By Rubab Mehboob.
Islamophobia: new term for old fear. Islamophobia is defined as hatred or close minded prejudices against Muslims and Islam. The first recorded use of the term in English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was in 1923 in an article in The Journal of Theological studies. The history and definition of the term Islamophobia can vary depending on whom you ask. According to the Center for Race and Gender at the university of California, Berkeley, the term emerged in 1991 in a report that defined it as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.”
Basic concept of this idea is that Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities. Islam does not share common values with other major faiths. Islam as a religion which is inferior to the West. It is archaic, barbaric and irrational. Question is, are you as a Muslims suffering from Islamophobia? It’s actually we Muslims who are more Islamophobic as compare to non-Muslims. If we ponder on our attitudes in this modern era we will end up thinking that we are Islamophobic. We are ones who target and judge those who are practicing Muslims as conservative and fanatics.
I want to ask you people who are fanatics? We tag only those as fanatics whom we think follow religion very strictly and impose their ideas on other people. In current time period those so called modern people who think they are being judged by religious fanatics, I want them to think for a moment that are they doing same thing as religious fanatics are doing? Are they judging a girl with hijab as oppressed humans and man with beard as cruel and close minded human? Are they tagging people as conservative who do not follow western dress code and wear dopatta? All these questions make me feel that blame game is strong on both sides. If religious fanatics are known for their judgmental attitude same is case with modern man of present time period. They judge and marginalize those who follow Islamic dress code and wear veil. They are doing same job as religious fanatics. Difference is they are accepted despite of their judgmental attitude because they follow west and western agenda.
People in this time span are shouting about freedom and freedom of speech. A girl will want freedom to dress in her own way but same girl will judge a girl wearing veil as oppressed woman who has no identity and freedom of speech. Why this is so that wearing jeans can be one own personal choice but wearing veil will make you dependent and oppressed? It is never accepted as personal choice. It is always related with oppression. And heart breaking truth is that association of veil with oppression is practiced by Muslims equally as non-Muslims. Non-Muslims have excuse because they do not know about Quran and Sunnah but what about us?
We are Muslims and we have no excuse of being unaware of fact that purdah is something compulsory in Islam and if someone is practicing it should not be tagged as oppressed human being. We take pride in wearing western dresses or showing off our figures and we also get offended when someone tell us to cover our body or change our dress code because we hate the fact that we are tagged as sinners just because of our getup. But when it comes to people who follow Islamic dress code what about them? They also want respect and acceptance in society for their choice and the way they are dressed. But same people who called themselves as liberal and open minded tag such people as backward, illiterate and people with no sense of fashion. Every third person stand for those who support modernization and follow western dress code and life style but no one notices the group of people who are tagged and judged in same way and with equal brutality as religious fanatic’s judge modern man.
We all so called modern people are biased in our opinions. Man with vine in hand can be pious and soft hearted but man with beard cannot be open minded. We call are sleeves modern and liberal people. My question is, are we really liberal in our thoughts? Or it’s just that we want to impress west and follow them blindly without giving a thought that we are making our own religion suspicious in sight of non-Muslims by judging and considering our values as inferior culture.
It is really shameful that people already formed an opinion about girl who wear hijab that she is forced into hijab, perhaps her father beats her or she is extremist and she is not worth of friendship because do not know anything about liberalism and freedom. Truth is women with hijab are equally aware of their rights as women without hijab. Women with hijab is equally liberal in her thoughts, she is equally talented, open minded as women who follows western dress code. If feminism is based on the idea that a woman has the sole right to make and implement her choices, hijab is arguably the most progressive form of it. In its truest form hijab is not about physical appearance alone. Hijab is also the way a woman walks, talks, and conducts herself. It’s humility, modesty, and piety that should translate through action and behavior.
I want everyone to think for a moment are we doing what we are supposed to do with our lives? Is it necessary to tag certain group of people and make them feel isolated and suspicious in sight of whole world? We are making our civilization in danger just because we follow west blindly without knowing that it is not necessary that every aspect of their culture and society is not fruitful for us. We are caught in clash of civilization where the good guys are representatives of western civilization while the bad guys are identified with backwardness, superstition and barbarity. One can copy west for their hard work, devotion for country and honesty with their jobs. Let’s preserve our culture and stop this tag game. One should have guts to accept other people way of living without tagging them with negative titles. People wear hijab because they believe in its symbolism. It is that simple. We should not tag them as extremists. If we say we are modern and liberal people we should own our words and respect those who follow Islamic dress code in a same way as we want them to accept our western dress code and living style.
Writer is an English literature student and hails from Islamabad.