Islamophobia a form of racial discrimination -Shahidul Islam
Hatred of Islam is not a new phenomenon. It has emerged in the early beginning of Islam. But the form of offense toward Islam and Muslims has been altered over the time. A new concept like Islamophobia has appeared as a part of unleashing culpable speech against the religion of Islam. Primarily, Islamophobia has been conceptualized in the Runnymede trust report (1997). This report comprises three aspects which should essentially be known to clarify the scope of Islamophobia. They are as follows:
1. Unfounded hostility towards Islam
2. Practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities.
3. Exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs.
Anyone can criticize Islam as a religion from the perspective of freedom of opinion, but cannot diffuse propaganda or fallacies. Some sociologists view that Islamophobia does not belong to rational criticism. Unfounded hostility is not acceptable. More importantly, the above-mentioned 2nd and 3rd area of Islamophobia indicate racism and discrimination against Muslims. Hence, it is a discriminatory approach that impacts the social, economic, cultural, and political fields of individual level and community level. In some cases, it persuades to assault against mosques and religious centers. For example, the destruction of Babri masjid by fanatic Hindu in India and the attempt of Muslim exclusion from India through CAB and NRC reveal Islamophobia at the state level.
Like India, so far countries patronize Islamophobia. For instance, American president Donald Trump banned on the citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. China’s repression on Uighur Muslims and Mayanmer’s oppression on Rakhine Muslims is also a noteworthy example of Islamophobia. All these are hate crimes against Muslims. Thus, Islamophobic people and country express their hostile, racial, and discriminatory behaviors and actions through verbal and physical abuse. Truly, islamophobia is a form of racism that covers individual, social, and cultural racism.
The incident of 9/11 surges Islamophobia as well as exacerbated fear of Islam since the U.S. accused Islamic extremist group Al-Qaeda. Infect. Islam is a religion of peace. Islam never considers terrorism. But Islamophobic scholars disclose Islam as a violent religion based on conspiracy theories. They are endeavoring to make synonymous between Islam and terrorism. For this, journalism or media are playing as a key tool to foster the conspiracy. The broader trend on social media and mainstream media is to belittle Islam, Islamic scholar, and Muslim society that are observed during the coronavirus epidemic. Particularly, social media is a prime deviant which carries all contents of Islamophobia. Islamophobic people use it as a key platform for spreading misconceptions about Islam.
Islamophobia as a term has been interpreted by an anti-Muslim think tank or scholars who can be defined extremist. Cause, they cannot tolerate the improvement of the Muslim population and their religion. They are desperately involved to expose anti-Muslim sentiment and propagate fallacies against the preachers, Islamic scriptures (Quran & Hadith), Islamic culture, symbols, Islamic center, and Muslim society. It is obviously a form of racial discrimination as well as prejudiced belief and negative stereotypes towards Islam. Generally public understanding about racial discrimination merely focuses on color or ethnicity. The oppression from Islamophobic countries on Muslims and Muslim countries is avoided by right group. Most cases, it is legalized by the war on terror policy.
Amidst the coronavirus crisis, Islamophobia grabs a new dimension. The COVID-19 fuels in the flames of islamophobia. Islamophobic people appear new aspects of explanation. They portray an illogical discussion on coronavirus vs Islam and science. Between Islam and science, ‘which is entitled to cease the pandemic,’ it is indisputable, fruitless, and incomparable discourse.
However, it has to be acknowledged that human tends to religion during the crisis in order to relieve stress and depression. Accordingly, in times of COVID-19 pandemic, the urge to the religion has risen vividly. Google search on prayer has skyrocketed during the adverse situation due to the pandemic. People use generally religion to adapt to the changing difficult situation. They pray and seek a closer relation to the creator for the sake of remedy from the tragedy.
In times of the pandemic, sadly, Muslims across the world are confronting the repercussion although all walks of life irrespective of color, gender, religion, race, ethnicity, border, etc have been victimized. In that case, maintaining social distance or physical distance is supposed to the promising treatment of Coronavirus as it is a contagious or communicable disease. On the other hand, Muslims say five times prayer and congregational prayer in mosques standing very closely. Meanwhile, Islamophobic people get a chance to make propaganda as a part of hatred of Islam despite following the health rules and government guidelines in the mosques. Similarly, they criticized very strongly mass gathering, which was not also correct decision, in the funeral prayer of Khilafat mojlish leader Zubair Ahmed Ansari. But, they always overlook other factors that are also responsible for spreading coronavirus.
Whatever, religious tension in India is being grown because of the ruling Hindu patron BJP government. The coronavirus pandemic intensifies this tension or division between Hindu and Muslim. It is mention-worthy that Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group, organized a public gathering in March. Till then lockdown is not imposed. Unfortunately, later, this meeting is identified as a hotspot of coronavirus spread in India. Political leaders including the BJP government dubbed Tablighi Jamaat gathering as corona terrorism and corona jihad which is circulated on social media. It apparently shows islamophobia of the Indian ruling political party, BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).
Theological debate in Muslim circles about coronavirus discourse is that: “coronavirus is created by Allah to punish human being and the punishment is the achievement of unruly activities of those people in the earth. So fighting the pandemic is futile and people should depend on Allah.” This discourse can reduce the panic and fear of the pandemic but cannot conclude coronavirus discourse. Along with the point, the attempt of a human being for the containment of disease should be added. There should have a balance between precautionary measures or effort and reliance on Allah.
Indeed, during the pandemic, Islamic direction and views are contemporary and applicable to contain the disease. It offers Muslims innumerable sound solutions for coping with the emerging startling situation. A quotation of Mohammad (PBUH) is stirred on social media. The messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “If you hear of an epidemic of plague in a land, do not enter there, and if the plague (epidemic) breaks out in a land where you are in do not leave, fleeing from that place.” However, the Hadith is the first and foremost significance to halt the outbreak. That’s why it is prioritized to follow protect human civilization during the pandemic.
Furthermore, in order to prevent Novel coronavirus, the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) are mentioned worthy such as follows 1. Wash hand frequently with soap and water. 2. Cover the face with mask, tissue, or nose-rag or elbow while sneezing or coughing. 3. Annulment of touching nose, mouth, eyes cum face to protect our body from entering virus. 4. Keep at least 1metre distance in terms of social interaction. 5. The avoidance of large public gatherings or meetings. After all, staying home is in favor of combating the spread of the epidemic.
Islamic scriptures also instruct personal hygiene, cleanliness, and purification. Allah cites in the Quran, Indeed, Allah loves the penitent and he loves those who keep clean. Moreover, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said that cleanliness is half of faith. Therefore, the provision of above mentioned these narrations provide the direction of human behavior which should be followed by entire human being dully to kick out the global outbreak.
The author is studying at the Institution of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka.