Islamophobia: Nothing to Fear...or is there?

islamophobiaThis week, a Facebook group called Global Rally for Humanity put out a call for anti-Muslim demonstrations “in every country at every mosque.” Some plan to use “open carry laws” in some American states to bring weapons.  Granted, the average participant IQ at such rallies is about 89, and these proceedings could readily be dismissed as gatherings of village idiots. However, recently anti-Muslim views have been expressed by otherwise intelligent public figures (with much fanfare) such as Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, who recently stated he would not want a “Muslim in the White House”. Is there any validity to the concerns of these Islamophobes? Is Islam incompatible with the American way of life? No…with a small caveat.

First of all, please note that the 3 to 7 million Muslims in America are a more integrated community than in any other non-Muslim majority country in the world. A 2011 Pew Research Center study cited in the Christian Monitor (Christian Science Monitor) revealed that American Muslim values mirror that of the average American:

American Muslims by-and-large are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. When a tragic school shooting, a domestic murder-suicide, or a large financial scam occurs, the rate of Muslim involvement barely registers a blip.  The fear of increasing terrorist attacks after Sept. 11, 2001 is quickly diffused by review of the facts: nearly twice as many (48) people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims (26): (reference: NY Times). The rates of other social ills, such as teenage pregnancy, drugs, high school dropouts, etc. are also considerably lower in the American Muslim population.

So then what is wanting for the American Muslim to be accepted as a “true” American? This foreignness was thrust upon us by geopolitical events beyond our control, that began half a world way at the turn of this century…but it is our cross to bear nonetheless. Here are some ideas to help diffuse American Islamophobia:

What we have to fear even more than right wing Islamophobes is our own apathy.

Who will promote reformist interpretations and challenge this sharia developed by ancient religious “authorities” which has been responsible for the oppression of millions  over the past millennium and tarnishes Muslims the world over? It won’t be modern day traditional scholars.  At a major international forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies held in April 2015, the most prominent American Islamic scholar had this to say:

(Killing for leaving Islam) was to protect the religion … but it is no longer the mentality for the age we live in, so when you look at the universal principle of Islam it is to attract people towards religion. However, he said, in the current age applying apostasy law will cause more people to leave religion than to join it so it has an opposite effect.” (UAE Summit)

There you have it. Is turning the Prophet (S) into a role model for ISIS and a disgrace to our children by attributing atrocities to Him considered reformation?  Why not denounce the traditions behind these atrocities as false? Does not the Quran firmly declare, “there is no compulsion in religion?” Instead of challenging them, prominent American scholars do the rounds in convention circuits celebrating the ancient religious authorities as “Champions of Islam.”

So it falls upon us my fellow American Muslims.  What we have to fear even more than right wing Islamophobes is our own apathy. If you want to be truly respected and integrated in America, use your God-given Reason and American freedoms to stand up for Pluralism, Human Rights, Justice, and Reform.  That is what being American is all about…that is what being Muslim is all about!