"[I'm] okay with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states."
-Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, November 2005
In Nashville, Tennessee, a homemade bomb caused a fire at the Al-Mahdi Islamic Center on February 3, 2006; on January 30, 2006, a woman who has now been arrested after she allegedly threw a copy of the Quran on the floor and sprayed a fire extinguisher which caused a smoky haze in a Sacramento mosque; also last month, KFI-AM 640 radio host Bill Handel mocked the death of over 300 pilgrims during Hajj on January 12, 2006. Twice Sound Vision's front glass wall has been broken down with gunfire.
All of the above, including Congressman Mark Kirk's statement, are examples of the growing Islamophobia in America. The Danish cartoon controversy reflects the level of fear and hatred for all things Islamic worldwide by the fact that newspapers in other European countries, and now, Australia, have decided to reprint the offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
Well, it's time we took a strong stand against Islamophobia. Here are some ideas of what you can do:
- Remember the Prophet. The Prophet was subject to horrible insults and hate crimes in his lifetime. He remained steadfast, patient and tolerant in the face of this Islamophobia. We must model this same behavior.
Good and Evil deeds are not alike. Requite evil with good, and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend. But none will attain this save those who endure with fortitude and are greatly favored by God. (Quran 41: 34-35)Pray that God guides these people who mock His messenger.
- Keep sending Salam and Durood to the Prophet, which is the main way Muslim demonstrate our love for the Prophet.
- Make protest more honorable since it is for the love of the Prophet. Perhaps a public recitation of the Quran either voiced or silent will be more powerful and worthy of the Prophet.
- Do not engage in forms protest that are condemned in Islam. This includes burning flags or other symbols that people hold in esteem or insulting other religious groups. Unfortunately, some Iranian newspapers have commissioned the drawing of anti-Semitic cartoons in protest of the offensive Danish ones. This is a disgusting form of retaliation that deserves absolute condemnation. Not only does this contradict Islamic rules of respect for others, it will neither help fight Islamophobia, nor elicit any understanding about why Muslims are upset about the Danish cartoons.
- Note that incidents of Islamophobia are not isolated. Whether it's depicting the Prophet as a terrorist, disrespecting the Quran, torturing prisoners, bombing civilians or occupying Muslim lands, these are all signs of Islamophobia.
- Also note that not all media or all non-Muslims support this type of insulting behavior. Many have been at the forefront of condemning torture, bombing and occupation.
- Equate racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They all are fruits of the same tree of hate.
- Start using the word Islamophobia to describe any kind of hate crime or speech against Islam and Muslims. Doing this will make the term uniform and eventually, an accepted part of the English language the way the term "anti-Semitism" is.
- If you are involved in interfaith work, bring up the topic of Islamophobia at your meetings. Stress the urgency and need for people of all faiths to help address and condemn it and all other forms of intolerance publicly. If possible, get the organization to issue a public statement condemning Islamophobia in general, as well as in response to specific incidents like those mentioned above.
- Sponsor reports on Islamophobia. Unless more documentation and yearly opinion surveys are conducted, people will continue to dismiss Islamophobia as a reality. So far, the UK is the only country which has officially commissioned a report on Islamophobia. The word has yet to become a part of American media.
- Report any and every incident of Islamophobia you, your family or friends encounter. The FBI collects hate crime statistics. Report Islamophobia to them at your local FBI office http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm. File a report with the Council on American-Islamic Relations at http://www.cair-net.org/ireport/. They issue an annual report on Muslim civil rights in the US. Also report the crime to your local police office.
- If it's an election year, make sure your local Congressman or Congresswoman who relies on your vote is aware of Islamophobia. Organize a delegation of Muslims in your constituency if you can and arrange to make a presentation on the topic, as well as a list of clear things you would like your Congressman or Congresswoman to do about Islamophobia if they want your vote.
- For every incident of Islamophobia, write a letter to the editor and your local civil rights organization about it.
- Organize a program at your local mosque or community center about the problem of Islamophobia today. Hold a brainstorming session as part of the program as well to discuss how to solve this problem.
- Thank those who speak out or act against Islamophobia. For instance, we should thank the US State Department for condemning the publishing of the offensive cartoons in Denmark.
- Make Dua that Allah guides those who hold Islamophobic views and practice Islamophobia. The Prophet made Dua for the Quraysh, asking for them to be guided because they were ignorant of what they were doing by committing Islamophobic acts and saying wrong things against Islam and the Prophet.
Muslims are raised to love our Prophet more than we love our parents. We are deeply hurt when our Prophet is insulted. Although a few persons have resorted to violence, Alhamdu lillah, no one has insulted Jesus, Moses or the Bible in reaction. The Quran has asked us to honor the symbols that others hold dear. Flags and idols deserve that consideration. (Quran 6:108)
The Prophet never responded violently or angrily to the woman who used to throw garbage and thorny bushes in his house and on his path.
Allah's peace and blessings be upon him. Allahumma salle ala syyedena Muhammad.