We pray and supplicate for a blessed ‘Eid upon this blighted Ummah. We pray and supplicate for a blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that so many of the scholars and sages of Islam are locked up in prisons from Saudi Arabia, to the Emirates, to Egypt. A blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that just recently, one of the most prominent scholars of Islam, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, has been arrested, thanks to the authoritarian forces in the Muslim world. A blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that so much of the Muslim Ummah lives under dictatorships that specialize in the industry of injustice, and that have institutionalized authoritarianism not only in the fabric of society, but in the very fabric of religion itself, in the ways that people perceive, comprehend, interpret, and practice their religiosity.
We pray for a blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that Muslims have sat on the sidelines and watched the industry of Islamophobia explode, pervade, and invade the entire world. So much so that the International Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations have repeatedly noted that the curse of Islamophobia has become a global phenomena, and that the industry of demonizing Islam and Muslims has become a worldwide human rights challenge.
We pray for a blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that the Uyghurs who have chosen to fast ended up thrown into prison, and the millions of Muslims in China are not allowed to even acknowledge ‘Eid as an occasion. A blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that Muslims constitute the largest refugee block in the universe, and Muslim orphans are the largest block of orphans in the globe. A blessed ‘Eid, despite the fact that the high number of Muslim victims who populate the human trafficking world is something that hardly raises an eyebrow or surprises anyone. Muslims seem to experience a significant, but undeniable, cognitive dissonance in their world.
Recently, the Canadian Senate concluded a study in which the Canadian legislature noted that Islamophobia has become a serious civic challenge in Canada. Ramadan has become an occasion for the habitual explosion of Islamophobic attacks against citizens in Canada. I have no doubt that if other countries sponsored a study as honest as this Canadian study, we would find the same trend in the United States and all over Europe. We know for a fact that Ramadan witnesses an escalation of attacks against Muslims, and ‘Eid witnesses an escalation of attacks against Muslims in India. CJ Werleman, again, has produced a truly disturbing episode about the rise of the Hindutva and the ways that Indian Hindus raise millions of dollars not to help fellow Hindus, but to attack Islam and Muslims. Millions of dollars all in pursuit of the Hindu dream of destroying one thousand mosques in India, including the Taj Mahal. Millions of dollars not just to malign Islam in India, but to malign and demonize Islam in Canada, the United States, Europe, and all over the globe.
Those who are old enough have clearly seen the dynamics of bigotry and racism unfold in the Bosnian crisis and in the rape camps of Bosnia. Bosnia could have served as a brutal wake-up call for Muslims all around the world. The writing on the wall was clear long before 9/11. It was clear in the way that Europe tolerated the massacre of Muslims and the rape of Muslim women. It was clear in the way that Europe made excuses for the Serbs and imposed a boycott that prevented Muslims from accessing weapons. On the one hand, Europe kept expressing outrage at the atrocities committed against Muslims. On the other hand, as Bill Clinton notes in his diaries, the French President at the time told him that they should be slow to react because the Serbs were doing Europe a favor by slaughtering Muslims and therefore preventing the rise of an “Islamist state” in the heart of Europe. Many will remember the agonizing years of everyone knowing about the rape camps in Bosnia, knowing that Muslim women were being collected and systematically and consistently raped, all while the world stood by watching. The only thing the world did was impose an embargo to deny Muslims weapons.
Those who are old enough will remember how European peacekeeping forces stood by and watched the massacre in Srebrenica unfold. How European forces, Dutch and otherwise, told the inhabitants of Srebrenica that they do not need weapons or armed forces. They said, “We will protect you. This is a safe haven for you. The Serbs do not dare come here because if they do, they will have to fight us.” But when the Serbs arrived, the peacekeeping forces moved aside and allowed the massacre and the rapes. They stood by and watched. This could have acted as a reminder (dhikra). As God teaches us repeatedly in the Qur'an, this is the very function, purpose, and dynamics of reminders.
“Islamophobia” is a word that captures all the irrational attitudes that have clear genocidal consequences. It constantly poses Muslims as a source of dread and as deserving of special scrutiny, but that special scrutiny never comes. What is delivered instead is perpetual and endless suspicion.
During Ramadan and, purposely, before ‘Eid, the Charter of Mecca was drafted. Saudi Arabia has invited all those whom it considers to be the “authentic” scholars of Islam. All types of people were invited from the United States. They were all more than happy to oblige, be treated with great fanfare, to meet, and, ultimately, to produce the Charter of Mecca. In this charter, the responsibility for Islamophobia, the diagnosis and the treatment for Islamophobia, is laid squarely at Muslim feet.
According to the Charter of Mecca, the reason for Islamophobia is “political Islam.” The reason for Islamophobia is Muslims themselves who misrepresent Islam, and the solution to Islamophobia is to educate Islamophobes about Islam. According to these Americans who helped to produce the Charter—I do not dignify them with the word “scholars” once they accept the invitation; if Muslims had any sense, that would be a clear litmus test as to who should never be treated as a scholar or an authority—if only we Muslims would explain to the Serban rapists the true Islam, they would have relented.
According to this Charter, if only we would have explained the true Islam to the genocidal forces in Myanmar, they would have relented.
According to this Charter, if only we would educate Chinese authorities about the truth of Islam, then the Chinese concentration camps in which thousands upon thousands of Uyghur Muslims have lost their lives would be disbanded, and the genocide would come to an end.
According to this Charter, the issue with the Hindutva is that they simply do not understand Islam, and if we can rationally sit with Modi and explain the beautiful truth of Islam to him, the Hindutva would stop openly calling for the killing and murdering of Muslims. India just released 15 people that gang raped a pregnant Muslim woman. Not only were they released, in fact, but they were received in their Hindu communities as heroes. According to the authors of the Charter, if only we could explain the truth of Islam, these rapists would not have raped the pregnant Muslim woman, they would not have been released from prison, and they would not have been received as heroes.
According to this Charter, if only the Israelis had an opportunity to learn the true Islam, Israeli settlers would stop murdering Palestinians and stealing their lands. They would stop violating the sanctity of the al-Aqsa mosque. According to this Charter, Islamophobia is just a deficiency in information.
If it was not so tragic, it would be truly laughable. Have you ever witnessed a more oblivious, pathetic people? One does not know whether to pity them, to laugh at them, or to be angry with them. The true tragedy about Islamophobia is that, as the very word “phobia” connotes, it is irrational. And because it is irrational, it embraces and reacts to irreparable presumptions, perceptions, and understandings about Islam and Muslims. Yes, perhaps you can educate, and occasionally there will be the odd Islamophobe who relents. But that is the exception that proves the rule. They are truly few and far between.
Islamophobia is fundamentally and quintessentially about the racialization of Muslims. Muslims are perceived as an alien race, whether in Myanmar, Bosnia, India, or China. Muslims become a collective racial category that represents “the other,” and onto this other, one projects all their anxieties, fears, and senses of guilt and failure about the world and its challenges. Muslims become the proverbial punching bag to the anxieties of those who persecute them. You are not interested in anything that the punching bag has to say for itself. When you have constructed the other into this punching bag, all you want from this punching bag is that it takes what you inflict upon it so that you can release your anxieties, worries, and weaknesses.
The true disaster is not only that Muslims fail to understand that Islamophobia is about racialization and the construction of otherness. It is that Muslims themselves are often inflicted by the very same disease that persecutes them and that feeds on them. Look at how the Rohingya are not a part of our consciousness. Intimate knowledge of what has happened to the Rohingya Muslims is horrific beyond belief. I could share stories upon stories of executions, burnings, sexual assaults, and child abuse to the point of death. What has happened to the Rohingya is not just genocidal. It is a page out of one’s worst nightmares. What happened to the Rohingya alone could snap an entire Ummah out of its delusions, but there is only one big problem: the Rohingya are a dark-skinned people. In my not so humble opinion, because they are dark-skinned people, Muslims hardly care. It is as if the continuous, persistent, and repeated sexual assault of a dark-skinned Rohingya woman is less offensive, less painful, less problematic, and less notable than the sexual assaults committed against lighter-skinned Bosnian women. Herein lies the irony: we did not do much for Bosnia or after Bosnia. The Muslim world was largely oblivious.
The only thing the Muslim world cared about was whether Muslims who volunteered to fight in Bosnia were going to come back home radicalized because they had experience with arms. That would never trouble Hindutva nationalists or Jewish settlers. Military experience, in fact, is welcomed among Jewish settlers. Military experience would be welcomed among the Hindutva. Military experience would be welcomed among the Serbs. But Muslims are a thoroughly colonized people. Even worse, their fuquha’, shuyukh, and ‘ulama philosophize despotism and dictatorship for Muslims, and dictatorship and despotism has only one cause. It is never the cause of God. It is always the cause of staying in power.
Despotism and dictatorship look at those who fought in Bosnia and have only one thought. “Are they a danger to my power?” Not, “Do they serve my cause?” Not, “Do they serve God?” Not, “Have they stood up for Muslims?” None of that. Do you want further proof? When a small group of Rohingya saw that their people were being burned alive, raped en masse, and raped before their children, they took up arms to fight against Burmese military forces. All those who resisted, when they tried to escape, ended up in Saudi prisons, Emirati prisons, Egyptian prisons, and Pakistani prisons. This group included people who said, “The only reason I took up arms is because I knew that if the soldiers were going to get to my family, they were going to rape my sister, my wife, and my cousins. I only took up arms to protect my family until we got out.”
To those who imprisoned them, it did not matter. To them, these Rohingya are jihadi Muslims who have been infected by jihad ideology, so they must be thrown in prison. But even more disastrously, when these people tried to seek refuge in Western countries, they were excluded on national security grounds. This is what happens if you try to defend yourself as a Muslim. No Hindutva has been excluded for taking part in any of the massacres inflicted against Muslims. The genocide against Muslims in China is done with absolute impunity. The perpetuation of violence against Muslims in Palestine is done by U.S. citizens who left their homes in the United States to become colonial settlers in Palestine, and no one holds them accountable for the violence they perpetuate against indigenous people.
In fact, there is a near universal refusal to call Palestinians an indigenous population, because under international law, there are treaties that protect indigenous populations. The United States and Europe insist that the Palestinian people are not indigenous. What, then, are they? They are just Palestinians, and that is if you even recognize them as Palestinians. According to Netanyahu, there are no Palestinians. You can erase an entire people and you can do whatever you will with them, and there are no legal consequences.
CJ Werleman shows on his channel how, during this Ramadan, Hindus have continued preaching a genocide against Muslims, assaulting Muslims, attacking mosques, and continuing to burn, beat, and assault with absolute impunity, all the while continuing to raise millions of dollars for their cause. Canada authored a report that says that in this past Ramadan, the number of attacks against Muslims and Islamic centers has reached epidemic levels. In the United States, our president has created a special committee to look into antisemitism and come up with solutions to combat antisemitism. But the U.S. continues to pick the type of Muslims who happily accept an invitation to the Charter of Mecca, and who will never pressure the White House for any type of proactive stand on anything. So the FBI continues to undercount incidents of Islamophobia all over the country, while organizations like CAIR document record levels of Islamophobic attacks.
If you are paying attention, you would know that everyone is extremely tense about a coming genocide in Bosnia because Serbs are hyping up their aggressive, confrontational language. A genocide against the Rohingya and Muslim racism make this the most neglected genocide in our consciousness. I have no doubt that the dark skin of the Rohingya made their suffering and their pain so much easier to accept by the Muslim Ummah.
Next Ramadan, we may be in the throes of a full genocide in India. Every human rights organization, and even the U.N. itself, is warning that the next genocide against Muslims will be in India. We know what Muslim countries did with the genocide against the Uyghur Muslims, and yet we continue to pretend that the problem is misinformation. We continue to listen to the shuyukh who have been bought by the Emiratis and Saudis, even if they are Sufis, because now the irony of all ironies is that Sufis are more than happy to be bought out by the Saudis.
There was recently an article in the New York Times about how Palestinians are regularly attacked by Jewish settlers. In the town of Huwara, for example, a town of about 8,000 people, Muslims just like you and I, with children just like us, every day, are terrorized by attacks from Jewish settlers. The Israeli finance minister, Betzalel Smotrich, called for Huwara to be erased by the state and given to Jewish settlers. During Ramadan, a rampage by Jewish settlers left “burned-out vehicles parked in some lots and fire-damaged buildings dotting the main road.” All the Israeli army did was arrest Palestinians who had tried to defend themselves by throwing rocks at the attacking Jewish settlers. Palestinians in Huwara tried to grow crops like olives and dates. Jewish settlers attacked, burnt, and destroyed their crops. That settler attacks often became lethal.
Just this February, in another Palestinian town called Za'atara, a father of five named Sameh Aqtash was attacked by Jewish settlers. Sameh Aqtash was shot. It was not clear whether it was Israeli soldiers or Jewish settlers who shot him, but because the settlers and Israeli soldiers were blocking the only road out of Za'atara, his family had to take him in a truck over a mountain pass to get him to the hospital. He died along the way. The United Nations said that he was killed either by the settlers or by Israeli forces. The Israeli army has refused to investigate the killing of Aqtash, and the police said that they would investigate. But, as human rights organizations know all too well, there are hundreds of investigations opened in which there are Palestinian victims without anyone ever held accountable.
There was a song that Jewish settlers sang as they attacked Palestinian homes in Huwara. “Who is going up in flames now? Huwara. Houses and cars too. Huwara. Evicting from there the elderly women and girls. Huwara. Burning all night. Huwara.” Imagine if this was done by Muslims and the victims were Jewish. The study notes that the number of Jewish settlers from 2001 to now has increased from about 200,000 to about 465,000. Some of this increase is due to birth, but there is a painful reality that everyone goes to great lengths to ignore. Most of that increase in the number of Jewish settlers from 2001 to 2023 is not from births. The vast majority of the increase, in fact, is from colonizing settlers, most of whom are American.
Most of the increase is from people born and raised in the United States of America who have fanatical colonizing ideas about what they call Judea and Samaria, that all Palestine is theirs, and that it is their duty to leave their comfortable lives in the United States to settle in Israel. Many of these people are lawyers, doctors, engineers, and computer scientists, educated in the best institutions in the United States, but they go with the racist purpose of colonizing.
When will Muslims wake up to the reality that Islamophobia is not about educating people about Islam. Islamophobia is about the racializing of Muslims. Islamophobia is a racist outlook on the Muslim other. It is about the alienation and the exoticization of Muslims.
Muslims become whatever the other is, and because the other can suffer without imposing an actual cost, the program of Islamophobia goes on, unfettered. Let me be clear: violence as a reaction to Islamophobia is not a cost. That is not what I mean by a cost. In fact, violence is like a fuel that further escalates, encourages, and empowers Islamophobia. Yes, the answer is knowledge, but the answer is not for Muslims to better explain Islam. The answer is for Muslims to understand how race has worked historically, to understand the history of colonialism and race, to understand the role of race in our modern world, to call these people racists, to return the gaze, to shame the racist, and to organize and raise funds and resources that, at a minimum, come close to the resources raised by Hindus or Jews for their causes, and to direct these resources into funding the best Muslim minds; not the doctors, the engineers, or the computer scientists. Rather, the best Muslim minds in social theory, humanities, law, economics, and politics. To return the gaze, to shame and embarrass, to use the institutions of the modern world to turn the tables.
How many Muslims are active, for instance, in the office of the High Commissioner for refugees so that they can help their fellow Muslims, the Rohingya? Practically none. Muslims love pietistic affectations, but to actually engage the real world, to become important in the High Commissioner's office for refugees so that they can help their fellow Muslims, the Rohingya, who are refugees? No, that is not a Muslim thing.
‘Eid Mubarak everyone, but I do not see how.