What is Islamophobia?

(Ismail Samy, )

While the world is still reeling from the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a question that needs attention is, “What is Islamophobia?”

The Oxford dictionary defines the term as: intense dislike or fear of Islam, especially as a political force. But the true meaning of the term continues to be debated within academic circles. Is Islamaphobia a socially reproduced prejudice and aversion to Islam and Muslims? Is it a type of racialism? Or does there exist a social stigma towards Islam and Muslims, called fear. Islamophobia may just be a form of racism “wrapped in religious terms.” The word Islamophobia came into wide-spread use from people holding negative views of Islam.

Islamaphobia got wide support in the “Christian West” as Muslims were being perceived as “an external threat.” The feeling of this phobia began to take shape when thoughts were being given to the effects Islam could have in the West in the long run. Added to this was the role of the Western media which over-reported some Islamist terrorist incidents. Also, the negative political rhetoric towards Muslims by political pundits fanned the flames of fear.

Islamophobia is more about world politics than religion. Modern-day demonization of Muslims and the relentless attacks on Muslims by political pundits is a reflection of this unjust war. These attacks have led to discrimination against Muslims and a rise in Islamophobic sentiments. Muslims in the West possibly feel they are “out of place” in this world.
Ironically, according to a research carried out in the US by Public Religion Research Institute, 62% of Americans have seldom or never conversed with a Muslim; 26% said they know nothing about Islam while the rest stated they have some knowledge about Islam.

Islamophobia is today is a multimillion dollar industry in the West. There are anti-Muslim organizations which receive millions of dollars in funds towards carrying out a campaign against Islam and Muslims. As of 2016 there were 101 such organizations in the US alone. Their task is to disseminate biased information or disinformation about Islam and Muslims. The media also has exploited to its advantage the anti-Muslim sentiments where cyber space has been serving as a springboard for people with anti-Islam and anti-Muslim views. It is through the media Islamophobia is spreading like a virus.

Despite the fact that extremists do not represent even a miniscule fraction of the Muslim population, Islamophobes have always exploited any act of extremism to project an image of all Muslims as extremists and a source of terrorism. The incident of 9/11 gave further boost to such anti-Muslim sentiments. Then the rise of groups such as the ISIS and Al Qaeda in recent years added to the anti-Muslim bigotry. With such a scenario in existence, Islamophobia became the staple diet of political pundits, especially in the West.

It is not all from the West who carry Islamophibic views about Muslims. A pontiff from the Vatican had the following words to say about Muslims: “…the religiosity of Muslims deserve respect. It is impossible not admire, for example, their fidelity to prayer. The image of believers of Allah who, without caring about time or place, fall to their knees and immerse themselves in prayer remain a model for all those who invoke the true God, in particular for those Christians who, having deserted their magnificent cathedrals, pray only a little or not at all.” Pope John Paul II in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”

What then is Islamophobia? : It is simply a projection of the West’s dark side.
 

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مزہبی کالم نگاری میں لکھنے اور تبصرہ کرنے والے احباب سے گزارش ہے کہ دوسرے مسالک کا احترام کرتے ہوئے تنقیدی الفاظ اور تبصروں سے گریز فرمائیں - شکریہ