The Quran tells us: ‘Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend’ (41:34).
Taking into consideration this verse, I believe, contrary to what many Muslims constantly repeat, that there are no enemies of Islam as such. I do not subscribe to this theory of there being ‘enemies of Islam’. If there is an enemy, that enemy is enemy of the Muslim community, and not of the religion of Islam. The religion of Islam is a natural religion. It is the voice of every man and woman. How, then, can a person be an enemy of one’s own nature? I’ve written about this in more detail in my book, Islam the Voice of Human Nature.
If there is no ‘enemy of Islam’, why, someone might then ask, do many Muslims use this phrase and fervently believe that they are surrounded by what they call ‘enemies of Islam’? According to my analysis, Muslims, through their own wrong policies, have created their own enemies. These enemies are a product of reaction to Muslims’ negative activities. When Muslims claim that these enemies are ‘enemies of Islam’, they only try to cover up their own mistakes by wrongly taking the name of Islam in this regard.
In this sense, what is termed as ‘Islamophobia’ is to a large extent a phenomenon created by Muslims themselves because of their attitudes and actions. I firmly believe that there is nothing as ‘Islamophobia’ as such. What exists is actually Muslim-phobia, and Muslim-phobia is only a reaction on the part of others to Muslims’ own activities, often wrongly in the name of Islam. If some people of other faiths are resentful of Islam, what they are really resentful of is Muslims, because of the Muslims’ own actions, often in the name of Islam, rather than Islam per se. It should thus really be called ‘Muslim-phobia’, and not ‘Islamophobia’—and this, we must keep in mind, is a creation of the Muslims themselves. So, what is needed is for Muslims to reform themselves—then everything, including other peoples’ negative perceptions about Muslims and Islam, will be settled. It is a two-point formula: first, Muslims must admit that this phenomenon is ‘Muslim-phobia’ and not ‘Islamophobia’ as such. Second, they must correct themselves. It is the duty of right-thinking Muslims to educate other Muslims in this regard.
There are two factors behind the Muslim supremacist mindset that leads to resentment and negative views about Muslims and Islam in the minds of many people of other faiths. The first is historical, and the second is contemporary.
It is a fact that Muslims of the eighth century had emerged as a great ‘superpower’ of their times. This was the beginning of their wrong mindset. From the Umayyad period right up to the Turkish and Mughal periods, all Muslim governments were simply Muslim dynasties. But, Muslims wrongly started viewing these as being ‘Islamic’ and supposedly representing ‘Islamic rule’, rather than the rule of particular Muslim dynasties. This continued for about one thousand years. Thus, when these Muslim dynasties collapsed toward the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims, consciously or unconsciously, assumed that the edifice of Islam itself had collapsed. The fact of the matter is, however, that it was a collapse of Muslim political power, and not of the religion of Islam.
This conflation of Islam and Muslims was a result of a wrong interpretation of history. This kind of interpretation developed a wrong mindset among Muslims, based on the notion of Islam being allegedly in danger or under siege. The fact was that as an ideology Islam was still safe, being protected by God Himself. If anything was unsafe, it was the Muslim community. But many Muslims started seeing Islam itself as under threat. With the rise of European colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the colonial powers successfully overpowered almost all the Muslim governments. Muslims were thus politically defeated, but not Islam. But due to their old mindset, Muslims thought that the banner of Islam had fallen down.
Another phase of this history of wrongly conflating Islam and Muslims started when, in the twentieth century, two Muslim thinkers tried to give a political interpretation of Islam: one was from the Arab world, and the other from the Indian Subcontinent. The first was Sayyid Qutb, and the second was Syed Abul Ala Maududi. They, and several other Muslim leaders, wanted to revive the Muslim Empire. They started a campaign by forming organizations for this purpose. In actual fact, they were trying to achieve the revival of Muslim political power, but they named it as ‘Islamic revival’. And for this they enunciated with a political interpretation of Islam. This interpretation was totally wrong, but due to the prevalent Muslim psyche it very soon gained popularity, among both Arabs and non-Arab Muslims. The reason of this spread was not that their interpretation was right. The only reason was that it suited what had become the Muslim psyche. But this kind of movement had no base, either ideologically or materially. So, although this movement spread among Muslims, it failed everywhere to achieve its political goals.
In the beginning, Muslims involved in this movement tried to spread it mainly by using the printing press. However, here they failed. Then they invented what may be called the ‘politics of opposition in the name of Islam’. This, too, yielded no results. Next, they invented the gun culture in the name of jihad. And, lastly and most recently, they invented what is called ‘suicide-bombing’. Muslim scholars either fell silent on this kind of suicide-bombing, or, in the case of some clerics, issued fatwas in favour of this un-Islamic practice by claiming that it was not suicide but istishhad or ‘seeking martyrdom’.
It is at this point of time that Muslims became negative all over the world. Negativity is so common among Muslims now that one can hardly find a single Muslim who is free of such thinking with regard to non-Muslims. It is at this juncture that they developed the term ‘Islamophobia’. They tried to blame the non-Muslim powers for this, and claimed that what non-Muslim powers were doing vis-à-vis Muslims was not on account of any justified reason but due to what they said was their enmity against Islam. The term ‘Islamophobia’ is nothing but a means to justify Muslims’ wrongdoings by blaming others.
The negative attitudes that many Muslims today have towards others are nothing but Muslim practices, as opposed to authentically Islamic, practices. These are practices of a degenerated community. They are a phenomenon of degeneration. The whole Muslim community is in its period of degeneration. There are many sayings of the Prophet of Islam which tell us that in the later period, Muslims will be reduced to a degenerated community. One such saying is: la yabqa min al-islame illa ismuhu. (‘Nothing will remain of Islam except its name’) (Shuab al-Iman). There is another saying, according to which at a later time Muslims will be present in large numbers but they will be like ghutha or foam on the surface of the sea (Muslim).
The Prophet of Islam had predicted that Muslims in a later period would follow the pattern of the previous degenerated communities: latattabeunna sunana man kana qablakum shibran bishibrin (Bukhari). For example, Muslims’ seeing themselves as superior to others is quite the same as the phenomenon that is called ‘Jewish supremacism’.
This is the crux of the matter—that present-day Muslims are not true representatives of Islam. Those who call themselves Muslims today are not the khair-e-ummah or ‘the best community’ that the Quran talks about, but a degenerated community. According to the Prophetic prediction, at present there is no Islam in practice. Muslims only use the term ‘Islam’ to claim that they are ‘true’ Muslims, whereas this is not the case. Although there are a billion Muslims around the world, but they are like ‘foam on the surface of the sea’.