Amid dystopic visions of an Islamic Europe, remember the Alhambra – Telegraph

We should counter anti-Islamic scare-mongering by recalling our debt to the culture of Muslim Spain

Phewee. I snapped the novel shut before the easyJet plane had even landed. I read it so fast I more or less inhaled it. It’s the new bestseller – Submission – by that seedy-looking, chain-smoking French intellectual called Houellebecq (pron. Wellbeck), and it is brilliant because an outlandish scenario is made to seem so darned plausible.

“Our age is likely to be bedevilled by anxiety about Islam – or at least about Islamism” 》》》


Tolerance in Islam

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ

“MAKE due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant”.[Quran;7:199]  “There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Satan  and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”[Quran; 2:256] Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of beliefs, opinions, thoughts, feelings, habits, or behaviour that are different from your own, which you dislike or disagrees with. The roots of present turmoil in the world can be traced to the ‘intolerant attitude’ towards others besides many other factors.  In 1927 Pickthall delivered a lecture on ‘Tolerance in Islam’ which were Compiled  by Dr. A. Zahoor; by Dr. Z. Haq. It is being reproduced here due to its relevance and need this day. Keep  reading at Source;

Source: Books & Articles: Tolerance in Islam

Islam and the Discovery of Freedom | Foundation for Economic Education

#Religion Mention “Islam” to most Americans and they think of Saddam Hussein or the Ayatollah Khomeini. It is popularly linked to violence and terrorism, which is unfortunate. Far from being synonymous with intolerance and bloodshed, Islam has a history of peace and respect for individual rights. One famous exponent of freedom who knew that was Rose Wilder Lane. Her original book, The Discovery of Freedom, contains an abundance of information on the golden era of Islamic civilization, particularly the role that free markets played in that remarkably progressive and virtually stateless society. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, an Islamic free-market think tank, has in Islam and the Discovery of Freedom taken Rose Wilder Lane’s original text and added scholarly commentary.

Source: Islam and the Discovery of Freedom | Foundation for Economic Education

Peace-Forum: US at war with an imaginary Islam: Lies, propaganda and the real story of America and the Muslim world

American propaganda exaggerates the power and moral depravity of the Islamic enemy, in the service of our empire

Excerpted from “One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds: Spirituality, Identity and Resistance Across Islamic Lands”

The United States is at war with a very different, mythic Islam of its own making that has nothing at all to do with this Islam of the Qur’an. To make sense of that conjured threat, scholarly studies of Islam or Islamic movements are of no help at all. Even the examination of the real-world history and practice of empire has limited value, unless the perceived Islamic dimension is considered. The American imperial project cannot be brought into clear view without assessment of the distinctive rationale that the Islamist Imaginary provides. The task is not an easy one. The Islamist Imaginary has no simple and unitary existence. Rather, it is a complex amalgam that shapes both the delusions of empire and a conjured threat to imperial power into a co-evolving composite. It is a “difficult whole,” in the helpful language of complexity theory. The Islamist Imaginary, unlike Islam itself and political movements of Islamic inspiration, does not exist outside of the imperial interests that shape it. It has no independent cultural or historical reality, outside its role as predatory threat to Western global interests. The American empire, in turn, requires a hostile and threatening enemy, which today takes the form of Islam of its imagination, to realize and rationalize its expansionist project that must remain unacknowledged and unspoken. The two elements of the imaginary and empire co-evolve. The needs of a threatened empire as vulnerable victim change over time. The Islamist Imaginary transforms itself to meet those needs. Imaginary and empire circle one another in a dance of predator and prey. Their roles are interchangeable, a clear sign that they are not entirely real. The predator is prey; the prey is predator. They develop in tandem in a complex process of mutual adaptation. Boundaries give way between the real and the imagined. In the end it is the imagined that haunts our imaginations and drives our policies. 》》》》》

Five Arguments to Help Christian Missionary towards True teachings of Jesus Christ

Argument #1:

According to John 3:16, the Bible says:

“ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”– John 3:16.

You must understand that Jesus, according to this verse has died for the sins of the world. Show the Christian this verse and remind them of that. Jesus died for your sins (a disbeliever in Christianity) and for the sins of Christians. He already died for them. Jesus is not going to time travel some 2000 odd years or so ago and on the cross say, “I am dying for the sins of the world, expect that guy!”

Therefore let the missionary know that Jesus has already died for your sins and by that very act, you are sinless. At this point the missionary will stop and say that you either have to ‘accept this gift by believing he is God’, or pointing to the verse and showing you the phrase, ‘that whoever believes in him…’. Stop them and let them know that the verse says that mere belief in him is enough to earn that gift of sacrifice. The verse does not say to believe in him as a God, just mere belief, let the Christian know that by adding the words, ‘belief in him as a God’,that they are perverting their scripture. They will not be pleased and most certainly not be patient. By using this argument, they shall become very uncomfortable and as a result, very incensed. Calm them and by God’s will, your da’wah to them shall open a way of mercy for them.

Argument #2:

According to Genesis 6:6 the Bible says:

“The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”

The argument using this verse is quite simple. If God is all knowing, then God cannot make mistakes. Only those who make mistakes have regret, therefore the Christian God is not all knowing. Thus, you ask the Christian if God is all knowing, when they answer with a resounding, ‘yes’, then pose to them this verse and the logic mentioned above. They will try to take you away from this verse by mentioning you have taken it out of context, if that is the case, show them the following passage:“
Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. ” – 1 Samuel 15:35.

At this point, the missionary will attempt to divert from the topic, but be authoritative in your speech and indicate that you’ll need them to answer why God has ‘regret’ and why someone should believe in such a God. You won’t get an answer, but the expression while they try to meander their way out of this topic is priceless.

Argument #3:
According to Matthew 27:46, the Bible says:“
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” – Matthew 27:46.

Show the Christian this verse and ask if it says that Jesus was forsaken by God. When they say yes, turn to the following verse:“
For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish.”” – Psalm 37:28.

According to this passage, if Christ was faithful, loved by God and Just,then God would not have forsaken him. How ever as the Christian just admitted, Christ was indeed forsaken. According to the passage in Psalms, the ‘wrongdoers’ would be destroyed and the ‘wicked’ perish. If Jesus did die and since he was forsaken, according to the Christian belief it must be then, that Christ was wicked and a wrongdoer. Let the Christian know that as a Muslim, you cannot believe this about Jesus the Messiah, a prophet of God.

Argument #4:
According to Matthew 5:22, the Bible says:

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” – Matthew 5:22.

According to the Christian belief, since Jesus is God, then God is saying that calling anyone a ‘fool’ means then, that the person who does so is in danger of hell. As it turns out, Jesus breaks this rule and is therefore a sinner, and subsequently in danger of hell:

“You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”” – Matthew 23:17.

Argument #5:
According to 2 Corinthians 12:6-9, Paul, in the Bible says:

“But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:6-9

”According to ‘Saint’ Paul, God sent a Messenger of Satan to teach him the reality of grace. If it is a Messenger from God,why then, does Paul call it a Messenger of Satan?

Since it is from God, shouldn’t it be a Messenger of God? Since Paul calls Messengers sent by Christ to teach him grace, Satan, and since Paul is tormented and Christ is unwilling to remove the ‘Messenger of Satan’, then we must conclude that Paul was a man possessed by some demon.

Devil tempted Adam, Eve got them out of gardens of bliss , tempted Jesus Christ but was rebuked:

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”[Matthew 4:10]

The disappointed Satan later got Paul in vision [as did David Koresh and Jim Jones] and possessed him. The dubious VISION of Paul and conversion story  is exposed due to conflicting account at Act, chapters 9,22 & 26. Then the influence of Messenger of Satan, resulted in such doctrines which Jesus Chrsit never preached, he said:

Matthew 7:21-26:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Master, Master ‘ [Greek:kurios, master, as a respectful title, Lord, sir] will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Master, master didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.”

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” [Matthew 13:15]

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” [Matthew 7:26]

“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘And in vain they pay reverence [Greek sebomai sebomai, revere, worship, adore] to me as they teach doctrines of commandments of the sons of men.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”  [Mark 7:6-10]

“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”[2 Corinthians 11:4]

These arguments should silence the missionary and create awareness in their hearts to follow true teachings of Jesus Christ not of the Paul.

You’ve successfully made them doubt their misconception of God, their belief in Christ’s deity and lastly, Paul’s apostleship. Thereby, completely dismantling their faith. May God accept your da’wah, Ameen.

Five Arguments to Debunk Any Missionary-Short link:

Video at Peace-Forum :

Islamophobia: By Claire Chambers

As my friend knows, Islamophobia has become an urgent topic for me, especially since reading Salman Rushdie`s Joseph Anton. This memoir is perhaps best summarised by Matthew Hart: `much like his career to date, the book is great until about halfway through.` However much one might wish to contest some of Rushdie`s assertions, there is no denying the literary and emotional power of the early sections describing the fatwa years. Yet, as Joseph Anton progresses it becomes increasingly pompous, celebrity-obsessed, and misogynist.

More interesting from my perspective, though, is the way in which Rushdie denies the existence of anti-Muslim hatred. He writes, `A new word had been created to help the blind remain blind: Islamophobia,` and shortly afterwards he co-opts George Orwell`s 1984 to relegate the term to `the vocabulary of Humpty Dumpty Newspeak.` (It`s revealing that Rushdie should cite newspeak`s creators` name for their torture chamber, The Ministry of Love, in support of his argument, but not Muslims` experiences of the doublespeak of `extraordinary rendition,“shock and awe,` and `detention`.) But what is Islamophobia? Is it a species of loathing akin to homophobia, misogyny, antiSemitism, and racism? Or is religion, as Rushdie argues, just an `idea` which should be robust enough to `withstand criticism`? `Islamophobia` is a new, imperfect idiom still finding its place in mainstream discourse.

First coined as the French `Islamophobe` in the early 20th century, it didn`t make its way into English until 1985 when Rushdie`s friend, the distinguished Palestinian Christian writer Edward Said, presciently pointed out `the connection between Islamophobia and antiSemitism.

Chris Allen describes the `first decade of Islamophobia` as truly beginning in the `90s.

In 1997 Britain`s Runnymede Trust published its foundational report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, which led to the term entering public policy for the first time, and which sought to explain the word`s meaning by tabulating eight `closed` and `open` views of Islam.

For my money, though, the best definition comes from Nasar Meer and Tariq Modood, who describe Islamophobia as `anti-Muslim sentiment which simultaneously draws upon signs of race, culture and belonging in a way that is by no means reducible to hostility towards a religion alone.` Whereas Rushdie seeks to make a distinction between attacking ideas and attacking people, Meer and Modood dismantle this common argument that religion, unlike skin colour, gender, and sexuality, consists of private beliefs that one chooses and can equally abandon, suggesting that both religious and secularist beliefs actually tend to be rather fixed, context-specific, and inherited. It is not just `ideas` that anti-Islam zealots are attacking, but people and in the West thesepeople often belong to vulnerable and impoverished minorities.

Having defined Islamophobia, it next behoves us to ask: does this raciallyand culturally-constructed anti-Muslim feeling actually exist? Two internet storms from the last month indicate that Islamophobia is real and aggressive. Writing in The New York Times about Mohamed Morsi`s fall, David Brooks suggested that undifferentiated Islamists are embroiled in a `culture of death,` concluding, in high Orientalist style, `It`s not that Egypt doesn`t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.` On Twitter, American author Joyce Carol Oates mused `Where 99.3% of women report having been sexually harassed & rape is epidemic Egypt natural to inquire: what`s the predominant religion?.` Oates later halfapologised for the comment, but first the Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami riposted, `Sexual assaults and rape areepidemic in the US military. What is the predominant religion there?.` No wonder researchers Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley describe Islamophobia and related subjects as a `toxic gift that keeps on giving.

In the UK there has been a spike in the number of hate attacks against Muslims since the horrific murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich this May. Yet, when a small group of EDL supporters recently protested in Rigby`s name outside a York Mosque, in my picturesque (and quite monocultural) city of work, the mosque members welcomed the bigots with tea and biscuits, provisions with quintessentially British (and Pakistani) cultural resonances.

This incident, which The Guardian called an attempt to `open a dialogue,` demonstrates that many Muslims, far from cultivating a `victim mentality` a charge often levelled at them by the anti-Islamophobia brigade in fact deploy reason, humour, and toleration to combat hatred.

How does anti-Muslim sentiment make its way into writing by authors from Muslim Pakistani backgrounds? One of the earliest and most consistent writers to explore the issue is Aamer Hussein, whose short story about the First Gulf War, `Your Children,` was published soon after the 1990 invasion. Along with another story, `The Book of Maryam,` which recalls the tense London atmosphere just before the Second Gulf War, it evokes the ethical and political concerns raised for Muslims by US-led raids. As a character in `YourChildren` remarks, the Gulf War `isn`t a Muslim war.

Daniyal Mueenuddin and Kamila Shamsie almost casually mention Islamophobia experienced in post-9/11 America. Mueenuddin`s elite Pakistani émigrés in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders are described as daily apologising for the crime of 9/11, despite their great distance from Al Qaeda`s politics. In Shamsie`s Broken Verses, a character accounts for his return from New York to Karachi with a familiar litany: `the INS. Guantanamo Bay. The unrandom random security checks.` In Burnt Shadows, another character says: `Everyone just wants to tell you what they know about Islam, how they know so much more than you do, what do you know, you`ve just been a Muslim your whole life?.

In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid explores Islamophobia through the Pakistani character Changez, who is aware of countrymen being beaten and arrested in post9/11 New York, and is himself ostracised foradopting the potent visual symbol of a beard, eventually compelling him too to return to Pakistan. H.M. Nagvi`s novel Home Boy similarly recounts the story of well-integrated Pakistani-Americans, Shehzad (`Chuck`) and his two friends, who are arrested on terrorism charges in the fearful and frightful post-9/11 climate.

Twenty-first-century Islamophobia in Britain is scrutinised in Hanif Kureishi`s Something to Tell You. The novel shows religion moving to centre-stage in London just after 7/7 when Ajita, a previously secular character, tries to reorient herself by sporting a burqa. More convincing are Kureishi`s depiction of London as `one of the great Muslim cities` and his exploration of a Britain where Muslims` `fortunes and fears rose and fell according to the daily news,` and `Mussie` and `ham-head` are new insults.

This fascinating body of writing suggests that the pen is among the best weapons minority Muslims have with which to fight raciallyinflected religious hatred. Like Scheherazade telling stories to stave off violence, these Pakistani writers dispute common stereotypes of Muslims and distract from the dominant narrative with wit, passion, and empathy. Their voices add gradation to the `not-for-prophet` New Atheist movement`s hollering. Rushdie might do well to study some of these novels, so that he can learn what Islamophobia is from those qualified to define it from experience as well as theory.

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire – Review

“Indeed, the success of American Muslims, and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties, is the ultimate rebuke to those who say we are at war with Islam.” Obama made this pronouncement in his recent speech on the future of the ‘war on terror’ despite the abundance of evidence showing that the state, with Obama at the helm, has massively encroached upon the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, “our determination” to the contrary notwithstanding. Such state practices, shot through with Islamophobia, penalise people for being Muslim.

Take, for instance, the state’s monitoring of mosques inside the US. It marks mosques as places of danger for American Muslims, making it perilous for them to congregate. Similarly, the practice of sending informants into mosque-centered Muslim communities tears them apart from within as distrust of fellow Muslims sets in and discussions of the sociopolitical issues that directly affect Muslims become taboo. Such state measures make it all the more difficult for Muslims to be politically engaged and fight for their rights, especially as Muslims. The Islamophobia of such policing measures, however, is utterly lost on the “colour-blind” Obama-liberals. In their view, as a relic of the past, racism is the sole preserve of those Americans who’re not with the times — Conservatives, simple-minded country bumpkins, know-nothing mill workers. What emerges from Deepa Kumar’s trenchant critique of Islamophobia in her new book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, is that Islamophobia as a potent imperial ideology is a bipartisan project. Kumar shines a bright light on liberal Islamophobia, and shows how the Obama administration’s emphasis on homegrown terrorism generated a lot of talk about ‘terrorists in our midst’ in the mainstream American media and presented right-wing Islamophobes with the opportunity they needed to (re-)popularise the old ‘Islamic peril’. As Kumar puts it, “The politics of liberal Islamophobia at the top of the society enabled the extreme Islamophobia of the right.” A feature of liberal Islamophobia is that you get to have a self-aggrandising guilty conscience about what you have had to do — which, nonetheless, had to be done for the greater good of humanity. Speaking of the civilian casualties from drone warfare, for example, Obama had this to say in the aforementioned speech: “For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live.” In other words, ‘shoot and cry’. The racism at the heart of modern imperial violence operates on indifference as much as on explicit hatred. The indifference to the many that die “over there” in the “badlands,” that such brutal military assaults can only be launched at will on a non-Western population, that the blatant state surveillance of entire neighbourhoods inside the US based on ethnicity and religion can only happen to the ‘Little Pakistans’ — all of this requires rendering certain people as justified ‘collateral damage’ to the civilising imperial mission.
It is this imperial racism and the dehumanising Islamophobic rhetoric of the so-called ‘war on terror’ that Kumar brings into focus in this most valuable primer. “Drawing on my academic training as a cultural theorist,” Kumar writes, “I situate the rhetoric of Islamophobia within the broader political, historical, legal, and social context from which it emerges to show that anti-Muslim racism has been primarily a tool of the elite in various societies.” She demonstrates in elegant, accessible prose that Islamophobia is neither timeless nor expressed and acted upon in any uniform way. It is not an eternal, unchangeable Western hatred of Islam and Muslims, but is actively whipped up when it is politically expedient to do so. This point is crucial. To be able to see Islamophobia’s making (and remaking) holds the key to its unmaking.

In Kumar’s telling, it is the age of modern European colonialism and its “systematic use of scholarly knowledge to serve the needs of empire” — what can be described as Orientalism — that Islamophobia acquires its full political potency from. The worldview produced by these Orientalist scholars was one, to quote Kumar, “in which the ‘West’ is seen as dynamic, complex, and ever-changing society which cannot be reduced to its key religion or any other single factor, while the ‘Orient’ or the ‘world of Islam’ is presented as unchanging, barbaric, misogynistic, uncivilised, and despotic.”

When by the middle of the 20th century, the US “took over the mantle of colonial overlord of the ‘Muslim world,’” it too began to systematically study the Middle East as the European empires had done. This American scholarship reproduced the Orientalist dualism in the form of the “modernisation theory,” a highly influential theory till the 1970s. Kumar notes that this theory categorised societies along the traditional-modern binary, roughly mapping on to the old East/West divide: “Traditional societies were agricultural and rural, slow to change, and politically authoritarian. Modern societies, on the other hand, were seen as industrial, quick to change, and politically democratic and egalitarian.” The so-called traditional societies could not change from within; they had to be changed from without by Western intervention. America’s mission, conceived through such a dichotomous understanding of the world, is that of ‘benevolent supremacy’: “the notion that an American-dominated world would ensure liberty and democracy for all through the mechanisms of free-market capitalism.” According to Kumar, such views are widely held. Even those that joined the massive anti-war liberal-left coalition against the Iraq invasion bought into the official line that the American occupation is necessary for democracy to bloom in Iraq. Kumar, an active member of the anti-war movement, writes that she “found almost unanimous agreement in the [antiwar] coalition that this was indeed the right thing to do.”
From academic justifications of imperialism, Kumar moves to an analysis of the American foreign policy thought, and finds that there is a consensus between the neoconservatives and “the realist/liberal camp” when it comes to “the right of the United States to assert its power around the world,” and on American exceptionalism — the idea that America is unique among nations because of its liberal values. Kumar charts these two trajectories through time and notes that while “[a]fter Vietnam, Cold War liberals backed away from open confrontation and intervention,” preferring, for instance in the Clinton era, coalition building and politically expedient, selective “humanitarian” interventionism, (if possible) with the endorsement of the United Nations, the neoconservatives remained committed to militarism. The difference, thus, is a matter of frankness about the use of violent means to the same imperial ends. The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, left America with no global foe against which the neocon militarist fantasies could be enacted. To address this void, even before 9/11, neocons like Daniel Pipes identified Islam as the new threat to the West just as communism had been during the Cold War. But the installation of the Islamic enemy as the supreme villain to the West had to wait till 9/11. Kumar notes that “capitalising on this opportunity […] also meant orchestrating an elaborate public relations campaign designed to elicit public support and stifle criticism. Enter the War on Terror and the language of Islamophobia.”

Obama has hammered again and again that the US is not at war with Islam. It is not my purpose to argue that it is, but to point out how such statements serve to obfuscate the Islamophobia of American foreign and domestic policies. Liberal Islamophobia shuns the language of ‘clash of civilisation’ that one routinely came across in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Instead, it prefers the nicer-sounding ‘clash within’ thesis that holds that there is a war going on “inside Islam” between moderate Muslims (‘our friends’) and the extremist ones (‘our enemy’). Caught in the middle of a fight not of its own making, the United States, always both the innocent bystander and the reluctant, self-designated policeman of the world, needs to strengthen ‘friend Muslims’ through diplomacy, market initiatives, and of course, by visiting violence on the ‘enemy Muslims’.

Friend Muslims know that what’s good for America is good for the world. Enemy Muslims, on the other hands, are united by a common ideology that fuels terrorism, which, in Obama’s words, is “a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West.” Terrorism experts and various US state officials term this the ‘Jihadi narrative’: a stringing together of real or fictitious incidents of American aggression as evidence of America’s/West’s war on Islam. Ill- informed, irrational Muslims, so prone to conspiracy theories, get “brainwashed” and radicalised by this fabricated litany of anti-Muslim American violence, the theory goes. Radicalisation is conceived as a conveyor belt to suicide bombing and the person on this path, to quote from the aforementioned Obama speech, “is drifting towards violence.” Even if he has not committed any violence, it is deemed destined that he will — unless he is killed or captured.
This counterterrorist narrative about the ‘Jihadi narrative’ distracts liberals from developing a vigorous critique of the ‘war on terror’ as they recover from their fleeting feelings of shame about the frequent “flying while Muslim” incidents with musings about how ‘those radical Muslims’ must love such stories about America falling short of its ideals. Worse yet, this narrative becomes a way to silence any charges of Islamophobia and racism levelled at the United States’ global wars and Muslim critiques of American violence are dismissed with prejudice as ‘Osama-talk’. This last charged was also hurled at me by a Pakistani liberal, who took anti-imperialist critiques of the US to be necessarily right-wing talking points stemming from knee-jerk “anti-Americanism.” Having thus completely abandoned anti-imperialism as a relevant, progressive cause, Pakistani liberals then self-righteously wonder why so many of Pakistan’s middle-class (sub)urban youth grow fond of jingoist, military-idolising talking heads like Zaid Hamid who posit a besieged Islam as a veritable damsel in distress and Pakistan military with its phallic armaments as the guardian of its honour.

Much of the imperial rhetoric holds Islamism to be violent extremism — an Islamic problem, with, to quote the aforementioned Obama speech, “deep rooted problems like poverty and sectarian hatred” feeding it. In this narrative, these enabling factors have nothing to do with America, and are presumably inherent to Muslim society. In two stirring chapters, Kumar historicises the emergence of what is also referred to as political Islam. She reminds readers of the history of America’s arming and financing — as a bulwark against communism — what Obama referred to as “extremism, from North Africa to South Asia.” Kumar elucidates the “overarching conditions that enable Islamists to vie for hegemony” in the late 20th century, namely: the American role in the birth and propagation of violent global Jihad; the American-backed violence on secular nationalist political forces; the failure of the Left to step into the void created by the retreat of secular nationalist forces; neoliberalism’s relentless exacerbation of economic crises across the world that paved the way for the rise of right-wing religio-political movements across religions.

Kumar argues that developing a robust understanding of political Islam requires that it not be considered a unified phenomenon. Instead, each Islamist movement must be placed in its local context. However, she also says that the role local conditions play is beyond the purview of her exploration. If that is the case, Kumar’s claim to be looking at “the phenomenon of political Islam on its own terms” falls short, for however necessary the global conditions may be, they do not fully explain why this particular ideology (and not some other) came to be the political force that it is today. In other words, the question to ponder is: why did ordinary people partake in Islamism(s), and what about it/them captured their imagination and political energies?
A similar issue lies in conceptualising Islamophobia as a tool of the political elites, mobilised in order to serve their interests. Again, this does not tell us much about what compels ordinary citizens to follow the lead of the political classes/elites. In other words, when it comes to Islamophobia, what brings the interests of both the elites and the masses in consonance? Drawing a sharp dichotomy between the interests of the elites and those of the common people has the unfortunate effect of taking away the latter’s agency, rendering them into mindless cattle which can be herded into lynch mobs. It is a politically and intellectually debilitating position to take. On the one hand, Kumar believes that “it is from the ranks of ordinary people that activists emerge to challenge racism in all its forms. It is here that the hope for fighting and ending Islamophobia lies.” But when it comes to explaining why ordinary people espouse Islamophobic ideas, she states that this is because “those who rule a society tend to set the terms of discussion,” even though “ordinary people can and do resist dominant ideas.” History teaches us that the elite are not always successful in securing consent, despite the mighty ideological apparatus. But the question still remains: how do (some) elite ideas, in this case imperial Islamophobia, become dominant at a given moment in time? Knowing how ‘the masses’ are also pivotal to the maintenance of violent ideologies and systems can help one see the mundane, everyday workings of power, and ordinary people’s complicity in the very systems of dominance that oppress them. That may constitute a valuable lesson for us ordinary people in how to resist, or at least how not to enlist in, predatory social systems.

Review of Deepa Kumar’s book :Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (POLITICS) [US ISBN 1608462110 220pp] By Salman Adil .

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire – Review: