In light of the recent terror attacks, it is important for Muslims to reflect on irrelevant things in order to avoid having to reflect on important things that might require us to change…
As a 2nd year PhD student at a prestigious American university, you can assume I am highly intelligent and have read a lot of books on politics, philosophy, and history. Because of this, I’m an ideal spokesperson to be able to speak on behalf of Islam to non-Muslims and young Western Muslims who may be questioning their faith during this trying time. I put together a few reflections that are designed to help frame this terrible situation for all of you, in a way that does not undermine Muslims’ faith that Islam is still perfect.
Genuine Sympathy: First, I’d like to express genuine sympathy for the victims of the Belgian terror attacks. I’d also like to call attention to a few other recent attacks that took place in Muslim countries that did not elicit even a fraction of this level of outrage in the West, but by now my hopes that America will recognize its own hypocritical double standards when it comes to non-American, non-Jewish, or non-European lives are pretty well dashed. So mainly, I will genuinely empathize with the loss of innocent life in Belgium, because it’s the right thing to do. But let’s quickly move on, because sympathy is not the point of these reflections.
The External Threat: More important is getting you, the reader, to shift your focus onto presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the frightening demagoguery of theirs that has seen such a groundswell of support from the American public. Think about how scary these people and their followers are, and think about the threat they pose to Islam and Muslims. Do not think of their followers as real people who have real problems and real fears. Think of them as bigots whose hatred for Muslims and Islam is embedded in their DNA. Take your focus away from the Muslim world and its problems. Keep focused on the external threat of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the American right. Don’t let sympathy for the victims of the Brussels attacks make you think critics of Islam have any substance to their point.
Polarizing the Debate: Having reminded you, the reader, about the external threat posed by the American right, I should also advise you that it’s very easy for anyone who is critical of Islam and Muslims in any way to be lumped in with right-wing critics that often get dangerously close to xenophobic bigotry. You may think that what you’re saying is nuanced and reflects an understanding of both sides, but to me, it just sounds like you’re supporting Donald Trump and Pamela Geller. So remember, keep your doubts and questions to yourself. You either support Muslims, or you’re an Islamophobe.
Bring it Back to the Prophet: Now would be a good time for me to solemnly recall an incident from the life of the Prophet of Islam when he was persecuted, and reacted with unwavering patience and restraint, not hitting back at his detractors. This is effective not only because it is the right message during these trying times, but also because it reinforces the “turn the other cheek” image we want to promote about Islam during this very difficult time. It would not be a good time to mention the several instances in the Prophet’s life when he did not “turn the other cheek,” as those are the incidents the terrorists are citing. We’ll ignore those entirely in these reflections.
The Virtue of Stubborn Faith: Remember that Islam is about faith. It’s about ignoring anything and everything that contradicts the perfect word in the Qur’an, and the perfect example of the Prophet. That means that we continue to believe we are on the right path no matter how much chaos surrounds us, as long as we follow our scriptural tradition. Criticism from non-Muslims is ignorant bigotry. Criticism from ex-Muslims is because they are disgruntled, angry people who never understood Islam properly to begin with. Criticism from progressive Muslims does not count, because they are not following Islam properly. Criticism from Ahmadis and Ismailis doesn’t register because we do not acknowledge their existence. Groups like ISIS and other militant groups are not really following Islam, they are doing it incorrectly. Only we, the massive but completely unquantifiable group of moderate-to-practicing Muslims, who do not commit violence or directly endorse violence against non-Muslims, but who believe the Qur’an is the literal word of God, and who believe that Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is his Messenger and most perfect creation, are real Muslims. And we think Islam is just fine.
What’s more, so do lots of other liberal Westerners who have never read the Qur’an or taken the time to understand how we think that it must be literally followed, or how no Muslim can ever question the words and actions of our Prophet, regardless of what they were.
So if you are Muslim and reading this, just hold onto your faith, and if you need to take your mind off things, talk with some people about the West’s problems and hypocrisy, and how those things directly contributed to what happened in Belgium. And if you’re not Muslim and want to blame Islam for this, go bother somebody else, or I might have to pull out the “I” word. Or the “B” word.