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Having a keen interest in politics, I closely followed the Presidential Campaign of Donald Trump. At that time, I didn’t consider his anti-Muslim remarks more than incessant cries for seeking attention amongst other “politically-correct” candidates. However now, I can’t help but wonder that Islamophobia is REAL and how serious it has become.
As Muslims, it is our duty to do everything in our means to fight off Islamophobia, as it has not only become violent and deadly but is also spreading throughout the world. But in order to fight it off, we have to first understand what it actually is.
What is Islamophobia?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term Islamophobia means, “Intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims”. According to a report published in 1991 by Runnymede Trust Report, there are certain attitudes that are common amongst people who are termed as “Islamophobic”:
- Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities
- Islam does not share common values with other major faiths
- Islam as a religion is inferior to the West. It is archaic, barbaric, and irrational
- Islam is a religion of violence and supports terrorism
- Islam is a violent political ideology
What we, as Muslims, also need to understand is that Islamophobia is a multi-million dollar industry and there are various people who are earning millions by spreading Islamophobia by portraying themselves as experts in Islamic affairs and portraying Islam in a very negative light.
How to combat Islamophobia?
Even we aren’t some influential social media personality; we can all use it to help change the narrative that is building in the world today. Here are some ways in which we help:
Refrain from overreacting to Islamophobic events
It may be very easy to get carried away and slip into negative thought patterns in the aftermath of Islamophobic events, such as the New Zealand carnage. Overreacting and posting anything negative and violent can only worsen the narrative of Islamophobia. In any situation such as this, we must follow the example of our Prophet (SAW), who remained steadfast and patient when he faced hate evils and insults.
Don’t share stories of Islamophobia to argue against them!
When you come across a particular story on social media that is Islamophobic, you may have the urge to share or retweet in order to counter or “expose” the person who is spreading Islamophobia on irrational grounds. However, all you are doing is amplifying that message and spreading it to more people. What you should really share on your social media are stories of people or communities who are defeating islamophobia by supporting each other.
Don’t Remain Silent
We must remember that silence can be quite dangerous, as it can communicate approval. There are various experts who believe that the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide happened because the rhetoric against particular communities remained unchallenged in the mainstream.
This is why you must never remain silent about anything about something you come across as Islamophobic. If you see a post that you think promotes Islamophobia, you must report it immediately. You can also engage with the posts and try and break down their wrong idea. However, it is important not to indulge in any back and forth arguments with strangers on social media, as it is not worth the time. Just make sure that no Islamophobia story remains unchallenged on social media.
If you have friends or family living in Western countries, it is extremely important to educate them about Islamophobia and encourage them to raise their voices. Ensure that they understand how important it is to call out leaders in their country who are promoting Islamophobia and talk to their local representatives about their concerns regarding the issue.
Promote Muslim Voices
Part of fighting Islamophobia is building empathy for the Muslim community, but only portraying them as victims doesn’t really help. Make sure you are promoting Muslim artists, writers, singers, actors on social media so that other communities can feel that sort of connection with the Muslim community.
Read Also: Islamophobia And Islam As Religion Of Peace