Last week, Muhammad Almuhammad, London based restaurant owner, whom it seems identifies nominally as a Muslim, allegedly offered to give homeless and elderly customers a free meal on Christmas. Predictably, the media has seized on this story like a pack of hungry dogs, doing everything in its power to somehow link this man’s actions with Islam, a 1400 year old faith.
We at Mufti News cannot idly stand by and allow this double standard to continue. Every day in the world, hundreds of similarly charitable gestures are offered by people all around the world of all faiths. Charity and generosity are in no way endemic to Islam. Charitable and generous people are found in all countries, and come from all religions.
GENEROSITY HAS NO RELIGION!
Of course, that is not what the Islamophilia industry- a $200M (USD) industry in and of itself- will have you believe. There are plenty of Islamophiles who will take certain Hadiths such as: “Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters,” and “whoever is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness,” and quote them out of context in an attempt to link actions like that of this one restaurant proprietor with Islam, a faith that is followed by 1.7 billion people worldwide. But none of these people has any background that would qualify them to make that judgement.
“Of course, every religion has its verses about charity and generosity,” says Professor Azra Reslan. “I mean, have you read the Bible? It’s full of them. But you can’t just take them out of context. These Hadith that people use to justify acts of charity and generosity, they were revealed in a particular context. So to simplistically use them to suggest that Islam condones actions like what this one restaurant owner has done is not just wrong, it’s dangerous.”
Educating people about Islam like Dr. Reslan does is extremely important to stem the rising tide of Islamophilia that is happening in certain circles. But that does not stop people from labeling an entire group of people because of the actions of just a small minority.
“I have a Muslim neighbor, and he’s nice. So Islam can’t be bad.”
– example of the Islamophiliac attitudes that are becoming accepted
Continues Professor Reslan, “What people are forgetting is that the West is responsible for far more generosity and progressivism on a much more massive scale. You cannot discount the influence that Western style pluralism, notions of freedom and equality, and enlightenment values have had on Muslims.”
The other factor that needs to be taken into account before attributing actions of generosity to Islam? Education. “More and more Muslims are becoming educated, which contributes to things like this,” says Dr. Parvis Maslaha of Oxford University.
“And don’t forget tribal practices,” added Dr. Maslaha. “Many acts of generosity are rooted in tribal practices that predate Islam entirely! One cannot hold Islam responsible for every act that Muslims do!”
Yet in today’s media, all these considerations are ignored and tossed aside. When a person who appears to be Muslim commits an act of generosity, his actions are automatically attributed to Islam. Ironically, reports in this case indicate that Mr. Almuhammad was not even that religious, and had not even read the Qur’an.
“We are not trying to say that Islam does not advocate generosity in certain circumstances when it is warranted. After all, Islam is a practical religion! But people who are trying to say that Islam is a charitable religion, and more generous than other religions, are being completely blinded by their own prejudices,” said Dr. Maslaha. “Islam, first and foremost, is about the belief that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and that everyone who denies it is an arrogant unbeliever who is going to Hell. We cannot allow the actions of a few Muslims who are lax in their own religion to mislead people about what the true message of Islam is!”