Worldview of Islamophobia and Reaction of Muslims
By: Asjad Uqaabi
A phobia, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “is an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation”.
It may be hard for the afflicted to sufficiently determine or communicate the source of this fear, but it exists. People suffer from it. They feel it. In recent years, a specific man-made phobia has emerged which has gripped the whole world, that is called Islamophobia.
What is Islamophobia and how did it spread throughout the world? What are the main factors behind it? What is the way to deal with this phobia? There are numerous survey reports and research papers on this subject showing that Islamophobia originated from Western countries and most part of the non-Muslim world. Regardless of regions people have bad feelings regarding Islam. Most of the people from communities other than Muslims do not want to merge or live in the same society where Muslims do, except those who have some attachments with Muslims in anyway.
If we browse through the history,we will come across this phobia since the inception of Islam. But in 21stCentury it has seen unbelievable growth across the world. It has played a pivotal role in dividing humans in different sections and has created such a long and deep gap among human society that cannot be bridged. People from the same country, from the same state, from the same locality and even from the same family has phobia on the ground of religion. The pity is that they exhort their children to keep away from one particular community, consequently the children are brought up in the atmosphere of hatred and fear and it lingers on them in their rest of life. The children that could be taught love and affection on the basis of humanity, they are taught repugnance and revulsion on the ground of religion. The phobia goes from one generation to another generation and one transfers it into his children and imbibe them the same poison which he has consumed throughout his life, which results in decrease of compassion and increase of aversion on the name of religion.
Islamophobia a challenge for modern world
Islamophobia has become one of the biggest challenges for this modern world. Man-made civilization, culture and slogans for humanity could not control this phobia. The more people are trying to extinguish the flame, the more it is raging and burning the society. Numerous organizations and NGOs are in the field to bridge the gap and to make healthy environment for all human regardless of religion but their efforts yet did not bring fruitful results. The gap is widening day-by-day across the world.
Let’s take a cursory glance on one major factor behind this phobia. We may be wrong but undoubtedly, the media, one of the most reliable source of information in current era and the fourth estate of democracy has hatched conspiracy and played a negative role in this matter. A large number of common men consider Media as the only way to get knowledge and media induces them to trust whatever is being broadcast. Media portrayed Muslims as a harmful element of the society. Muslims most probably can damage peace of the people living around them but they can never put ointment on their wounds. Each and every ghastly work is attributed to Muslims to reinforce its claim. Due to globalization and internet service, it takes just few moments for any news to reach from West to East. This tool of information is roughly being used by Media to target Muslims. Media has coined so many new terms to put down and tarnish the vivid and clear picture of Muslims. Religious figures of any religion are considered the most esteemed personalities for all but Media targeted Muslim Ulama and humiliated them in their exclusive programs.
The second factor, some fascist and extremist leaders who proclaim to be humanitarian and well-civilized, peaceful and progressive are equally guilty. They are not the same as they pretend to be. They say what they do not practice. It is their mission to accuse one particular community and they urge their people to believe that this community is a real threat to human safety. There are countless evidences that show hypocrisy and enmity of these leaders towards Muslims. Their policy may be different by dint of circumstances but their target is the same.
It may be said that this menace began on the basis of political interests and some researchers have gone to this way. But it is beyond the truth as we have watched it in recent elections, conducted in several democratic countries. As a matter of fact, the menace is not only due to political influence rather it is a matter of religion and culture. In simple words, the country that pledges to give religious freedom to its minorities, in reality they are more conservative and prejudicial. They cannot bear the existence of other religion in their society unless they would merge in major religion or in major culture of the country. On the name of freedom of religion they always expect from Muslims to participate and celebrate their festival and carnival but they do not bear vis-à-vis condition. Whatever they do is justifiable but the culture and civilization of Muslims are not acceptable in their sight.
The question is that what Muslims should do in this critical atmosphere? How to deal with these poisonous people? How to get rid of this environment to practice their religion freely and peacefully? As a Muslim we have solution for every problem in the life of the Prophet peace be upon him. Let’s go through the pages of history to figure out it in the life of the Prophet peace be upon him.
When the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him proclaimed to be a messenger of Allah after the first revelation, the whole Makkah stood against him even his own blood-relatives turned back. Before it, he was known as the trustworthy and truthful person among his community and all the people held him in high regard. But one true message of Allah which was revealed upon him altered the opinion of Makkans. They accused him of a magician, poet, juggler, soothsayer, liar and created hindrance in his preaching.
It was very tough time for the Prophet (saws), his own people who should have been supporter of him they had turned as opponents. Whenever the true message of Allah was presented before them whether in public or in secret they mocked and even sometimes they assaulted the Prophet (saws). He was alone and on the other side was the whole tribe and whole city, but he was firm and resolute, he did not give up his mission of Preaching rather he accelerated his efforts.
People of Makkah were prompted by provocative speeches of their leaders that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) is dividing you. He is insulting your deities and he wants to split you into groups to get control over you. He is a man who wants to get power over you. He wants you to leave the path and way of your forefathers. Do not listen to him. Do not go near to him. Do not trust him. In short, they were doing whatever they could do to stop the propagation of Islam.
The situation was extremely worst for poor and slave people who had embraced Islam. Already, they were downtrodden and they have no proper shelter and protection to live in the city, but now having accepted the religion of Muhammad (saws) by rejecting century-long false dogma, resulted in the stir-up for pagans. It was unacceptable for the leaders to see the Prophet (saws) emerging and his divine religion to be accepted one by one. At initial stage, they threatened them, when their effort did not bring result they began to humiliate them. Sumayya mother of Ammar was the first who was martyred in the way of Allah. Yasir (husband of Sumayya) was also beaten up brutally by the pagans of Makkah. Bilal (Muazzin of the Prophet peace be upon him) was the slave of Umayya, he used to beat him and drag him on the scorching sun of Makkah and insisted him to give up the religion of Muhammad. Bilal had tasted the sweetness of true faith, though he was excessively tortured but he remained determined on the religion of Islam. The earth and sky had never seen this kind of cruelty which the companions of the Prophet (saws) experienced in the way of Allah. The strength of the faith of companions had baffled them.
Some stubborn and wicked people composed poetry against the Prophet (saws) and his followers, instead of giving them as good as they want the Prophet Muhammad (saws) and his companions showed reticence and did not react on their poetry. Neither they copied those poetry nor they propagated them in defence. Rather many companions like Hassan bin Thabit, Abdullah bin Rawaha and others composed worthwhile and praiseworthy poetry in honor of the Prophet Muhammad (saws).
When Islam began to spread among tribes and people from different clans started to accept Islam. The pagans reassessed the situation to find out the solution of this vexation problem. They realized that Banu-Hashim and Al-Muttalib were determined to protect the Prophet (saws) and defend him so they decided to draw up a document in which they undertook strong decision not to marry women from Banu Hashim and Banu al Muttalib, or to give them women in marriage, or to sell anything to them or buy anything from them, or to provide them food or anything. They drew up a written contract and solemnly pledged themselves to observe it. They then hung up the document in the interior side of the Ka’aba to make it even more binding upon themselves. The Banu Hashim and the Banu al-Muttalib joined with ‘Abu Talib, went with him to a valley and gathered around him there. This state of affairs continued for three years. These days were very hard with them and very often they had to survive on leaves. After three years the boycott came to an end.
After sad demise of beloved Uncle Abu Talib, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) went to Taif nearby city of Makkah. In Taif, the Prophet (saws) first met the chieftains and leaders of Thaqif whom he invited to Islam. They were, however, rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (saws). Not being content with their insolent reply, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass and chase him. These riff-raffs followed the Prophet (saws), abusing and crying and throwing stones on him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. These jerks based in either side of the path threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood. These oppressions grievously dejected the Prophet (saws), being in such a state of depression, a prayer, citing his helplessness and pitiable condition and seeking the aid of God and asking forgiveness for the people of Taif spontaneously, came through his lips.
Pagans had generated much bitterness and hostility against the Prophet (saws) during these years. Not only physically but he was also mentally distressed. In the beginning, people of Makkah tried to rebuke and scold the Prophet (saws), when he did not discontinue and persevered on preaching, they offered him leadership, wealth and other worldly materials, but this effort also went in vain. At last they gathered and hatched plan to kill the person who was trying to bring them in the light of true religion out of darkness of ignorance and idol worshipping. A group of youths was chosen for this atrocious task, but they did not succeed.
After years of suffering and hardship the Prophet (saws) allowed Muslims to leave for Abyssinia to safeguard their faith. He himself migrated to Madina the radiant along with his companions where he established first Islamic state. However, he did not live here peacefully. Pagans were so willful and mulish that they did not let him to preach Islam serenely living in Madina.
It was perpetual brutal exercise with Muslims. They planned to perpetrate attacks on poor and helpless Muslims and even sometimes they target the Prophet (saws). But he neither wished to take revenge, nor he motivated his followers to take avenge. While living in Madina, when he got power, and he had full command to bring his all enemies into accountability he forgave them. He showed them his mercy and offered his high ethics and morality before them. He was merciful for all, he did not come to afflict the war on the people rather his mission was to save the humanity from hellfire and to fulfill his task. He left bright examples for his upcoming Ummah. At the occasion of conquest of Makkah when his all enemies were standing in front of him, they were the people who had tortured and unleashed viciousness on Muslims.
Abu Sufyan who was the chief of Makkan pagans and had been one of the worst enemies of Islam since the inception, had never let go any chance to harm the Prophet (saws). He led the army almost in all the battles against Muslims except Battle of Badr. When he was asked on the occasion of conquest of Makkah regarding Abu Sufyan, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) replied:
"Even he who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe. He who lays down arms will be safe. He who locks his door will be safe”.
He also declared:
“God has made Makkah a sanctuary since the day He created the Heavens and the Earth, and it will remain a sanctuary by virtue of the sanctity God has bestowed on it until the Day of Resurrection. It (fighting in it) was not made lawful to anyone before me. Nor will it be made lawful to anyone after me, and it was not made lawful for me except for a short period of time. Its animals (that can be hunted) should not be chased, nor should its trees be cut, nor its vegetation or grass uprooted, nor its Luqata (lost things) picked up except by one who makes a public announcement about it”.
The people assembled at the Ka’aba, and Muhammad (saws) delivered the following address:
"There is no god but Allah. He has no associate. He has made good His promise that He held to his bondman and helped him and defeated all the confederates. Bear in mind that every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished except that of the custody of the Ka’aba and of supplying water to the pilgrims. Bear in mind that for anyone who is slain the blood money is a hundred camels. People of Quraysh, surely God has abolished from you all pride of the time of ignorance and all pride in your ancestry, because all men are descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay.”
Then Prophet Muhammad turning to the people said:
"O, Quraysh, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?”
They said, "Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you.”
Thereupon Prophet Muhammad declared:
"I speak to you in the same words as Yusuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.”
Abdullah bin Ubai was the leader of hypocrites who left no stone unturned to harm the Prophet (saws) and tried to raise the conflict between Muhajirin and Ansaar. He was the first person who unabashedly spread lie and inculpated regarding the mother of Muslims Sayyida Ayishah (May Allah Be Pleased With Her). But when he died, on the request of his son who was true and loyal to the Prophet (saws) led his funeral prayer, even though the Prophet (saws) was fully aware of his mischief. He laid much emphasis to be kind, merciful, loyal, compassionate and kindhearted towards all the creatures of Allah.
At another occasion, some companions came to Prophet Muhammad (saws) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! The tribe of Daws have committed disbelief and disobeyed (your commands). Supplicate Allah against them!” Contrary to the people’s expectations, the Prophet (saws) said: “O Allah! Guide Daws and let them come to us.”
These are just a few glimpses how the Prophet (saws) dealt with those who opposed him. His opponents were not just people who fought his message on an intellectual level they determined to destroy him, his family, his followers and Islam itself.
Recently Muslims across the world are facing the same problem as Muslims of early ages had faced. People from different regions and religions are not only opposing the Muslims but also time and again they are creating inappropriate situations for Muslims. Muslims as one community never blaspheme any religion or any religious figures. They show equal request for all religions of the world. They never utter any blasphemous remarks regarding any religion or religious personalities. Contrary to that, many non-Muslims and so-called torch bearers of freedom of speech target the religion of Islam, teachings of Islam and even the major figures of Islamic history.
We the people, being Muslims, have to accept the idea which our beloved Prophet (saws) did while facing hardships and obstacles. We should show the same moral and ethics that was shown by the Prophet (saws). We should make the others realize that no one is more beneficial for community and country other than Muslims. If Allah wills, it will bring positive result for all and people will find proper way to come close to the religion of Islam. As Allah says in holy Qur’an: “indeed there is good model for you in the messenger of Allah- for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah profusely”.