Has the world forgotten Muslim contributions to humanity’s progress?

Published: October 25, 2015

This speech makes one simple proposition –  learn to distinguish between extremist radicals operating on a grotesque and inhumane interpretation of Islam, and the 1.6 billion other Muslims who show, day in and day out, the vitality and robustness of the message of peace and harmony engrained in the teachings of the last Prophet (PBUH).

Scaremongering and racially-charged stereotypes perpetuated by the constant fixation of popular media on ‘Islamic’ terrorism and ‘Muslim’ violence, supposedly inevitable by-products of the faith, has allowed images of savagery to overshadow, and crowd out the voices and experiences of the vast majority of practicing Muslims.

Those quick to call extremist violence a “clash of civilisations” forget that their Islamophobic tweets and Facebook statuses would not be possible without the contributions to algorithm made by the likes of al-Kindī and al-Khwārizmī.

They also forget that Muslims have borne the brunt of this terrorist violence; eight Muslims have been killed for every non-Muslim killed by terrorism. Not to say anything of the incredible loss of life resulting from the mindless – and unfortunately, countless – wars waged by the Western political elite, capitalising on this ‘holier than thou’ attitude.

Or, it may not be forgetfulness after all.

Islamophobia is not simply a reaction to 9/11 or some inescapable hatred for Muslims characteristic of the West – sorry to disappoint my fundamentalist friends. It’s the product of well-orchestrated, generously-funded political programs that benefit from such polarisation, according to the Centre for American Progress. For example, around $40 million ($100 million according to other estimates) were spent in the last decade on anti-Muslim propaganda, which feeds conspiracy theories advocating particular worldviews.

Is it really then a surprise that 43 per cent of Republicans still believe Barack Obama is Muslim?

Heck, even soup cans are suspect, for certainly all it really takes is one sip of hot halal Campbell to turn you into a cold-blooded violent jihadist. Blaming Muslims is essentially becoming the American equivalent of the “yahoodi sazish” (Jewish conspiracy) mantra.

Whether it be amnesia for Muslim contributions to humanity’s progress or the influence of anti-Muslim campaigns, the victims remain the same –  the Ahmed’s of the world, mothers threatened on public transport, the everyday Muslims who are subjected to these biases every day.

Take this message not as an exercise in the glorification of Islam but as a reminder that we all do, no matter how much your ego makes you want to believe otherwise, spring from and belong to the same clan of humanity. Collective success will follow only after the admittance and remediation of our biases.

Hamza Farrukh

Hamza Farrukh

Hailing from Rawalpindi, he is a recent graduate from Williams College, MA, where he majored in Economics and Political Science with a concentration in Leadership Studies. He spent his junior year at Exeter College, Oxford and was featured on PTV News last summer as the pride of Pakistan. He is a cricket enthusiast and loves to cook. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/HamzaFarrukh93. He tweets as @hamzafarrukh (twitter.com/hamzafarrukh)

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