Q&A with Dr. Jamal Badawi

Published April 12, 2012

By Staff Writer

Can you summarize why the West has become fearful of Islam and Muslims?  Why does this image exist?

Answer by Dr. Jamal Badawi

Number 1: Because we are living in a world where there are a great deal of injustices to Muslims in various parts of the world, like Palestine and other places.

And some of those injustices continued unabated not for a year or two, but for long periods of times, decades in some cases, in a world where the big powers should have used their moral authority in fact to try to restrain the aggressors against Muslims’ rights, dignity and property. But instead in fact they have been supporting them. At least this is the way it is perceived in the Muslim world.

What we need to do is to take a cool-minded approach to try to analyze the reasons behind this radicalization

We know from history that it is during the periods of social, economic and political turmoil that some extreme ideas emerge. And whether those ideas really are based on Islam or not, this is a very important question as people often mix between actions of Muslims and Islam in terms of its normative teachings.

The normative teachings of Islam that are binding on all Muslims are derived from “correct” contextual interpretation of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him); whereas opinions are subject to debate and the actions of Muslims are not definitive indication of Islam anymore than the actions of Christians or Jews are always consistent with the teachings of their faith. And we know that not only Muslims, but people of all faith communities, are not perfect in terms of history over centuries. This is the biggest mix.

Once we deal with the problem at the roots and restore justice, the opportunity of radicalization that cause all that fear of Islam might be abated

But what I’m saying basically is that it is in the context of that turmoil that among various faith communities extremist ideas, sometimes violent ideas, may emerge without necessarily having a good grounding in the scriptures, or more seriously when people twist the meanings of the scriptures, either because of ignorance or agendas or a combination of these, to justify their particular actions.

Secondly of course, the turmoil that we have in the world today is actually getting us into a vicious cycle, because sometimes that violence or inappropriate behavior on the part of some is responded to by violence, and violence begets violence. And unfortunately we seem to be caught in this vicious circle of violence, and counter violence, and counter-counter violence.

I think what we need to do is to take a cool-minded approach to try to analyze the reasons behind this radicalization, and maybe to be courageous enough and have the political will, not just the religious or spiritual, but the political will to try to mitigate those injustices that have contributed in the first place to these acts of violence.

Most of the things that we hear about today are really relatively recent, recent years, or at most recent decades. I think once we deal with the problem at the roots and restore justice, the opportunity of radicalization that cause all that fear of Islam might be abated.

The Media

On the other hand, also the media stereotypes and images and focusing always on the negative aspects, this is the way media does business. Business has to sell, and they cannot sell what the good Samaritan did last night, but always sensational things take disproportionate exposure in the media, let alone the legacy of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Islam kind of thing that existed in the western world, also contribute and reinforce this. Especially people who come or pose as experts of Islam and try to discover the “connection” between some violent actions and the teachings of the Quran based on very poor exegesis, if not outright distortion.

These are a variety of factors. But I must say for the sake of honesty also that yes some actions of some people who claim to be Muslims sometimes reinforces this kind of image of fear.

So there are a number of factors, both internal and external. It will take lots of hardwork on many different fronts to address this issue.

About Dr. Jamal Badawi:

Dr. Jamal Badawi is an Egyptian born Muslim Canadian. He is a former professor who taught at a number of schools including the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a well-known author, activist, preacher and speaker on Islam. Dr. Badawi is the author of many books and articles on Islam. Currently, he is the Vice-Chairman of the Islamic University.

For More Information:

For more information on Islam, please visit, or call 877-Why-Islam.

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