According to Oxford Dictionary, Islamophobia is defined as the “dislike and prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially by political force”. Apart from dislike and prejudice, there is also exaggerated fear and rage towards Islam and Muslims. What results from Islamophobia is violence and hate.
With the violence and rage come the hate crimes that Muslims all over the world have to unjustly endure. Such crimes extend to physical and verbal assaults towards Muslims, degradation and vandalism of mosques, Islamic Centres and homes of Muslims and worse.
Islamophobia crimes have been noted all throughout the world, ranging from North America to Australia. It is important to note that most Islamophobia crimes are cited in Non-Muslim majority countries, such as United States of America and United Kingdom. After seeing this increase in prevalence of Islamophobia in the recent years, it is time we start talking about why and how do we stop it.
Some may speculate that Islamophobia came about since the uprising of terroristic attacks from groups that declare themselves under the name of Islam. However, Islamophobia does not have a true origin story.
It came about like any other phobia: a fear of the unknown. We, as humans, always fear what we are unknowledgeable about. What we do not know is what we consider to be scary.
Consider it similar to a cave. From what we see, hear and are told about the cave, the knowledge that we have based on that cave is that it is dark, scary and dangerous. Due to the fact that we do not actually take the effort to explore the cave, we just adapt the perceptions of the cave as our reality. And unfortunately, that is not the case for the majority of the time.
The terroristic events that happen to our world on a daily basis are horrific and terrible and should be condemned. And when these terroristic groups use the name of Islam to justify their actions, it becomes difficult for the outside world, specifically those who have not been exposed to Islam or Muslims, to distinguish amongst the two: Islam and violence.
It is evident that Islam and violence are two different entities. If it were not, then the 1.6 billion Muslims residing on Earth would be violent people. But that is just not true.
An extremist group, that uses the name of a religion, is not a reflection of the religion itself. Just as the Ku Klux Klan are not a reflection of Christianity, neither is ISIS a reflection of Islam. A minority of Islamic extremists do not represent a religion of 1.6 billion Muslims.
The problem that arises with Islamophobia and those who have this fear of Islam and Muslims is the negligence to learn about Islam itself. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation. Ignorance is absolutely detrimental to our society in this case.
Once people start opening their minds and start learning about Islam, from true scholars of Islam, and meeting Muslim people, they begin to be more exposed to the religion and those who practice it. Taking from the earlier analogy, once people start exploring the cave, the fear slowly fades away. Similarly, the fear of Islam and Muslims fade away.
From there, these horrible acts of islamophobia may end and less innocent people would get hurt.
Beyond our religions, we are all a part of one unified entity: humankind. With that being said, we should all give and receive mutual respect and kindness to our fellow brothers and sisters.
Because as a humankind, we are all supposed to help each other out. The world already has enough violence, hate and negativity and we should not be adding onto it. Rather, we should unite to fight against it through love and respect for one another.
Fatin Najwa binti Daud, is a medical student studying at IMU Malaysia. She is a freelance writer of this blog at Zaahara. Interests include music, art, sports and travel.
-Photos are taken from google images
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