Displaying items by tag: Islamophobia
Brunei’s decision to implement syariah law was met with intense criticisms by not only the West but liberal leaning Muslims as well.
Such a negative reaction and notion by these parties is only to be expected. This is due to the fact that accolades from the West on anything Islamic are an exception and not the norm.
Brunei’s implementation of syariah law has also solicited the ire of Hollywood celebrities ranging from Elton John to George Clooney. These Hollywood superstars have called for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels. The condemnation of the Brunei move by the celebrities is a reflection of how prejudice and stereotype figure into our ill-informed judgments.
To be clear, fears about syariah are a manifestation of Islamophobia, and these fears are purposely fanned by certain segments of Western society.
Syariah law has been described by the Western press as inhumane, barbaric, and cruel. Syariah, according to the West, promotes an eye for an eye justice.
The coverage of syariah in the West usually focuses on the criminal justice provisions, known as hudud, developed in the seventh century. Theft was said to merit amputation of the right hand, fornication earned a hundred lashes, and falsely accusing someone of the same offence was punishable by eighty strokes.
The gravest crime, the waging of war against Islam or spreading of disorder in the land, was attended by an entire battery of punitive possibilities: exile, double amputation, suspension from a cross, and decapitation.
In the case of other acts of violence, a victim of the next of kin was formally authorised to act.
These punishments look distinctly pre-modern from a twenty-first century perspective, but it would take either naivete or ill will to characterise them in terms worse than that.
Corporal punishment was a feature of the age, while crucifixion owed its popularity in the Middle East to centuries of Persian and Roman practice and among Muslims, at least in later years, it was intended to be a non-fatal means of humiliation rather than a method of execution.
Torture, which was routine under Christianised Roman law of Byzantium, found no place in the Quran. As a matter of fact, the Quran was suffused with more general concepts of mercy. Repentance was often reason enough to exclude punishment for hudud.
Where an offence gave someone a right to seek vengeance, retaliation was limited by the original crime, and victims were urged to accept compensation or exercise mercy instead.
The rules, for all their rigour, also reflected the ancient notion that responsibility was a matter of honour, and less was expected of those lower down the social pecking order: someone who had unlawful sex having never before been married was subject to lashing than stoning, and the number of strokes inflicted for adultery and intoxication was halved if the convict was a slave.
The most striking fact of them all is the one that today is most likely to be overlooked — physical punishment was authorised just five times in the entire Quran.
The system’s relative leniency is paradoxically illustrated by its harshest prescription — the stoning to death for a married or divorced person who had sex out of wedlock. The penalty itself had been known since at least 2,350 Before Common Era when the king of Mesopotamia stipulated in the world’s oldest known laws that promiscuous women should be executed with rocks bearing their names, and the Israelites notoriously adopted the punishment to kill adulterers as well as blasphemers, witches, wizards, and disobedient sons.
Islamic procedures were novel only in so far as they made it harder to impose.
In order for fornication to be proved against a defendant who denied guilt, four witnesses had to attest to the actual act of penetration in explicit terms and the evidential hurdle was as challenging as it sounds.
Put in another way, the narrative on syariah has to focus on mercy and restraint as opposed to punishment.
As a legal instrument, syariah is constituted by moral law. Unlike the Western legal system, syariah is a moral system in which the law is a tool and technique that is subordinated to and enmeshed in the overarching moral apparatus, but not an end in itself.
In syariah law, the legal system is the instrument of morality and not the other way around. Being constituted by ethical and moral values, syariah strives towards the realisation of moral ends.
While syariah aims to achieve certain ideals, it is not almost always fully achieved in the real world. But rather it appears as benchmarks against which reality is not only measured but pressured.
Syariah law was promulgated within an ethical conception of the world. The premise underpinning syariah is that human beings live in the world not beyond it. The Islamic juridical system is therefore a clear reflection of how Islam conceives the world and its relations with humans.
In syariah, humans are charged with custodianship of this world, and are bound by moral and ethical duties and not rights.
Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk is the director of the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, 22 April 2019
One week on from the terror attacks in Ōtautahi, Hala Nasr reflects on growing up Muslim in Aotearoa.
I woke up to a surreal realisation. It feels familiar, deep in my bones yet disembodied in the anxious discourse of dismissal, from friends, colleagues, and even people from my community. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we are not exceptional, we are not a utopia far from the world’s problems, we are its mirror reflection. Our problems are local and situated, but also global and messy. I can’t shake the thought: I told you so. Why didn’t you believe me?
I grew up centred by Tīkapa Moana and Islamic bedtime stories. Playing netball (goal attack for life) in a miniskirt, and Friday prayers in a hijab with my baba. Parties on Saturday night and Arabic School on Sunday. When I hear tuis sing or see pīwakawaka dancing, my heart literally leaps. Do you see me?
When I was eight, drawing my self-portrait, a Pākehā girl in my class grabbed the beige crayon out of my hand, telling me to use the dark brown crayon instead. I refused to go to school that week. I never told my mama why.
When I was eleven, I watched a terrorist attack unfold on a television in class. That day, my predominantly Pākehā classmates connected me to the terrorists, and for weeks asked me why my mother wore a scarf on her head. I would hide in the library at lunch times. I never told my mama.
When I was 19, a boy I liked told me it wouldn’t work because I was a Muslim, and my family were Muslim. His mother wouldn’t approve. I didn’t bother telling him: neither would mine.
When I was 20, a university lecturer told my third-year Political Science class that Week 10’s class was on Muslim terrorism. I asked about right-wing terrorism. He told me to sit down and shut up. I looked around at my predominantly Pākehā peers, no one said anything. I left.
When I was 25, my mama, who wears a hijab, was assaulted in Milford Mall (our local for over 25 years), and told to “get out of New Zealand.” The management staff did nothing despite our complaints.
When I was 26, Neo-Nazis delivered boxes of pig heads to the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, while saluting Hitler and calling for Muslims in Aotearoa to be ‘culled.’ I felt uneasy visiting Christchurch for work. I didn’t feel I could tell my boss or colleagues.
When I was 27, white supremacists were given platforms to visit and speak to sold-out venues in Australia and Aotearoa. When Muslims objected, we were told that we were exaggerating, that we were the enemies of freedom. In the end, their freedom of speech was prioritised over our lives.
I’m 28 now, and on that Friday night, my mother said to me: “I can’t have 80 children’s lives on my conscience, ya Hala.” She had decided to cancel Sunday School that weekend. She has volunteered, managing and teaching Arabic and Islam to children in the Muslim community of the North Shore, for almost 20 years with other women in our community – ten years of which my sister and I attended. The police have asked that the Sunday School stay closed till further notice.
My sister told me not to worry, “I brought our cats inside in case they want to target Muslim cats, too.” We laughed, and then we cried.
Since Friday, grief has come in waves, as has the awhi from Pākehā and non-Muslims. I understand the need Pākehā and non-Muslims feel to make up for their past indifference or to reiterate that Muslims are just as much of here as anyone else. But the culmination of my lived experiences, and many others which I can’t bring myself to repeat, rests under the surface of my discomfort with the ‘They Are Us’ solidarity statements.
It feels like negation, not just of my own lived experiences, but also of our own history as a nation. Because, while Friday was a dark day, maybe one of the darkest, Aotearoa’s settler-colonial history is a long white-supremacist storybook. I will not pretend it is new, that it is exceptional, that I didn’t see it coming. I did, and you should have too.
Even now, even in wake of the terrorism against my community, some Pākehā and non-Muslims have found it hard to hear this. I have experienced their endless need to ‘explain’ my feelings on this away. In one breath, mourned and warned.
In this moment in our nation’s history, there’s nothing else to do here but learn from the past and do better:
Honour the Treaty.
Hold racists accountable (describing the racism you witnessed to your non-White friend after the fact does not count).
Vote in more representative politicians.
Join and organise with your local anti-racist, anti-colonial organisations.
Learn to recognise and dismantle your white privilege and entitlement (Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F Saad is a good start).
Actively listen and privilege the knowledge and experiences of Māori and non-White migrant communities.
He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.
Published in: The Pantograph Punch, 24 March 2019
Illustration: Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho
Expressions of Islamophobia range from outright confrontation involving subjugation and killing to various forms of punitive actions.
Such repressions could be communal or state sponsored as a form of external aggressions from people of different faiths or within the same faith.
These have resulted in both covert and overt actions ranging from sanctions to their physical appearance, speeches, practices, banning them from visiting certain countries, restricting their movements to specified areas within a country to outright massacre and genocide.
The massacre of the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State of Myanmar is a cause celebre.
Myanmar’s government has systematically maimed, tortured, raped and killed the Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship despite the fact they are the original inhabitants in the state.
Less known and out of the glare of the international media and covertly executed is the persecution and subjugation of the Uighur Muslims of Turkish origin in Xinjiang, China.
Out in the Middle East, Israel with the connivance of America are persecuting Palestinian Muslims, torturing and killing them, having occupied their lands and incarcerated them in a prison-like blockade of land, sea and air.
Unlike the covert subjugation of the Uighur Muslims in China which was put under wraps and disguised as acculturative re-education, the Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians are cause celebre, but with a different slant.
In this case the Jewish American-controlled media distorts the facts, creating the perception that Israel is the victim while the Palestinians are the aggressors. This is an overt form of Islamophobia.
There are other covert intimidating forms of Islamophobia in so-called democratic countries that are supposed to have freedom of religious and secular expressions, pretending to tolerate differences of belief and lifestyle and celebrate unity in diversity.
Another aspect of Islamophobia is the prejudice within the Islamic community. One is between nations and the other is within nations.
In both cases, the conflict is between Sunnis and Shia, which dates back to the time of the emergence of the four Caliphates. It is prejudice and animosity between these two denominations of Islam.
Sunnis believe Muhammad is the last Prophet, while the Shia regard Ali as the anointed successor of Prophet Muhammad. Shia-Sunni relations have been volatile, resulting in violence confrontations.
Such confrontation occurs when one country has an overwhelming Shia or Sunni population as in the case of Iran and Iraq or a proxy one as in the case of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
This sectarian conflict is also replicated within a nation having both Shia and Sunni populations as in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Azerbaijan, which have a majority Shia population, and a minority in Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.
It is a known fact that Shia and Sunni can co-exist peacefully but the underlying dormant tensions can be exacerbated into internecine conflict when political agendas are factored into the equation. This has been the case in Iraq and Syria.
Even within the exclusively Sunni Muslim population as in Malaysia and Indonesia, there are conflicts the result of different groups giving different interpretations in the practice of Islam based on their political ideology. Political parties that misused Islam purveyed their own brand of the religion and regard all others who are at variance with their religious and political beliefs as infidels.
Islam as a religion has attracted so much negative attention, perceptions and animosities. Its believers have been persecuted, subjugated, maimed and killed in certain countries. It has been touted as a religion of violence and linked to terrorism.
The beauty and the true image of Islam has been tarnished by unscrupulous leaders who hijacked the religion to serve their political agenda.
The regional and world organisations such as the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Asean seem unable to solve the plight of the Muslims.
The Muslim community is fractured, each having its own earthly agenda and forsaking the true teachings of Islam as enshrined in the Quran and Hadiths.
And the western powers have taken advantage of the economic weakness of the Muslim countries as well as the greed of the despotic and corrupt rulers of the wealthy countries to perpetrate dissension and confrontation among the Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East.
It is imperative that Muslim countries cast aside hostility towards each other and reconstitute the ummah to be a military and economic force that is able to exert influence and secure the safety and security of Muslims beyond individual geographical borders.
Muslim countries must have physical, economic and intellectual strength to counter the covert and overt confrontation of Islamophobia.
The writer is an emeritus professor at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
Published in: New Sunday Times, 3 February 2019
MISPERCEPTION: People's failure to distinguish between true Islam and extremism is the real problem. ANTI-MUSLIM voices are rising all across the world. In many countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain and Germany, new measures are being taken almost daily because of the reactions against the presence of Muslims. The increasing reactions are leading to serious divisions in societies....................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)