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Articles

Article: Second International Day to Combat Islamophobia

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai

Today, the United Nations is observing the Second International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on March 15, 2022, which designated 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. “It calls for a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace, based on respect for human rights and for the diversity of religions and belief.”

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General said, “Let us keep working together to advance the shared values of inclusion, tolerance and mutual understanding — values that are at the heart of all major faiths and the United Nations Charter.” Secretary General was firm in proclaiming that “On this International Day to Combat Islamophobia, we focus attention — and call for action — to stamp out the poison of anti-Muslim hatred. He added that “For well over a millennium, Islam’s message of peace, compassion, and grace has inspired people the world over.” The President of the General Assembly indicated that “Islamophobia is rooted in xenophobia, or the fear of strangers, which is reflected in discriminatory practices, travel bans, hate speech, bullying and targeting of other people.”

Mr Kofi Annan, his predecessor has said, “Islamophobia is a sad and troubling development of the modern times.”

Professor Gordan Conway of England said that “Islamophobia is a baseless and unsubstantiated terror against Muslims, which ultimately results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.”

Journalist Stephen Schwartz of the United States has defined Islamophobia as the condemnation of the entirety of Islam. He says that Islamophobia regards Islam as a problem for modern times.

President Biden said on March 10, 2024, “Islamophobia has absolutely no place in the United States, a country founded on freedom of worship and built on the contributions of immigrants, including Muslim immigrants.”

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, “We stand against discrimination and harassment of Muslims on the grounds of religious affiliation as well as for ensuring religious freedoms based on respect for not only the individual but also collective rights of believers.”

Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University said that “Islamophobia was not only a question of fear, but also a matter of hatred.”

The West has numerous misconceptions about Islam, particularly in regard to human rights, and often cites some violations of so-called human rights in certain dictatorial regimes in the Muslim world in order to prove their point. What is important is that these human rights violations can never really occur in genuine Muslim states. However, ironically, the Western world continues to support these very oppressive autocracies and despotic regimes and ignore the popular voices that arise in opposition to these rulers and their regimes in the Muslim world.

Do Western scholars know that Islam as a value system upholds the same human rights precepts as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? It ought not to be overlooked that Islam does indeed encapsulate the same moral principles as outlined in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, both of which served as templates for the modern Western code of law and legal system. In fact, Muslims should be defending the universal truths as conveyed through the sacred scriptures, and specifically the three Abrahamic faiths — Islam, Judaism & Christianity.

There is the affirmation of single lineage of common ancestry that links all human beings as brothers and sisters. Qur’an (49:13) says “O mankind, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.” From this clearly flow the concepts of brotherhood and reciprocity and all other ideals central to civilized interactions between peoples. However, the pursuit of happiness in the Western and Islamic contexts may differ. If one’s pursuit of happiness encroaches on another individual’s basic rights that would not be tolerated in Islam.

Islam teaches the ethic of reciprocity which entails treating others as we would wish them to treat us: Prophet Muhammad says, “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” From this extends the principle that everyone is of equal worth, simply because they are human. As such, every human being should be considered of equal value despite superficial differences.

The Qur’an also contains numerous verses which beautifully capture what it means to behave in a spirit of brotherhood as it encourages the uttering of kind words, honesty, restraining anger, avoiding greed, practicing forgiveness, giving due measure, condemning fraud and bribery, behaving humbly, admonishing mockery and sarcasm, honoring one’s promises and commitments, and encouraging peace, reconciliation, charity, tolerance, generosity, and respect.

That is why, Professor Arnold Toynbee, a British historian who completed a twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, remarked: “The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the extra-ordinary moral achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is as it happens a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.”

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