Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 4

This post is the fourth in a series about the Turkish definition of the word “Islamophobia” presented at the OSCE meeting in Vienna on July 12, 2013. Previously: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

An Examination of Terms: 8 Through 13

To recap: this is the definition of Islamophobia provided by Umut Topcuoglu in July 2013. Emphasis has been added to thirteen words or phrases that deserve further attention:

Islamophobia is a contemporary form of racism and xenophobia motivated by unfounded fear, mistrust, and hatred of Muslims and Islam. Islamophobia is also manifested through intolerance, discrimination, unequal treatment, prejudice, stereotyping, hostility, and adverse public discourse. Differentiating from classical racism and xenophobia [sic], Islamophobia is mainly based on stigmatization of a religion and its followers, and as such, Islamophobia is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims.

The first seven highlighted terms were discussed in Part 3. The analysis of the final six is below.

8. Prejudice

“Prejudice” is another loaded word that demands extra scrutiny in light of its frequent misuse. We may assume that Mr. Topcuoglu, in formulating his definition of “Islamophobia”, had in mind this definition of prejudice:

2c:   an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

The following is an excerpt from lessons that are taught to ninth-graders using Hadith, a recent Saudi school text: [1]

When God sent his Prophet Muhammad, He abrogated with his law all other laws and He commanded all people, including the people of the book, to believe him and to follow him. The people of the book should have been the first to believe him because they find him in their scriptures.

The clash between this Muslim nation and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills. In this hadith, Muhammad gives us an example of the battle between the Muslims and the Jews.

The above passage narrates Abu Hurayrah, as recorded by Bhukari and Muslim, who are also the most authoritative and second most authoritative hadith scholars respectively, for the following: [2]

Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet said, “The hour [of judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. It will not come until the Jew hides behind rocks and trees. It will not come until the rocks or the trees say, ‘O Muslim! O servant of God! There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him. Except for the gharqad, which is a tree of the Jews.’”

An objective observer cannot help but note that these passages, taken from scriptural texts confirmed as authoritative by the consensus of Islamic scholars, display irrational hostility towards both Jews and Christians (the former constituting a race as well as a religious group). This demonstrates that the core sacred writings of Islam contain evidence of racial and religious prejudice against Jews and Christians.

This is not to say that there may not also exist prejudice against Muslims among non-Muslims. However, we are ill-served by an overwhelming institutional emphasis on one type of sectarian prejudice when others — amply attested both by the historical record and by current events — are almost completely neglected.

9. Stereotyping

This is another loaded word that is commonly used to stigmatize anyone who criticizes — or even simply observes and comments on — the behavior of members of a designated “protected” group.

The dictionary tells us that “stereotyping” is the making of a stereotype:

2:   something conforming to a fixed or general pattern; especially: a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment

Determining exactly what constitutes an “oversimplified opinion” requires a very subjective judgment. How much can an opinion be simplified before it is “oversimplified”? How much generalization about a distinct group is allowed before it becomes a “prejudiced attitude”?

The following sentence is an example of simplification, but would probably be considered an acceptable description of Islamic practice: “Most faithful Muslims face Mecca and pray five times a day, bowing and putting their foreheads against the floor while kneeling.” This is an accurate representation of the behavior of average Muslims when they gather for corporate worship, and may be readily observed in public.

This sentence, on the other hand, might not fare as well: “Muslim protesters often shout ‘Massacre those who insult Islam’ and similar slogans while carrying signs that read ‘Death to all those who insult the Prophet’ or other threats against non-Muslims.” It is descriptively accurate — many such examples have been observed at demonstrations and have been recorded and published by the news media — but the observation does not reflect well on Muslims or Islam. Thus it would commonly be seen as “stereotyping”, and cited as evidence of “Islamophobia”.

To summarize: a realistic précis of the behavior of Muslims may be considered acceptable and innocuous, or unacceptable “stereotyping”, depending on the content of what is observed.

10. Hostility

According to Merriam-Webster, hostility means:

2:   conflict, opposition, or resistance in thought or principle

As examples of conflict and opposition in religious matters, consider the following news reports, all of which describe incidents that occurred in Indonesia in the spring and summer of 2013. First, from March 25, 2013:

Last Saturday, on the eve of Palm Sunday, Islamist groups (pictured) made serious threats against Catholics in Kepa Duri [Jakarta], telling the priest and the faithful to cancel scheduled weekend celebrations. Their hatred was triggered by the fact that the place of worship is located inside a school, which, in their opinion, “should not be used” for religious services.

From July 1, 2013:

Islamic extremists are threatening to block celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Fr. Gregorius Utomo, scheduled for tomorrow, July 2. Relatives, friends and the faithful have organized a series of events and a solemn Eucharistic celebration, scheduled in the private chapel of prayer known as Wisma Tyas Dalem (House of the Sacred Heart). … In recent days, on the eve of the celebrations, the fundamentalists of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) have, however, warned Fr. Utomo and faithful to stop all religious activities in program: they accuse the priest of using the house “in an illegal manner.”

From July 19, 2013:

The Islamist pressures against Christian communities in Aceh “have become intolerable. Within a year, with non-existent legal pretexts, 17 house churches have been closed: these also include Catholic chapels. The islamization of the province continues, just as promised by the governor Abdullah.” It is the sense of the Annual Report published by, Protestant organization which monitors the situation of the Christian community in Indonesia.

From September 9, 2013:

The Sharia “Police” and security officials in the district of West Aceh , the Indonesian province where Islamic law is in force , arrested Pastor Hendri Budi Kusumo and four other people , members of the Indonesian Mission Evangelist Church ( GMII ) . The incident occurred last week, but only emerged in the past hours. According to reports the religious police – in charge of enforcing Islamic rules and customs – accused the five of “proselytism” , because they were trying to “convert Muslims to Christianity in the area of Aceh.”

Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country whose constitution guarantees religious freedom. The above examples show a persistent hostility displayed by Indonesian Muslims towards the country’s large Christian minority. Such behavior in most cases is unlawful. One searches in vain for similar news stories involving Christian hostility towards Muslims in Indonesia.

Once again, this does not preclude the possibility of hostile attitudes displayed by non-Muslims against Muslims in Indonesia or anywhere else. However, the persistent focus on a single type of sectarian hostility at the expense of others is further evidence that the proceedings of the OSCE often treat Islam differently from other religions.

11. Adverse Public Discourse

Like other phrases used in Mr. Topcuoglu’s definition of “Islamophobia”, the meaning of “adverse public discourse” depends on subjective perceptions, and is therefore susceptible to misuse for political purposes.

The dictionary definition of adverse:

2b:   causing harm: harmful {adverse drug effects}

We will examine two examples of public discourse and consider which might be described as “harmful”.

Geert Wilders is the leader of the most popular political party in the Netherlands. He is often characterized as an “Islamophobe”, and his speeches and writings are widely considered adverse to Islam. Mr. Wilders made the following statements in March 2013:

In the Netherlands:

  • There are almost 500 honor crimes each year, with on average one honor killing each month;
  • Honor crimes are committed almost exclusively in an Islamic context;
  • In Amsterdam alone, between 200 to 300 Islamic women have been imprisoned in their homes by male relatives;
  • Some 30,000 women in the country have suffered female genital mutilation. Every year, about 50 girls are mutilated in this way in the Netherlands;
  • In September 2010, of all women in women’s shelters, 26% were of Turkish origin, 24% of Moroccan origin, 27% of Iraqi origin, and 23% of various mostly non-Western) countries.

Although what Mr. Wilders said may be considered hurtful to Muslims, it is factually-based, and the points he raises may be confirmed by examining official government statistics and accessing archives of media news stories.

It is useful to compare the above remarks with those of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Sheikh Qaradawi is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization to which former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi belongs. The sheikh said the following on Al-Jazeera TV in January 2009:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place.

“This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

Unlike Mr. Wilders’ assertions, Sheikh Qaradawi’s statements are not based on verifiable factual information or statistics. Furthermore, they are demonstrably harmful, and may even constitute incitement to genocide.

Yet while Mr. Wilders is routinely condemned for his “adverse public discourse”, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s utterances are not denounced by any other major non-Muslim political leader, not to mention any Islamic leaders.

This malleability of the meaning of “adverse public discourse” illustrates the political manipulation of terms in order to arrive at pre-ordained conclusions. In this case, the pre-determined consensus is that Geert Wilders is an “Islamophobe” and Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is a “prominent Muslim spiritual leader”. Assigning “adverse public discourse” to the one and not to the other serves to reinforce the intended result.

12. Classical Racism and Xenophobia

“Racism” and “xenophobia” have been covered above. The addition of “classical” as a modifier of these terms is perplexing.

What are “classical racism” and “classical xenophobia”? Mr. Topcuoglu seems to “differentiate” these terms from other varieties of “racism” or “xenophobia”. What might those varieties be?

Returning to the dictionary, we learn that classical means:

1:   standard, classic
4a:   authoritative, traditional

How can racism be “standard”, “classic”, or “authoritative”? Do racists recognize a common “authority”? This makes no sense.

There the only plausible interpretation must be “traditional”. But from what “tradition” of racism does “Islamophobia” differ? Are we to pinpoint modern differences of opinion with Adolf Hitler? With Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon?

What criteria are we obliged to choose?

There has been a concerted effort over the past ten or fifteen years to codify “Islamophobia” as a form of “racism” in the official terminology employed by the United Nations. One presumes that Mr. Topcuoglu is continuing this process with his definition.

If “Islamophobia” is to become a new form of “racism” — as distinct from the “classical” variety or any other species of the term — then the precise correlation must be specified. As we observed in the above section on “racism”, there is no logical way in which Islam may be considered equivalent to a race.

Further explanation is required.

13. Stigmatization of a Religion and its Followers

“Stigmatization” means “the process of stigmatizing”. To stigmatize is defined as:

1b:   to describe or identify in opprobrious terms

The definition of “religion”:

1b:   the service and worship of God or the supernatural

We are frequently reminded by Muslim leaders that Islam encompasses far more than religion; it is not simply a matter of serving and worshipping God. Among other things it is an entire legal system, whose strictures and requirements are mandatory for all Muslims. In “Islamic Finance: An Introduction” by Saulat Pervez on the “Why Islam?” website, we read:

Muslims often try to explain that Islam is more than a religion. They contend that Islam is actually a ‘way of life,’ with the Quran and the life traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) providing a blueprint for daily life. From marriage and family life to lawful food and drink, from modesty in dress and excellence in social manners to ethics in trade and finance, Islam encompasses all aspects of our existence.

So what is the legal code that Muslims follow to determine which behaviors are “lawful”? The most authoritative source is ‘Umdat al-salik wa ‘uddat al-nasik, or The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper. It is commonly referred to as Reliance of the Traveller when cited in English.[3]

The English translation is an authoritative source on Sunni Islamic law, because it is certified as such by Al-Azhar University in Cairo. There is no higher authority on Sunni Islamic doctrine than Al-Azhar; it is the closest equivalent to the Vatican that may be found in Islam.

At the beginning of Book A, “Sacred Knowledge” (p. 2), we read:

(Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf:) There is no disagreement among the scholars of the Muslims that the source of legal rulings for all the acts of those who are morally responsible is Allah Most Glorious.

In Book B (b7.1), al-Misri details the four necessary integral elements of consensus. If those are met, the ruling agreed upon is authoritative (b7.2): [4]

When the four necessary integrals of consensus exist, the ruling agreed upon is an authoritative part of sacred law that is obligatory to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can mujtahids of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new ijtihad. because the ruling on it, verified by scholarly consensus, is an absolute legal ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.

In other words, Islamic law is fixed and eternal, and mortals may not change it. It is also authoritative; that is; it is binding upon all observant Muslims.

Since Islamic law is an integral part of Islam, to oppose Islam is to oppose Shariah (Islamic law). Furthermore, the primary issue for many so-called “Islamophobes” is Islamic law, because the tenets of Shariah, as laid out in Reliance of the Traveller and other manuals of Islamic jurisprudence, are contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the European Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the United States.

For that reason, opposition to Islamic law is no more “phobic” than opposing the Napoleonic Code or the Code of Hammurabi. Based on the commandments of their religion, Muslims might find themselves in opposition to Mosaic Law, the English Common Law, or the U.S. Constitution. Yet no one would question their right to express such opposition, nor accuse them of being “Christianophobes” for their principled stance.

If the definition of “Islamophobia” hinges on fear or hatred of a religion, then it manifestly fails in most instances where it is applied. Such designations are erroneous, since the vast majority of those who oppose Islam specifically oppose Islamic law (Shariah), as laid down in the Koran and the hadith, and codified in the fiqh (the body of Islamic jurisprudence).

Furthermore, such opposition to Shariah cannot be characterized as “stigmatization”, provided that it quotes Islamic law accurately, recognizes established precedents, and cites real examples.

Later posts in this series will draw conclusions about the attempt to impose the use of the word “Islamophobia” on the OSCE and other international bodies..


1.   Ninth Grade, Hadith, Education Department of Education, Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1426-1427 (2005-2006), 146, as cited in Excerpts from Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: Arabic with English Translation, Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House with the Institute for Gulf Affairs, 2006, at 55, at Cited hereafter as Saudi School Texts
2.   Saudi School Texts, 55.
3.   ‘Umdat al-salik wa ‘uddat al-nasik, or The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper, The Revised Edition (published 1991, revised 1994), “The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law ‘Umdat al-Salik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 769/1368) in Arabic with Facing English Text, Commentary, and Appendices”, edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland.
4.   Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, Book B, at § b7.2, pp. 23-24

For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.

13 thoughts on “Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 4

  1. Excellent, Baron. I look forward to Part 5. And I really hope you’ll break through with your analysis.

    We all have a set of prejudices and “fears for the unknown” as part of our defense. But these prejudices first become violent when we act violently according to the prejudices. Normally, knowledge reduces our “fear for the unknown”. But not in the case of Islam. The more we learn, the more our fears rise.

    Many people don’t want any knowledge, and react aggressively on facts. Like in your example of Geert Wilders. They want and need targets for their aggressions/linguistic violence. Fjordman is another example of that phenomenon.

  2. The central line of argument that bears the most fruit is to establish that we want nothing more than to have the law treat Muslims identically with non-muslims who participate in similar actions. This is a strategic necessity in dealing with Islam anyway due to taqiya, the practice of denying one’s religion when it is persecuted so as to preserve the believer.

  3. “There are almost 500 honor crimes each year, with on average one honor killing each month”

    This contains a clear error.

    500 honour crimes per year is around 10 per week or around 48 per month (not “one”). That is more than one a DAY, on average. I see the same numerical error is on the PVV website.


  5. Unfortunately, there is a problem with analyzing the components of the definition of “Islamophobia” with a view to showing that we are against the system and not the person.

    The fact is, it is irrational to allow the immigration of people into the country whose basic philosophy is counter to the principles of law and society of the host country. The presence of a body of people who do not value Western culture or principles is disruptive at best, weakens the foundation of society, and represents an actual threat to the structure of society.

    We also know that the principles of Islam are opposed to our concept of constitutional government and individual rights. We know that inactive Muslims are likely to revert to fundamentalist Islam, or at the least, lend political support to organizations pressing to bring Islamic law into play. We also know that lying to cover their true intentions is part of Islamic principles.

    The conclusion is that Muslim immigration should not be allowed, except in the circumstance of rewarding a Muslim who directly helps the US. And example is the Muslim Iraqi who went to great lengths to lead US soldiers to a captured US prisoner.

    But, when you take the entirely rational step of opposing the immigration of Muslims as Muslims, the arguments that you are only opposing Islam as a system break down. The consequences become personal, and may well include individuals nominally in favor of human rights, such as Irshad Manji, who claims to be a Muslim but opposes the systematic trampling of human rights inherent in Islam.

    It is not possible to protect ourselves as a society, and yet to be consistently non-prejudicial towards Muslim individuals who have not yet displayed any Islamist traits. The Muslims will likely win on that battle ground. We have to be willing to protect our interests as a society, even if it involves the withholding of certain privileges, such as immigration, based on group, rather than individual, history.

    • RonaldB —

      Ah, but the system that has already been set up, that long precedes us, is designed to make what you describe not only impossible to do, but impossible even to think about. The playing field has been tilted against us for so long that it’s not conceivable to decrease the acceleration of any immigration, much less to stop it, and far less still to specifically target Muslim immigration.

      I hear and read a lot of prescriptions to solve the current mess, and I completely agree with many of them. Yet they are impossible to accomplish under current political conditions. There is no way to get from here to there — at least not without a long, tedious struggle to change the context in which our arguments take place.

      Challenging definitions is one small but necessary step. “Islamophobia” is a commonly-used term that is employed to justify the implementation of major policy decisions. Showing that it is meaningless, absurd, and unusable is but a tiny incremental piece of a much larger process. If it can be accomplished in an international forum where it obtains at least a modicum of recognition, so much the better. Then we might just have a ghost of a prayer of a penumbra of a chance of rolling back what is being done to us.

      • There is no point in trying to specifically eliminate Muslim immigration due to the practice of taqiya by Muslims. You must impose tight restrictions on all immigration, commensurate with war-time conditions, and vigilantly investigate possible treason or infiltration by those currently within your borders.

        • Chiu, you are once again missing the point. What you suggest cannot be done, not under the current political conditions. The political conditions must change first. Practical considerations are paramount.

          I invite you to describe exactly how you propose to accomplish your aims. Who will lobby for the legislation; how such lobbying will be paid for, how sympathetic legislators may be elected to pass the laws, how the legislation will be executed, given that a President of either party will veto anything useful, and so on.

          Or, if you propose to dispense with democratic procedures, how we will install a dictator who is not like Obama and Hillary (or McCain for that matter) in all essential respects, but someone who agrees with you.

          Absent addressing these issues, all such proposals are but idle dreams.

          • Ah, but the current political situation is inherently unstable. We all know that the “status quo” cannot be long maintained, because the obvious effect (and apparent intent) of the current policy agenda is to substantially alter the fundamental character of the nations of Europe.

            In regards to the overthrow of existing political power, I do not suggest any action at all other than being prepared to survive the inevitable civilizational crisis that will radically alter the Western world very shortly. Indeed, developing some degree of practical self-reliance independent of the system of economic control being currently imposed will tend to weaken that system, but there are more direct means of undermining the economic system if that is the objective. The goal should be developing the capacity to endure what is coming, not to bring it about.

            In the wake of the global economic collapse, those who had the foresight and prudence to develop the means of survival are going to be thrust into the role of leadership, whether or not that was their aim. Let us not forget that the term “lord” descends from “hlafweard” (meaning loaf-keeper). Those who commit now to survival are going to end up being in the position of making policy decisions, albeit on a somewhat different scale from current national politics in most cases.

          • Let us not forget that the term “lord” descends from “hlafweard” (meaning loaf-keeper).

            Quite correct. And “lady” is derived from the Old English hlæfdige, “she who kneads the loaf” (dige is related to the word “dough”).

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