New York: Today, (March 10, 2023) the United Nations observed the First International Day to Combat Islamophobia. It was chaired by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, as the Chair of OIC and addressed among others by Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Csaba Kőrösi, the President of the UN General Assembly and many others.
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. The world’s nearly 2 billion Muslims reflect humanity in all its magnificent diversity. But they often face bigotry and prejudice for no other reason than their faith.” UNSG 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.”
“It would not be wrong to claim that many in the Western world are currently living in a state of fear of Islam. However, one needs to acknowledge that the threat Islam is seen as posing to the world is imagined rather than real. Unfortunately, though, the repercussions of this irrational fear of Islam are not only affecting individual Muslims in the form of increased discrimination, harassment, and persecution, but also infiltrating into foreign policy decisions worldwide,” said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice.’
Dr. Fai added that “Islam, as a growing force in the world, is not a threat and it is compatible with the Western ideals of freedom and democracy. This is not to say that an Islamic society would look like an American one, but neither do any of the socialist democracies or monarchies found throughout Western Europe and much of the Western world are modeled on the American system. It should not be the West’s goal in particular America’s, to impose their own version of democracy in the Islamic world but rather to support the rise of governments that uphold the same tenets of equality, freedom, and justice that the West holds dear.”
Fai suggested that Islamic scholars should concentrate their efforts towards defending universal truths as conveyed through all the sacred scriptures, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity & Islam. Some of these timeless spiritual principles are reflected in the thirty articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though many have been still left out.
Fai observed that Islamic ideals encompass universal values, all of which naturally flow out of the ethic of reciprocity. If human beings were to uphold this basic tenet, there would be neither oppression nor denial of human rights because no one would ever oppress others or deny them their basic rights. The Qur’an contains numerous verses, Fai stated, 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.
The Qur’anic teachings are timeless and universal. The beauty and grace of God’s word can be applied anytime, anywhere and is robust enough to address all social issues that may arise. And it is His word that upholds all the human rights ideals of the West and more. The West should be partnering with Muslims across the globe in order to allow for the emergence of societies and governments that would embody these ideals rather than suffer from a baseless and unjustified fear of Islam that colors today’s geopolitical landscape
Fai thanked Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations whose message was loud and clear when she said, “Let us redouble our efforts to combat prejudice and violence. And let us do everything in our power to ensure the next time we gather for the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, our world is that much more peaceful, tolerant, and jus