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Fighting Islamophobia at Yale

20 February 2012 General 44 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

BY MOSTAFA AL-ALUSIFAISAL HAMID

Since the end of the Jim Crow era, politicians have dressed racism in the rhetoric of food stamps and illegal aliens. But as the past 10 years have shown, it seems that politicians need no such disguise for Islamophobia.

Unspoken assumptions often provide more insight into American public opinion than what can be explicitly stated. Public figures today assume that they can openly disparage Muslims, thinking that Muslims are worthy of our fear and hatred. This Islamophobia pervades the discourse of the Republican primaries. Putting aside the claim, still common today, that Barack Hussein Obama is secretly a Muslim, let’s take a look at what some of the current and former GOP hopefuls have to say about Islam.

While he was a frontrunner in the race, Herman Cain said he would never appoint a Muslim to his cabinet and that the majority of Muslims hold extremist views. You would have to work hard to be more blatantly intolerant than that. What is even more deplorable, however, is that this comment had little to no impact on his popularity.

Newt Gingrich, who famously claimed that Palestinians are “an invented people,” is known for his support of patently Islamophobic anti-Shariah legislation, such as the bill Alabama State Senator Gerald Allen proposed last year that would ban courts from citing Shariah and other foreign laws. When asked at a press conference to define Shariah, Allen was unable to muster a response. It turned out the text of Allen’s bill that defined Shariah was lifted from Wikipedia.

Even the moderate frontrunner, Mitt Romney, based much of his 2008 campaign on the need to combat “violent, radical Islamic fundamentalism.” In a debate last month, he claimed, “The right course for America is to recognize we’re under attack … [by] radical violent jihadists around the world.” It is exactly this sort of simple-minded explanation of world events that feeds America’s growing paranoia of Islam and Muslims. If this is the rhetoric we tolerate from a man who might be our next president, imagine the kind of discrimination that Muslims face on a day-to-day basis.

You don’t need to go very far to see the real consequences of negative attitudes towards Muslims. Yale Muslims — your classmates — have been (and, judging by the direction of our society, will continue to be) victims of Islamophobia. Rakibul Mazumder ’13 recalls growing up in post-9/11 New York City, where he faced random searches and profiling on a weekly basis. To his surprise, the hate followed him to Yale; he recalls being harassed by drunken partiers one night with anti-Muslim slurs.

Parents of Muslims students said their goodbyes at the beginning of last school year knowing that their sons and daughters were coming to New Haven just as Connecticut Muslims had requested police protection for Friday prayers. “Politicians and pundits are playing the fear-mongering game,” said James Jones, president of the Masjid al-Islam mosque on George Street. “It absolutely scares me.” For Muslim Yalies, the safety of being Muslim in New Haven has come into question.

As the Alabama state senator’s inability to define Shariah attests, much Islamophobia is based in utter ignorance of Islam. College campuses have historically been influential in combating such ignorance, and Yale in particular has been exemplary in this regard. In the 1960s, Yale Chaplain William Coffin organized busloads of students to challenge racism in the Jim Crow South. Those Yalies put themselves in harm’s way to combat hate.

However, the situation today is often different from the Jim Crow South and merits a different response. Today, we can be informed and inform others. To promote this goal, the Yale Muslim Students Association recently organized Islamic Awareness Week, hosting events every day that exhibited a different side of Islam and Muslims — one based in truth rather than fear.

In the tradition of the Yalies who opposed Jim Crow, we must spread the word: people like Herman Cain are wrong. Not only are they wrong, but the Islamophobia they represent has no place in acceptable public discourse. Just as it was absolutely unacceptable for the mayor of East Haven to make offensive statements against Hispanics, so too should we be outraged about inflammatory comments against Muslims.

While Islamophobia is frightening for so many reasons, Yalies have a chance to make their mark in stemming the growth of intolerance. Educating ourselves is an important first step in eradicating this hateful mindset and progressing to a more respectful public discourse.

Mostafa Al-Alusi and Faisal Hamid are juniors in Morse and Trumbull Colleges. They are the president and vice president of the Muslim Students Association.

Original post: AL-ALUSI AND HAMID: Fighting Islamophobia at Yale

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44 Comments »

  1. When they start losing votes, then it matter. These self serving tools only care about keeping the job that makes them the most money.

  2. Muslim Students Association? Is that a Muslim Brotherhood let’s have a theocracy here and make the perfect Islamic state sort of organization?

    A bunch of delusional utopians with a violent enforcer arm. gee, what’s not to like?

  3. //But as the past 10 years have shown, it seems that politicians need no such disguise for Islamophobia.// I think a lot of people are confused about the difference between legitimate criticism of Islam and “Islamophobia”. Could someone please provide an example of what constitutes legitimate criticism of Islam and what constitutes “Islamophobia”?

  4. Anon

    Its a group of muslim students. UIC has one. They gather for prayer on fidays and have iftars (ramadan dinners) and read quran together. STFU about utopian theocracy stuff. It doesnt exist in the minds of educated students.

  5. That could be why my friend was rejected from there. Imagine how it feels to have a progeny sister going there and you despite your amazing grades and extracurriculars being denied. Ouch. Stupid Islamophobes

  6. anon, your bigotry is showing! How is a Muslim Student Association any different from a Christian Student Association on a campus? Where else are students from the same religious group, or interest group such as law or medicine supposed to hang out? Your logic is totally screwed up!

  7. It took over a century for them to start using code words for their racist references to black Americans. They’ve only been at it with Muslim Americans for a decade. You have to give them time, because they’re not very intelligent.

  8. It took over a century for them to start using code words for their racist references to black Americans. They’ve only been at it with Muslim Americans for a decade. You have to give them time, because they’re not very intelligent.

  9. How is MSA different? Read up on their activities Raidah.

    Educated people can fall for a utopian delusion, communism, theocracy, naziism, they all have educated adherents.

  10. Anon
    So every MSA in the country is doing that? Ive met girls and guys in MSA in UIC, i attended one of their meeyings. Half the time their eating nachos and complaining about one of their classes. Stop acting like youve been in every muslim household, every muslim school and every muslim meeting. We have the same “agenda” as anyone else. My God your a deluded freak!!

  11. Anon, you are a bigoted fool. One day I hope God opens your eyes and you see just how deluded and blind you are. You really don’t know what you are talking about. You yourself have a utopian delusion. You are more Nazi-istic in your philosophy in spreading lies about a group of people who practice the love and worship of the Creator. You spread lies that bring fear to those who have not or will not become educated about another faith and who listen to the media’s slanted portrait of Islam. Grow up, get educated yourself, and stop hiding behind your ANON pseudonym.

  12. Vitor- Well, when someone bases their entire campaign on an enemy that doesn’t really exist, then it would probably not be a legitimate criticism lol

    A legitimate criticism of Islam (and mind everyone here, I am Muslim), could be something more about what the religion actually teaches, than what Muslims do (or in many cases towards Western Muslims, what Islamophobes think we do lol)

  13. Alright, so would it be a legitimate criticism if, for example, someone said, “I think Islam is incompatible with the modern world because it regards women as inferior to men. This is evident in the fact that the Quran says that the testimony of a woman is half as valuable as that of a man’s (2:282), that men are superior to women (4:34), and that a woman is to receive half the inheritance of her male relatives (4:11). Additionally, Muhammad, the man Muslims are commanded to follow, thought that women were ‘deficient in religion and intelligence’

  14. Alright, so would it be a legitimate criticism if, for example, someone said, “I think Islam is incompatible with the modern world because it regards women as inferior to men. This is evident in the fact that the Quran says that the testimony of a woman is half as valuable as that of a man’s (2:282), that men are superior to women (4:34), and that a woman is to receive half the inheritance of her male relatives (4:11). Additionally, Muhammad, the man Muslims are commanded to follow, thought that women were ‘deficient in religion and intelligence’

  15. That seems like a legitimate criticism to me. Would you agree, or would most Muslims view such a criticism as “Islamophobic”?

  16. That seems like a legitimate criticism to me. Would you agree, or would most Muslims view such a criticism as “Islamophobic”?

  17. If you believe it is wrong, and Muslims believe it is right, then yes. Though, if you believe it is wrong, and Muslims believe it is wrong, then no. Etc.

  18. If you believe it is wrong, and Muslims believe it is right, then yes. Though, if you believe it is wrong, and Muslims believe it is wrong, then no. Etc.

  19. Though I would have to question why someone would raise such questions, that are not enforced by Muslims here? It is odd O__O

  20. Though I would have to question why someone would raise such questions, that are not enforced by Muslims here? It is odd O__O

  21. Also, those verses, even by traditional standards, do not say that. I am not that knowledgeable about a woman’s testimony (but am aware of that), but no, men are not superior to women in the sense you are thinking (unless you mean that men are physically stronger?), or that women receive half (a daughter, according to Orthodoxy, does. But that does not apply to all women, as the mother doesn’t get half that of a man I believe, etc.)

  22. Also, those verses, even by traditional standards, do not say that. I am not that knowledgeable about a woman’s testimony (but am aware of that), but no, men are not superior to women in the sense you are thinking (unless you mean that men are physically stronger?), or that women receive half (a daughter, according to Orthodoxy, does. But that does not apply to all women, as the mother doesn’t get half that of a man I believe, etc.)

  23. The reason being for that (again, by the Orthodoxy standards), are because a daughter would be provided by her husband all of her needs, a house, food, clothing, etc. Whereas she does not need to give a single cent of her own money to her husband, her husband then needs to give her some.

    Not all Muslims believe that though, Allahu Alam.

  24. The reason being for that (again, by the Orthodoxy standards), are because a daughter would be provided by her husband all of her needs, a house, food, clothing, etc. Whereas she does not need to give a single cent of her own money to her husband, her husband then needs to give her some.

    Not all Muslims believe that though, Allahu Alam.

  25. We could take this convo to message if you would like Vitor, I do not get alerted of replies here, and this isn’t my place to write of this lol :(

  26. We could take this convo to message if you would like Vitor, I do not get alerted of replies here, and this isn’t my place to write of this lol :(

  27. I bring it up because I get the sense that most Muslims view any sort of criticism of Islam as Islamophobia. So I wanted to get a better grasp on what constitutes “irrational bigotry” and what constitutes a reasoned criticism. Then what do the verses mean? 2:282 says makes it clear that the testimony of a woman is half as valuable of that of a man’s. This is confirmed by Muhammad in Bukhari 3:48:826. Quran 4:11 couldn’t be much more clear: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females”. Quran 2:228 says that men are a “degree above women”. I don’t think there’s much to misinterpret here.

  28. I bring it up because I get the sense that most Muslims view any sort of criticism of Islam as Islamophobia. So I wanted to get a better grasp on what constitutes “irrational bigotry” and what constitutes a reasoned criticism. Then what do the verses mean? 2:282 says makes it clear that the testimony of a woman is half as valuable of that of a man’s. This is confirmed by Muhammad in Bukhari 3:48:826. Quran 4:11 couldn’t be much more clear: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females”. Quran 2:228 says that men are a “degree above women”. I don’t think there’s much to misinterpret here.

  29. ah, that’s alright.

  30. ah, that’s alright.

  31. I’m soon going to bed, so we can continue it another time if you’d like. I’m not all that interested in debating this particular issue though. The main reason for posting is that as a non-Muslim, I think there is a lot within Islam that could be the subject of legitimate criticism. However, it seems like bringing up anything even slightly negative about Islam is immediately branded “Islamophobic”, so I wanted to get a better handle on what Muslims think is legitimate and what’s “irrational hatred”.

  32. I’m soon going to bed, so we can continue it another time if you’d like. I’m not all that interested in debating this particular issue though. The main reason for posting is that as a non-Muslim, I think there is a lot within Islam that could be the subject of legitimate criticism. However, it seems like bringing up anything even slightly negative about Islam is immediately branded “Islamophobic”, so I wanted to get a better handle on what Muslims think is legitimate and what’s “irrational hatred”.

  33. To me, that would be legitimate questions about our religion. Though, how one words it could be deemed Islamophobic (as in, someone who asks like “why is this?” Or someone who says “Islam is evil because of this”)

    May I message you then? I would love to discuss it, and insha’Allah I do explain it correctly XD

  34. To me, that would be legitimate questions about our religion. Though, how one words it could be deemed Islamophobic (as in, someone who asks like “why is this?” Or someone who says “Islam is evil because of this”)

    May I message you then? I would love to discuss it, and insha’Allah I do explain it correctly XD

  35. Sure. Let me know what you want to discuss, and I’ll check it tomorrow. Tal to you then.

  36. Sure. Let me know what you want to discuss, and I’ll check it tomorrow. Tal to you then.

  37. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I am hoping you write again very soon!

  38. Well, Victor, there is a bit of Islamophobia in your criticism’s due to a lack of education in your issues. You see, it’s obvious to a lot of us who have studied Islam that the hadith and verses you bring up do not imply what you claim they imply about women. You only do so due to misconceptions that have risen inside your mind FROM ISLAMOPHOBIC “scholars/historians/orientalists”.

    If what you’re asking wasn’t, in any way, Islamophobic, as others have alluded to you’d word it differently. Furthermore, it’s painfully obvious your issues with the verses/hadith in question about women are practically copy and pasted (in your mind) from those sources. You did not read the original texts in their entirety and simply arrive to that conclusion on your own. Maybe you did, but if you were being honest with yourself, you’d admit that you basically got the conclusion you arrived at with those verses/hadith from someone else.

    For instance, the verse you claim in the Qur’an as God saying men are “superior” to women is a misnomer. The word in Arabic you claim to mean “superior” is “Qawwaamoona”. This word’s root form in Arabic is “K W M” which simply means “to stand, establish, or be active”. In this sense, the word means that men are to stand for women, or that they are “responsible” for women. Furthermore, if you read the entirety of the verse God explains why… He doesn’t just say it in a vacuum. Please quote the entire verse. If you then still have an issue with it, God help you, lol. It’s directly related to men taking care of women which makes them responsible for them. It’s the same reason why men are to receive more in inheritance than women, because they are responsible for providing for them whereas women are not. If I were a woman, I’d love this. My wife, for instance, has a right over me that I provide for her. She doesn’t have to do a thing if she doesn’t want to. If she does want to work, it’s totally up to her and she’s allowed to do so.

    Nothing more can be derived from those verses/hadiths you quoted other than what I just stated above. The hadith from the Prophet, peace be upon him, within the context of many other hadiths/verses on women must be understood only to mean women of his time or women who are not as educated during any time BY THEIR CHOICE. We know that God does not send to Hell anyone except who chooses to do wrong and refuses to come out of that state while understanding the wrong. The hadith discussed how women enter hell, and thus, must be understood within that context. That is why one can’t just assume a position in Islamic scholarship… they must understand the majority of the corpus of Qur’an and Hadith before making judgments.

    The fact is, even today, women lag behind men in education and knowledge in matters of law and religion. Nothing in his hadith could indicate that it was inherent in women that they were deficient, but only by choice. You could say they inherently are deficient because of their menstrual period, but he could’ve easily meant that women too easily leave the truth when they stop praying and fasting due to the menstrual period. What he was saying to women is that, basically, be careful because most of you seem to not care about learning which is why two witnesses from you is equal to one of men as well as be careful because once you leave your prayer and fasting during your menstrual periods you can easily revert to the wrongs you choose to do.

    You failed to mention how the Prophet, peace be upon him, in that same Hadith first stated that women mainly enter Hell because they curse frequently. Tell me that’s not true? Don’t women curse others (gossip) more than anyone else? Is that sexist, or reality? I witness my mother, sisters, wife, and their friends constantly fall into this whereas men don’t (not saying they never do, just not nearly as much). I witness this everyday. Heck, walk into a local hair salon for women and tell me it’s not the case. The Prophet was just stating a fact that so many women enter Hell because of these things. I’m sure there are things men do much more than women that cause them to enter Hell, like commit murder. Is that sexist to say?

  39. Oh, I almost forgot, lol… I always like to put a beautiful wisdom from the Qur’an or hadith after every debate that includes negative thinking towards either God (glorified and exalted is He) or His Messenger, peace be upon him, as there was above. It’s only fair since all we seem to see are (perceived through the modern western lens) negative quotes from those sources. I just read this hadith right now:

    Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 39, Number 513:

    Narrated Anas bin Malik:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.”

    Boy, that Prophet Muhammad, he was even a damn tree hugger! =p

  40. Vitor
    The reason y a muslim chick gets 1/3 while the brother gets the rest is because the bro uses it to pay for his family, his sblings’ family, and none of that goes to any of his personal desires. A woman, however is usually provided for by her hubby, or brother so she can use the 1/3 for anything she likes, as long as its not porn or contains alcohol or pork. If the lady got 2/3 for that^^ it would be unfair cuz the man has more to provide for.

    The testimony is because 1. A wife completes half a man’s deen (religiousness). 2. In Islam we are obligated to pray 5 times a day, and to do that we must be clean.(hence wudu and ghusl) but a lady has her period, so she cant pray for almost a week every month. And when we fast, we cant be on our periods. So a woman gets her period lets say every month for a week, and during Ramadan she fasts less than 30 days because of that, and after she gives birth she has a cycle for a consecutive 40 days. She misses prayers and fasts. Its not considered her fault, its a bodily function, and ythe cycle is given to the woman as a mercy so she can have a break from the prayers, fasts, chill with her kids/family. Men dont have kids, or cycles so theyre always obliged to do everything. All the stuff we women complain about when its a real mercy in disguise. I hope you get me. And if you think women arent allowed to give opinion in court or something:

    The Caliphate Omar binAlkhattab was giving a speech on how the dowry of a woman should be limited. A woman stood up (to Omar whos the toughest G who ever lived) without being called on and said “fear Allah!” and what she meant by that is basically “who are you to do that”. Then he took back his statement because she recited a verse stating the opposite of what he said.

  41. Ro Sa

    He actually did hug a tree once. Mashallah he was so cute about nature. Hes really fascinating. Mashallah.

  42. Vitor
    Men are a degree over women not in religion or ability or strength or education, but responsibility.

    Religion: discussed it already ^^
    ability and Strength: Mary, Asiyah (pharoahs wife) Aisha and Khadijah are very much beloeved because of their abilities. Mary carried and raised Jesus (pbuh) Asiyah raised and supported Moses (pbuh) Aisha one of the most intelligent muslim women ever cared for and taught all the Muslims (mother of the believers) And khadijah stood tall by Mohammad as his first wife (died too which he described as a knife splitting his heart) and told him to kerp preaching Islam when he doubted himself.
    Nusayba and Asmaa and Khawlah were among some of the many women that partook in battle when needed. Very tough women, especially Khawla, freaking ninja going on there.
    Education: aisha^^ best example, but islam obligated education on everyone, man or woman any age. Especially religious knowledge.

  43. Wait, sorry responsibilities are the same. Different but the same. The degree comes in they mean protecting them and things like that.

  44. A Muslim fundamentalist group is organizing a conference focused on turning Austria and other European countries into Islamic states.

    The “Caliphate Conference 2012″ will be held on March 10 in the Austrian town of Vösendorf, situated just south of Vienna. The main theme of the event will be “The Caliphate: The State Model of the Future.”

    The conference is being organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], a pan-Islamic extremist group that seeks to establish a global Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by Islamic Sharia law.

    Hizb ut-Tahrir — which is banned in many countries, including Germany, but is free to operate in Austria — is virulently opposed to Western capitalism and democracy and seeks to extend the future caliphate to Europe and the United States.

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