The Crisis Of Islamophobia In The West

Written by: Ameneh Mottaghi

Published on: July 22nd, 2019

Recent terrorist activity by Isis/Isil (DAESH) in Europe –both in Brussels and in France – considered alongside the 9/11 attacks in America as well as all barbaric crimes and atrocities committed in Syria and Iraq, have given rise to what is called ‘Islamophobia’. According to Elizabeth Whitman, “The word has a broad meaning and often serves as an umbrella term to encapsulate negative sentiments ranging from an individual’s anti-Islam views to society- wide discrimination against Muslims.” Without question, the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a new term and a new concept. We can not trace it throughout history – there is no record of such a fear in the past.

According to the Center for label all those who do not adhere to their ideologies as infidels, and encourage their followers to kill others who are not part of their own faith, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or otherwise. These ideas have nothing to do with the teachings of the Holy Quran. The root of the ideologies of Wahhabism and Salafism stem from the individual Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, who was inspired by Ibn Taymiyyah.

The latter was a follower of Khawarij school of thought, which is notorious for its intolerance and rigid mentality: it regards even minor sins as major ones and consequently judges the wrong doers of shirk and sentences them to death. The very trend of Khawarij in the past manifested itself in the ideologies of Salafism and Wahhabism which are the only mentality promoting terrorism in the world. This is not Islam, but deviation from Islam. The media’s ignorance and blind eye to the ideologies of Wahhabism and Salafism has led to the generalization of all Muslims as terrorists, and consequently created Islamophobia in this age.

Now, it is the responsibility of all Muslim thinkers to reflect seriously about this crisis and come up with new solutions. As a suggestion, I propose to work systematically on four areas:

1. The Muslim community must educate themselves about the authentic teachings of Islam and its peaceful doctrines. We have to learn the verses that specifically teach us how to behave compassionately and respectfully with people of other faiths. 2. Given that a great number of Muslims live in Western societies governed by democracy, it is our obligation to spread the word and familiarize our fellow Christian and non-Christian friends with the peaceful nature of Islam. We must help others to differentiate between Islam and the Takfiri ideologies of Wahhabism and Salafism.

3. Holding intra- and interfaith seminars and conferences with the purpose of clarification of Islamic beliefs.

4. Active interaction with all media to express our condemnation of terrorism and our contribution to society in uprooting terrorism.

According to Race & Gender Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the term emerged in 1991 in a report that defined it as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” Peter Gottschalk, a professor of religion at Wesleyan University adds, “It helps to describe a whole spectrum of behavior and attitudes that have existed a long time but haven’t had a name before.'”

The new phenomenon of Islamophobia has reaped severe negative consequences for both Muslims and non-Muslims, in terms of their relationships with one another. It can, and often does, cause some Muslims to feel discouraged in displaying their Muslim identity, for fear of being subject to discrimination and wrong judgment.

In closing, all this is due to the media’s generalization and ignorance of true Islamic principles. On the one hand, the media tries to paint everyone with the same brush, when it calls the terrorists “Islamists” or “Radical Muslims.” Whereas, Islam does not allow anyone to hurt another, let alone to kill another based on his or her religious beliefs. There is no single verse in the entire Quran that permits the killing of people of other faiths. The Holy Quran stated 14 centuries ago that, “There is no compulsion in choosing a religion (2:256).”  Which is why even a radical Wahabbi or Salafis cannot justify the killing of others.

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