Monday, September 13, 2010
So we’ve all seen the growing Islamaphobia in the US with the recent Quran burnings and Park 51 controversy. My question is so what’s new? The religion of Islam has been under attack ever since the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW (oh wait…come to think of it it’s always been under attack.. since Noah, Moses to Jesus to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all).
If we to turn to the seerah and the Quran we’ll see many solutions to the growing problem of Islamaphobia (and other answers to the many many problems we have). I cannot think of specific ayahs or surahs for us to reference, but reading the Quran we can find many instances in which the same rhetoric has been said before by people who hated the Muslims and Islam during the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW (i.e. he’s a madman, if Allah wanted to make us Muslims why didn’t he already? Why weren’t angels sent with him? He’s a poet, etc. etc.), but I encourage you to seriously look into the Quran and start to parallel today’s current Islamaphobic rhetoric with that of the rhetoric of the past---it’s amazing how similar it is.
Where our problem lies is the apathy, laziness and lack of pro-activism in the Muslim community. We are a very reactionary people overall. When someone does take action we often criticize (much like the hypocrites of Madinah did whenever the Prophet SAW used to do things in Madinah and propagate Islam). In the eight years President Bush was in office and the hatred of Islam and Muslims was at its peak in the world and in the US, Muslims were scared and looking everywhere for help frantically. We’re a people with short memories and forget easily the things we take for granted. We never feel pain or the reality for those who are incarcerated unjustly (i.e. Ahmed Abu Ali, Sami al-Arian, etc.), tortured, and killed unjustly until it hits home. When it happens to us that’s when we wake up and get active, but very rarely as a people do we come up with positive and productive solutions to our problems. We’re quick to point fingers and criticize, but are the first to step back when told to take action. Unfortunately, we have the characteristics of the hypocrites of Madinah who said they believed in Islam, yet did not believe and merely criticized every action taken by the Prophet Muhammad SAW.What's important is for us to continually educate people about Islam and Muslims and not just become reactionary people. Keep up the dawah people!
Another element to our reactionary nature is our emotions. We’re a very emotional people and the xenophobes/Islamaphobes are very aware of this emotional element of the Muslims. They know exactly what button to press to make Muslims behave or react a certain way. What’s needed is for Muslims to show composure, dignity, and honor in these times of hardship. We need eloquent leaders who speak for Muslims and are aware of the Islamaphobes’ rhetoric and tactics---you’ll see whenever they’re cornered or defeated in a debate they’ll either switch the topic or say “We have nothing against Islam”---yet their entire rhetoric is blatantly anti-Muslim or Islam. What’s needed by Muslims is for Muslims to not necessarily avoid bigots or Islamaphobes, but rather address these people in an intelligent manner, but after this come up with a harder campaign against Islamaphobia.
One piece of advice I’d like to give Muslims is to educate themselves fully about issues that Islamaphobes bring up BEFORE engaging them (if they’re given the opportunity). But, as a rule of thumb most Islamaphobes are not willing to listen to intelligence or not really looking to learn more about Islam. The people you should engage are the genuinely ignorant people about Islam. There are what I’d like to call the Islamaphobe ring-leaders and then there are the ignorant masses who follow---it’s these people you’d like to educate because the ring-leaders are pushing for Islamaphobia for political reasons, so your success rate with educating them is a lot less than with the ignorant masses. Let the more qualified people deal with the ring-leaders like imams, Muslim media experts, etc.
One mistake Muslims can make though in defending Islam is watering Islam down when certain touchy/controversial issues come up. It is here I’d advise people to talk to imams and scholars on how to best express and address these issues, but as a whole Muslims need to educate themselves prior to engaging Islamaphobes, because for the layman Muslim many things Islamaphobes say can really shake your faith if you’re not strong in knowledge and faith.
Now a few solutions to the problem of Islamaphobia: Start of simply by reaching out to your non-Muslim neighbor and talking about Islam to them, ask your local masjid to hold an educational event to educate non-Muslims about Islam, talk to co-workers, fellow students about Islam, hold events with your local MSA. THINK!
Now back to our issues at hand with the rise of Islamaphobia in the US. We’ve seen in recent history the Danish cartoons, the ban on niqab/hijab, the xenophobia in Europe, the indiscriminate hatred/torture/killings of Muslims, and now the Quran burnings and Park 51 controversy---again I ask what’s new? This stuff was inevitable and is a growing trend---so what? Let’s deal with it intelligently as the Prophet Muhammad SAW did. We can complain about how bad life for Muslims or……we can change it. Allah says in the Quran:
“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)” From 13: 11
However, I want to draw our attention to the beauty of this growth in Islamaphobia. Yes, I said BEAUTY. Subhanallah, if you’re to look at the positive things that have come out of this you’ll see a lot of good coming out of it---namely it forcing Muslims to think about their identity and religion and go back to their religious texts. You’ll see Muslims who really not practicing before becoming better Muslims due to this. You’ll see non-Muslims although initially having bitter hatred to Islam becoming interested in Islam. You’ll see people converting to Islam. I kind of feel this is Allah’s dawah in a sense because as a whole the Muslims have been lacking in doing dawah. What does that tell us as Muslims? Are we truly serving Allah’s deen to our utmost ability? This is really a mercy of Allah upon the Muslims that he’s bestowed us with this challenge of Islamaphobia because it’s forcing us to search deep within ourselves to figure out who we are, where we stand on issues, and forcing us to come back to Allah. Allah’s dawah is two-fold, it’s calling Muslims and non-Muslims back to Islam. So let’s not be emotional about the pictures, the words, the actions taken by Islamaphobes---they’re looking for a fight, don’t give it to them and take the higher ground. Let’s look to Quran and Sunnah for answers of how to conquer this Islamaphobia. We certainly should know that we’ve been blessed by Allah’s dawah so let’s answer Allah’s call!