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The Muslim Communities Are in a State of Emergency And In It Lies Our Biggest Opportunity.


They say that humanity only really learns the most earnest of lessons in a state of crisis, a state of complete breakdown. Only after facing that breakdown, are we then capable of embracing the breakthroughs necessary that have largely been neglected. It is when we are at the cliff edge, in the emergency of the situation, we find humanity is able to effect the kind of changes where there was resistance before.

Brothers and sisters we are facing that very scenario.

If you look at every single aspect of the British Muslim livelihood, it is under attack. In the depth and breadth of anti-Muslim bigotry, every aspect of our rituals, character and identity is being ideologically assaulted. There is not one aspect that has spared the demonisation. All of it is has been thoroughly demonised. Even more so now, with the latest counter-terrorism laws in various western nations, normal human characteristics are seen as suspicious if you are Muslim.

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Simultaneously, we have seen the Government marginalise legitimate organisations like MCB, MEND, CAGE, MPACUK et al, whilst financially and political organisations like Quilliam and Inspire that have no grass roots support whatsoever. A similar dynamic is at play in the US. Propping up the likes of Anjem Choudhry and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to represent the moral “battle of Islam”, whilst side-lining or smearing the likes of CAIR, ICNA, serves to unite the liberal left with the naturally Islamophobic hard-right. The point is to isolate us, rob us of precious allies in society, in order to have more freedom to affect their hateful agenda.

We normally think of Islamophobia as a disorganised effort. At most, we may see it, if in any organised fashion, the constant pushing of certain narratives in the media. In fact, as we have seen in various pieces of study into this social phenomenon, it is a real organised industry, with its jobs, roles and financial backers. This web of hate of preachers, power brokers, ideologues and their backers are mainly mapped in the US. Nathen Lean’s “The Islamophobia Industry” and Fear, Inc. 2.0 covers most of that research. We have yet to see a similarly comprehensive research when it comes to the Islamophobia in UK and Europe. However, given the political trajectory of Europe, there is very little doubt that it doesn’t exist.

The effect has been devastating to say the least. Our response has been more so.

If the warnings our communities received from certain people, to prioritise the tackling of anti-Muslim bigotry seriously, were not heeded, seeing their predictions manifest in front of our eyes did the job perfectly. In the UK, more mainstream politicians are calling for powers to shut down masjids under the undefined banner of “extremism”. Religious slaughter is already banned in at least five European states. Calls to ban the niqab is growing strong in the EU overall. The very zakat is being demonised as governments accuse Muslim charities of “funding terrorism” with little or no evidence. In the US, the very safety of Muslim lives has been a problem before the Chapel Hill shooting, as is the media’s dismissal of Muslim suffering.

It is necessary to comprehend all of this for one single realisation. The only way to counter an increasingly dangerous and more violent Islamophobic movement, is to create a movement ourselves. One that not only demands a stop to Islamophobia, but goes further. We need a movement to demand the equality of Muslims here and abroad, and an industry whose sole job is to propagate and legitimise that demand. Anything less would not be sufficient.
In addition, the great shift in prioritising the grass roots towards this danger is also key. Without it, the institutions of activists, lobbyists and advocates would soon collapse under the demonisation. The need for mass support from the Muslims is equally vital. As a result, every single Muslim, aside to everything we do to make a living and practice Islam, must prioritise the cause of defending Muslims against the demonisation we are all facing.

If you are an artist, you must depict and visualise the cause. If you are writer, you must write about the cause. If you are in business, you must fund the cause. If you are a mosque leader, you must educate and empower Muslims for the cause. If you are in media or politics, you must advocate the cause. If you are a specialist in technology or social media, you must develop the tools necessary for the cause. If you are teacher, you must teach the knowledge that is necessary for the cause. If you are a mother or father, you must instill the values of justice in their identity, so that they will never forsake this cause. And of course, if you are an activist, you must prioritise your time for the cause. Everyone must play their part.

In our emergency that we find Western Muslims are in, we have real opportunities to overcome the issues that we have resisted to address for so long. Out of necessity, we must unite across sectarian and theological differences, to tackle Islamophobia in all aspects of society. We must revive our largely inert masjids so that they are fully functional community centres, that support their Muslim and non-Muslim communities and instill a strong, positive and proactive Muslim identity. We must outreach and invest a stake into the local concerns of our community and not just focus on “Muslim issues.” We must create the ideas, tools, mindsets, infrastructure and leaders for our children to, not to defeat Islamophobia, but to be simply be capable of fighting it. They will not have a chance otherwise.

Above all, we must be people of justice. This core value of Islam that is far from central in every part of our social fabric. We must above all, revive this core Islamic identity. Not just because it will transform and mobilise the sleeping Muslim masses. Not just because it will gain us allies among those who desire a civil, peaceful society. Not just because it will give Muslims in the inner strength needed to weather this storm. We must be people of justice, above all, because we are Muslim and it is what Islam demands of us.

The biggest threat to Muslim activism, is Muslims ourselves. No one can help us, except us. The Islamophobia industry is in its end game. We must build the machinery that is needed to protect our rights. Our children’s future depends on it. We still have time, but there is no time to waste.

Imran Shah is a political blogger and activist on issues of Islamophobia, who specializes in social media  and grass-roots activism in the United Kingdom. He also comments on issues of Islamophobia on platforms such as 5 Pillars, Islam21C and BBC Asian Network, and he writes this piece in his personal capacity. His twitter handle is @imranshah884.

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  1. Reema

    May 13, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Agreed – I’ve started a personal blog devoted to Islam and Muslim issues for these exact reasons.

    • Imran Shah

      June 1, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Please do forward me your blog & connect to me on Twitter. I’ll happily publicise.

  2. Stardusty Psyche

    May 13, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    Brother Imran, did you know one can be arrested in your country for publicly reciting the words of Winston Churchill?

    The banning of supposed “extremism” cuts both ways in the UK.

    I am an American man who strongly supports both the establishment clause and the free exercise clause of our 1st amendment, as well as the 14th amendment and nearly all of our constitution (I think the taxation without representation for residents of DC is a particularly glaring flaw in our otherwise superlative constitution).

    Europeans seem to be in the habit of banning all kinds of things.

    I prefer freedom of expression and if I don’t like listening to somebody’s message, too bad for me.

  3. Keith

    May 27, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    If, as you claim, the muslim way of life is under attack in the UK would you agree that non muslim minorities are under severe attack throughout the Islamic world? If not what is your reasoning for your claim that they are not under attack?
    As far as I can see there are few restrictions on muslims in the UK, you have your mosques, you are allowed to wear what ever you desire, even if we disagree with it, Halal food is easily available, you can protest and call for the destruction of democracy and the implementation of Sharia, you can try and convert non muslims to Islam. All of that without any fear of legal consequences and if any one says anything against Islam they are prosecuted by the law. Where in Islamic countries are non muslims given as much freedom as you have in the west.
    Islamophobia is non existent insofar as a phobia is an irrational fear of something. As far as I can see most non muslims, especially those living in muslim majority countries, have every reason to fear Islam.

    • Jonah

      May 30, 2015 at 7:40 AM

      Keith: There are so many inaccurate assumptions in your statement, where to start?
      “would you agree that non muslim minorities are under severe attack throughout the Islamic world?”
      That’s wholly inaccurate. Have u ever lived in the Middle East? Or do u believe that because the Western media chooses to highlight the un-Islamic actions of rogue groups like Isis or Boko, that majority of Muslims are like them? Islam teaches tolerance and respect, which is adhered to by the vast majority of 1.5 billion of us.
      “if any one says anything against Islam they are prosecuted by the law.”
      Sorry, but that’s just false. The article mentions the free-for-all assault on Islamic values so prevalent in the West today, so how can u say people get prosecuted for it? With respect, that makes no sense at all.

      • Keith

        May 31, 2015 at 6:21 AM

        Thank you for your response but at no time do you give one example of anything you have claimed. So please show me where non muslims are treated as equals under Islamic laws. Also show any examples of rampant bias against Islam in the west. Yes of course there are people who don’t like Islam and will protest against having a new mosque or other Islamic ideas but that is what is called democracy. People are allowed to protest, non violently, against things they disagree with. The same as muslims are allowed to protest for what they want and against what they don’t want.
        Please explain why no Churches, Synagogues, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto and Sikh temples are not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Is it allowed to take into Saudi Arabia a bible or a cross. Why is it that even in moderate Malaya muslims are allowed to tell non muslims about their religion but it is illegal for non muslims to try to convert muslims to their religion.
        I personally don’t care one way or the other what religion someone is as long as they leave me to live my life the way I wish to live it and yes that includes criticising Islam along with other religions if I believe they are doing something I disagree with. Would I be able to do that in any Islamic country?
        I have read the muslim manifesto for the UK and when taken as a whole item, as far as I am concerned, it causes problems for non muslims as in one country we would have different sets of laws for different people, so which law takes precedence when their is a disagreement between people living under different laws? I will accept that each item on its own seems very moderate and sensible but again it is only once you take the whole document in its entirety that it seems to take on a more demanding and Islamic supremacist opinion.
        Please explain why the 1990 Cairo Declaration the Human Rights Declaration by the OIC in its last clause states that the Sharia is the only reference for all the rights bestowed in all other articles of the declaration, if everybody is equal under the Sharia there is no need to refer to it for those rights.

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