Qunfuz

Robin Yassin-Kassab

You Muslims!

with 50 comments

This summer my son and I spent a few days in the house of a friend of mine from university days, a friend from a very different background, but a very good friend, very intelligent and very funny, who has always treated me with respect and a great deal of generosity. It was wonderful to see him. The problem was his girlfriend. (Now ex-girlfriend, so I dare write this without jeopardising the friendship).

The first thing she said to my eight-year-old son, after “hello,” was, “Do you feel uncomfortable because I’m not all covered up?” Some minutes later at the dinner table she squeezed her eyes at him and then me, and asked, “What nationality are you?” I should stress here that I’m a native speaker of English, and that my son, although he’s never lived in Britain, has inherited my proper British accent. By now it was apparent that there was an obsessional block in this woman’s head.

A little later my friend (as he does) said something silly about gay people. The girlfriend cast worried glances at me, then my son, and said in the childish tone some people adopt when instructing children, “I think gay people are great!” These educative comments continued, quite irrelevantly. The most absurd, aimed meaningfully at my little boy, was “I really enjoy getting drunk sometimes!” Normally I would argue back, but I was in the very uncomfortable position of being a guest in my friend’s house. Anyway, my son was grown-up enough to understand that this strange woman had a strange agenda.

By the end of the meal she told me, “I think you should bring your daughter next time. It would be fairer.” I had actually offered to bring my daughter to London, but she preferred to go straight to our destination in Scotland with her mother. And she’s only five, so long walks around London would not have been practical.

Later still the girlfriend asked, out of the blue, “Do you have to pray eight times a day?”

This is a woman who achieved a first class degree at Oxford.

Next morning at breakfast the talk was of the alleged car bombs discovered in central London (apparently containing explosives and nails but no detonators). I said the way terrorism works is by causing disproportionate fear, so I was more scared that my son would be hurt by a bomb as we walked through London that day than by a car, although logically I knew he was more likely to be hit by a car. “What?” she exploded (her detonator was well attached). “How can you possibly say it’s disproportionate?” A few moments later she was shouting at me. At this point I felt I had to defend myself, so I said my Arab-Islamic background appeared to be provoking her to false assumptions. “Well,” she said. “You haven’t cleared away your dishes. It’s obvious your wife does all the work.”

And there we have it. From her comments we can piece together quite easily what was going through her mind: this Arab Muslim, or more specifically his still malleable son, needs to be educated on the following points: covered women, homosexuality, alcohol, favouritism of sons over daughters, terrorism, the domestic drudgery enforced on women. At no point did she bother asking me what I thought about any of these issues, or what the people thought in the various Muslim countries I’ve lived in. She believed she already knew.

I don’t have a problem with someone initiating a discussion on any contentious Arab or Muslim issue, so long as they genuinely want to listen to what I say. Curiosity is a good thing. I often stop people in the street, especially in London, and ask them what language they’re speaking, where they’re from. I’ve never offended anyone because it’s clear that I’m really interested, and because if I discover differences of perspective or tradition I consider these differences to be enriching (a very traditional Muslim position this, not trendy multiculturalism. The Prophet said, “al-ikhtilaf rahmeh,” meaning “Difference of opinion is a blessing.”)

Problems arise when your interlocutor is motivated not by curiosity but by the certainty of prejudice. My friend’s ex-girlfriend didn’t need to ask my position on women’s rights because she already knows what people like me think of women’s rights. Whatever I said about bombs in London was irrelevant; she knew what murderousness was in my mind.

And when people immediately jump to, and return to, the same Daily Mail – Fox News – Ayaan Hirsi Ali Islamophobic buttons, you begin to wonder what the point is in having a conversation. On the last day of our meditation retreat (see previous posting), when we were allowed to talk, a man opened a conversation with my wife with the words: “The Qur’an says Muslim men are allowed to hit their wives.” I don’t think the man meant to hurt, but there we are, there’s the climate. Muslims in contact with Westerners now face this all the time, whatever their level of education or commitment to their religion. I don’t think that people of Hindu background are immediately asked to justify widow-burning or the caste system. Most Westerners aren’t even aware of a connection between Hinduism and the caste system, and if they’re educated enough to know about it, they also know that religious Hindus like Ghandi campaigned against it. If someone is wearing a cross you don’t immediately express outrage at Saint Paul’s order to burn witches, or the Biblical prohibition of men lying with men.

I recognise this Islamophobic racism because I’ve met it so often. Recently an Australian resident in Oman had a rant at me. “What you Muslims have to realise,” he screamed, “is that killing Muslims who convert to other religions just isn’t on!” I tried to explain that I have no desire to kill anyone for converting to anything, but he literally couldn’t hear me. He knew, much better than I did, that I hated ex-Muslims, women, gays, Jews, Christians, the West. “But I’m from the West!” I spluttered. To no avail. He didn’t listen, and he felt he didn’t need to.

A few days ago a white man arrived at Regent’s Park Mosque, the most important mosque in Britain, and asked to speak to an imam. An attendant took him to the imam and hurried off to bring tea and biscuits, at which point the white man started beating the imam about the head, and then stuck his fingers deep into the imam’s eyes. The imam is now in a critical state in hospital.

When a Muslim writer condemned the attack on the Guardian’s ‘comment is free’ site, tens of readers posted words to the effect of ‘what do you expect, terrorist? If you’d contributed anything but bombs to the world you wouldn’t be attacked!’

Bombs detonated by Wahabi nihilists have killed far more people in Muslim countries than in the West – in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and elsewhere. When their bombs explode in London or Madrid Muslims are double victims, because they are killed and maimed by the bombs like any other passer-by, and because the hatred of the natives towards them intensifies and becomes more widespread with each attack or alleged plot.

Two of the four bombs which exploded in London on the 7th July 2005 were placed in heavily Muslim areas of the city – Edgware Road, the centre of the Arab community, and Aldgate, the centre of the Bengali community.

This summer’s bomb scares in London and Glasgow led to an immediate upsurge in violence against British Muslims, including firebombings of mosques and a car-ramming of a Muslim-owned shop in Glasgow.

Immediately after September 11th a taboo was imposed in the United States on asking why the attacks happened. At school in Britain I was encouraged to ask why Naziism took over Germany. No-one accused the history teacher of being a Nazi. But in the US after 9/11, linking the attacks to American foreign policy was tantamount to justifying terrorism. For a while there was more space for debate in Britain, but the climate is changing. For many, the question is no longer ‘why are we violently involved in the Muslim world?’, but ‘what is wrong with Islam?’

There is a connection between the Islamophobia of my friend’s ex-girlfriend and violent attacks on British Muslims, in that both arise from essentialising assumptions of Muslims being ‘all the same,’ and of all Muslim violence arising outside of any context, simply because Muslims are violent. Politicians (like Jack Straw, see my posting Hijab/Niqab/Blab ) and the media bear a lot of responsibility for this. The media talks about ‘Islamic terror,’ but doesn’t describe Zionist attacks motivated by belief in the apartheid Jewish state as ‘Jewish terror.’ It doesn’t talk about the ‘Christian Crusade in Iraq,’ although many supporters of the invasion in America think of it in these terms. More fundamentally, in the absence of coherent oppositional politics (in both the West and the Muslim world) it has been easy for our rulers to shift the debate in essentialist directions. Forget about power and money, bombs are exploding in Baghdad, Jenin, and London because the Muslims are evil, or the Shia, or the Crusaders, or the Jews. So we all hurtle, blaming each other, to the abyss. The rulers hunker down in their gated communities while the proles fight outside.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 19, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Islamophobia, UK

50 Responses

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  1. salam,
    i have just started a new blog in english, i hope you check it out and tell me what you thin of it
    http://meansnecessary.blogspot.com/
    yours
    alzaher
    Egypt

    alzaher

    August 20, 2007 at 12:04 pm

  2. Qunfuz,

    Very well put, as usual. At least your friend’s ex-girlfriend was open in the expression of her prejudice. More insiduous and unsettling are the people who pretend to treat you as an equal but harbor similar prejudices.

    Abu Kareem

    August 21, 2007 at 1:17 am

  3. I thought this was an excellent, eloquent post.

    frolix22

    August 21, 2007 at 8:44 am

  4. Hit the nail on the head Qunfuz, such prejudice is indeed extremely prevalent, particularly amongst those who think they are educated and middle class. In the end though, you can only talk with those who want to listen, I doubt that woman or any of the other people you mentioned would ever change their minds. Instead of loading Jews on trains, these people now have a new outlet where it’s acceptable to be racist.

    Wassim

    August 22, 2007 at 12:17 pm

  5. hey, what is it about you muslims?

    Anonymous

    September 6, 2007 at 7:09 pm

  6. Have linked to you in my blog, http://davidderrick.wordpress.com/

    Anonymous

    September 28, 2007 at 5:50 am

  7. I am sorry, but ….

    Muslims are their own worst enemy.

    As you said muslims get punished twice, but its SELF INFLICTED punishment.

    You can’t blame westerners when Muslims protray themselves so often as having a barbaric religion and a medieval culture.

    It must be difficult now to play the victim card like this when weekly atrocities are commited in the name of Islam.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 2:31 am

  8. But Anonymous, weekly atrocities are committed in the name of ‘democracy and civilisation.’ That doesnt mean they are democratic. Your increasingly common attitude shows remarkable blindness to the Western crimes committed in the world – which I dont believe are generally representative of all Westerners or all thing Western – and an inability to distinguish between individual events and a generalised sense of ‘Islam.’ This week we have the teddy bear in Sudan nonsense, and it plainly is nonsense. But it doesnt represent all of Islam or all of the Muslims. I’ve mentioned it to tens of Muslims, and every single one thinks the punishment of the poor teacher, and the Sudanese government, are barbarous and idiotic. They can’t see any offense, and all think it’s clearly some locally-motivated political event. But a section of the Western media takes this up as yet another thing generally representative of ‘Islam.’ This level of analysis is no more complex or nuanced than bin Laden’s, in which every instance of Western violence, interference, decadence becomes another sentence in the narrative of the evil Crusaders and Jews. It can’t be denied that many parts of the Muslim world are in crisis. The reasons are complex, and include social change, the withering of traditional ways of life, young populations, dictatorship, and so on. Blanket condemnations of an entire diverse civilisation don’t help anyone to understand or engage the Muslim world, just as bin Laden’s blanket condemnations of the West dont help anyone to understand this complex set of societies, and to engage it, and its violence.

    qunfuz

    December 3, 2007 at 5:29 am

  9. So why don’t Muslims like you who aren’t the maniacs the world thinks you are come out and say something against Islamic extremism more openly?

    Oh that’s right, you’ll be killed. Even in Britain. Especially in Britain.

    If you can’t stand up and say “This fundamentalism is NOT representative of Islam” to BOTH uninformed non-Muslims AND Muslims, you’ll just have to continue suffering this kind of bigotry.

    So how about using your blog to say “I am a Muslim. The death threats, the threats of lashings, the homophobia and the misogyny are NOT representative of Islam”…? How about saying something about that British school-teacher they want dead for a stupid mistake?

    How about that, instead of saying “Oh poo… I didn’t even get a chance to say anything since my ears were raped by uninformed bigotry” and then doing absolutely NOTHING about it?

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 7:17 am

  10. Hey — good piece.

    So you know you’re not alone: this piece of mine went to air on ABC Radio National Australia about a week back. I hope it gives you at least a hint of comfort.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/perspective/stories/2007/2102796.htm#transcript

    Dirk Flinthart

    Flinthart

    December 3, 2007 at 7:25 am

  11. For context, I’m white, upper-middle class and American and Atheist. I couldn’t have asked for a more blessed (by my own standards) life.

    I ask you, please, don’t be trapped into categorizing westerners as racist, ignorant people. Just as you resent being plagued by the actions of a small but vocal, yet seemingly “representative” portion of your nationality/religion, you will find that Americans and the British feel the same when some idiot speaks in ignorance and is taken to speak for the populace.

    We need to stop identifying ourselves as belonging to specific nationalities, or religions, or creeds, or colors. Each time we identify ourselves as belonging to some specific sub-group of humanity we are isolating ourselves from the rest of the *human* population. Each division breeds internal knowledge. Lack of knowledge about other groups breeds distrust. Distrust breeds fear and leads directly to violence. Unfortunately, the one thing that unites people more strongly than anything else is mutual hatred.

    Celebrate your religion. Celebrate your culture. But it’s time that we, as a species, identify ourselves in no more granular terms than “human”.

    Ryan S.

    December 3, 2007 at 7:50 am

  12. I’m frankly disgusted to see how you downplay the atrocities committed by muslims in Western countries. You are indeed playing the “victim card”, as mentioned by another commenter, but if moderate muslims were more vocal and took more responsibility for weeding out the bad apples among themselves, non-muslims in the West would have a much better view of the Muslim populations in general.

    > In a later posting I will ignore taboos and ask why a tiny minority of British Muslims are attracted to al-Qa’ida ideology, and why they might even seek to kill their fellow citizens.

    Of young British muslims, 13% percent admire al-Qa’ida, 37% would prefer Sharia law in Britain, and 31% thinks killing those who convert from Islam to another religion or to no religion is fair game.

    (According to the survey released in January 2007 by Policy Exchange.)

    Is this a tiny minority?

    I’m looking forward to see your blog entry discussing this topic.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 8:19 am

  13. This was an excellent read: a lot of educated, middle-class people need to read this. Including me :(

    John Connors

    December 3, 2007 at 9:53 am

  14. Great post qunfuz.

    It reminds of an incident I had with a coworker last year (during the last Israeli-Lebanese war). He (a guy I worked with for months at the time) came up to me, quite agitated, and said something of the sort: “WHY IS ISRAEL ATTACKING LEBANON?! THEY SHOULD STOP DOING THAT BULLSHIT OVER THERE!”

    I should have replied “Indeed! I will relay your message to the prime minister at once!”, but instead I just nodded and waited for him to leave.

    -ido (born in Israel, now living in the EU)

    Ido Yehieli

    December 3, 2007 at 10:05 am

  15. Hey this is a good post, but I think you are mistaken to assume this is about what you called “islamophobic racism”. Christians get the same sort of attitude nowadays. Have dinner at someone’s house, and you get a lecture about how creationism is scientifically wrong, global warming is real, and the red states should be set on fire and all their residents gassed. So you sit there and listen to this stuff and wonder what is wrong with people.

    William Bennett

    December 3, 2007 at 10:30 am

  16. > It must be difficult now to play the
    > victim card like this when weekly
    > atrocities are commited in the name of
    > Islam.
    Or Christianity (Northern Ireland/Eire conflict, and others)

    I am a British Christian, and I (as I suspect most Christians) do not accept that those “Christians” engaged in fighting were acting as Christians. Similarly, I suspect that most Muslims do not accept that those engaged in fighting in the name of “Islam” are acting as Muslims.

    I have liked, and enjoyed the company of, all of the Muslim individuals I have met. I work in an office that has a mix of Christians, Muslims, atheists and agnostic individuals. We all get on well, and there is frequent discussion on Religious understanding. It was a Muslim individual from Kurdistan who first encouraged me to talk of my faith; before that, I was afraid of offending others by “preaching” my views. I’m glad I have shared. I am glad that I have listened to other’s views, and have been much enriched by spending time to understand them all: Christian, Muslim, Atheist, and all.

    Amongst other sadnesses I have, I now feel inhibited from visiting a Mosque. Just to be clear, I am a Christian, and that’s not changing :) however, I believe that meeting people with other faiths, supporting them and understanding their points of view is healthy. My (hidden) agenda would be: to make friends; to support people that I would meet through experiences in the Mosque; to be a witness of God; and to better understand my faith through being challenged by others. Sadly, I believe that at this time there would be too much suspicion, on all sides, for this to be acceptable.

    2 questions to all people:
    * Why can’t we all live with respect and understanding of each other?
    * What is it that is causing you your own pain, hurt and/or suspicion?

    Certainly, for those who are Christian, it would be worth remembering:
    Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us. For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

    Let’s give our friendship, compassion, care, generosity, support – collectively known as “Love” – to each other, and see what happens.

    Anonymous Christian

    December 3, 2007 at 10:35 am

  17. Qunfuz,

    It is an unfortunate fact of life that humans are extremely good at classifying stuff. Sure, it’s a useful survival trait, but humans tend to use this talent to classify other humans as well, which leads to the kind prejudice and conflict we see today. “Muslim” is just too convenient a label not to use.

    The question is, what can we do about it? Not much in the short term, I’m afraid. The only thing we can do is follow Pink Floyd’s advice (From one of their best songs ever, IMO):

    “It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need to do is keep talking”.

    Keep talking, for example in blogs such as yours, and eventually we may just understand each other enough to stop the madness.

    jeroen94704

    December 3, 2007 at 10:59 am

  18. Of the tens of Muslims you have spoken with – where do they live? That may likely indicate the notion of human hysteria and such – the madness of crowds springs to mind. With such general lack of worldly experience many of the Western world possess – is it not a surprise issues like this increase given the media attention. It doesn

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 11:03 am

  19. It would be good if more people could read this post. But unfortunately as you said, many people have already made up their mind and don’t want to be bothered with “facts”.

    Ignorance is a disease. If more people would just pick up a few books and learn about something before they form an opinion based purely on emotion.

    Sorry, I’m rambling.

    Mike

    December 3, 2007 at 11:26 am

  20. You know, people from Oxford are some of the stupidest I’ve ever met. Hung up on their degree, unable to not talk about university days, there’s a whole group of them that are just a pain in the arse. Thankfully they appear to be in the minority – those that stop learning the moment they doff a mortar board.

    Vish

    December 3, 2007 at 11:33 am

  21. oyxgsIt’s interesting that you talk about this like it’s a form of racism when, of course, it isn’t racism (by the sounds of it, it has nothing to do with you being arabic and everything to do with your religion).

    Asking a child questions about a faith that they know nothing about is of course inappropriate, but no more so that bringing up a child religious in the first place.

    As for her assumptions … most holy books contain some pretty awful things. And while you pick and choose the bits you find acceptable, other members of the same faith as you do not do so and choose to believe it all, even the bits about killing enemies and being rewarded for it.

    Your book says women should be covered up and that you should pray 5 times a day. Do you agree with these? Those are basic tenets of your chosen religion. Is there anything wrong with assuming someone who claims membership of your religion believes these things? Of course not.

    Your friend’s ex-girlfriend lacks tact, yes. And she made incorrect assumptions about you, yes. But when you profess membership of a religion you can’t expect everyone else to give a damn about your personal interpretation of whichever bits of that religion you’ve chosen to cherry-pick and which you’ve arbitrarily chosen to disregard.

    Is this specific to islam? Of course not. Same applies to christianity, hindi, judaism ….

    Dave

    December 3, 2007 at 11:35 am

  22. Salam,

    Since when a discussion involves listening to others ?
    That’s probably a muslim barbarian ideology, we westerner know better ;)

    Just a wee thank you for your post. I’m going to visit Iran, and from what I read, the tradition of muslim hospitality there is something that has moved and impressed all visitors. Even the onces as atheist as I am ;)

    Have a nice day

    xavier

    December 3, 2007 at 11:55 am

  23. Dead on analysis. While I would love to blame Fox News and [at best] complacent media, the problem is the heart of Western racism. The last century was fortified by the stratification of people from the “developing” nations. There was and still is a concerted effort to maintain the political and social hegemony. This can only be done through the ignorance of your friend’s [thankfully] ex-girlfriend.glr

    Bushroot

    December 3, 2007 at 11:59 am

  24. Thank you for writing this. I have to say, it’s really a piece that’s made me think. I am a white middle-American male, atheist, who considers himself at least sophisticated enough to have a productive conversation with someone from a different background, but I found myself reflecting, while I read your depiction of this ‘girlfriend’, and finding a similar wish in myself to jump to conclusions and win some ethical/cultural argument, rather than have an actual dialog. So, again, thank you. It has got me thinking.

    Erin

    December 3, 2007 at 12:43 pm

  25. Interesting article. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when a large, vaguely connected group of people is demonised for the actions of a handful of members of that group. This has happened many times throughout history, and it is unfortunate that Muslims are the current target in the West.

    By the way, you’ve been linked from reddit (http://reddit.com/info/61z5s/comments/)

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 12:48 pm

  26. “but its SELF INFLICTED punishment.”

    If Muslim A blows up location X, it has nothing to do with Muslim B, yet Muslim B will bare the brunt of the following prejudice. How is that self-inflicted?

    Matt Perry

    December 3, 2007 at 12:49 pm

  27. Well done, if everyone shared your logical intelligence I very much doubt the world would be in it’s current state.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 12:53 pm

  28. RE: William Bennett’s comment

    “Christians get the same sort of attitude nowadays. Have dinner at someone’s house, and you get a lecture about how creationism is scientifically wrong, global warming is real, and the red states should be set on fire and all their residents gassed.”

    Really? I mean, I agree with all of these statements, except the red-state thing (I live in Iowa), but I have never seen anyone dress down a Christian for the inadequacies of their politics. Now, republicans…yes, and it’s completely justified. Because for the past 13 years or so, very few moderate republicans found it expedient (or even desirable) to separate themselves from radical republicans. So, you know, it’s the bed you have to sleep in…

    Erin

    December 3, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  29. you know maybe muslims living in the west should do something positive to engage the community they live in, stop this victim mentallity.

    I do have to add that my interaction with them have not been positive :(

    they lacked respect for their community that has accepted them and the country that have given them a new opportunity.

    so far they’ve only incited hatred by preaching fundamentalism (calling Australian women pieces of meat on national TV, and that it was justified to rape them).

    not a good start…

    xavo

    December 3, 2007 at 1:34 pm

  30. Hi,

    I totally agree with you that it is unfair and prejudiced to think you know what a person thinks about certain topics just because of their religion.
    I don’t think that there is something wrong with muslims. Most of them are law-obeying, nice and peaceful persons, that would never even think about using violence in the name of islam. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the problem that we face today is that most of them are muslims-in-name only (like many christians are, by the way). What do I mean by that?
    Nearly all muslims in the world believe, that the quran is the perfect word of god (again, please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m certainly not an expert on this subject). The problem is, if you believe this, every command in the quran is a mandate for you (or otherwise you can’t be a “real” muslim). Sure, there are a lot of nice things in the quran (like in 109:6 “You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.”), but they are nearly all from the early times when mohammed was in mecca and are (in the “mainstream-islam” understanding) overruled by the never revelations like 9:5 “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush”. You can’t deny that the quran commands muslims to fight against unbelievers until they submit to islamic rule or convert.
    My problem is that many muslims seem to be quite happy to attack western states and especially israel, but fail to condem those commandments from their holy text. Simply stating that “Islam is peace” won’t cut it, because the quran, the hadiths and arabic history clearly show this to be wrong.
    So I think the term “islamophobia” is wrong, because a phobia is an irrational fear, but the fear of islamic ideology is very real to me. We are really lucky that most muslims like you choose not to follow their religion in the way mohammed (or allah) intended them to. But as long as you are saying that you believe in the word of the quran without condeming all the “slay the infidels”-stuff, there is very little hope for fighting the fear of islam.
    I certainly would like to hear how you feel about that issue, because I’ve always wondered how todays muslims in western states live with this (for me) clear contradiction between their actions and the words of the quran.
    If you want to learn more about the points I’ve made concerning the quran, please refer to the excellent Idiots guide to islam on youtube. I’d like to hear your opinion about that too.

    Henning

    December 3, 2007 at 1:42 pm

  31. I sympathize with your position. In my business I have worked with an international, multi-racial, multifaith clientele for 40 years, and have many aquaintances and a few friends that are members of groups that most westerners have never even heard of, including a number of Muslims.

    More than a few of my friends, however, have told me stories, some pretty horrific, of being targeted by Muslim extremists. Filipinos, Indonesians, Indians, Iranians, Christian Palestinians, and Lebanese, and several others have told me of relatives murdered and other evils done specifically in the name of Islam and Jihad.

    So yes, you are reasonable, yes you are civilized (whatever that means), but you provide cover to your co religionists who are not.

    Not your fault, of course, that others do evil in the name of your religion.

    However, the idea that your religion justifies my murder, the enslavement of my wife and female relatives, and the rapine of my property, and the fact that these writings are used today to justify these kinds of acts places you in an unfortunate position.

    The fact that other, reasonable, educated “westernised” Muslims have used their position to funnel money and other aid to murderers in other countries, and to bring the ideology of hate to the west, gives us cause to suspect you and your motives. Nothing personal.

    One of my friends, who is Pakistani, told me after 9/11 that he and his family expected to be killed or burned out of their apartment; in his country an attack by Christians (or Hindus) would have resulted in wholesale pogroms.

    I don’t have a solution. Islam claims to be a religion of the sword, noting the Saudi flag, and historically has expanded primarily through murder and war. Even where Islam was brought by traders, such as Indonesia and the Philllipines, Islam was attractive to criminals and other violent people–I read that western prison systems have been systematically targeted for coversion by foreign Muslim activists.

    The best solution will come from you and people like you. Make your violent co-religionists stop hurting other people. I will make the point that as far a I know, the only places that successfully resisted Muslim expansionism did so by eradicating all Muslims in their communities. I would hate to see that happen in the United States, as we have seen how it works in Europe, but frankly, Jihad equals genocide, and we have seen how that works in the Muslim countries, too, in the Sudan, in Armenia, Ionia, the Phillipines, and of course, historically throughout what is now the Umma, which, again, was primarily conquered by the sword. Stop trying to explain to us that Islam is a religion of peace; we have noticed otherwise, and have also seen that the people who tell us that often send money to foreign killers. We have learned the meaning of Hudna, Taqqiya, and Dhimmi.

    I have spent the last five years studying the words of the terrorists, and have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is more likely than not to come down to a them-or-us scenario.

    People like you can make a difference. God help you if you don’t.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 2:02 pm

  32. I’ve had more comments in one day than I’ve had in the last three months. Where are you all coming from? I presume somebody has posted my ‘You Muslims’ post on another website. (Oh, it’s from reddit. Thanks for telling me, anonymous.)

    Anyway, thank you all for coming and commenting. No time to respond to every point, but:

    The Anonymous who says that I don’t dare criticise Islamic extremists because I’m scared I’ll be killed, and that people like me in general can’t speak because of fear of violence, is obviously ignorant of the debates that go on between Muslims all the time in English, Arabic and other languages. If you read elsewhere on this blog you’ll find me criticising Islamic extremism. See, for instance, The Horns of Satan http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2006/12/horns-of-satan.html and Osama bin Laden http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2007/10/osama-bin-laden.html . My blog is meant for Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and some posts specifically address the current problems in Islam. The best example is A Ramadan Reflection http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2007/09/ramadan-reflection.html .

    Dirk Flinthart – great piece. Thanks for the link.

    Ryan – I agree. We’re human before we’re anything else. I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that all Westerners are racists. I’m a Westerner myself!

    Anonymous – thanks for info from Policy Exchange. I will indeed use it when I get round to writing that post. And hold off on that disgust; it’s not good for your heart. I think the atrocities committed by Wahhabi-nihilists in the West are criminal, pointless and immoral. I’ve said as much in my post on bin Laden (see above). Of course, these attacks are pinpricks compared to the violence done by Western governments in non-Western countries.

    Ido – You’re right. Such generalising can target us all. I sometimes have to remind friends that some of the most active and most principled anti-Zionists are Jewish Israelis.

    Anonymous Christian – thanks for this wonderful comment and the beautiful quotation from Corinthians. Talking can only be a positive thing. I understand that in both the US and the UK there is politically correct bureaucratic pressure to stop people wishing each other Merry Christmas so that religious minorities will not be upset. This strikes me as silly. I wish my Christian colleagues a Merry Christmas, and I feel very happy when they wish me a Happy Eid.

    Mike – you’re not rambling at all.

    Dave – If you read my post on the hijab, you’ll see that I don’t agree with you that the Qur’an says women should be covered up. In the New Testament St Paul says that you shall not suffer a witch to live, but I don’t assume that all Christians support witch burnings.

    Bushroot – you’re absolutely right. Ignorance serves a political/ economic agenda.

    Henning – I’m afraid I don’t have time to respond to all of your points here, but I invite you to read more widely on my blog, where you will find treatment of many of these issues. In brief, I don’t believe in a literalist reading of religious text. I am not alone in this. Very many Muslims feel the same. Secondly, if the Qur’an is read with an eye to its historical context, it is clear than ‘unbeliever’ does not mean Christian or Jew, and certainly not atheist in the modern sense. (the prophet’s father was called Abdullah – slave of God – showing that the pagans of Mecca already believed in God), and that the unbelievers that the Qur’an talks about fighting were the specific group that had persecuted the early Muslim community. Muslims have at times persecuted non-Muslims in the name of religion, and at other times they have been very tolerant. And with regards to israel, the conflict is not religious, although it has sometimes looked like that over the last decade. And, respectfully, to say that Muslims have attacked Israel and not vice versa is innacurate, and reveals ingestion of too much bad media. Read the great israeli historians Avi Schlaim or Ilan Pappe on this.

    qunfuz

    December 3, 2007 at 2:03 pm

  33. I can imagine you feel disgusted by the female friend of your friend. Let’s say the good thing about this so-called ‘educated person’ is that she’s showing her true colours, at least.

    On the other hand I can reflect on my own feelings as a caucasian westerner. I don’t know any muslim people in my social circle, but the fear is in me too.. The fear of not knowing what kind of person you are facing in this most unfortunate of times… What are you thinking? When I meet you, and I don’t know you yet, YOU might be the hypocrite muslim fundamentalist showing a friendly face but wishing destruction of all things western.

    Yes people react to others based on outer looks, that’s natural, it won’t change. But between muslim and western culture it’s all messed up now. You might meet me on the street and notice I won’t look in your direction and surely avoid looking you in the eyes; you know, it’s a tension. I just don’t know what kind of persons you are.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 2:48 pm

  34. To the last anonymous – 50 years ago almost all politics in the Muslim world – government and opposition – was secular, and almost all practising Muslims were most influenced by Sufi traditions which were mystical, humane and tolerant. Today a great deal of politics is expressed in Islamic language, and many – but by no means the majority – religious Muslims are influenced by Wahhabi-style literalism. I don’t suppose you have a coherent explanation for this, as your approach lacks analysis and context, and is, frankly, propagandistic.

    Don’t bother saying that people like me are the only hope for the Muslims. One thing for sure is that I have no desire to be your ‘good nigger’.

    qunfuz

    December 3, 2007 at 3:01 pm

  35. sorry – I meant to the SECOND last anonymous. So many anonymouses today I’m becoming confused!

    qunfuz

    December 3, 2007 at 3:02 pm

  36. Very well said.

    I wish everyone else was spared the idiocy you described, but as you probably already know, we all have to endure stuff like this, whether we’re Muslim or not. Whatever you are, you’re going to run into an ignoramus like this ex-girlfriend misinterpreting your culture.

    Robert Vollman

    December 3, 2007 at 3:21 pm

  37. Oh fer’ cryin’ out loud. You are likely as self-centered as that ignorant female.

    It wasn’t your ethnicity or religion or whatever that incited the empty-headed daffy dame to behave that way!!!

    MANY females behave similarly towards everybody!!! Of course, being a male did not help since so many females view males as the enemy of all that is female.

    Thou hast interpreted the freakish female’s words based upon your own miniscule universe.

    Try to interpret the female’s words with a macro-view…. because, assuredly, the manner in which she interacted with you is the same or similar manner she interacts with almost all she meets.

    Females are simple creature, operating at a child-like level in which emotions shove rational logical thought into the mud of their miserable lives.

    I have interacted with females similar in mannerism with the foul female you encountered.

    Experience has taught me that when dealing with the vast majority of brain-addled emotion-laden females it is usually best to just smile and nod and refrain from speaking to the little idiots.

    Many cultures do not allow females to speak to males except for certain proscribed reasons and situations. Those are cultures based upon reality, in my opinion.

    Let the clucking hens cackle amongst themselves!!!! When discussing affairs of real importance, it is best for the males to do it amongst themselves.

    Learn a lesson from your event.

    Smile, nod, then ignore the tripe the female babbled.

    Obbop

    December 3, 2007 at 4:37 pm

  38. Qunfuz,

    I like your post and agree with you but :-

    1) It is M.K. “Gandhi” not Ghandhi.

    2) Widow burning (sati) is extremely rare.

    Since India’s independence (1947) there have been 40 cases of sati.

    In one billion people. So please read the following article.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(practice)#Recent_incidence

    3) Caste system is dying.

    Why ? because India is a democratic country and there are more people of backward caste than upper caste.

    India’s constitution was written by Ambedkar(he is God / Gandhi for people of backward caste) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar

    India’s most populated state’s (with highest representation in parliament) CM is a lady (Mayawati) from most backward caste.

    India’s current chief justice, again a person from backward caste.

    Leaders of almost all the regional parties in India are of backward caste.

    India’s last two presidents were of backward caste (APJ Abdul Kalam is a Muslim of backward caste).

    There is reservation in education and employment for people of backward caste.

    There is caste system but to large extent there is little discrimination.

    We have taken steps to root out such social evils.

    What about Islamic world ?

    What are the steps you have taken ?

    Where are the changes ?

    Islamic world can root out all the social evils just like India if all women and men will have power to choose their government.

    But then common people will get all the precious oil that few want only in their control.

    Anmol

    Anmol

    December 3, 2007 at 4:59 pm

  39. You know what? Rude, ignorant people are everywhere, and we all have to deal with them, muslim or not. You have my sympathies to that extent.

    But it’s telling that your only defence against her remarks was “I’m from the west”. Why, exactly, do you choose to associate yourself with a bunch of ancient, superstitious, eastern bigots if your value system is indeed “western”?

    The fact remains that a VAST majority of muslims do indeed believe that homosexuality is a sin, that women ought to dress “modestly”, that muslims should pray five times a day, that men were ordained superior to women. So why is it unfair or racist or bigoted of anyone to assume that someone who calls himself a muslim believes these things? It would be unfair for someone to assume that a muslim automatically supports stoning or terrorism, sure, but these are things almost all muslims believe. You, being “from the west”, are a rare exception. You can’t expect people to know that when you voluntarily call yourself a muslim!

    Wendelin

    December 3, 2007 at 5:12 pm

  40. Wendolin – First, I didnt introduce myself to her as a Muslim. I just said hello. Second, you call Muslims “ancient, superstitious, eastern bigots.” Do you not think that you may be the bigot? As it happens, I’m both Western and Eastern, but in any case Islam is a world religion. The ancient Muslims, like the ancient Christians or the ancient Greeks, are dead. Those alive today are contemporary. Some Muslims are superstitious and some are bigots, and some are not. In fact, very many are not. Are you trying to tell me that there is no superstition or bigotry amongst American Christians or atheists? As for the vast majority of Muslims believing that homosexuality is a sin and women are inferior, I can only say, in brief, as someone who has lived in Syria, Oman, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Western society also looks monolithic and simple to people who know nothing about it.

    Anmol – I agree that more rights for Muslims will lead to altogether happier forms of Islam, but dont agree that Muslim societies have been static. As in India, there has been non-stop, tumultuous change in the Muslim world. I dont mean to attack Hindu or Indian culture. My point was exactly the opposite: that it would be stupid to jump to this stereotypical attack just because the ‘Hindu’ bell rings in my head. Sorry for misspelling the Mahatma’s name.

    qunfuz

    December 3, 2007 at 6:30 pm

  41. “I recognise this Islamophobic racism because I’ve met it so often.”

    Which race is Islam again?

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 7:12 pm

  42. It must be hard dealing with these issues. But you must be careful not to become that which you preach against:

    “It doesn’t talk about the ‘Christian Crusade in Iraq,’ although many supporters of the invasion in America think of it in these terms”

    Now who is prejudging people? I’m in America, (and do not support the war or affiliate with a religion) and have never heard anyone including strong supporters of the war refer to it in a religious way. If you claim this is actually the case, please cite your sources!!

    RonPaulRev08

    December 3, 2007 at 7:36 pm

  43. @qunfuz the point of your article is utterly correct but you don’t take the last step. this goes beyond any sort of eastern-western conflict it is simply far too easy for any humans to judge those who seem different before actually taking the time to know them. there are those in all areas of the world who are guilty of it including those who harass muslims and those who commit terrorist acts. we must all work to avoid doing it or perish at our own hands!

    adam2z

    December 3, 2007 at 8:40 pm

  44. To Ronpaulrev08,

    The rise of the evangelical Christian movement in the US and their immense political influence mean that there are very powerful “Christians” in the US who view the War of Terror as a religious war. Bush himself was the first to refer to the War on Terror as a “crusade” (“war of the cross”) .

    Many statements have been made by American Christians which are just as vicious, bigoted and ignorant as anything the Taliban might come up with:

    “This is a religious war that Islam cannot — and must not — win,” – John Hagee, Texas, evangelical preacher with a large following, leader of zionist christian movement.Bush on one occasion sent a message to Hagee thanking him for: “spreading the hope of God’s love and the universal gift of freedom.”)(source: Commondreams.org(

    Hagee also called Israel’s attacks on Lebanon last year “a miracle of God”.

    These are just some examples Remember also General Boykin’s statements about the Somali warlords: “I knew that my God was a real god and his was an idol”.

    If Muslims are to get their house in order, what of Christians such as these? I am not trying to point the finger at Christianity here, but am simply saying that it is hypocritical to lay blame for Middle East violence on problems stemming from Islamic culture.

    tribalchic

    December 3, 2007 at 8:59 pm

  45. Thank you for your post.

    If all FUNDAMENTALISTS could just be whisked away by whichever deity they believe in by tomorrow, we – the remaining could have a great life, a peaceful one in which we all meet and greet and learn new things from each other.

    I don’t think religion is at fault in anything… but it most certainly is HUMANS… why can’t people be more BALANCED in general?

    Once again… Loved the post. While we don’t believe in the same things, I definitely see myself learning great wisdom from the teachings of Islam, as well as many other beliefs.

    Unity is Key.

    Irving

    December 3, 2007 at 9:53 pm

  46. …but then I realize that by saying that… it could make me FUNDAMENTALISTIC as well. DAMN!

    Irving

    December 3, 2007 at 9:59 pm

  47. Nice post qunfuz, I got to your article from Reddit via popurls.
    In a world of many religions, stupidity seems to have the largest number of followers.
    I can understand your frustration over this woman, because beyond her latent islamophobia she was most definitely an idiot and a rude one at that. I mean how rude and self-important do you have to be to treat a guest of your boyfriend’s in that manner, especially a long time friend.
    I think what this episode shows and what you should teach your children (well your daughter just got a good lesson) is that the world is full of rude idiots who feel they have to demonstrate their stupidity constantly.
    The problem with these people (I apologize to all idiots that might be reading this for generalizing) is that you often can’t help them, they are very intent on remaining stupid and ignorant; reasoning with an idiot is akin to patting a skunk, a very bad idea.

    Anonymous

    December 3, 2007 at 10:42 pm

  48. I just ran across your post through del.icio.us, and I must say that it is well-written. This just shows how most of us Westerners are ignorant of Arabs, Muslims, and the East in general. Great post.

    Chris

    December 10, 2007 at 7:01 pm

  49. What an idiot that person was!

    This is very well written, btw.

    Best, Dug

    Doug Tarnopol

    August 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  50. [...] war. The terrorist attacks on London in July 2007 were abominable crimes and a catastrophe for all British Muslims. I know all that, yet I oppose the Quilliam [...]


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