Beyond the Muslim identity crisis

Culture & Entertainment

  • 03 September 2018

Muslim Public Affairs Committee

A Dominant Islamophobic NarrativeWe hear the same story told again and again in the media and from certain politicians, every time a group like ISIS commits an atrocity, every time there is a headline about halal meat, or Muslims ‘taking over schools’, or Shariah, or the niqab, or grooming gangs, or gender segregation. Whatever the issue, it’s the same dominant story: backward Muslims threatening our way of life. It is told with varying degrees of subtlety, but this basic paradigm is increasingly the prism through which Muslims are seen.

Within this dominant narrative, Muslims can never be victims. The so-called War on Terror leaves millions of Muslim civilians dead, but it is Muslims who are violent and a threat to the West. Muslim women are disproportionately the victims of violent hate crime, but it is the clothes they choose to wear that are the violation of women’s rights. Western governments prop up the most brutal dictators of the Muslim world, but it is Muslims who are the threat to freedom and democracy. Reality has been turned upside down to the extent that a study found that most university students even think that it was the Palestinians who invaded Israel, and not the Israelis who drove the Palestinians out of their homes!

While Islam is portrayed as a threat to civilization, the great contributions that Islamic civilization gave to the world are left out of the history books. From the Greeks and the Romans to the sudden emergence of the European Renaissance, there is a one thousand year gap in the history of civilization; the so-called ‘Dark Ages’. This gap is, of course, our Islamic history – the golden age of Islamic civilization. The Renaissance, of course, did not miraculously appear out of nowhere – it was in fact built on the contributions of Muslim scholarship.

We are surrounded by negative stories about Muslims, but have we told our own Muslim story?

How many Muslims can name the great Muslim scientists whose contributions to knowledge should rank just as highly as names like Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein? How many of us know that the syringe and many surgical instruments still in use today were invented by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi, who practiced in 10th-century Cordoba? How many of us know that the original flying machine was built not by Leonardo Da Vinci or the Wright Brothers, but by a ninth-century inventor named Abbas Ibn Firnas?


Categories: Europe, Fatwa, UK

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