Last week I had a chance to join a talk about Islamophobia in Leeds Grand Mosque which held by MEND , an organization based on research works in anti-muslim discrimination. This event was not only attended by muslim fellows but also other people from various religions. MEND highlighted on the causes and cures to Islamophobia in United Kingdom. According to the talk, apparently there are three main causes to Islamophobia:
1. Media biased
Media is obviously one of the most powerful tools to frame people’s mind. Unfortunately, this powerful tool cannot really use its potential to the maximum level. Quoting Slamet Rahardjo, Indonesian director, actor, and screenwriter: “Penonton itu dididik, bukan dilayani.” (translated) “Viewers are to be educated not to be served only.
2. Legislation (government rules)
Many of UK government’s regulations do not protect Islam as much as they protect other religions. It seems that UK government clearly swallows up negative stereotypes that people have on Islam.
3. Lack of muslims participation
Ironically true. The fact that muslim is not well-integrated to against Islamophobia is quite a sad fact. We as a muslim might condemn Islamophobia but at the same time do nothing concrete about it.
If you would spend more time to observe deeper, it is crystal-clear that Islam as a religion has been hijacked by irresponsible groups. All of those people who labeled as terrorist, extremist, jihadist, or even ISIS are using it as a justification to proceed their mission. Terrorists misuse Islam, they made it as a vehicle to deliver their violent agenda. They said it was written in Qur’an that it is fine to kill non-muslim people, whatsoever. WRONG! There is no such thing! Instead, you can find in Qur’an, surat Al-Maidah verse 32, “..if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind..”
Besides, there is this one thing that disgusts me the most about how those people who called themselves as ‘jihadist’ always shout “Allahuakbar” before they perform any bombing action. For God’s sake, they misuse the holy words “Allahuakbar” for something sinful. Allahuakbar means ‘God is The Greatest’ we use it as expression that we remember Allah every time we look at something great, beautiful, out of our league. We say Allahuakbar when we pray five times a day. We say Allahuakbar to remind ourselves that nothing is greater than God itself. So it is very confusing when they admit that they acknowledge Allah as The Greatest while doing something which obviously claims themselves as ‘greater’ than God by killing people. Isn’t that God’s prerogative to give and to take someone’s life?
As a result, Islamophobia is significantly constructed in our society nowadays which actually is the accumulation of many irresponsible accidents caused by irresponsible people. And anyway, it is basically normal that the fear has been developed into something greater and serious so that it is now in the level of phobia. Who wants to see their loved one being killed by random stranger? No one! Of course no one. Even those so-called jihadist themselves, they do not want their family hurts. Seeing thousand of innocent families suffer from this war is indeed heart-wrenching!
Sadly, the hatred toward terrorists is targeting the wrong place. It is not the hatred towards terrorist anymore but hatred towards Islam and Muslim people, regardless who they are nor what they do. Million of muslim suffer from discrimination all over the world, especially in area where they are the minority. Now people are more focus on analyzing a woman’s headscarf and a man’s beard rather than focus on treating them as a person. As worse as it becomes, many muslims lost their jobs, got different treatment at school, got yelled at in public places, even being pushed into the railway just because people feel immensely unsafe being surrounded by muslim. These kind of effects that never crossed those ‘jihadist’ mind.
Let’s put it this way, if those ‘jihadist’ or bombers do not have Arab look, do not have big beard, do not wear trouser above the ankle, and do not shout Allahuakbar, how do you notice if they are muslim or not? No clues. Clearly, Islam has no relation with terrorist and all of their actions.
So, why is it the religion that people focus on? Come on, it is not the religion, it is the human! Because you don’t have to be a Muslim to be a terrorist, as much as you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, you don’t have to be a Christian to be KKK, and you don’t have to be Buddhist to kill Rohingya people. Do you see the pattern? Yes, it is the human that makes problem, not the religion! Because no religion orders its people to kill other people. Think again, look closely, seriously.. real people with real religion will not kill.
So, let’s cure the terror start from ourselves, our family. Don’t be shallow enough to trust what you see / hear in media as a whole source. Use all the access you have to validate them yourselves. To be fair, judging a religion just based on what you see through some random links in social media or some tv channels, is just like making an academic paper by referencing to wikipedia. You will certainly fail. They are not trustable, biased, subjective, and unreliable sources. Therefore, anytime you see news about certain religion links with violent event, check it again. Of course it is not only about Islam particularly, (God forbids) in the future it might be Hinduphobia, Catholicphobia, etc. The thing is, those super cruel heartless-brainless people might pick on any religion to be their next vehicle to deliver their violent agenda. Do not let them!
And for all muslim fellows, let’s team up to clear things up. Islamophobia is our massive homework to sort out. Condemning is not strong enough. Do whatever you can do, even start from the closest and simplest things such as presenting the best attitude as a muslim in your daily life or even further like gathering up to make such an event / exhibition to introduce Islam more to people in the right, fun, simple way possible. So that people around us are able to realize how graceful and peaceful Islam is.