Muslims Must Find Allies Among Non-Muslims In Fight Against Islamophobia

Possible lessons from the Linda Sarsour episode:

(For those who are unaware, she is a Palestinian-American and a social activist who participated in the women’s march held a few days ago. She gave a rousing, inspiring speech. Unfortunately, but predictably, she was slammed by many people; those on the far-right, but also, some Muslims.)

1) Some men just cannot stand strong women, who have loud voices and are not afraid to articulate their opinions. This is regrettably still true, and it is really futile to pretend that it is not.

2) As long as Muslims do not conform to certain expectations held by others, there will be efforts to ‘reform’ Islam and ‘modernize’ it. Can’t help but feel there would be fewer criticisms if she had not donned the hijab, or if she was a self-styled Muslim ‘reformer’.

3) We should always challenge terminologies that are put forth by others. When others use the term ‘moderate’, or ‘progressive’, or ‘conservative’, do not let that slide, or worse, embrace them uncritically. This is not a matter of being an ‘academic exercise’; rather, it could have real-life implications.

In this case, the term ‘anti-Semite’ was bandied about casually. Is she anti-Semitic because she is Palestinian? Aren’t Arabs Semites in the first place???

Do not let others define the terms of discourse for us.

4) Muslims should be aware that many of those who are defending Linda are those from other/no faiths. Yes, in the Western world, there are plenty of Islamophobes who wish to see Islam disappear from the face of the earth, and/or want Islam to be changed wholesale.

At the same time, there are many who are allies and potential allies, who have stood up and will continue to stand up for us. It is crucial to recognize this.

Muslims hate it when people paint us with the same brush. We, of all people, should know not to do that with ‘people in the West’, ‘Jews’, ‘the right’, and the like.


Source: Walid J. Abdullah

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