Thursday, August 5, 2010

Caveat to Muslims in the West?

By Ali Alyami

A resounding majority of the British population (75%) believe that “Islam is negative for Britain.” This sentiment is not confined to the British. We are witnessing unprecedented movements all over Europe against the infringement of Muslim culture, religion and dress code on European societies. Europeans and outspoken Americans are taking actions to ban Muslim cultural encroachment into their lives and on their democratic values. Blinded by their small victories and perceived religious supremacy, Muslims, in their homelands and in other parts of the world, do not seem to take notice of other peoples’ impatience with their unwelcome way of life.

Historically, when a society feels threatened by external enemies or by a segment of its population, it can be mobilized to do horrendous damage to others and to itself in the process. Recent history is replete with vivid examples. Muslims in the West are seen as a threat to Western culture, way of life and economic stability. In a scientifically based survey taken by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), a Muslim polling entity, found that their religion and its adherents are immensely resented in the United Kingdom. The poll revealed that a staggering 94% of British citizens see Islam as a repressive religion, especially for women. The surveyors, like most Muslims, attributed this negative view of Islam and Muslims to non-Muslims’ misunderstanding of their religion. iERA's senior researcher Hamza Tzortzis said, "We wanted to do something positive with the survey results rather than just say, 'It's so sad'. So, the organisation's strategy is to give a new realm of possibility for people to comprehend Islam, have a proper respect for Islam and see the human relevance of the faith."

The question is what do Muslims want non-Muslims in Britain, America and the world to know about Islam that could change their negative views of Islam. Based on what non-Muslims see on the news, experience, and hear in the streets, mosques and Muslim schools in Britain, let alone in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia among other places, the overwhelming majority of the British (77%) do not want to have anything to do with Islam. Unlike most Muslims, the majority of Westerners relate to each other and to other people through social interaction, merits, common values, tangible contributions and tolerance of differences. Most Muslims, on the other hand, relate to others through religious orientation.

For non-Muslims, religions are private theologies; for Muslims, religion is more than a private belief system; Islam is a way of life that governs every aspect of Muslims’ lives, including their behavior, relationships and perceptions of themselves and the world. For example, the Saudi government, the world’s most influential exporter of repressive Muslim ideology, uses Islam’s religious tenets as the country’s constitution and law. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world. Is it any wonder the West wants to prevent Islam from taking root in their democracies?

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