I think by now most folks realise that Islamic fundamentalism (Islamism) is a political and social issue – not part of mainstream Islam at all. Extremists exist in every religion and you can’t reason with people who claim to know exactly what God wants. In fact, mainstream Islam is as much a target of extremists as the west.
So why does western media persistently apply phrases and concepts to muslims as a group, that have more in common with extremist nonsense than real Islam? Most muslims don’t go around referring to Christians and Jews as infidels or unbelievers. Most muslims aren’t operating undercover to secure islamic world dominion. Most muslims just want to get on with their lives, study, work, get married, raise kids. Most muslims have no interest in establishing a religious state or seeing sharia law implemented – some of them have left countries for those very reasons. That muslims have the same human concerns as anyone else shouldn’t have to be stated.
Take for example, the promise of 72 virgins (houris) to muslim martyrs entering Paradise that terrorism has made us all familiar with. The lurid imagery of the waiting virgins apparently began with Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka and isn’t even found in the Qur’an. The descriptions of “swelling breasts”, “transparent skin” and an “eternally young” appearance are all the cheesy work of human interpretation and desperation, but to my knowledge, it’s never been refuted. Its use by extremists to motivate the uneducated masses seems validation enough for the West, despite the fact that the majority of Islamist followers are poorly educated and believe whatever they are told – a concept difficult for those of us with the luxury of an education to grasp. Their slightly better-educated self-styled leaders, use this to their advantage in pushing their political/power agendas – to gain followers and increase their influence they give their political struggle a religious covering.
Recent British census data revealed muslims are just as likely to value democracy and British identity as any one else. But the media actively encourage the public to view an entire demographic with fear and suspicion. The Leveson enquiry admonished the British press for manufacturing stories that painted muslims in a bad light, but when prominent public figures like Lord Pearson, former leader of the UK Independence Party are broadcast making statements like this…
“Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us… if we do not do something now, within the next year or two, we have, in effect, lost.”
… it makes you wonder just how far down the slippery mud-track of racial and religious intolerance the UK has already gone. References to “breeding”, are a tool used to reduce the humanity of a group and establish a clear gulf between “them” and “us”. It’s well-known that part of the Nazi propaganda machine’s slow and deliberate destruction of the Jews included comparison with “lower species”, namely rats. And we all know how that situation played out.
Because I’m muslim I’ll naturally draw cries of “Taqiyya” from the non-muslim, armchair Islam-experts. You’ve never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I stood accused of it when I last wrote about the differences between real and perceived Islam in the West. I had to go and look it up. It’s the practice of concealing one’s beliefs in dangerous circumstances, referred to in the Qur’an when the early believers – who had broken away from the tribalistic, idol-worshipping majority – found themselves at risk from torture or pressed to deny their new faith under duress (much like events in the Spanish Inquisition). It seems to be the current buzzword in Islamaphobic circles, I guess there’s nothing like the feeling of intellectual superiority the knowledge of a single Arabic word gives you, no matter how inaccurately applied. Anyway, as they would have it, I’m only seeking to conceal Islam’s true aim of world domination by portraying it in a more benign light. And people wonder why more muslims don’t speak out…
I’ll leave you with two quotes to mull over:
لَکُمۡ دِیۡنُکُمۡ وَلِیَ دِیۡنِ
“To you your religion and to me mine”
The Qur’an 109:7
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
Things Fall Apart – W.B.Yeats