(Image courtesy of http://ikhwanophobia.com/)
f you were to ask me what one of the last acceptable prejudices in our society today is? I would have to say it is Islamophobia. There is an unspoken norm that says that it is acceptable to denigrate someone because they subscribe to an organized religion, more specifically Islam. It is an unfortunate reality for many visible Muslims to be hurdled a few uninformed verbal curveballs on a daily basis by people who have read an article or a forum and in turn believe they understand what Islam is all about. In almost any context in the West degrading Islam and Muslims is seen as politically correct. We see this on various fronts within the media including on radio talk shows, in the news that often use “terrorist” and “Muslim” in the same sentence. It is so prevalent that we may even be affected in passing conversation with colleagues or acquaintances. As direct recipients of such negative stereotype-casting I find it extremely unnerving that many Muslims have no qualms in projecting the same ignorance unto others and in turn, perpetuate these unlawful and un-Islamic ideologies against our Muslim brothers and sisters. As a result, we ourselves break the golden rule: “Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you.”
Anyone who has ever stepped foot into a Masjid in North America should know what I am talking about. I am astonished at the things I have heard coming out of the mouths of pious and God-fearing folk. Sometimes the words are said with such carelessness that I think they truly believe that what they are saying is Gospel, or in our case, Quranic truth. This is seen in the nationalistic and cavalier statements sensationalising superiority by one group over another. I have seen it all, from every culture. This problem is not relegated to one group because it is affected by all. What’s worse is that it goes even beyond “race” and into light skin versus dark skin and from what part of the country the person is from etc. How can such extreme generalizations be made within the walls of a religion that is vehemently opposed to it?
Sometimes the racism we are subjected to is collusive and there is nothing that can be done about it. For instance, pot-luck suppers or Tajweed classes that is only open to certain groups. It is sad for me to see these types of attitudes prevailing when anti-racist semantics are a part of the very reason I became a Muslim. Here in Regina, the community used to be extremely small. There was more unity and all events were open and everyone was welcome to participate. With an influx of new Muslims into our community came a flood of cultural dogmas. I understand that people want to be comfortable and speak their language but how can we leave people out? Did you know that the loneliest time of year for a convert is Ramadan and the two Eid’s? Unless you are busy with a spouse and children it can be a very trying time; and even if they are married, don’t converts deserve to feel connected? What a contrast to what these three holidays represent, many Muslims spend this holiday alone and secluded because they are not welcomed or fit neatly into one community.
Furthermore, it is problematic for Muslims to break off and form mini countries within small cities because it does not coincide with the unity of humanity that is expressed throughout the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (SWS). The overall solution is to go back to the fundamentals put forth by the Quran and Sunnah. Through learning key concepts within Islam as well as through debate and discussion with others we can broaden our scope. In order for us to move beyond ourselves and truly love one another as brothers and sisters we must implement new ideas and keep an open mind.
This article was originally published at the following web address: http://www.thewesternmuslim.com/index.php/articles/item/blurring_the_spectrum