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Islamaphobia – Christian Today

There’s an important difference between being Islamophobic and Islamocritical

Jakarta Mosque

It was a touching moment. On our last evening in our home of the past 27 years, our Muslim neighbour came in to say goodbye. She thanked us for being good neighbours and apologised if in any way her family had done anything wrong. I was moved at her tears and compassion. I don’t think it is ‘racist’ of me to say that I have always enjoyed having Muslim neighbours and would be happy to have them again.

But why bring up racism? Because according to the UK government’s working party definition, “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Islam and Racism

It now seems to be the accepted norm that being Islamophobic is racist. But is this a correct understanding? Islam is a religion, not a race. You can choose and change your religion – you cannot choose and change your race. Why then is Islamophobia considered to be something do with race?

Because Islamophobia is considered to be as irrational, immoral and harmful as racism. That may be correct, but first of all we do have to ask what Islamophobia actually is.

The working group’s definition was rejected by the UK government. Thankfully. Because if the definition had been accepted, it could have resulted in making any criticism of the doctrines and practice of Islam illegal. I have read the Koran and I find some in it that is fine and good, but much that is frankly dreadful.

For example, I don’t think that the death penalty for apostasy from Islam is appropriate for society today. Nor do I accept polygamy. Nor do I think it wrong to disagree with and critique verses such as “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them, and capture them, and blockade them, and watch for them at every lookout…” (Quran 9:5).

The definition of Islamophobia as proposed by the working group would create a new blasphemy law within the United Kingdom. A blasphemy law enforced by secular liberals in defence of a religion that would destroy their values.

Scottish Parliament and Islamaphobia

The Scottish Parliament, never slow to signal its own virtue as regards ‘progressive’ causes (of which Islam is apparently now one), has accepted the working definition and set up its own committee to deal with the problem of Islamophobia.

The parliament’s own website tells us what this group is going to do: “The group recognises that the issue of Islamophobia presents specific challenges that have received relatively little attention in the Scottish context. It will seek to monitor the issue of Islamophobia in Scotland and develop strategies for tackling it. The group’s main purpose will be to inform Parliament of the work that it does in the hope of increasing awareness about racism and Islamophobia in Scotland and to ensure such matters are engaged with where necessary in policy and practice.”

The parliament’s committee has set up an ‘inquiry into Islamophobia’ – helpfully providing a tick box form which enables people to agree with their predetermined result that Islamophobia is a growing clear and present danger in Scotland today. Questions guide the form-filler – questions such as “What barriers, if any, do you think Islamophobia causes in Scotland? (please specify)”.

Others ask: “Have you ever experienced Islamophobia? Do you have a fear of experiencing Islamophobia? Do you think Islamophobia has an impact on the educational outcomes of Muslims in Scotland? What impact do you think the print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines, etc) has on Islamophobia?”.

In reality the form is saying, please help us by reporting as much Islamophobia as you possibly can.

What is the Christian response to this?

Firstly, I do not accept the illogical and degrading idea that Islam is a race. Islam is a religion, which people are free to choose to follow if they wish, and which they should be free to leave and free to criticise as they wish.

Secondly, we do not regard being critical of some of the doctrines and practices of Islam as being in any sense ‘phobic’. As Christians, we fear no one but God.

In the United Kingdom today, there are many Muslims, especially from Iran, Syria and other wartorn countries who have become Christians. Some face great danger, not least when the Home Office refuses to recognise they would be in real trouble if they returned to their home countries.

Some face ostracism and persecution within this country. We would hope that just as the politicians show great concern for Muslims who are victims of hatred because of their faith, they would show the same concern to defend Muslims who wish to change their faith. Will there be government committees and programmes to deal with Christophobia?

Thirdly Christians need to seek to learn about and understand Islam in its various forms. Another Muslim friend told me when I entered his home – “I like you David – you are a fundamentalist like me!” What he meant was that we were both people who believed and practised our faith. As such we both understood that religion is not race, culture or nominal. Perhaps it is real Christians who are far more likely to understand and help real Muslims, than the secular Humanists whose doctrines prevent them from understanding?

Finally, our aim is to be as good neighbours to our Muslim neighbours as mine were to me. Being a good neighbour means that we will protect and defend our Muslim neighbours if they are attacked or abused for their faith or culture. Being a good neighbour means that we want the very best for our neighbour. And the very best is that they come to know Christ. May Christ reveal himself to our Muslim friends.

David Robertson is Director of Third Space – a project of the City Bible Forum in Australia.

This article was published on Christian Today – you can get the original here..

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  1. Good sense in this article.
    There seems to be a trend in society that to be critical of a viewpoint is to be critical of the person and consequently unacceptable. This stifles healthy debate and examination.
    I would be interested to hear how you reconcile the quote from the Koran with comments of a similar nature from Leviticus?

    1. I don’t think there is a similar quote from Leviticus. There are however quotes from Leviticus that require the death penalty for certain things within the civil state of ancient Israel….they do not apply from the time of Christ…

      1. Was not Christ emphatic regarding Mosaic Law?

        For verily I say unto you, Till
        heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
        tittle shall in no wise pass from
        the law, till all be fulfilled.

      2. 17Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.—Jesus

      3. @ Jim
        I’m aware of this verse, of course. Are you suggesting this little speech is indicative of fulfilled prophecy?

      4. He has come to make sure that the law of Moses remains the law. He goes on to chastise those not living by the law. So the short answer —NO !

      5. Ah .. This is what I thought but I didn’t want to presume. Thanks.

      6. It’s also interesting that believers will say Christ was the end or apex of the law of Moses ending sacrifice, circumcision, and adherence to the liturgy, but that’s not what he said.

  2. I find your posts help untie the knots of muddled or confused thinking. You are able to articulate clearly ideas that I find difficult to express even after 60 years on the Christian path.
    The present comments about Islamophobia may help prevent this concept being used to silence any criticism or analysis Islam.

  3. It always frustrates me when criticism of Islam is labelled ‘racist’, it could be argued that such an attitude is racist in and of itself since it is stereotyping one particular race as all Muslims. It is especially astounding when such ignorance is coming from government bodies, although it doesn’t surprise me when they are Scottish government bodies. Thanks for your inciteful commentary Rev. Robertson, all the best for Australia. The good thing about moving to Australia is you will still be a subject of Her Majesty the Queen.

  4. Your point that equating Islam with race is degrading strikes me as key. It is in fact the prejudice of a secular culture which believes that religious beliefs are completely ethnically/culturally determined so that people from those backgrounds are both to be tolerated an pities which acts as the other arm of racism. One form hates and fights, the other patronises and smothers. Both forms treat white western culture are superior and elite.

    Disturbingly, those most at risk of committing Islamophobia are those who have sought to leave Islam behind and have sought asylum here. Often they genuinely have a phobia – a fear of what will happen to them as a result of their “apostacy.”

    Surely, the “asylum seeker impact” should be a key test in terms of any attempt to provide a definition and enforce it. Would it hurt or hinder the very people who have legitimately sought our protection

  5. The “mystery” link between Islamophobia and race is the lazy thinking of most people, who either don’t know or don’t believe that white British people, having experienced the benefits of our culture, could ever voluntarily convert to what they believe (again, misinformed by an enthusiastic scandalmongering Press) to be a primitive and barbaric faith that abuses women and corrupts children.
    (And that’s leaving out those who think *any* faith is a relic of superstitious barbarism per se.)
    Conversely, the first and often only image most ordinary people have when you say “Muslim” is of a brown person.
    Islam may not technically be a race, but it is racially perceived and that is the missing link.
    A further refinement is the massive blind eye turned to black Churches by the broad society that assumes “Christian” as synonymous with “white” – as in “This is a Christian country!” (would that it were true).
    I prefer to remember the Good Friday walking to church when a Muslim asked me for directions to the nearby mosque – and responded to me giving them with a smiling “Happy Easter!”

    1. For the avoidance of doubt, what I’m wishing were true is that Britain was Christian – not that it was exclusively white! (Can’t be too careful these days…)

  6. Moslems are far closer neighbours than we might, at first, realise – far closer!

    It is claimed that if birth trends continue as they are, then our once ‘Christian’ country will be an explicitly Islamic nation in the next 20-30 years. I used the word ‘explicitly’ quite deliberately, because sadly, in a generic sense, most of the population of Britain are already intrinsically and spiritually Muslim.

    Let me explain.

    What is a Muslim but someone who rejects Jesus Christ as being, or being any part of our Creator God and instead worships an ‘Allah’ i.e., a god, any god – an idol – any icon of their own, or someone else’s human devising?

    And since this description embraces all non-Christians with, or without spiritual/religious leadings (humanist’s reject Christ and worship the Allah/idol of their own human intellect) – then it can be stated, without hesitation that, as of this moment, most of the people of this country (the vast majority without realising it) are already intrinsically, spiritually – Muslim……

    And how has this happened?

    Most undiscerning ‘Christians’ (e.g. Stephen Green of Christian Voice) will suggest that this ‘nation’ has turned away from Christ and is in the process of suffering the dire consequences and, thereafter, will pray for, plead with, and exhort the people of this nation to turn back to Christ.

    But it is not the people of this country who have turned away from Christ – it is Christ who, for His own good reasons, has removed His (restraining) Spirit from this nation – in order that its true spiritual state might be revealed in, and through its various constitutions e.g. Brexit and gender confusion.

    Revealed to whom?

    Quite simply – to those who have been given eyes to see.

    This country with its ‘traditional’ churches and denominations has never been anything other than ‘culturally/socially/publicly’ Christian – it has never been truly Christian. Jesus came to save and redeem individuals – He did not come to save and redeem nations. Some may quote Israel as precedent for defending/promoting national salvation – but as God Himself stated: ‘For they are not all Israel who are of Israel’ Romans 9/6

    Moslems, implicit or explicit, are not the cause of evil in our societies – they are the outward symptom of our nation’s implicit, religio-political godlessness. And no one – not one single person can judge them – for, at a base, unregenerate human level we all worship ourselves and the god’s/celebrities/icons of our own – or someone else’s human devising……

    Which is why this nation is not in uproar at the growth of Islam (a religion which offers blatant insult to Christ by denying His divinity – and blasphemes against the Holy Spirit by denying His existence).

  7. Christians need to concentrate and focus on Christianity, rather than debating the ‘important difference between being Islamophobic and Islamocritical’.

    We are so easily distracted with anything else when we should be resurrecting the faith that we have of our own rather than dehumanising and arguing the validity of the faith of others.

    No wonder that Christianity is decline.

    If we each spent just a fraction of our time in actively spreading and teaching His words , which He called every Christian to do, then we wouldn’t be seeing the dramatic decline in Christian numbers over the last 40 years.

    We have become silent and inactive in our very own calling…………….but ever so vocal in the realms of everything else!

    1. … or if we didn’t waste our time finding, reading and then going to all the effort of commenting on an article we apparently didn’t think needed to be written or read.

      1. Dave Williams, as Christians we waste our time on many things in life… apparently. Thank you for your valuable input.

        ……..I forgot to include that we have also become extremely judgemental of others as well as being prone to misinterpreting or misrepresenting the words and the message that others try to articulate. Comprehension and context is key.

        My time and effort is well spent here because His message lives on through this very post and may well guide others directly to Him.

      2. … and yet judgementalism is exactly what we witness in your response. The question of Islamaphobia is significantly pastorally relevant to many of us. In oir church and community we have a number of people who are in danger of being accused of and censured/ punished for Islamaphobia who are from Muslim backgrounds and in some cases refugees. So this to us is not some bit of academic nit picking. No Christ does not live on in your post which was not Scripture and does not even reference the Gospel that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification

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