In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

The Struggle Of Islamophobia

by Imam Khalid Latif
Source: The Huffington Post

Filed under: Featured,Opinion |

I’ve had a lot of interviews over the last few days by different media outlets doing stories on being Muslim in America. One question that seemingly keeps coming up is “How do you feel about the Islamophobic attitudes that have seemingly increased in the United States over the last few years?”

I feel it almost every day – it’s presence and manifestation in my own life and the lives of many around me. It’s there and it needs to be stopped. For those who don’t believe that Islamophobia exists, you’re wrong. There’s really no other way of saying it.

The Center for American Progress, based out of Washington D.C., released a report  entitled Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America. This report offers a great analysis of the Islamophobic movement, key players in it, and how it is supported and funded. I would encourage everyone to read it objectively and share it with your networks and friends.

Wahajat Ali, one of the authors of the report, writes

“Last July, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich warned a conservative audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the Islamic practice of Sharia was ‘a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.’ Gingrich went on to claim that ‘Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world.'”

Numerous politicians have been very irresponsible with their words when it comes to Islam. It’s as if Muslims have a different set of rights that other citizens of the country for no reason other than we choose to practice Islam. The rhetoric, whether we choose to acknowledge or not, enables hate to exist. I regularly meet Muslims from all walks of life who have been harassed, bullied, robbed, beaten, because they practice Islam. Even people who aren’t Muslim are victims of hate crimes because their ethnicity or cultural background isn’t distinguishable by the one carrying out the crime. Islam is a religion – it’s not a race. Muslims are from every country of the world including the United States.

I once did an interview that never aired, much to the dismay of the interviewer, in which my co-panelist told me that Muslims deserve the way they are being treated. That was probably the most foolish thing I’ve ever heard in my life. How is that a cab driver who is trying to make a decent living deserves to be stabbed because of his faith? How is that a young girl deserves to be abused for wearing a headscarf and it’s justifiable for people to yank it off her head and tell her to go back home while everyone around her watches? How is okay for our children to grow up with limited sense of aspiration? Am I not entitled to the same comforts and securities you are because of my religion? Do I deserve to be scrutinized, singled out, profiled, and stereotyped because of my faith? No, I do not. It’s not ok. It’s wrong.

I travel a lot for speaking engagements and work and over the last year every time I have come into my country, the United States of America, from an international trip, I am detained. These days when it happens, an announcement is made after we land that passports are being randomly checked on the way out so have them ready. Two customs officers stand at the door and when my passport is found, the one who has it tells the other “I found him.” Essentially I am the random check. I am then escorted to a small room that is filled mostly with minorities and immigrants and kept there from two to six hours. This happens regardless of my reason for traveling or where I am traveling to and in the last year or so has taken place about a dozen separate times. It happens even when I travel on behalf of the State Department in an official capacity. When my NYPD credentials are seen or letters from ambassadors from the State Department, the frustration by the Customs officers is apparent. First they ask who I am and then they ask, “Why are we stopping you?” I wonder the same thing. I asked one officer once what he thought after he had gone through the process with me multiple times and began to recognize me when I came in. He said “You are young, male, and Muslim. And right now those three things don’t go well together.” At the end of it though, I have to go through the process. Really what else can I do? My civil rights somehow become secondary because I practice Islam.

Islamophobia exists in much of the world today. It is an unfortunate reality, but a reality nonetheless. Do your part in ensuring that is not empowered any further by understanding where it comes from and helping those around you understand it as well.

Abu Daoud
Abu Daoud 5pts

I "stole" this for my fb page.

Khalid Al Australee
Khalid Al Australee 5pts

got to watch out when non muslims and compromised muslims give us advice about islam. love it when they accuse us of changing the "fabric" of australian live to suit us. when there is no homogenous "aussie life". maybe in dubbo. these people impose their values on us by preventing the building of islamic schools or masjids and then accuse us of changing things. funny how it's the caucasion Australians who have a problem but the original, indigenous Australians rarely do. The children of the invading settlers see a threat bcos they were a threat to the original australian (non whites) in the first place. wish i could understand their insecurity. but then again, my ancestors did not rape and pillage australia. these people need to be shipped of to germany or france where they really belong. moving on..... 5pts

It's really important that we understand why Islamophobia exists and how to react to it when it manifests in our lives and how not to over react and pepetuate it in the process.

SirSalwa Kirk
SirSalwa Kirk 5pts

One thing we need to do urgently is stop (if possible!) Muslims from congregating in ghettos, trying to change the fabric of Aust'n life to suit themselves, improving the treatment of women (eg by equal physical access to mosques), behaving like Muslims 9ie peaceful, sensible and polite) and not out-of-control idealogues. Most are fairly ignorant of what Islam really says about most things and Imams need to take responsibility for this and fix it. You can't blame Islamophobes if Muslims themselves work against Islam.

soapbox 5pts

Sorry but there will always be Islamaphobia and every other type of Phobia. I don;t have trouble with anyone that I know, maybe I am just lucky or ignorant, but I know it exists as does fear of African, fear of Black people, fear of Scientology etc etc. EVERY person has some irrational tendency towards one group or another.

Jonathan 5pts

It's sad that Muslims don't get that many people in the West simply don't like aspects of their religion. No amount of 'education' about Islam is going to change that.
I have nothing against Muslims, but I have a strong antipathy towards aspects of Islam. I dislike the numerous glowing references to violence in the Koran (please don't tell me they don't exist or that they can only be understood in 'context'), I dislike the subordinate status Islam grants women (women's testimony being worth half of a man's, women requiring a male religious authority's permission to divorce, the notorious verse "if your wife disobeys you, beat her lightly" etc), and I dislike Christians and Jews being referred to as 'dogs' and 'pigs' in the Koran.
Whenever Islam enters the political sphere, religious minorities are attacked and persecuted. Witness the persecution of Christians in Hamas controlled Palestine and the brutalization of Bahais in Iran. Even in Muslim countries with secular governments, minorities are increasingly being attacked. Witness the recent murder of three Ahmadis by a gang of Islamist thugs in Indonesia, or the murder of Christians by Muslim gangs in Pakistan. The governments of these countries are too cowed by activist Islamist groups to take the necessary steps to protect these minorities. This speaks volumes about the nature of Islam.
In a democracy, one should have the right to criticize a belief system, without being censored or labelled a racist. Islamaphobia is perfectly acceptable in a democracy - I am an Islamaphobe, as I have already admitted.
Muslimphobia, on the other hand (hatred of Muslims) is unacceptable. Muslims have the right to be protected from hateful speech and actions.
They do not, however, have the right to be protected from criticism of their religion.

Salwah Kirk via Face
Salwah Kirk via Face 5pts

One thing we need to do urgently is stop (if possible!) Muslims from congregating in ghettos, trying to change the fabric of Aust'n life to suit themselves, improving the treatment of women (eg by equal physical access to mosques), behaving like Muslims 9ie peaceful, sensible and polite) and not out-of-control idealogues. Most are fairly ignorant of what Islam really says about most things and Imams need to take responsibility for this and fix it. You can't blame Islamophobes if Muslims themselves work against Islam. vi vi 5pts

It's really important that we understand why Islamophobia exists and how to react to it when it manifests in our lives and how not to over react and pepetuate it in the process.

Jonathon Kelly
Jonathon Kelly 5pts

I feel that this is simply another alternate avenue that "WE CAN ALL" achieve benefit... Absolutely.

It is all the more too true, that we are being tested...
However, like a good game of "Footy", we have to realize that "We ARE NOT 'all' on the same team" and that the Deen of Islam, which is the truth, and has been since the beginning of time, will cause others to resent it [i.e. Islam] inevitably and those who oppose it will consequently throw countless empty labels, vulgar slogans and propaganda against it...

Victory does not come without struggle; though yes; I absolutely agree that the struggle does NOT ALWAYS have to be that of the "confrontational nature" and thus we (as muslims) should not dramatize the reality beyond means...

~‎"Two things indicate weakness: One to be silent, when its time to speak, and secondly; To speak when its time to be silent."~

I personally feel, given that there are TOO MANY A MAJORITY in this "Land Down-Under", who do not "have a clue" of what Islam is... at all... Though they definitely believe they know 'Who' Muslims 'are'... [i.e. Bad Parkers, Abrupt etc]

And if we ~play our cards right~ I feel that this "counter-propaganda" method may lead others to question "Just WHAT IS Islam??" Which serves Our overall objective as Muslims to begin with... : )
Wa Allahu 'alam.

Insha Allah ta'ala

Sean McNulty
Sean McNulty 5pts

There is a need though for our community to recognise the tests that we face are simply that - tests. God tests the ones he loves - and whilst I could not claim to understand His plan, I do believe that unconstructive whining, hating back and generally bemoaning the situation is almost certainly not the way in which He intends for us to deal with it. Whatever our hand in life, it's how we play as individuals that we will be judged and nothing else. And in the Prophet Muhamad pbuh we even have a role model on how to roll with the punches and focus on the things which really are important.

Sean McNulty
Sean McNulty 5pts

Every community has its sheep who drift along in the flow of the dominant paradigm without really knowing or understanding that they are in it or why they do the things they do. Our own community has plenty of sheep, believe me! Islamophobia is simply the latest name for an old, old human condition. Whilst we may feel we are specifically targetted, and there is indeed some justification to that - we are simply the latest in a long line of peoples to have been given this treatment over the centuries. We won't be the last I'm sure because it's not in the human nature for there to NOT be someone in this position. An enemy, an other, an alien, an abomination, an outsider, a square peg - a group for whom it is all but acceptable and legitimate to hate on.

Mohammad Mv
Mohammad Mv 5pts

Islamophobia imo is a sign that the majority of the population are sheep that follow the media as they shepherd.

PK12NV 5pts

If a person is ill, he should seek medical assistance by a doctor. He may know how to diagnose it, but he would see a doctor to make sure and treat the illness. Similarly I strongly suggest that you seek assistant from scholars when investigating matters related to Islam. Also, there is no where in the Holy Quran which says that Christians or Jews are dogs or pigs. Please I humbly request that you approach a scholar to discuss matters which may seem unclear. Thanks.

luke 5pts

Jonathan, you have just confirmed what I have always believed and what is plainly evident in Islamic texts: "us vs them" and the notion of the "enemy" are so profound and powerful within Islam that there will always be clashes and conflict. Unless Islam is top dog, the non Muslim will always be seen as complicit in some devious activity, even if, hypothetically, you had a situation where non Muslims achieved superiority through brilliance alone--it's just not good enough unless the Muslim flag flies the highest.

Never mind that the Islamic world has been backward for nearly 800 years due to Islamic scholars resisting any sort of collaborative innovation and technology--and other colossal blunders. Never mind we are told time and time again the Qur'an has numerous scientific miracles and untold wisdom, yet for some reason Muslim lands always become corrupted by outside influence??? Why aren't Muslim lands centres of ethical excellence? For hundreds of years Muslims were told not to adopt the printing press, not to be involved in "kafir" occupations, anything that depicts the human form, no anatomical drawings, etc. It's easy to say you have the truth & make bold claims - backing them up is a whole different story.

Bani Aadam
Bani Aadam 5pts

Your second comment is religious and I agree with it. Your first comment however, is political and I wish to add something. Islamaphobia is not really just about, in my mind, "the latest in a long line of peoples to have been given this treatment over the centuries".

Im not sure if I will be clear enough writing in this forum, because there are a lot of issues involved. But basically, it is not as simple as saying it is the "human condition" to fear and then negatively discriminate against a group of people (and that Muslims are just in a line of others that we previously discriminated). We, as humans, are not born with hate or with anxieties or fear. We get taught these things, we are told who to fear and to worry about, we are moulded into the political landscape, we are socialised in this way for a reason (and Muslim powers of the past in the past were not guilt free of this, although, to a lesser extent).

Ever since Islam's inception, there has been tension with the Christian power structure (which filters down to the people). In other words, Muslims have always been targeted due to Christian anxieties. A few reasons for this are: Islam evangelises so it competes with Christianity, Islam's rapid and wide spread (Im referring to history with today being about immigration with research showing that Muslims will outnumber indigenous Europeans in the foreseeable future), and Islam's simple and inclusive message. This is not to mention the political reasons: Muslims populate the birth place of Christ (peace be upon him), and Muslims populate lands that contain resources (oil, gas, minerals, etc).

Today, there are overlapping and multiple interests of people that converge with today's Islamophobic intensity: America are seeking to hedge against China and Russia increasing growth and power by trying to control as much resources of the world as possible; Israel wishes to weaken and divide the Muslim population (evidenced with the fact that most of the wars today are with Muslim populated countries); preparations for the new world order (aka Dajal); Corporate capitalism (destroy a country, then rebuild a country), the military industrial complex (that is, the US is essentially a war economy), and to put a brake on Muslims becoming so numerous in Europe.

On the domestic front, the threat and fear of Muslims allows the government to introduce law that stripes away rights and implement draconian laws which some have said represent a police state (two things that come to mind include TSA and FEMA camps). (I have used the US as an example because it is more blatantly obvious, but all western powers are following this road to a much lesser degree.)

Now, for governments to do and get away with so many things: war, change in legislation, ignoring international protocols, etc, fear needs to be created to manipulate the emotions of the people and to agree to have rights taken off them and even to die defending a false fear (when it is really about greed and power). Communism is perceived to be over, so Islam and Muslims have taken over as the "bogey men". Thus, Islamophobia is pushed for domestic and international political agendas. This makes it different to "other peoples" (such as Italians, the Irish, the Catholics, etc) that have been attacked and discriminated against in past history.

A detailed book that specifically discusses the reasons for Islamophopia in a historical manner is Orientalism by Edward Said. It is regarded as a watershed research, and as such, is controversial. Every Arab and Muslim should read this book if s/he want some understanding (from a political perspective) of our current situation.

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