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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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

DEFINING ISLAMOPHOBIA

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

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

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

SO CRITICISING ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IS ISLAMOPHOBIA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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