Across the Islamic world troubles abound.

In Pakistan a 14 year old Muslim girl is shot in the head because the Taliban does not agree with her views on female education.  In Mali and Syria Muslims fight each other for land and political control.  In Turkey and Iraq the PKK reignite their quest for autonomy, while in Mindanao the MILF surrender their arms for a chance at peace.  In Burma stateless Rohingyan Muslims rot inside prison camps, the forgotten faces of the ‘new Myanmar.’

Alongside the trial of the 9/11 accused, the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, the simmering unease in Egypt, Libya and Yemen following 2011’s revolutions, the continual deliberation of ‘what to do about Iran’ and the unanswerable questions that are Palestine and Afghanistan, fuel is given to the fire that Islam itself is the problem.

If you believed everything you saw on TV you might think effigy burning is a daily necessity in Pakistan.

Many subscribe to this theory, from seasoned academics to fringe politicians to raging lunatics lurking in the darkest corners of the internet, all of them citing a long list of historical and contemporary abuses and wars supposedly conducted in the name of Islam.  They use convenient quotes from the Koran to support their claims, while ignoring those that contradict their beliefs.  Stonings, beheadings, suicide bombers, honour killings and FGM are presented as common events in the Islamic world.  Finally, they invoke the dreaded Sharia law and warn us of the apocalypse it will reign down upon Western civilisation.

Run for the hills! Sharia Law is taking over, aaahhhh!!!


Sure, there are a lot of bad things that happen in Islamic societies, but focus on them, on the ‘single story,’ and a warped perspective of Islam is what will manifest.

Islam, like any other religion, can mean a life of peace in the right hands, or a destructive force in the wrong ones.  Too often, those who abuse Islam, who claim to represent its true form and use it to further their political power, economic gain or warped ideologies, are associated with the religion on a level unjust to those who do its name proud.  Moreover, those who use Islam to promote peace, understanding and love are not given anywhere near the air time to do so.  Muammar Gaddafi was no more a Muslim than Robert Mugabe is a Christian.  Somali pirate groups are no more aligned with Islamic values than US arms manufacturers are with Christian ones and the Taliban is no more representative of Islam than the Ku Klux Klan is of Christianity.

Afghan Taliban soldiers

Islam reaches right across the world.  Its historical influence stretches from Indonesia to China, India, Turkey, the Middle East and as far as Guinea and Senegal in West Africa.  In Australia it is the countries second fastest growing religion, while in America Islamic groups played a large part in the civil rights movement and in the 21st century it continues to grow.  It must be doing something right.  Throughout the centuries since its creation, Islam has developed and mixed with the societies it has come into contact with, therefore many different ‘Islamic cultures’ exist today – African Islam, Arab Islam, Persian Islam, Asian Islam, Turkish Islam to name but a few.  No one is truer than another; they have all blended and created their own version of Islamic culture.

Many of the ‘problems’ with Islam, commonly cited by Islamic critics, existed before its arrival, such as FGM, polygamy, slavery and conservative views of women and girls in society.  Furthermore, these practices are not exclusively associated with Islam, with many African and Middle Eastern societies using some or all of them before Islam.  Therefore, these issues should be seen as cultural rather than religious.  Islamic societies are a blend of local traditions, pre Islamic culture, post Islamic culture and contemporary political and societal influence.  Yet too often, those who want to denigrate Islam present these practices as a purely Islamic creation, ignoring the historical practices in existence before its arrival.

Authoritarianism is a common theme of contemporary politics through much of the Islamic world.  The critics’ view is that Islam and democracy cannot co exist.  They are inherently incompatible.  Yet only last year Muslims across North Africa and the Middle East swept previously untouchable governments from power in its name.  Democracy is not the problem of Islamic politics.  Rather the lust for power, money and resources are their vices, while in some instances foreign support assists their grasp on power.  Democracy in various forms exists in many Islamic countries, Turkey being arguably the best example.  Others have had it forced on them, such as Iraq by the US.  While democracy, as the West knows it, may not be flourishing in the Islamic world, indigenous and hybrid versions will grow and are growing, mainly from the seeds sown in the Arab Spring of 2011.

Happy Tunisian women – seriously!

Other forms of discrimination such as racism, extremism, sexism, poverty, repression and persecution are prevalent throughout the Islamic world.  However, they do not exist because of Islam and are no more widespread than anywhere else on earth.  They exist, like they do everywhere in the world, because of fear, inequality, difference, ignorance, power and hatred.

Islam is not bad.  It is not a threat.  It is not a danger.

Ignorance is, misinformation is, hatred is, inequality is, discrimination is and spreading all of that is.

Muslims like normal things like family holidays and nice views too – seriously!

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

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9 Comments on “Islamisbad”

  1. Jimbo
    October 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Moral masturbation

    “Ignorance is, misinformation is, hatred is, inequality is, discrimination is and spreading all of that is.”
    What a handy collection of buzz words to use to stifle genuine conversation and to counter anyone who disagrees with you.

    I have no doubt that most Muslims are wonderful people. At least most that Ihave met seemed perfectly fine to me.

    This piece however conveniently ignores the mountain of evidence to the contrary regarding the religion its self.

  2. October 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Jimbo, I am not trying to stifle genuine conversation, however that’s the problem – most of the anti Islamic crowd are not subscribers to genuine conversation – rather they peddle hysteria, scaremongering, misrepresentation and gross exaggeration.

    So most Muslims you met are wonderful, but their religion which makes up a large part of their identity is flawed and evil? Isn’t that a bit like the old ‘some of my best friends are gay / black / asian / women etc..?’

  3. James Hill
    October 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Stu is spot on that Islam on its own isn’t the problem. The Christian holy books could just as easily be used to justify much the same kind of atrocities and repression of rights. The problems of extremism run much deeper and are as much cultural as religious. However, there are very deep problems in some very large Islamic communities and cultures throughout the world.

    The shooting of a young girl in Pakistan is one single incident but it speaks volumes about the violent, tribal nature of Islamic extremists in Pakistan and other parts of the world. This is a group that has zero respect for women, and will use violence to further their own ends and enforce their beliefs. Transplanting them out of their home countries does nothing to change their extremist outlook. We see this in Muslim immigrants committing honor killings in the UK:

    We see it when Sharia muslims attempt to set up Sharia controlled zones in Western countries– once again– the UK.

    Is every Muslim like this? Of course not. But that does not mean that significant numbers of them worldwide aren’t. Does that mean that we should ban the practice of Islam in Western countries? Again, no we should not restrict any reasonable practice of worship; but this does not mean we have to feed and clothe extremists.

    We should deport any immigrant– regardless of current citizenship status– found to be engaged in terrorism of any kind. We should ban the symbols of extremism such as the Burkha, or any other covering that conceals the entire face. I have no desire to live with extremists, and if they want to live a religiously orthodox life, they should do so in a country that supports their way of life: like Pakistan or Afghanistan.

  4. October 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    James, you had me most of the way, but I have to disagree with banning Burkhas – as distasteful and confronting as some people find them – the fact is some women choose to wear them and they are not all forced to, whats more you said in the paragraph before that ‘we should not restrict any reasonable practice of worship,’ which wearing a Burkha falls into for most people.

    If you click the TED link Mustafa Akyol cites an interesting ‘reverse comparison’ from Turkey where women were forced to uncover by secular police, which is every bit as authoritarian as forcing women to wear them.

    • James Hill
      November 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      I’ve spoken to a few Muslim friends about this issue, and I’ve been now led to believe the term “Burkha” can mean a few different coverings. I want to be clear that when I talk about banning the Burkha, I’m referring to the full head to toe covering that conceals all identifying features of a person, including their face.

      No doubt there are plenty of Muslim women who choose to wear the Burkha, for religious or social reasons. Unfortunately, there are many valid reasons in a large, civilized society why we need citizens to go around with their faces showing. There are obvious security reasons why a place like a bank might not want customers going around fully covered, and there are certain jobs that require social interaction where seeing someone’s facial expressions is important for communication (a school teacher springs to mind).

      Setting aside all those other reasons for a moment: the burkha has no place in a modern society because it is a symbol of an ancient tribal culture whose values are totally incompatible with a modern western democracy.

      The Burkha has its place in a culture dominated by violent tribes, where men are vicious sexual predators to any woman outside of their family. If you feel the need to make your women wear one, or you feel the need to wear one yourself, it’s a big warning sign that you hold values totally incompatible with the Australian way of life.

  5. November 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    @James @ Stu banning is Burkha is not compulsory. is woman choice.
    I myself is muslim, i notice some of the muslim people are so extremist and sometime act like a stupid and always tell blah blah which is not in islam either.

    Islam is religion is peace and forgiven but violence

  6. umairhafeez
    November 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    @James @ Stu banning is Burkha is not compulsory. is woman choice.
    I myself is muslim, i notice some of the muslim people are so extremist and sometime act like a stupid and always tell blah blah which is not in islam either.

    Islam is religion is peace and forgiven but not violence

    • Jimbo
      November 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Actions speak much louder words umairhafeez… Islams actions beg to differ greatly!

  7. Hannibal
    April 10, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    I am bemused by the fact that those who support Islam contend that Islam is a religion of peace etc and how in a democracy Muslim women, for example, can wear the bhurka or chador etc while they have a terrible time competing with the evidence that highlights Islam is anything but a religion of peace and the only way to rationalise the wearing of the hijab etc in the West is to form an argument in terms of democratic values to wit Islam has never really been part. A quick review of history will show that Islamic Caliphates (an assorted variety) had very little link with democratic values, worked with tribes, supported slavery, was backward and agrarian when compared with the scope of the modern democratic world. Islam does not pay back to democracy what it seeks to take from it. Islam cannot cope with the modern world.

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