantly false statements about ordinary Muslims and Islam by right-wing politicians, right-wing media (Fox, Breitbart, etcetera,) and agenda-specific think-tanks;

(3) Statements laced with double-standards and flagrantly misguiding statements about ordinary Muslims and Islam by mainstream politicians that are in a position of power with real in influence over public policy;

(4) Biased mainstream media against ordinary Muslims and Islam (self-explanatory unless you have been living somewhere with no TV or internet connection); and

(5) Self-professed Muslims (like ISIS that account for less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population) who commit high pro le acts of violence in the name of Islam or while invoking the name of Allah. They do what they do to create divisions in Western society and make the lives of Muslims in the West difficult so that Muslims in the West will be discriminated against as a result of the anti-Muslim witch-hunt and pushed towards extremism with the eventual aim of entering their ranks.

Therefore it is worth arguing, these self-professed bigots, with Muslim sounding names are actually set on inflicting more damage to Islam and ordinary Muslims than the four other groups mentioned above.

Put simply, the despicable effects of terrorism on Western civilian targets is often inresponse to misguided foreign policies in the Middle East, drone attacks targeting militants but causing untold innocent civilian casualties blowing body parts to bits, blind support of Arab dictators among a long list of reasons that sometimes lead to some form of a blowback in the form of terrorism, which when it arrives on our shores, quickly turns into anti-Muslim sentiments leading to what has now become the frequent anti-Muslim witch-hunt in the West.

In the end however, the false narratives, are not only immoral but also provide ammunition to the terrorists. Worse still, they make us all targets by playing directly into the hands of the propaganda that aims to divide and destroy us. Instead, it may be worth trying to marginalize this threat now not by framing religion as a threat but as a tool to end terrorism by battling against the incessant culture of falsification and witch-hunt against Islam and ordinary Muslims today, something misinformation, drones and Islamophobia has only made worse.

STILL, WHITE TERRORISM IS NOT WHAT IT IS OFTEN MADE OUT TO BE.

What terror plots on Muslim Americans?, you might be asking. Well that’s part of the problem . . .

There’s Glendon Scott Crawford, [a former navy veteran] and a Klan member, who was convicted [in August 2015] in federal court for trying to “acquire a radiation weapon for mass destruction” to kill Muslim Americans in New York State. He was convicted [in December 2016 and sentenced to 30 years in life imprisonment], but we didn’t see many national headlines for this story . . .

Does the name Robert Doggart ring a bell? It should but it’s unlikely you heard about him. Doggart, a Christian minister who wanted to carry out a mission for God, was arrested for planning to murder Muslims in Islamberg, New York, a primarily African American Muslim community. Doggart had hoped to kill the Muslims there using explosives, guns, and even a machete to cut the people “to shreds.” Doggart’s trial is currently scheduled for August . . . If Doggart had been a Muslim cleric plotting to slaughter Christians, does anyone doubt it would have made national news? (Source: Coverage of the Istanbul Bombing Proves Once Again That American Media Care Little About Muslim Lives, Dean Obeidallah, 1 July 2016, Huffington Post)

Ryan Giroux had white supremacist tattoos on his neck and face, only one news station bothered to mention that. So where are his accomplices? Why weren’t his parents, his family, his business acquaintances, anyone remotely related to him being carted off for questioning?

Where was the FBI when you needed them? Why is it that a day after the attacks, the story was already petering from the news? That most of my friends and relatives in other states hadn’t even heard about it until I told them? . . . Was it because his name wasn’t Muhammad? Khan? Umar? Was it because he wasn’t “Muslim” or Black or Colored? . . . I didn’t blink twice at my white co-workers, didn’t question them. It was obvious to me they had nothing to do with the violence going on outside, no affiliation, and there was no reason to connect them to it. (Source: I Survived a Terrorist Attack And The Terrorist Wasn’t Muslim, Hira Ismail, 10 June 2016, MuslimGirl)

BUT MUSLIMS ARE CONFUSING WHITE VIOLENCE WITH MENTAL INSTABILITY.

When a gun-totting “white” American goes on a rampage killing two dozen-odd people at a school, he is “mentally unstable” or when a self- proclaimed atheist kills Muslims (for example, students at UNC-Chapel Hill in February 2015), it takes the mainstream media 17 hours after the shooting to cover the event, hesitating all the while to call it what it is: a hate-crime, exposing the sickening double standards at play.

However, when a person with a Muslim name (with clear links to criminal gang violence) living in the West commits a similar act of violence killing 1-2 people for example during the Copenhagen shootings in February 2015 or the Westminster UK 2017 attack killing 2-4 people, he is immediately labelled a “terrorist”, when he is no less “mentally unstable”.

In the ever-piercing words of Dr. Suzanne Barakat: “If roles were reversed and an Arab Muslim . . . had killed three white American college students, execution-style, in their home, what would we have called it?” (Source: Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate, Ted Talks, 2016)

When accused of terrorism we are Muslims and when killed by deranged criminals, we become Asian. Basically, when Muslims are the victims, we are called ethnic this or that, and never quite Muslims but when an individual with a Muslim name commits an act of violence, Islam suddenly becomes part of that identity. Why is that?

ONE CAN FIND HORRIBLE STORIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BUT WE DON’T HAVE CHRISTIANS BELIEVING THEY MUST HURT, KILL, RAPE OR HARM OTHER PEOPLE.

May I remind you about the Crusades where 920 years ago, Pope Urban II referred to nonbelievers such as Muslims and Jews as the enemy and where hundreds of thousands of men embarked on war in the name of God, as they reveled in their slaughter?

In his noteworthy book, The Crusades notable historian Geoffrey Hindley wrote: “Crusaders were riding up to their bridle reins in blood at the Dome of the Rock and called the massacre a splendid judgment of God”.

More recently, we should never forget how no one else but an indifferent Christian Europe was responsible for the Holocaust.

Furthermore, over 4,250 blacks were lynched, outside churches on Sundays by the Klu Klux Klan, a self-professed Christian organization. Also since 9/11, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white Christian supremacists and not Muslims, according to New America, a Washington research center.

In fact, all the killings of abortion clinic doctors are nothing short of “Christian” terrorism if the religion of the murderer is to be used for labelling such inhumane crimes. Violence however is the exception, not the rule in Christianity, and the same is true for Islam.

For those who might jump at this chance to criticise religion, atheists like Pol Pot, Stalin, Chairman Mao, etcetera, are just as much if not more, guilty for horrible crimes against humanity. In fact, history is replete with examples of political leaders who used their words to incite hatred, start wars, and lead their people to commit genocide. (Source: Do Words Kill? Is Political Rhetoric Inciting Christians to Violence?, BJ Gallagher, 28 November 2016, Huffington Post).

In other words, people with twisted ideologies are the problem whether you follow Islam, Christianity in the case of Anders Breivik, Judaism in the case of Baruch Goldstein or more recently, IDF’s Elor Azaria, Hinduism in the case of RSS, Buddhism in the case of Ashin Wirathu or for that matter, Secularism or Atheism in the case of Craig Stephen Hicks from UNC North Carolina killings. Not religion, not race nor country of origin. To suggest otherwise is to be foolhardy.

THAT WAS ALL IN THE PAST. CHRISTIANITY TODAY, UNLIKE ISLAM IS A PEACEFUL RELIGION.

Since antiquity, people who call themselves Christians have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people based on the concept of “Holy War” . . . In modern history, numerous Christians have committed dreadful acts of violence, many times against the civilian population. Here is a short list of modern “Christian” terrorist groups: Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; Anti-balaka in Central African Republic; the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in India; the Maronite Christian militias in Lebanon; and, of course, IRA and the Orange Volunteers in Northern Ireland . . . Christianity, they argue, is the religion of love and peace. Those terrorists who claim to be Christians have merely perverted the true teachings of the Bible to justify violence for their personal gain. And likewise the white American Christians (mostly men) who commit terrorism are “lone-wolves,” who have mistakenly adopted an anti- abortion or militant agenda as a Christian ideal. (Source: The Religious Sources of Christian Terrorism by Babak Rahimi on 27 January 2016, Huffington Post)

The average Christian or the Church also has nothing to apologise for when Christian fanatics in the former Yugoslavia engaged in genocide against Muslims in Bosnia: Who this weekend remembered the “terrorist” slaughter of 8,000 innocent men and boys almost exactly 20 years ago? Yes, it happened in Europe. A place called Srebrenica. But they were Muslims. And no one blamed the Orthodox church to which the murderers belonged – any more than we blamed Catholics for the mass killing by Christian Catholic militiamen (allies of Israel) of 1,700 Palestinian civilians in Beirut in 1982. Yet those killers had pictures of the Virgin Mary on their rifle butts as surely as the killer of Sousse was acknowledged by Islamists whose slogan is Koranic . . . (Source: Tunisia hotel attack: Backdrop to this slaughter is a history of violence against Muslims, Robert Fisk, 28 June 2015, The Independent)

“When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross in a black family’s yard, Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts . . . Muslims are thrust in the spotlight to angrily condemn, disavow, and explain – again – how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam”. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA Champion and League Most Valuable Player. (Source: These Terrorists attacks are not about religion, 9 January 2015, Time)

Over the years, white Christian Americans have walked into schools and churches and slaughtered children and religious study groups. In fact, according to an excellent piece of research based on an extensive Gallup World Poll, the co-authors rightly point out:

“Christian activists have bombed gay bars, shot or killed abortion staff and bombed their clinics but what you won’t see are Baptists, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, agnostics or people of whatever spiritual background the terrorist happened to identify himself – being rounded up and quizzed to see if they think murder is really bad and whether they condemn it”.(Source: Who Speaks for Islam, Co-Authors, John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed)

As recently as November 2015, a self-avowed evangelical Christian, Robert Lewis Dear killed three and injured nine at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dear on several occasions openly expressed his support for radical Christian views and interpretations of the Bible, and praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work”.

Imagine what the media would do to a Muslim American [as they did by linking Omar Mateen a.k.a Orlando Shootings to Islam] if he praised suicide bombers as “God’s work.” or cited ISIS as “heroes.” But no, the rules for media condemnation are different when a white man with such strong misguided Christian beliefs utters such profanity.

Similarly, an ex-convict, Joseph Schreiber was sentenced to 30 years in prison in April 2017 for setting fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, United States at a mosque that the Orlando nightclub shooter attended occasionally. The damage to the mosque was so extensive that the mosque had to relocate. Schreiber who is a Jew confessed to committing the crime in September 2016 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks but to point the finger at Judaism for the misguided actions of a criminal is not only unfair but also ludicrous.

Therefore, what happened in San Bernardino was a criminal act. So was Columbine. So was Sandy Hook. So was Virginia Tech. We need to understand none of the above represents Christianity. Similarly, groups like ISIS that are committed to murder and mayhem don’t represent Islam either.

What the terrorists with Muslim names do is no more done in their name, than the shootings of abortion doctors are connected to the Church of England or the Vatican.

Over the Atlantic, it is worth noting that one of the worst acts of terrorism to have occurred in Europe in recent history – the 2011 attack in Norway that left 77 people dead – was committed by a Christian extremist, Anders Breivik. Yet, no one has ever asked the Pope at the Vatican or the Archbishop in whatever denomination of Christianity to condemn this or other terror attacks.

“During the colonial period, the Algerians were denied their identity, their language, and their rights. The French looked at and treated these Arabs as less than human. During all that time and even now, in hindsight, did we ask Christianity to reexamine itself? Did we ever suggest that this mass murderous rampage that engulfed a continent had its roots in a religion that glorified conquest and blessed oppression and racism?” James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute(Source: Were the Murders at Charlie Hebdo Really About Islam?, 17 January 2015, Huffington Post)

Put simply: The difference between Muslim violence and Christian violence is that when a Christian commits violence of any sort he is going against the teachings and life example of Jesus. But when a Muslim commits violence, he is following the teachings and life example of Mohammed [PBUH]. (Source: Gabe Kesseru, in a Letter to the Editor to USA Today on 3 July 2016)

SO YOU ARE DENYING THE RISKS AND THREAT OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM?

With over 300 million rearms in the US today, costing over 30,000 lives annually, mass shootings in America take many more lives than terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Yet, we are puzzlingly far more afraid of Muslims today.

In response to the 9/11 attacks, the West changed laws and rechanneled precious government spending towards terrorism, fought at least three wars and ignored gun safety laws, which would have surely made American streets much safer but no, this was not to be.

Among the many perils of American life from car crashes to suicide, E. coli illnesses to floods, injuries from crumbling infrastructure to mass killings by non-Islamic lone wolves, Islamic terrorism remains at the bottom of the barrel in the company of other frightening but rare events like shark attacks. Yet the American national security state has essentially been built and funded to protect you from that danger alone. (Source: Tomgram: Engelhardt, The National Security State’s Incestuous Relationship with the Islamic State by Tom Engelhardt on November 19, 2015)

In his lengthy interview with the Atlantic, Barack Obama said he often reminds his advisers that terrorism claims fewer American lives than “falls in bathtubs do”. (Source: Overreacting to Terrorism? by Nicholas Kristof, 24 March 2016, New York Times)

Furthermore in a separate report on gun violence in the US in 2015, more people were shot and killed by toddlers than by terrorists (Source: Toddlers Involved in More Shootings Than Terrorists in 2015 by Benjamin Powers, 29 November 2015, Huffington Post), illustrating how the threat of terrorism led by someone with a Muslim name is severely overblown.

Nonetheless, news tends to focus on terror attacks, suicide bombings and killing sprees by psychopaths while traffic accidents and people dying from falling over in their bathtubs gets lost in the fog of ill-informed news soundbites, even though these are far bigger dangers to most people. Worse still, technology is used to spread myths, in an unprecedented way to an unsuspecting audience, who then end up conflating this untruth as fact on the news, online and on social media. (Source: The anti-Prevent lobby are dominating the discourse, not all Muslims oppose Prevent, 7 October 2016, Sara Khan, LSE)

 IF WHITE TERRORISM IS REALLY AN ISSUE, WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

In a quick overview of how right-wing threats were overlooked and left to fester and grow in the post 9/11 climate, Richard Cohen from the Southern Poverty Law Center provides an excellent overview: After the bombing, then Attorney General Janet Reno formed the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to coordinate the government’s response. Numerous terror plots were foiled and militia leaders arrested. Partly as a result of the crackdown, the militia movement fell into disarray . . . As fate would have it, the terrorism task force was scheduled to hold a monthly meeting on Sept. 11, 2001. It did not meet that day, for obvious reasons. But the task force did not skip just one meeting. As the country’s focus shifted to al Qaeda, the group did not meet again for 13 years . . . During the interim, domestic extremism surged. The number of hate groups, mainly white supremacists, nearly doubled in a 10-year span . . . From 2008 to 2012, the number of so-called “Patriot” groups, including militias, multiplied by more than 800 percent, to 1,360 . . . West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center reported in 2013 that right-wing violence during the period surpassed that of the 1990s by a factor of four. The attacks included the 2012 massacre of six Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple by neo-Nazi Wade Page. (Source: President Trump: Don’t ignore terror from the radical right, 9 February 2017, Richard Cohen, Southern Poverty Law Center)

WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT OR PUBLICLY ELECTED POLITICIANS EVER LIE TO US?

Here a former adviser to former PM John Howard (days when terrorism was not much of a problem in Australia) talks about how politically expendable asylum seekers have been conflated with terrorism, laying the brickwork for social division and what ought to be done to repair the damage: It would be fair to say Muslims have had an uncomfortable existence in Australia since the influx of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran began in 1999. A general antipathy towards people from the Middle East was exacerbated by the Tampa incident in August 2001 and then the Al Qaeda attacks in September of the same year. Not long after, then defence minister Peter Reith made the first connection in Australians’ minds between boat-borne asylum seekers and terrorists, saying in a television interview “security and border protection go hand in hand”. By the time of the federal election, the Howard government was shamelessly hinting that asylum seekers could be terrorists trying to slip into Australia through the back door. Since that time, it has been in successive governments’ interests to maintain voters’ perception that asylum seekers, and particularly those of the Muslim faith, are a “threat” to our nation’s security and “our way of life”. A paramilitary edifice has been constructed around Australia’s border “protection” regime to simultaneously heighten our anxiety about apparent hordes of maybe-terrorists lingering o our northern shores, while giving assurance that Operation Sovereign Borders will protect us from those same barbarians. It’s the classic political sleight of hand: create a problem and then provide the solution in order to look like a hero. This tactic has inflicted a high price in terms of Australia’s social cohesion. The irresponsible branding of asylum seekers as potential jihadists has so infected our collective psyche that we now feel threatened by the mere presence of Middle Eastern men or Islamic accoutrements like the Burqa. It’s hardly surprising then that some young Muslims have felt marginalised and been drawn to the siren call of extremists offering a community in which to belong. Whether Australia is responsible or not for the eventual rise of Islamic State, along with the other prosecutors of the War on Terror, it is responsible at least in part for the radicalisation of its local Muslim population. No matter how warranted this latest military intervention into Iraq is, there is a responsibility incumbent on all concerned to ensure the “campaign for the campaign” does not exacerbate the isolation already being felt by Australian Muslims or antagonise any antipathy towards them. It’s one thing for the Government to describe the need for enhanced security measures in terms of the increased threat from which they’re designed to protect us; it’s quite another to create unnecessary anxiety to pressure the community into acquiescence. The latter course simply provides a platform for bigotry and hate-mongering such as that expressed by the Liberals’ Cory Bernardi and Palmer United Party’s Jacqui Lambie. It doesn’t help either to simply dismiss the Government’s talk of heightened threat levels as a mere shadow under the bed, or nothing more than an attempted deflection from its other woes. This does nothing to placate those members of the community who feel real anxiety about the threat of terrorism, or validate the good intentions of the vast majority of Australian Muslims . . . Any discussion of those exploiting the current terror threat debate would not be complete without a mention of the media. In the true spirit of the “if it bleeds, it leads” edict, Australia’s media has had a field day reporting the latest campaign in the War on Terror with must-buy front pages and click-worthy headlines. In the rush to secure an exclusive, the print media in particular has presented readers with factually anorexic stories and unedifying headlines such as “Police Kill Abbott Jihadi” and “Jihad Joey”. Another newspaper identified the wrong man altogether on its front page as an alleged terrorist. When it comes to exploitation of the terrorism threat, nobody’s hands are clean: not those of politicians, the media, or even our own. Home-grown extremism is a multifaceted and complex issue, fraught with the vagaries of the human condition. It’s a diabolical problem that cannot easily be addressed. Yet like most incendiary situations, the first step is clear: we need to take the heat out of it. The main players need to resist the temptation to exploit the terror threat discussion by exaggerating, scoring political points, sensationalising or using stereotypes. This would make a strong first step towards repairing the damage caused by more than a decade of having demonised Australian Muslims. By putting social cohesion first, we could do more for national security than fighting a foreign war ever could. (Source: How we’re exploiting the terrorism threat by Paula Matthews on 29 Sep 2014, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

 WITH RANDOM ACTS OF TERRORISM HAPPENING, ARE ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST AT FAULT IF THEY ARE SCARED OF ISLAM OR ANYONE SPORTING A BEARD OR A FULL BODY BURQA?

So ignorance is okay even if it leads to prejudice and discrimination let alone acid attacks or killings – and it is the fault of those who are being discriminated against and not the fault of those who discriminate? In fact, to actually believe it is not an average persons’ fault to have prejudice sounds like a popular line right from the playbook of the far-right.

Put simply, if one does not like someone from a community vilified in the press that is for example, a priest from a church because some churches turn a blind eye to pedophilia or someone from the LBGTQI community, the attack is free for all?

BUT THE WEST HAS ALWAYS BEEN TOLERANT TOWARDS MUSLIMS AND WHILE THERE MAYBE SOME FORM OF PREJUDICE TODAY, MOST COUNTRIES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN DO NOT HAVE SUCH PROBLEMS?

To dishonestly claim widespread discrimination and minority disillusionment doesn’t’ exist is completely false. To illustrate this, it may be worth going through some highly reflective, personal observations from Randa Abdel-Fatta, an ordinary Muslim in Australia:

“Do you want to know how it feels to be an Australian Muslim in the Australia of today?” . . . “Then turn on the television, open a newspaper. There will be a feature article analysing, deconstructing, theorising about Islam and Muslims in which your fellow Australians will be offered the chance to make sense of this phenomenon called ‘the Muslim” . . .

“This is what it means to be an Australian Muslim today. It is to try to live against the perception that one represents a synonym for terrorism and extremism” . . . “It is to see the faith you embrace with such conviction de led and defamed because acts that defy Islamic law and doctrine are still prefixed by the media with the word “Islamic” . . .

It is to have the reasonable, peaceful statements of your leaders ignored and the ignorant ravings of the minority splashed across the headlines. It is to be the topic of talkback radio rant and raves . . . “It is to come to accept that although atrocities are committed in the name of all religions around the world, it is Islam alone that will be judged by the actions of those who purport to be its followers.

It is to refuse to lay blame for the behaviour of so-called Christians at the feet of Christ because you respect the intent of Christ’s words and actions and because you know that even those acting in his name are misguided . . . “So what it means to be an Australian Muslim today is that you will often sit alone, in the silence of your hurt and fury, and wonder why it is so di cult for Islam, a religion followed by 1.5 billion people, all of whom cannot be uncivilised, unintelligent, immoral, unthinking dupes, to be treated with the same respect.”(Source: Religion and the Racial Discrimination Act: Don’t Muslims Also Deserve Protection? By Mariam Veiszadeh on ABC on 25 February 2015)

HOW BEST TO BRIDGE THE GAP OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND NON-MUSLIMS?

Australian Comedian Nazeem Hussain prescribes the best cure possible to overcome this sad state of a airs. She says: “One of the take home messages for me was that people really need to get out there and start meeting people from outside their own communities. I think the report really shows that when people have had interactions with others that instances of discrimination, I believe are a lot less, and I think that the public conversation around multiculturalism has clearly been positive over the years and it would be great to see that sort of leadership around conversations to do with refugees and asylum seekers as well, because clearly the facts aren’t really being presented appropriately.” (Source: Racial discrimination on rise in Australia: report on 21 Oct 2013)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

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.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved