You know how sick to death I am of hearing people say who say Muslims are not speaking up or standing up against ISIS?
Very sick. It is probably most annoying coming from supposedly well-meaning liberals who pride in their commitment in speaking truth to power but ironically end up reproducing the rhetoric & narrative of those in power.
The truth is this: Muslims have condemned ISIS. Muslims have condemned extremists. They condemned 9-11. They condemned Al-Qaeda. Every act of extremism that has happened, Muslims have condemned. Fiercely. Especially with regards to ISIS. But is it represented in the media? Do people even listen? Well no they don’t to be honest. The press just don’t cover it do they.
Well here’s how fiercely Muslims have condemned ISIS (This mostly usefully collected compiled from Junaid Juhangir’s article) :
- Sunni and Shii clerics in Iraq jointly drafted and distributed a religious edict to over 50,000 mosques declaring ISIS as an un-Islamic terrorist organization.
- Over 80 Muslim intellectuals, activists and religious leaders in India jointly urged the UN to hold ISIS accountable for its brutality, which they termed as a “crime against humanity” and “religious cleansing.”
- The Caliph of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim community and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group representing 57 countries and 1.4-billion Muslims, also forcefully condemned ISIS.
- The Indonesian President urged Muslim leaders to unite their efforts, prohibited Indonesians from joining ISIS and blocked ISIS Internet sites. (Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world by the way)
- ~200 Sunni and Shia Muslims gathered outside Calgary City Hall to condemn ISIS.
- Imam Soharwardy, who founded the first anti-terrorism NGO — Muslims Against Terrorism — in Calgary, went on a 48 hour fast to draw attention to the issue of radicalized Canadian youth. He wants Muslim youth considering going overseas to join ISIS to instead reach out to him.
We’re talking major world religious leaders. Imams. Mass demonstrations. Non-violence activism. A draft signed by 50,000 mosques. And yet you say we’re silent?
As Junaid Jahangir said
"Despite all these condemnations, the conflation of Muslims with fringe groups has become normative."
Anyway why I’m even talking about this is because I went to the ‘Respect Singapore’ page, just to check it out, & I see this post by them preaching that Muslims worldwide should stop being petty & support the initiative by Western countries to arm allies & fight against ISIS. I mean, let’s just conveniently ignore that the Iraq army is the one fighting ISIS right? Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that Kurdish forces, who are dominantly muslim, are the ones fighting against ISIS directly, right? Instead let’s pay attention to the West! They’re the ones taking the initiative & muslims should help them!
(I’m not expressing any approval for the Kurdish forces by the way; just trying to highlight just how completely people can overlook the most basic facts when it comes to issues concerning muslim extremists.)
But what irked me more was this post (truly sorry that this page is my punching bag, but seeing their posts was the last straw for me):
(Granted, they are not just addressing Muslims but also fundamentalists of other faiths and they make some reasonable points. But this is still incredibly preachy and carelessly generalizing and problematic.)
Let us not even begin with the way they talk about religion in such a monolithic way. Referring to and thinking of Islam as a monolithic entity is one of the biggest problems as to why Islamophobia is so rampant, which you know, actually leads to public approval of invasions and wars in Muslim-dominated countries. It’s reductive and intellectually lazy to say the least. And apparently I am no better than an ISIS terrorist if I say “They don’t represent my religion”
Going on: We know why they’re saying this right? Because Muslims subjected to Islamophobia & who are sick from racist caricatures & misrepresentation DO get defensive when something terrible happens that confirms the bias of Islamophobes. I know where they’re coming from because I get annoyed with it myself. There are actually some Muslims who try to find excuses (& conspiracy theories) for the atrocities of ISIS. It’s disgusting, dishonest & disrespectful to the victims.
But look at how this page is even talking. Look at how they begin with an array of inherent assumptions. Look how they demand that Muslims stand up & take action & show the world that Islam isn’t a what extremists tout it out to be (from the earlier post) — like we actually have to prove that we aren’t like ISIS.
Well, what are Muslims doing? How are they taking action?
- Read the first list above again on just some of the public condemnations of ISIS by Muslims.
- Muslim volunteers from the humanitarian group Islamic Relief provided food parcels, 2,000 hygiene kits and about 32,000 articles of clothing to over 3,000 Christian and other families who fled the ISIS persecution.
- More than 17,000 displaced people have been sheltered in the Hussainiyat — Shii congregation halls, mosques and other religious buildings.
- In solidarity with their Christian neighbours, Muslim social activists launched the “I am Nazrene (Christian)” campaigns.
- An Iraqi TV host broke down in tears and referred to Christians as our “own flesh and blood.”
- Law Professor Mahmoud Al Asali was killed by ISIS because he stood up for persecuted Christians
So yes, Muslims are organizing, standing up, fighting back and giving up their lives in the process. So you can stop preaching and trying to tell us what to do now.
This constant demand for Muslims to prove that they aren’t like extremists has always been prevalent, especially in a post 9-11 world. We are expected to apologize for everything extremist lunatics do because they’re ‘Muslim’ as we are. Never mind the fact that they might not be in the same sect, nationality, culture, nor speak the same language. Because apparently Islam is monolithic.
We have to apologize, as if we’re the ones responsible. And a lot of us do actually apologize. But Let’s not talk about US foreign policy, the Western support of dictators and even Islamic extremist. Let’s not talk about how the US funded al-qaeda once. Nor about the invasions that have accelerated extremism in the first place. Let’s not talk about how ISIS’s rise to power was helped a lot by the power vacuum and the mess left by the US after their wars. Let’s just talk about 9-11. Let’s not even talk about the 1 million Iraqis who died in the Iraq war. Let’s not.
Only we Muslims, all 1.6 billion of us, are responsible for the lunacy of about 1%. Only we’re responsible, apparently. And what better way to express this than with that last line in their post?:
"Your extremists are not responsible. You are."
Way to absolve the actual killers from the atrocities they’re committing. I mean let’s forget the fact that for the most part, the victims are Muslims themselves. Because you know ISIS have actually killed thousands of Muslims despite how so many, especially the american right-wing Media, consistently insist on painting this as only a “Christian Genocide”. Imagine telling Muslims being slaughtered by ISIS, or telling the tens of thousands of Muslims killed by Wahhabists that the people responsible for the extremists & hence their deaths, are not their killers.. but themselves. It’s victim-blaming par excellence.
The dominant victims of extremist violence has always been muslims. Just look back to the history wahhabism. Just think about the fact that female muslims’ bodies are the ones being policed in repressive societies. So yes, we Muslims are speaking up. We are not silent. We are screaming back. Because this is as big, if not a bigger, tragedy to muslims than to anyone else.
So why you ask are Muslims silent on ISIS? Well we’re not. The question is why aren’t you hearing us?
That moderate Muslim voices are silenced and radical voices given the mic is no longer secret. Anti-Muslim groups had a total budget of $120 million to spread their message for goodness sake!
From CAIR study on anti-muslim agenda: “Key players in the (US-based Islamophobia) network benefitted from large salaries as they encouraged the American public to fear Islam.”
Yet people constantly forget to take this in mind when speaking about muslim extremists and politics. They forget to remember this important power dynamic that is heavily institutionalized.
Just as an example from this article:
”The same month that Lee Rigby was killed, it was Anjem Choudary who was invited on to Newsnight on the BBC, Daybreak on ITV and Channel 4 News to speak. A dangerous radical, with a small following, is given prime-time opportunity to speak for Islam on three different channels!? Not only does this leave an absence for those all important, and authoritative Muslim voices that condemn extremism, but it also gives him legitimacy and validity. There is not a single mosque in the country at which Anjem Choudary could speak, yet he is repeatedly given the type of prime-time coverage that would make the Archbishop of Canterbury green with envy.
So who speaks for Muslims? Whoever the producers and editors decide speaks for Muslims, and to pretend otherwise is naivety.”
Don’t ask why Muslims are silent against ISIS. Because we clearly aren’t. We are shouting in condemnation against them. The question to ask is why aren’t you hearing us?