You were hoping in your heart this day would never come. In the back of your mind however, you knew this was inevitable. Someone with a Muslim name would commit a horrendous act of terror in the name of Islam, either citing verses from the Qur’an or while invoking the name of Allah and people the world over will react in ways that you dread most.
The next morning, a colleague will say something in passing at your workplace or even worse, your child will come home from school sheepishly telling you how children in his or her class briefly discussed about the latest “incident” and how the discussion stereotypically ended with someone in class blaming Islam and 1.6 billion Muslims for the misguided actions of these individuals, leaving your child confused about his or her real identity and most worryingly, planting of the poisonous seed of doubt in your child’s mind as to whether there is indeed something wrong with Islam.
As our children are continuously exposed to this barrage of ill-informed criticism at school and among their circle of friends and their parents who pretend to be liberals and inclusive in public but in private, talk of Islam and ordinary Muslims as a key problem in Western society, it won’t be long before our children grow up wondering if there indeed is something about Islam that leads inexorably to violence, terrorism and subjugation of women.
Alternatively, imagine having the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) mocked and insulted by a group of individuals who were later killed by another group of fascist men calling them- selves Muslims. Next day, children in school are asked to participate in school projects or ceremonies to demonstrate unity and solidarity. There are Muslim children who albeit confused, unwillingly participate to avoid being singled out while there is one child who simply refuses on the grounds that he found what the individuals who mocked Muhammad (PBUH) did offensive, although agree how the perpetrators reaction was many times over, indisputably wrong. Yet, that Muslim child is consequently shone the spotlight in class and used as an exhibit as someone who is not “loyal to the country”. This incident actually took place following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Spanning an almost three-year period since reaching my tipping point, I have researched over 200 most vile, widely debunked and yet variedly repeated Islamophobic comments levelled against ordinary Muslims today by self-gratifying renowned Islamophobes, anti-Muslim groups, talk-show hosts, presidential candidates and right-wing politicians let alone misinformed ordinary citizens of the West who harbour anti-Muslim sentiments, either out of intolerance or ignorance.
“Thanks” to them, I was forced to learn and re-learn Islam so as to see how 10 out of ten times, statements laced with their double standards contain baseless accusations about Islam and ordinary Muslims. This book is a collection of these remarks and more importantly, long overdue counter-points responding to the oft-repeated Islamophobic statements increasingly commonplace today.
To ensure I stayed on course, I have included in this book a clear black-and-white definition of Islamophobia. Acknowledging how some Muslim individuals or Muslim-majority countries may hide behind the banner of Islamophobia to deflect criticism, I have at the beginning of this book, included Q&As calling on Muslims to avoid letting such so-called Muslim-majority countries or Muslims with specific agendas hijack the battle against Islamophobia by abusing it like the Holocaust industry. An industry that is closely influenced by an elite group of powerful Zionists and political actors in Israel, America and England today with an irrefutable history of labelling all forms of criticism against Israel as Anti-Semitic. The short but important chapter “Defining Islamophobia” is one of many such examples in this book.
At a personal level if you wish for your child to grow up and genuinely understand one-fourth of humanity, I hope you and your children find the honest contents of this book refreshingly frank and useful.
Essentially, this cycle of hate and counter-hate needs breaking and every parent (Muslim or non-Muslim alike) need to start by ensuring these lone-wolf extremists or terror groups let alone the sheer malevolence of bigots and Islamophobes who seek to divide us is not allowed to fester and grow on our watch or else the impending crisis will make our current global chaos seem trifling.
In the words of political essayist Juan Cole: “Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.” We could all learn from this, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.