How to Respond to Islamophobia?

Published April 12, 2012

By Sh. Ali Sulieman Ali

“Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most right” (Qur’an 17:9).

The objective of the Islamophobia campaign is to plant seeds of fear about Muslims and Islam in the hearts of non-Muslims by depicting everything Islamic as an immanent danger to Americans, the United States, and the Western world. While they attempt to portray Muslims as strangers who have no place in America, there is hardly a hospital in the US without a Muslim physician or an educational institution without a Muslim professor, and the list goes on and on. Whether xenophobia or resistance to reform — it’s an old game. From the time of Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him, to time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), close-minded or suspicious contemporaries have accused messengers of God and those who work for the Cause of God of spreading dangerous ideas in the society. They conspired against them and launched uncompromising attacks.

How should we respond toward those who incite Islamophobic hatred in the hearts of fellow Americans? There is no question that the guidance of the Allah and His Messenger is the perfect and best guidance, so comprehensive that it covers all aspects of human life. In fact, verse 186 of chapter three in the Qur’an provides us the guidance of how to deal with those who spread Islamophobia:

“You shall certainly be tried in your possessions and your lives, and you shall certainly hear many hurtful things from some of those who were given the Book before you and from some of polytheist. But if you persevere patiently and guard yourselves against evil, that is a matter of strong determination” (Qur’an 3:186).

The ayah states in explicit terms that Muslims will be tested in their possessions and in their own selves, and that some non-Muslims will hurt Muslims by what they say about them and about Islam. Then the ayah instructs Muslims as to how to handle the distress: tasbiru and tat-taqu — these two words are telling us to deal with the provocation and distress with sabr and taqwa.

Tasbiru means to respond, in this case to plots and scheming against Islam and Muslims, with sabr — patience and perseverance. The patience aspect of sabr is not by any means passiveness, but to deal with any provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint or any type of emotional overreaction; the perseverance aspect of sabr is to remain constant and upright in one’s efforts and therefore, in this case, to respond to the provocation in an intelligent, moral, and persuasive manner.

Tat-taqu means to respond with fear and love of Allah, acting always in virtue and piety, and to remain God-conscious in the times of adversity, not just in the times of ease.

Thus, we must demonstrate sabr and taqwa in all efforts we make to protect ourselves against the evil resulting from the spread of Islamophobia. Central to those efforts, we must educate our non-Muslim fellows about Islam. We can do so in the following ways:

With our possessions — Allah has told us that we will be tested in our wealth; spending our wealth to combat Islamophobia is is using our resources in the Cause of Allah

By devoting our time and talents in the efforts to refute the Islamophobia campaign

By strengthening and expanding our network of non-Muslim allies in the struggle for religious and civic freedoms — through local, state, and national politics, through interfaith groups, and civil rights organizations

Responding to Islamophobia with patience and with perseverance, with God-conscious intelligence, and with persuasion through upright words and character will yield positive results, insha’Allah. Those who spread falsehoods have their own agenda, perceiving and understanding things through their own experience, insecurities, and biases. We should pray for those who plant seeds of hatred in the hearts of our fellow Americans. Some may come to see the error of their ways. And perhaps there will be among their offspring those who will, at the very least, be supportive of Muslims in America, as well as those who embrace Islam as their own deen.

Finally, Allah says “Good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with what is better; then the one with whom you had enmity may become your dear friend” (Qur’an 41:34).

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