SHAFAQNA – A stain on the Judeo-Christian world Islam – and those who abide by its tenets, whether Sunnis or Shiites, remain the object of much ire and controversy. Branded THE Terror among all terrors for a minority few chose to diverge, as to rise an ideological aberration upon the Islamic World, Muslims have been vilified to such an extent that their humanity could soon be forfeited.
First they labelled, then came the accusations and calls for righteousness vindication … finally it is violence and retribution many have clamoured, so that their world would be washed of the infamous “other” whose difference was said to be nefarious.
If disease in fact there is, if danger in fact there is to fear and abhor, it is that created by our desire to exclude, dismiss and prejudice against that which we do not understand. Islam cannot be blamed for the insanity a demented few architected to legitimise their claims to power.
Muslims cannot be held accountable for those legions whose murderous campaigns saw slaughtered their kin. Why lay blame on those victims who suffered most of all? Why demand that the oppressed be made to carry the crimes of their oppressors, if in fact it is justice we are calling for?
For every age, Society has needed a nemesis, an enemy to exist against, rather than define itself from within the confines of tolerance and acceptance. The real danger here is not so much Terror but our own inability to see others’ humanity in their respective differences.
Muslims now exist on the fringe – the new pariah to be maligned and ostracised … and still Terror’s patrons have been washed clean from guilt … and still mainstream media spin the tale of widespread Terror rather than admit to the manufacture of a propaganda of war and division.
In the midst of such fury sit women … Muslim women.
Muslim women have become targets on account they wear their faith. Their hijab … excuse my turn of phrase, has become a dangerous cross to bear.
What we all once said would never happen again is coming to pass. A people, a faith is being held hostage to bias, hatred and disdain. A world religion has been tried for sins it has not committed.
It is not that Islam has been taken out of context and its tenets misinterpreted, it is rather than an elite few has worked to sell the world a lie and call it truth. Deceivors, Terror’s ideologues have defiled the Scriptures so that God’s religion could be remade to their hateful image – divorced from all mercy, compassion and justice.
No faiths, and no religions profess hate, it is men who do.
Being Muslim in the UK and beyond that the western world has become difficult, being a Muslim woman who adorns the hijab has become hardship – the focal point of a hatred which reasoning is anchored in ignorance.
So what are Muslim women supposed to do? My question is in no way rhetorical. What do you do when who you are, your faith, your beliefs and the manner in which you dress has become maligned by society to the extent that some individuals may wish you harm?
Over the past month I have received dozens of emails, all from Muslim women: from all schools of thoughts asking me the same question: “should we cave in for the sake of our safety and abandon our hijabs. Is our duty to the headscarf or do we choose to keep our family and ourselves safe from harm?”
I am now turning the question onto you?
We are being asked to conform to a society that denies us the right to choose and abide by the tenets of our faith. We are being bullied into a corner that requires us to either stand to be persecuted by the Judeo-Christian world or be shun by our community for being weak in our religious obligations.
And so I ask again: What shall we do!
Should we resist as so many brave souls have done in the past and put ourselves into harm’s way?
Should we for a time “comply” while we work to heal those divisions?
Should we withdraw behind our differences and stand in defiance but away from Society as a whole for we have been branded?
I am asking for I do not have any one answer to give … rather I would say that our imams, and our religious leaders have there to offer us solutions and guidance.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies