Divided and Under Attack: Examining the Roots of Anti-Islam Groups

People are passing by a torn "Stop Islamization - No Sharia" 2015 election campaign poster of a right-wing nationalist party that is hanging on a wall in a pedestrian tunnel in Zurich city.

While it is essential to recognize that individuals and groups may hold different opinions and perspectives, claiming that any particular group universally opposes Islam and Muslims would not be accurate.

That being said, unfortunately, it is sad that some individuals or factions espouse anti-Islam beliefs or harbor prejudices against Muslims. Such individuals can be found across different societies, cultures, and ideological spectrums.

Let’s look at five influential groups that have a significant track record of opposing Islam and Muslims in various ways. These groups include right-wing Christian evangelists, Israeli Zionists, Hindu nationalists, Chinese communists, and some liberal intellectuals. Each group has constructed its own narrative against Islam and Muslims.

Right-wing Christian evangelists identify Islam as anti-Christ. They believe in the coming of the Kingdom of God under the leadership of Jesus after the destruction of all other existing faiths. According to them, Islam is associated with Lucifer, its Prophet is considered false, and its scriptures are seen as the result of misinterpreting the Bible.

Israeli Zionists perceive Islam as a threat to their survival. They believe that Muslims will never accept the state of Israel as a legitimate entity and will continue to denounce its existence. They view the presence of Muslims in the West as a source of anti-Semitism. They argue that without marginalizing Muslims, Israel would live in a state of uncertainty.

Hindu nationalists consider Muslims enemies of India and view Islam as a brutal ideology that challenges the ancient ethos and norms of Hinduism, which spans thousands of years. They blame Islam for changing India's demographic profile by attracting millions of people from the so-called lower castes to their egalitarian concept of society. They have created a narrative that portrays Muslims as wild, violent hedonists and iconoclasts who have destroyed Hindu temples, killed priests, and raped women.

Chinese communists see Muslims as the only religious group intent on maintaining their religious identity in a nation that does not believe in religion. They perceive Islam as a major obstacle to creating a homogeneous communist society where all power rests with party officials.

Some liberal intellectuals have an aversion to conservative interpretations of Islam. They perceive it as oppressive or incompatible with principles such as gender equality, sexual liberation, or freedom of expression. They may also question the role of religion in the public sphere or advocate for secularism and the separation of religion and state.

Sometimes these groups align with each other, while at other times, they act independently against Islam and Muslims. For instance, Hindu nationalists have developed strong ties with white supremacist-led Christian evangelicals and Israeli Zionists. Chinese communists and liberal intellectuals, on the other hand, often act individually.

Self Reflection:

The basis of these groups for opposing Islam and Muslims lies partly with Muslims themselves.

Muslims are a divided people, and internal conflicts are so fierce that they are willing to resort to killing each other over even the slightest differences. The Shia-Sunni discord, internal factional disputes, and ethnic and linguistic differences render Islam irrelevant to their claim that their God-revealed religion offers a solution to the world's problems. How can a faith offer hope when it fails to motivate its followers to seek divine guidance in solving their internal issues?

Muslim society cannot claim to have overcome racism, exploitation, deception, lust, greed, misleading others, or a sense of supremacy. Just like any other nation, rampant corruption and hypocrisy can be found among its leaders and adherents.

One of the main challenges in reaching a shared understanding of Islam lies in its religious literature, which includes questionable narrations wrongly attributed to Prophet Muhammad and illogical interpretations of the Quran, the primary source of guidance for Muslims.

For example, the issue of Ayesha's age at the time of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad is found in Muslim literature, suggesting that the 53-year-old messenger of God married a six-year-old girl. However, not many scholars in the past critically examined this story from the perspective of divine guidance, which emphasizes that girls must be mature and able to give consent before marriage. Similarly, Muslim theologians have disregarded the relevance, timing, and context when interpreting many Quranic verses. For instance, verses regarding slavery are sometimes seen as justifying the institution, while the divine message is actually about its total abolition.

Many Muslims have focused on symbolic Islamic practices such as the hijab, beard, and hand-slaughtered animals while neglecting the fundamental divine principle of serving humanity and assisting the marginalized in creating a just society.

O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, God takes care of both. So do not follow your desires, lest you swerve. If you deviate, or turn away - then God is Aware of what you do. Quran 4:135

While growing a beard, wearing a hijab, or consuming zabeeha (hand-slaughtered meat) can be an expression of commitment to a God-conscious life, by itself, it does not help the weaker and neglected populations reclaim their stolen self-identity.

A community that fails to serve humanity cannot effectively confront the onslaught against its interests. If Muslims wish to address these antagonistic groups, they must change their mindset and realize that they are not the only religious community sharing this planet in a diverse world. If they truly believe that their faith has a divine origin, they must demonstrate it through their character by respecting all creations and showing care for every soul.

Unfortunately, most of the current Muslim leadership, both religious and political, has failed to motivate Muslims for this task, as they themselves have become a source of misrepresentation of the faith.

It is up to individual Muslims to learn about their faith, take responsibility, and play a constructive role in society by cooperating with others in what is good and avoiding what is wrong.

They believe in God and in the Last Day and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and hasten to excel each other in doing good. These are among the righteous. Quran 3:114

  Category: Featured, Highlights, World Affairs
  Topics: Islamophobia, Justice

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