Free Muslim Stereotypes In A Globalized World Essay Example
One of the most challenging issues facing Muslims today is a growing tendency for a small faction of radicals to dominate discourse about Islamic culture. Islamic culture is incredibly diverse, however, since 9/11 what most non-Muslims learn about the religion seen through a media lens that is distorted by current events, more recently the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in France and the grotesque ISIS beheadings and tortures in Syria. In France and other European coutries, Muslims are desperate to assure the rest of the world that they are not militant psychos, but diverse, cooperating and contributing members of society. However, in December, there was a large anti-Muslim march and protest in Dresden Germany organized by a movement called "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West" (Hill). This does not bode well for moderate Muslims who want nothing more than to live in peace in their adopted homelands.
The 1.6 billion Muslims spread throughout the world are a diverse group of people, united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad. They follow some similar religious, like fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and going on a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives. However, there are large differences in how Muslims interpret their religion and how they relate to the rest of the world.
In Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the contemporary world, Carl Ernst begins his examination of the Muslim world by stressing the importance of “humanizing” Muslim in “the eyes of Non-Muslims” (Ernst xvii). He sets out to investigate the nature of anti-Muslim prejudice, but is amazed that “intelligent people can believe that all Muslims are violent or that all Muslim women are oppressed” (Ernst xvii). In a globalized world, where multiculturalism and diversity are seen as important part of society, Muslims are being portrayed in a negative light, depicted as being aligned with a small group of terrorist. The terrorists, such as ISIS, seem to have political agendas, and little of their ideology aligned with Islam or the Muslim faith. Although the fighting in Syria is geopolitical, it is being covered in the media as Jihad, or a “holy war.” Simply because the terrorists use this as justification for their attacks, does not make it true.
Ernst offers a historical analysis that gives the foundation for an understanding of Anti-Islamic attitudes in the west. Since Medieval times, there has been a deep misunderstanding of the Muslim faith by Christians and Europeans. Ernst believes that imperial expansion of the last two hundred years are largely to blame for anti-Muslim prejudices. According to Ernst, the “last two centuries set up the conditions for today’s debates regarding Islam” (Ernst 11). Today, it can be easy to believe that the tension between Muslim society and the rest of the world is a new phenomena. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the recent struggles in Europe regarding Muslim assimilation seem to suggest a trend, or some new philosophical fight between Islam and the west. However, the recent ideological struggle is nothing new, and may be largely exaggerated by media reports that highlight nothing but gore, suicide attacks and war.
Muslim tradition prohibits illustrations of the prophet Mohammed. The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo often lampooned Mohammed, drawing crude caricatures of him as an ignorant and foolish figure. After the murder of the French cartoonists, the Muslim communities throughout Paris paid their respects to the dead and condemned the attacks. Quite simply, they said that the attacks had nothing to do with their Muslim faith. These were not part of “their” community. When Charlie Hebdo came out with more illustrations of Muhammad, The diversity of Islamic thought on the issue is a good indicator of the Muslim world in general. Some condemned the illustration, others had mixed emotions, while some praised the French. Hussein Rashid, a Islamic professor at Hofstra University believed the illustration of Muhammad was “a near perfect response to the tragedy" (Burke). It goes without saying that most Muslims are not radical and violent militants. In fact, it can be hard for a non-Muslim to define Muslims at all, because it can resort to stereotyping a hugely diverse population of 1.6 billion people, stretched throughout communities around the world. Islamic scholar Ali S. Asani wrote a famous article after 9/11, entitled “So that you may know one another” explaining how pluralism and diversity were part of the Muslim faith and God’s plan. He asserted that Muslim stereotypes were classic example of dehumanization of the “other.”
He argued that the Quran preached “tolerance and appreciation” for all cultures, and glorifies the beauty of human diversity (Asani 44). Over ten years later, Asani’s argument is more profound and necessary than ever. It explains that the radicals who use Islam to justify their own homicidal political agenda are not truly representative of the religion or Muslims in general. Christianity has many examples of violent psychopaths who use religion to spread hate. The Ku Klux Klan is a good example, however, very few associate Christianity in general with the white supremacist organization.
In a globalizing society, with media and internet technology creating social movements like the Arab Spring and documenting atrocities throughout the Middle East, it is important to put the size of the Islamic world in perspective. Many of these recent economic, political and ideological clashes are portrayed as being primarily religious in nature. It may be more useful to analyze what is happening in the world from a more secular perspective. To understand the religious elements of the Muslim faith in relation to current events, understanding the historical context of the animosity between the West and Islam is important (Enrst 11)l. Otherwise, modern perceptions of Islam may simple be prejudice fueled by media bias and religious stereotypes.
Asani, Ali S. "“So that you may know one another”: A Muslim American reflects on pluralism and Islam." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 588.1 (2003): 40-51.
Burke, Daniel. "Muslims' Mixed Response to New Mohammed Cover - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.
Ernst, Carl W. Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the contemporary world. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Hill, Jenny. "Anti-Islam March in German City." BBC News. N.p., 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.