Historicizing Islamophobia

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Historicizing Islamophobia

Looking at the history of Islamophobia, there seems some credibility in the presumed fears among Westerners from Muslims. Still, by digging deeper into the facts, it becomes apparent that there is absolutely no truth in those assertions. The inception of Islam, right after Judaism and Christianity, led to a perpetual conflict among these religions. This religious bigotry, with the passage of time, got entrenched in the minds of Western people. They started using cultural disdains like the backwardness of Arabs, paganism and incivility to create a milieu where Westerners could easily fight them. The annals of history, especially after the 7th century, are replete with such examples and manifestations.
The conquest of Spain by the Muslims also left indelible impact on the minds of the Westerners that Islam was a religion of violence and forced conversions. As a result, their hatred against Islam slowly and gradually morphed into a deep hatred towards Muslims and is still haunting their consciousness.
The Renaissance writers also did nothing to highlight the natural causes of these erroneous notions. They helped their leaders through their writings to propagate against Ottomans and to augment military prowess because they were their main adversaries at that time. Ottomans’ treatment of their subjects in the Balkans aggravated the conditions further. Between 1911 and 1979, a period of great turmoil between communism and the liberal world order was witnessed, thereby clouding the Islamophobic trends. However, as soon as the USSR collapsed, the book written by Samuel P. Huntington titled “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” glaringly put the world into another discord – the clash of civilizations. He vociferously pointed out certain antithesis and antagonistic ideologies to the liberal world order – Islam was his kernel preoccupation. West has always been at a crossroads with the East in exemplifying themselves as a brand of revered and epitomized values, thereby alienating all other credos. In the aftermath of 9/11, the world witnessed another horrifying onslaught by the extremist sections of Islam as they challenged the oppression and marginalization caused by the liberal system. In essence and historically, liberalism is only a lacklustre ideology that needs hypothetical enemies to wage war and further the interests of capitalist elites.
The establishment of AUKUS recently can be cited as an example of this ideology; Communism being targeted for being inhuman and antithetical to fundamental rights, which, in a true sense, is a war against China’s ascendancy as a global power. All-powerful countries employed this egregious agenda to substantiate and validate their violations of sovereignties by using a phony version of Islam. They scrutinized a myopic version of Islam and propagated that through their political and media platforms. Resultantly, a perverse mindset against Muslims stigmatized Muslims in the minds of their peoples. They exemplified the orthodox version of Islam, which, ostensibly, involved the imposition of Shariah law which they blame offers no rights for women and supports use of coercive measures by Muslims to spread their ideology. In fact, moral corruptness of a few was used to picture an altogether negative image of Muslims. Their media and other news outlets also contextualized Muslims as people of the Neolithic age, having no civility.
However, this is only one side of the picture; the other side depicts the dismal approach adopted by the Muslim countries to counter this sinister and ominous proposition. The predicament got worsened day in and day out. Muslims lacked unity and their platforms like OIC acted as a dupe where the euphemism of words was the primary tool to counter these perennial threats. Their response was mild and less intense toward a biased attitude of people from a country considered “a city on a shining hill” most of the time because their economic interests were associated with them. Battles, mistrust and divisions between and among Muslim countries further aggravated the plight of the Ummah.
The inception of right-wing populist leaders in Europe further worsened the turmoil of the Muslims as assaults on Muslim immigrants were used as a tool to gain electoral victory. Muslims were castigated in political debates and talk shows, and former US president, Donald Trump, even banned Muslims from the United States. The attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, influenced by white supremacists and racial bigotry, attacks in Canada, and the unapologetic and discriminatory ban on Muslim women, especially in France, unveiled the superficial nature of the West’s so-called secularism.
However, all is not lost yet; time is here to rectify these heinous things and reconstruct attitudes. The bigotry and hatred have done more harm than good to the peace of the world. How can the idea of an egalitarian world be materialized when one nation is not ready even to accept another based on untruthful and deceptive notions?
The following actions can help to rejuvenate the idea of universality.
First and foremost is an equitable approach by the Western leaders toward Muslims. Take the case of China’s Uighur Muslims; every other leader in Europe finds it very comfortable to criticize the ill treatment meted out to them, but they lack mettle when it comes to their own atrocities. Their invasion of Muslims, the fiascos created by them, and the covert support of various armed groups are glaring examples of their bigotry and hypocrisy. They wreaked havoc in almost every part of the world. What if a drone attack victim whose family is brutally killed picks up and chooses the violent way to avenge those cold-blooded murders? Will you call him a terrorist? A Muslim’s violent act is deemed terrorism, but what about the acts of a national of your own country?
So, only a fair treatment of every violent act can settle the matters.
Secondly, it must be understood that no ideology and no religion is extremist. It is the people; its particular version – which, of course, doesn’t represent the whole ideology – who are terrorists. They have a negative attitude and sometimes they are merely puppets of world superpowers. Taliban were good against communism, but when they stood against the liberal world order to safeguard their homeland; they were seen solely through the prism of religious bigotry and were equated with terrorism.
Lastly, the attitude of the Muslim world in general, and Muslims in particular, is crucial for reconstructing Islam. Muslims must focus on representing themselves as torchbearers of an optimistic version – in fact it is the true version – of Islam.
Intelligentsia must write about the openness of Islam, and Muslim countries must build their economic clout to be heard through their platforms.
This is the way forward, or the situation will worsen, and Islamophobia will continue to be a hydra in coming years, making the world a tumultuous place to live.

The writer is CSS 2020 qualifier and an academic.

Muhammad Ali Asghar

This is the Admin of this website

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