Attacks on Muslims in the West: Causes & Responses
There have been two horrific and highly publicised attacks on Muslims in the past few days. In one, a pregnant woman was punched so that her baby died in the womb – Inna lillahi wa Inna ilayhi rajioon. May Allah grant her a swift recovery, and reunite her with her beloved child in Jannah. In the second, a woman’s clothes were set on fire in New York.
Hostility towards Muslims is growing and the scum who commit such acts are so cowardly that they almost always pick on women or the elderly.
Hostility against communities that are collectively linked by politicians to acts of ‘terror’ is not new. One elderly Irish woman recently told me that she recalls being told to leave a restaurant in the 1970s, an era in which shops would put up signs saying ‘No Blacks. No Dogs. No Irish’.
This wave of hostility against Muslims sees the convergence of three factors:
1. A 15 year politically motivated campaign to encourage hatred of Islam and suspicion of Muslims. Terrorism is the excuse, not the reason for this. Politicians lit the flame post 9/11, 7/7 and Woolwich – implanting the false idea that Islamic beliefs were the cause, so Islamic expression was the suspect; that muscular liberal assimilation was the solution to this; that the political grievances of Muslims were bogus, and those voicing them were extremist suspects; that Muslims needed to say more to condemn terror attacks, or else they would be assumed to condone them.
Politicians started it. Large sections of the media carried it, and continue to do so till this day and ignorant people have been affected by it.
2. The resurgence of latent nationalism. National identities are inherently divisive.
Love for ‘me, my family, my tribe, my country’ overrides the ability to treat other human beings with respect – even if they are both of the same race!!
Britain tried an experiment with multiculturalism to overcome this but abandoned it post 9/11. Racism is on the rise in Europe and remains strong in the USA. The Brexit vote hasn’t created this problem but it has emboldened the racists. Most Muslims originate from outside the UK, so Islamophobia is worsened by racism and nationalism.
3. The sense in western countries that some of the indigenous people have been left behind politically and economically has led to the worsening of racism, and anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments. This can be targeted at Eastern Europeans as much as anyone else.
So what should Muslims do?
First, do not despair. Never despair. Our deen teaches us that tests are from Allah, and help comes from Him alone.
Allah (swt) says:
وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers. [TMQ Ali-Imran 3:139]
Second, do not abandon your deen. The Help of Allah comes to those who please Allah with their patient perseverance.
Allah (swt) says:
وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
..and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper. [TMQ Al-Hajj 22:78]
Third, engage with others so they know you and Islam, and invite people to this deen.
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. [TMQ An-Nahl 16:125]
This is what Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alayhi wasallam) did till Allah established for him the first Islamic state in Madina, where those Muslims who migrated were secure from the oppression of the Mushrikeen of Quraysh – who in turn eventually embraced Islam in large numbers.
Dr Abdul Wahid is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy, and the Prospect Magazine. @AbdulWahidHT