I’m stunned by how Americans panic when they are threatened with the label “Islamophobe.” They become terrified, their judgment gets clouded, their insight is crippled so that they cannot pause for a moment to ask themselves what Islamophobe means. For Americans, being called an Islamophobe is in the same category as being called homophobic, racist, or sexist. The term Islamophobia has successfully silenced many voices and created an atmosphere in which people deliberately self-censor.
But people should not surrender freedom of speech – the right that Daniel Webster said was the most important right of all – in response to propaganda. The goal of propaganda is to provoke an emotional response, but Americans deserve a strongly reasoned argument – a reason that makes sense – to give up their freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and even academia have created a culture of shallowness that stops Americans from thinking profoundly when it comes to controversial issues. In the culture of shallowness, people are unable to analyze things deeply, they just look superficially.
The term Islamophobia is the perfect example of this culture of shallowness at work. Breaking Islamophobia down into two separate words, Islam and phobia, enables us to cut through that culture of shallowness. Both Islam and phobia have simple meanings that are easy to understand if used separately. “Islam” is a religion, it is a set of ideas and rules derived from Islamic authoritative sources: the Koran, Hadith, and the consensus of Islamic scholars over the last 1400 years. “Phobia” is a fear that “is in no way justified by reality.” Since phobias are irrational they are considered a psychological disorder. On the basis of the offered definitions, the term Islamophobia means a fear of Islam that lacks a rational basis.
Islam, as a religion, has been subject to different interpretations. The interpretation that is consistent with the authoritative Islamic sources generates sharia and commands jihad. However, there is a broad spectrum of interpretations, some close to the true understanding of Islam and some considered heretical. Being afraid of the fundamental and traditional Islam from which sharia and jihad are spawned is not irrational. In this regard, calling somebody an Islamophobe is tantamount to calling them a Jihadophobe or Sharia-phobe. The fear of jihad and sharia, for those who know them, is a rational fear, it is not a phobia.
Numerous Koran verses explicitly command jihad. Some of the most famous are surah nine of the Koran 9:5,29,73 verse 5, the Verse of the Sword, verse 29, jihad against People of the Book, and verse 73 jihad against hypocrites and unbelievers. Sharia comes from surah 5: 44-48, among others, and tells Muslims they are unbelievers if they do not judge by what Allah has revealed. Sharia is simply the rules for how to practice Islam, formulated by scholars from the Koran and Hadith. For an explanation of the qualification of scholars and how they formulate sharia see Chapter 2 of my latest book, Honor Killing.
The propaganda machine that tars people with the label Islamophobe never dares to discuss the teachings of the authoritative Islamic sources. When they call someone an Islamophobe, it has nothing to do with Islam– they take advantage of the culture of shallowness to make people think the speaker is somehow opposed to Muslims. If they were honest they would say “Muslimophobe.” But who is a Muslim? Many people who come from Islamic countries or have Islamic-sounding names might not be Muslim at all. Many do not practice or even believe in Islam. In the United States, people have come from all parts of the world, including Islamic countries. America has never been against immigrants – against flesh and blood – it is opposed to the ideas that destroy freedom.
As a sharia lawyer, someone who truly understands Islam and sharia law, I know firsthand that living under sharia law is something to be feared. Why Americans have become so shallow and superficial that they do not bother to take the time to question new terms like Islamophobe stuns me.
Daniel Akbari is certified by the Iranian Bar Association as a Number One Attorney, is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Iran, and is the author of two books: HONOR KILLING: A Professional’s Guide to Sexual Relations and Ghayra Violence from the Islamic Sources and New Jihadists and Islam.