Fear of Islam is Rational. It’s Not Islamophobia.

By David Marshall Published on March 15, 2017

Last October, prodded by a petition asking that it recognize “that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam” and condemn “all forms of Islamophobia,” the Canadian House of Commons agreed on a statement repudiating Islamophobia. Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, then demanded that the government deal with the “Islamophobia” endemic to Canadian society. That demand is now under consideration.

Which caused me to wonder. What is Islamophobia? Might I, as a critic of Islam who nevertheless seeks to be kind to individual Muslims, suffer from this malady?

It is rational, moral and biblical to be wary of Islam as a whole, not just a few “extremists” within it — while offering kindness to individual Muslims.

Phobias are inordinate fears — of heights, dogs, snakes, enclosed spaces and so on. The term “Islamophobia” implies that if you are afraid of Islam per se (rather than just “extremist individuals”), you are likely to be unjust or unkind, or perhaps launch wars against innocent Muslims.

Thus the Canadian petition went on to note (echoing the constant drumbeat in some American high school textbooks), that the Golden Age of Islam produced a series of literate, advanced empires with the Muslim faith at their ideological core. It claims that Islam then made contributions in “arts, culture, science, literature, medicine” and more.

To what extent Islam produced rather than obtaining these things through its conquests is hard to say. That is just one of the many ways in which Islam is more complicated than the Islamophobia-phobic let on. In fact, I think it is rational, moral and biblical to be wary of Islam as a whole, not just a few “extremists” within it — while offering kindness to individual Muslims.

Responses to Real Danger

Most phobias are exaggerated responses to real dangers, after all. Heights are dangerous, unless you’re Spider-Man. Bees sting. Snakes bite. Ask a coal miner or parakeet what can happen in an enclosed space. God implanted such fears in us to keep us in one piece.

So why then is “Islamophobia” a word, and not “Buddhaphobia?”

Ask a Coptic Christian in Egypt whose faith has been suppressed for more than a millennia. Ask Nigerian Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Ask a survivor, if you can find one, of the once great and ancient Jewish communities in Egypt, Iraq or Iran. Talk to Yazidi girls sold into sexual slavery in ISIS-controlled territory.

A young Saudi woman I got to know in Oxford told me, “The only way I’m going back to Saudi is in a body bag.” A former imam I met in the same city told me that “of course” Islamic law prescribes death for those who convert out, which is why (after miraculously converting to Christ) he could not go home.

The villains in some of these cases are considered “extremist,” in others, they represent mainstream Islam. But “extremist” is one of those chameleon-words like “fundamentalist,” that derives meaning only from its neighbors. Therefore “extremist Muslims” must by definition be outliers and cannot “represent” Islam. The question that immediately leads to then, is, What does define Islam?

Defining Islam

Like any ideology, Islam can be defined by (a) the life and teachings of its founder; (b) its canonical writings; or (c) its developed traditions.

Western liberals tend to accentuate its traditions (c) rather than (a) or (b). But even viewed “liberally” as a mere social phenomenon, Islam provides rational grounds for worry, even fear. The horror of 9/11 was no aberration. “The borders of Islam are bloody,” said historian Bernard Lewis. And modern Islamic societies, as shown by broad-based United Nations research, tend to suppress women, among other ills.

Things turn even darker when we look at Islam’s founder. Among Mohammed’s crimes, as chronicled in Muslim tradition, are child-rape, polygamy, torture, slave-trading, assassination, mass-murder, armed robbery and the waging of many aggressive wars.

As for its canonical writings, much of what the enlightened world decries in modern Islam’s treatment of women has its origins in the teachings and actions of the prophet. These include marrying children to old men, polygamy, wife-beating, keeping women indoors and covered. Some of this is enshrined within the sacred pages of the Koran — and stands in stark contrast to the example of Jesus.

One must still give credit where credit is due. Who cannot admire, for instance, a Libyan Muslim immigrant to the United States who takes in terminally-ill foster children? Since Jesus teaches us to recognize such “Good Samaritans,” we should also recognize whatever Muslims have accomplished in medicine, art and science.

That said, recall that Islam conquered several cradles of civilization — ancient Sumer, Persia, Egypt, Israel, and much of the Greek Byzantine Empire — and ruled over technologically-advanced Nestorian Christian and Jewish communities. Islam then conquered much of Christendom and India and enslaved millions of Africans and Slavs. While not as inherently vicious as Nazism, Communism, or Aztec religion, Islam thus proves itself an object of rational fear.

The Two “Extremes”

One should distinguish between phobias or inordinate fears and reasonable concerns. Jesus taught his followers that they would be persecuted for His sake. Was that fear-mongering? Jesus sometimes avoided angry mobs and warned against bullies and ideological predators (“wolves”). Life under Islamic rule taught many followers of Christ to take pragmatic steps to mitigate the dangers of Islamic theology. They did this even while placing ultimate trust in God, making friends in the Muslim community, and treating each individual with the dignity and compassion of Christ.

Thus it is rational to fear the influence of a man whose example and teachings have led to great harm — even if it includes some good.

Christians should place ultimate trust in God. We are called to love Muslims as well, some of whom may prove better men and women than ourselves.

Osama bin Laden was an “extremist” because he followed Mohammed too closely. And that example is the root of a rational fear of Islam in its normative state. Those who truly love their neighbors are “extreme” rather in their resemblance to Jesus, the normative state of Christianity, which overcomes, but does not simply ignore, rational dangers.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Gary

    I want Muslims to be confined to countries where Islam is the majority religion. And I want the USA to not be one of those countries.

  • Dean Bruckner

    I would say you are cephalophilic – you like your own head and are quite attached to it, and you want it to stay that way!

  • missy

    This infidel doesn’t want to live under Sharia Law.

  • Autrey Windle

    I want to invite all Muslims in the US to consider that Jesus may be the way the truth and the life. We won’t insist that you believe or cut your head off if you don’t, but we will promise you will be loved and welcomed to heaven if you acknowledge the one true God and the sacrifice of His Son. That’s the only death you need be afraid of not acknowledging and you only need to fear God if you don’t. We are a nation founded on Judeo/Christian principles and if you can’t handle that there are other places to go. Sharia and honor killings will never be acceptable here.

  • Yes we should fear Islam. All you have to do is look around the world and see Muslim country afterMuslim country killing and terrorizing someone. It’s nearly universal, and yes I believe it is part of the religion. This may be a bit simplified but it characterizes the differences starkly: Christ died to start Christianity; Mohammed killed to start Islam. Everything flows from that.

  • bfast

    I have responded to the rise of Islam awareness in our society by looking into Islam. Most specifically, I have looked at the character of Mohammed. To maintain a non-emotional stance, I would say that Mohammed’s actions would not be acceptable in First World societies. If Mohammed lived as he did, he would have to be thrown in prison for numerous reasons, most notably murder for personal gain.

    The closer I look at Islam, the more “Islamophobic” I become.

  • Billy Bee

    As long as I have the right to bear arms, I don’t fear Islam…..

  • Faith of Our Fathers

    There is no such word ( as far as am concerned) as this B.S . Islam—–c . It was probably given to us by their Muftis . You know the ones sort of like the Pope only more distant . NEVER do you hear these Reprobate men come out and Condemn the Horrific Pain and violence perpetrated by their kin on mankind. Still like Obama they probably think it’s vengeance against The Crusades. Boy they certainly can keep a grudge going for a long time .

    • Sonnys_Mom

      The word “islam” is Arabic for “submission”.

  • That the fear of Islam is an issue for Americans is the consequence of the 18th-century founding fathers replacing the First Commandment with the polytheism-enabling First Amendment.

    CLUE: There were no openly practicing Muslims, no Mosques, no Sharia, and no Islamic terrorism in 17th-century Colonial America whose governments of, by, and for God were established upon Yahweh’s moral law, beginning with the First
    Commandment:

    “…When the 18th-century founders replaced the First Commandment (found intact in some 17th-century Colonial Constitutions) with the First Amendment, America was transformed from a predominantly monotheistic Christian nation (a united nation under one God, Yahweh) into arguably the most polytheistic nation to exist (a divided nation under many gods, including Islam’s Allah).

    “It’s one thing to allow for individual freedom of conscience and private choice of gods, something impossible to legislate for or against. It’s another matter altogether for government to enable any and all religions to proliferate through the land and evangelize our posterity to false gods. This is what the First Amendment legitimizes. It is an unequivocal violation of the First Commandment and the polar opposite of the following First Commandment statute:

    ‘[Y]e shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. For thou shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou … go a whoring after their gods….’ (Exodus 34:13-15)….”

    For more, see blog article “National Religious Freedom Day aka Celebrating the Founders’ Violation of the First Commandment.” Click on my name, then our blog, and search on title.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

    • Sonnys_Mom

      The Founders never intended to found a theocracy.

      • Thanks for responding.

        They perhaps didn’t intend one but they created one nonetheless.

        All governments are religion based because all legislation reflects someone’s morality (or, more often, than not, immorality), and one’s ethics is, therefore, a reflection of their god. For most people in the broad way (Matthew 7:13), the religion is one of many forms of secular humanism, which, in turn, means their god is one of many forms of self.

        When one understands that idolatry is not so much about statues as it is statutes, it becomes clear that all governments are theocratic, serving either the true God or some false god, demonstrated by what laws they keep and consider the supreme law of the land.

        Question: Were the governments in the Old Testament under the god Baal (or any other false god named in the Old Testament) theocracies?
        Answer: Of course, they were.

        Question: Was Baal (or any other god named in the Bible) real or were they merely ancient forms of We the People?
        Answer: Merely ancient forms of We the People

        Consequently:

        “…There is no escaping theocracy. A government’s laws reflect its morality, and the source of that morality (or, more often than not, immorality) is its god. It is never a question of theocracy or no theocracy, but whose theocracy. The American people, by way of their elected officials, are the source of the Constitutional Republic’s laws. Therefore, the Constitutional Republic’s god is WE THE PEOPLE.

        “People recoil at the idea of a theocracy’s morality being forced upon them, but because all governments are theocracies, someone’s morality is always being enforced. This is an inevitability of government. The question is which god, theocracy, laws, and morality will we choose to live under?…”

        For more, see online Chapter 3 “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 3.

        Then find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that EXAMINES the Constitution by the Bible.

  • Sonnys_Mom

    Notice how Islamists and their sympathizers dismiss the historic contributions of INDIVIDUAL scientists and mathematicians? Why do we ignore the contributions of these gifted individuals and instead give “Islam” all the credit? And why are we so willing to overlook all the things Islam forbids– including individual freedom?

    • Great point. In fact it’s amazing how sparse Muslim greats are given their huge worldwide population. A good case can be made that Islam has held geniuses back.

      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Manny sorry to disagree with your theory it’s really that Muslims are inherently and completely Lazy . From experience going back 30years a friend of mine was working in Lybia running in High Voltage lines and to teach local so called tradesmen how to maintain them . They told him through an interpreter that they weren’t interested they would do nothing. Now there are unfortunately where I live thousands of Muslims and as a retired construction worker I can honestly say that on all the sites I worked on I never once seen a Muslim. Manual Labour is just not in their vocabulary and that’s the main reason most of their countries are Shi—holes . Of course when you look at Dubai and Saudi you may not agree with me but they all used Hindu Indians practically as slave labour to construct their Cities. A Muslim will stand all day in a shop over here in U.K. and sell cheap Booze to our young,of course it’s against their Religion of Peace for them to drink( Hypocrites )but poison our youth that’s O.K. and our bought off Politicians do nothing . No the members of The Religion of Peace are just to lazy especially to stick at any task which may require them God Forbid to put on working overalls .

        • Yeah, but why are they lazy? They expect others to submit and do their work for them. Submission is what Islam is all about. It is a hierarchy of submission.

          • Faith of Our Fathers

            Manny my post on Disagreeing with you was of course double sided . Take Care .

    • David Marshall

      Rodney Stark has made the case that many of those inventions in the Islamic world were actually by Nestorians and other religious minorities.

Inspiration
We Need Community
Julie Manning
More from The Stream
Connect with Us