Islamphobia: A Different Kind Of Terror

Islamphobia: A Different Kind Of Terror

Prejudice and violence go hand-in-hand.

Post-9/11 American society is a fearful place.

Fear of violence is ever prevalent in this country, which has been rattled with acts of terrorism and hate. It seems that the easiest way to combat potential violence is to choose a target people and ostracize them until the threat subsides.

Over the last century, Americans have displayed prejudice, discrimination, and hatred towards Islam and Muslims as a way to blame the current crisis of violence and terror in America on a large population. This act of hatred is called Islamphobia. Islamphobic individuals engage in hatred towards all Muslims and stereotype Islamic culture as promoting radicalism, danger, extremism, and violence.

I read a story recently of a Muslim woman and her baby being kicked off of a bus because the bus driver did not want to drive them due to religious differences. This is discrimination and denying services to a person based on religion. However, this act of discrimination stems from Islamphobia as a cultural narrative of hatred towards marginalized groups.

The anti-Islam rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald Trump is an example of Islamphobia used to spark an emotional reaction among the American people. After the devastating events of terror at the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans are likely to always have an heightened response to the mention of terror. However, our emotional reactions are no excuse for targeting a specific religion, culture, or people.

Emotional reactions to horrific events exacerbate discrimination towards marginalized groups because we often stereotype to come to conclusions quickly. For instance, after the tragic shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, many quickly jumped on the bandwagon to call the shooting an act of Islamic terrorism. It was later discovered that the violence was a hate crime towards the LGBTQ community by an individual who questioned his sexuality.

There are groups of religious extremists who commit horrible, heinous acts of violence- but this should not reflect on the religion as a whole. To discriminate against those who practice a common religion because their religion has been used by extremists to justify violence is unfair. We should fear violence, we should fear terror, but we should never fear innocent people because of the religion they practice. Displaying prejudice towards Muslims and Islam is marginalizing to a large populous of peaceful people practicing religion.

The Washington Post featured an insightful article about human reaction to tragedy- and how easy it is to use our emotions to quickly point fingers and place blame on people who are not responsible. This leads to policies that incriminate large groups of people based on stereotype. As said in the article, "anger and sorrow are not substitutes for knowledge". Politicians like Donald Trump cater to extremist anti-Muslim views and appeal to the emotions of people during times of crisis. This is a terrible and inhumane way to run a country.

Americans have been manifested hatred towards minority groups since formation of our country. After 9/11, Muslims became the concentration of hate and have continued to endure prejudice ever since. In the past, the same religious hatred has targeted Jews and Catholics. Racially, we see the same phenomenon presently with African Americans, and previously with Japanese Americans.

Prejudice is not a new concept. The fear lies in prejudice policy. Donald Trump has gone on record saying that he wants to prevent Muslim immigrants from entering the United States for a period of time. This is not just prejudice, but an act of discrimination. Politicians will continue to feed off of extremist views and emotional responses to make policies that stem from stereotypes. This is not what our country stands for. No person deserves to feel underrepresented, feared, misunderstood, or unheard because of their religion.

I urge you to stand in solidarity with Islam. Do not simply post about it on Facebook, but make strides to act out equality in everyday life. Do not allow people to marginalize Muslims and refer to them as dangerous, violent, or criminal. Every group of people has extremists.

A Pew Research Study places the number of Muslims worldwide to be around 1.6 billion (or 23% of the world's population). So doing some basic math, we get that about .00006625% of the Muslim population are "extremist". - Pew Research Center

Islamphobia is prejudice. Prejudice and violence go hand in hand. To display hatred towards a group of people is just as damaging as violence. Please, think before you use stereotypes and work towards creating cultureal and religious equality in society.

"We did not blame Germans for Hitler. We did not blame Christians for the KKK. Do not blame Muslims for ISIS." - Unknown.

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Learn more at:

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Washington Post Article

Pew Research Center

Cover Image Credit: Modern Diplomacy

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Attending An Islamic Convention (ICNA) Teaches All Americans What Islam Actually Is

What you see when you go to the ICNA convention in Atlanta, Georgia is the complete opposite of the radicalized Islam on TV.

The biggest problem politically nowadays (especially concerning Muslims and the general American public) is that people don't understand who Muslims are and what exactly they are like, especially in an American setting. To battle the ignorance, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) hosts a convention every year that aims to connect Muslims from all over southeast America with each other while also providing the American public with knowledge about Islam. That is, the real Islam and not the radicalized version of it that people see on T.V. all the time.

The ICNA convention this year took place in the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, from Dec. 23 to 25. Every year comes with a theme, and this year, the theme was lessons from Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. This theme coincides with the purpose of ICNA to educate everyone.

When you walk into the convention center, the first thing that you see is the registration table. They'll give you a badge and a program guide. This guide is the key to your ICNA experience. There are programs throughout the three-day convention, and all of them have something to do with the theme, and these programs are located all throughout the convention center. The most prominent programs of the convention are conducted by Young Muslim (YM), which is an organization that has its own hall for lectures on the ICNA convention floor.

For example, at one program entitled "Purifying Your Intentions," speaker Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan said, "Our intentions can either make us or break us so it is important that we constantly renew [them]." There are many sessions like this, with each discussing a small part of the theme and each focusing on it in-depth.

These programs are an essential part of helping American Muslims. When describing the convention, YM Atlanta team member Faryal Nizami said that it was important to have the ICNA convention because it "provided a safe Islamic environment for the whole family, under one roof, for education, socialization and entertainment." This highlights a simple fact about this convention: it is all-encompassing and is aimed to be well-rounded. ICNA's message can influence thousands and thousands of people, including me. This conference is a refreshing end to each year, and it often reminds me of my own personal goals and relationships in my life.

Programs are not the only aspect of this convention, however. A key part of the convention is the bazaar that is located in the heart of the convention center. Gleaming jewelry, rich and diverse dresses, and more can be found, along with a few stands full of food.

But the main point that stands is that the ICNA convention is just like any other secular convention – there is no discernible aspect of it that can be considered a concern for any member of the American public. There is nothing about the fact that it is an "Islamic" convention that makes it different or strange. Rather, it is a wonderful place to learn more about Islam and Muslims as how they really are.

So, if you're ever around Atlanta next Christmas weekend and you want somewhere to go, try visiting the ICNA convention!

Cover Image Credit: Sania Shaikh

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What Jihad Really Means

Performing jihad is doing good deeds.

This quarter I am taking a class called Introduction to the Middle East. Basically, we use historical moments in the Middle East to pinpoint how things like ISIL or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came about.

During one of my lessons, we discussed the origination of the word jihad.

Jihad originally meant expanding Islam through violence. Waging war was considered a way of displaying God to different portions of the world. But before we start throwing up our hands and saying that Breitbart was right all along, it is important to recognize what type of world this was. It was a conquest era. Every empire at this time was trying to expand their boundaries and become more powerful than their neighbors.

However, as the world transitioned to a more stable era where empires were not constantly trying to conquer each other the word jihad also changed. Religious scholars realized that jihad does not need to be violent anymore and instead wrote new doctrines explaining what Jihad is.

Jihad became a community duty and not an individual duty. There are also two forms of jihad. There is lesser jihad, which is fighting. But there is also a greater jihad. This means expanding Islam through good deeds. Someone is performing jihad by being pure, by praying, or by volunteering. This is the form most Muslims follow.

As recent events have shown, small select groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda have dissented from this definition of jihad and have manipulated it to justify their own violent actions.

But it is important to remember that this is not the majority's view of what jihad means.

Words are important. It is how we communicate with each other and express our beliefs and positions.

So when we discuss contentious topics like ISIL and discuss what “all Muslims” believe, we should educate ourselves about other people’s cultures and their histories.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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