The Root of Islamophobia Part 1 with Q&A

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Jumada' al-Ula' 17, 1436 2015-03-08

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem.

Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family.

Dear Brothers…


Thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you. I don’t know how man are in but how many the number is we should, I think, feel we are in a family atmosphere. I would like to begin by saying that I hope that the voice is clear. From my end I heard a little cut-off from time to time and I hope that not happening on everyone else’s end. Let me say that this presentation which is approximately 30 minutes is going to be compact obviously because the subject matter is so extensive and the time is so limited. So, I guess the compensation for whatever question-marks are generated by this presentation will be in the Question-and-Answer session. That being said, let’s get to the issue- the issue is called Islamophobia.

I want to comment a little about the word Islamophobia itself. To the best of my knowledge, this word arose with its connotations in the past twenty or thirty years. If you go back to the early writings about Islam 1,400 years ago up until thirty years ago you will not find the word Islamophobia. Of course, there are other words that are used to shed negative light on Islam and fear about Islam but the word Islamophobia is absent. The word Islamophobia itself is simple a combination of two words: Islam and phobia. Phobia is fear and Islam is Islam so what it basically means is the fear of Islam and the fear here is a complicated and intensive one and everyone would understand in the social and the political and the military environment of our time.

Now, my concentration in this presentation is going to, as much as possible, try to go back into the historical event that accompanied the progression of Islam out of the Arabian Peninsula beginning with the Arabian Peninsula itself- obviously, that was where the Qur’an was revealed, that was where the Prophet of Allah lived. So, the first encounter of an anti-Islamic social behavior was to be detected in the Arabia in the time of the Prophet. For anyone who reads the Qur’an and who tries to think through its meanings will understand that there were people in the Arabian Peninsula who were very hostile to Islamic self-determination that began with the Prophet in Makkah and then moved to Al Madinah and then it began to go in all directions of the world.

To try to place a summary on that history, basically we can summarize the opponents of Islam at that time, (roughly speaking, and we’re using the Qur’anic terminology here), into three categories. There were the Mushrikeen, Yahud or Bani Isra’eel and there were An Nasara. Because I’ve been working my brains out on trying to explain the meanings of the Qur’an in the English language (I realize that) these words have to be thought of and then expressed in a language that honors the Jewish and Christian theological component of who Jews and Christians are; but on the other hand it has to be translated, wherever the text of the Qur’an deems it so, as the contrarian in the Jewish and Christian context who took issue with Islamic self-determination emanating from Al Hejaz and from there on encompassing other geographies to the North and South and East and West. Now, there is an ayah in the Qur’an that basically spells this delineation out between those who are friendly and those who are hostile vis-à-vis internal Islamic self-determination: that ayah is ayah number eighty-two in Surah Al Maa’idah in which the words of truth are expressed as such.

لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۖ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

You will most certainly find those who are most intense in their hostility towards the committed Muslims those who are guilty of Shirk and in addition to that, those who also express intense hostility to the committed Muslims are the Zionists and you will most certainly find those who are closer to affection to the committed Muslims those who say we are Christians; that is because among these Christians you will find Priests and Rabbis who do not display any hubris, any arrogance. (Surah Al Maa’idah verse 82)

Basically, what this ayah is saying without going into the fine details of it is that there are three categories of people. Two categories are very intense in their animosity towards committed Muslims and they are Al Yahud and Alladhina Ashraku- these are the words in the ayah. Then the third category is An Nasara. I know from experience and from studies that these two words are very much mistranslated and misunderstood even by us, the Muslims- forget about those who are not Muslims. Unfortunately, some of the translations of these ayaat fuel the argument against Muslims themselves but it’s supposed to be an ayah that outlines who our friends are and who our enemies are but through our own translations we are making enemies out of friends and friends out of enemies.

This has to be explained and I try to do this in the tafseer that I’m working on. Basically, it comes down to this: there are theological Jews and Christians and then there are ideological Jews and Christians. The theological Jews and Christians are just that- they try to go by their understanding of Divinity as much as they can interpret the meanings of whatever is left of the holy scriptures and then there’s the ideological part in which they become military and political forces and then they begin to express their opposition to the free and fair communication of Islam.

This is where the problem begins. So, this ayah is telling us that those who are more intense in their opposition via their hostility to committed Muslims are Yahud and Alladhina Ashraku. Yahud here is in reference to ideological Jews. The reason why I say that is because it is sub-joined with the word Alladhina Ashraku. The word Al Yahud precedes the words Alladhina Ashraku. Alladhina Ashraku are those who have established their military, ideological, pollical, military, social and all other life endeavours on a course that is very confrontational with Committed Muslims. So, it doesn’t serve any purpose when you go back to your translation of the Qur’an and you find that the Jews and Mushriks are the most hostile to the Committed Muslims- that is not a very accurate translation because what it does is it lumps all Jews together. The Qur’an doesn’t lump all Jews together! It identified the hostility of the Jews when they worked hand in hand with Alladhina Ashraku. On the other hand, you have those who are the closest to the Muslims as per this ayah (i.e.) An Nasara. An Nasara are theological Christians, not ideological Christians and this is expressed by the words that follow.

وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ

… and you will most certainly find those who are closer to affection to the committed Muslims those who say we are Christians… (Surah Al Maa’idah verse 82)

It doesn’t stop here, it goes on to say

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

… that’s because among them you’ll find what is equivalent to Bishops and Monks who do not display any hubris, any arrogance. (Surah Al Maa’idah verse 82)

Bishops and Monks are not political positions. These are Church positions. These are political ranks and these are the ones who you will find to have affinity towards Muslims. This delineating line has to be made very clear in the mind of the Muslims today so that we are very careful and cautious when we identify who our friends are and when we identify who our enemies are.

When we take a look at Islamic history (and) we take a look at the Prophet’s lifetime- the first thing we encounter in our Islamic history is that there was a Monk by the name of Buhairah Ar Rahib who foretold of the Prophethood of Muhammad and that was on one of the Prophet’s journeys to Damascus when he was married to Khadijah (radi Allahu anha) and he used to accompany the commercial caravan that went from Makkah to Ash Shaam. In one of these encounters it was a Christian Monk who could foretell the future divine mission of this young man. That’s a very friendly encounter.

The second encounter which the Prophet had with a Christian of a clergyman status was with one of his wife’s distant relatives whose name was Waraqah ibn Nawfal. There are Islamic references that say that he was one of the few Christians who lived in Makah. Other history books say he was not per se a Christian but he was very knowledgeable in Christianity. So, when the Prophet received his first words from Heaven his wife Khadijah suggested that he go and see Waraqah ibn Nawfal who is a very learned and scholarly person who would be able to (explain). Waraqah ibn Nawfal was the one who also said to the Prophet (that) according to the information that he has from previous scriptures- obviously Christian scriptures and probably some Jewish scriptures that he was privy to- you are the foretold Prophet in the Books of Revelation that came before him. Obviously, that is a very commendable position by a Christian clergyman.

The third encounter that Muslims had with Christians was when they went to Al Habashah, referred in archaic historical terminology as Abyssinia which is roughly Somalia and Ethiopia and Eritrea and those areas. So, the Muslims on instructions from Allah’s Prophet we instructed to seek justice in a land where there is a ruler who does not deal injustice to his subjects, meaning that there is a just, a fair and a conscientious ruler in that land where you will find refuge, obviously in reference to the Negus or An Najashi who was the ruler at the time of that land. If we read, our Islamic history tells us that the Muslims who were being persecuted in Makkah crossed over the waters of the Red Sea and they went over to that land and they had a discussion with An Najashi and it was Ja’far ibn Abi Talib (radi Allahu anhu) who had the opportunity to express to this king what Islam was all about and this ruler said there’s actually quite a hairs width of difference between Christianity and Islam and he had a cane and he drew a line in the sand referring to the miniscule differences there are between Muslims and Christians. That obviously is a gesture of co-existence and understanding.

The forth demonstration of understanding between Muslims and Christians was the visitation in which quite a large number of clergyman came from an area in Southern Arabia in the Yemen area from the South-West corner called Najran. They visited the Prophet in his Masjid in Al Madinah and there was a very friendly discussion among them in which the Prophet is reported to have laid down his own robe in honour of them. Then, of course when it came to the issue of the nature of Isa the son of Mary (alayhima as salaam) there was a difference and that difference was concluded by instructions from Allah in what was called Al Mubahala. To make a long story short, after these high-ranking Christian clergymen consulted among themselves they asked the Prophet to have them exempted from this Mubahala. So, this obviously is a very amicable (and) a very friendly relationship that goes all the way back to the formative years of Islam and Iman in the Arabian Peninsula.

Now, we skip the first years of the Prophet and we go to the last years of his life and we find that the Muslims encountered two military expeditions facing off against armies that were predominantly or at least nominally Christians and those were the two battles of Mu’ta and Tabuk. Here is where you have the military and political nature of these types as opposed to the theological and the religious nature, (so to speak), that I referred to in the interdict in which the Prophet and the Muslims also with him encountered these others.

Then we go to the time period of Al Madinah and we had the document of Al Madinah in which the Prophet gave what amounts to autonomy to the Jewish community of Al Madinah. Their history developed in such a way that their ideological nature trumped their theological nature and they wound up on hostile terms with Islamic self-determination in Al Madinah, in Hejaz, in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond that. Unfortunately, up until our present day we have a complex (what is called) Israel and the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Throughout all of this, the Prophet- as is the case with those who harbour or husband a fear in them, an unfounded one, as we should know as Muslims- began to be accused that he is either a magician or a poet or he is lacking in his intellectual abilities etc.

As I said at the beginning, the word Islamophobia is a very current word but if we travel with the contemporary meanings of the word Islamophobia way-back fourteen centuries in history we will find that there are certain people in history who, because of their political expediencies or because of their economic greed, took a very hostile position toward the Prophet. This was demonstrated in the issue of the Qiblah; as any elementary history student of Islam would know that the Muslims prayed towards Al Quds, Jerusalem for about the first sixteen months when as salah became mandatory towards the end of the Prophet’s presence in Makkah. So, for all sixteen months they were praying towards Al Quds.

Then came the internal psychological warfare that was initiated by (the Zionists)- if we’re going to use the word Islamophobia taken from today’s world and put 1,400 years backward then take the word Zionist and travel 1,400 years hitherto and we’ll see that the Zionists made up a fuss about that even though they were granted their autonomy in Al Madinah. The history, as it developed, had complications in it. We had the first occupation of Al Quds and Palestine in what is referred to in history books as the Crusades. This obviously needs every objective person’s input as to how much Christian theology was involved in that affair as opposed to how much political ambition or ideological objectives was involved in that affair. It is not very clear when a certain type of conqueror writes history what the truth is about that. We even have it in today’s conquer and occupation of Palestine. How much of that is Zionism and how much of that is theological Judaism?

We’re living today with an occupation and even though we are living with it and even though our instincts are right in saying that this is an occupation that has to stop and that has to cease and has to be dismantled and has to be defeated how many of us have taken a close look and said “wait a minute- you know, I think the liberation of Palestine is the liberation of the Jews also.” You don’t hear that very much coming from people with an Islamic background. It’s true (that) if we liberate Palestine, it’s going to be liberated for the sake of the people who have been displaced and rendered refugees and right now are homeless and stateless and oppressed and being the targets of every sort of legal system in the world; but none of us care to look very much at how Zionism has victimised Judaism itself.

We also have in our history what is called the Inquisitions. The Muslims were in the Iberian Peninsula and when they were there, there came a time after a few hundred years that their fortunes began to reverse themselves and they began losing one area after another in what is today called Spain and Portugal and it winded up in the last hundred years or in the last couple generations or so, (depending on which historian you’re reading), in which Muslims as well as Jews were forced either to become Catholics according to written history or mainstream history or they had to leave and many of them did and they went to North Africa or they had to face the death penalty, (i.e.) be executed in other words. How much of that is Christian and how much of that was Colonialism and Imperialism (if we wanted to go back with today’s terminology 500 years ago)? There’s no very clear study, not to mention public thought on this whole issue which obviously leads us to many other following questions from all of this type of history.

Let me reiterate the statement I said at the beginning, (i.e.). unfortunately, we, the uninformed Muslims, contribute to the problem rather than to the solution when we don’t clean up our vocabulary and try to be a little more conscientious with the choice of words that we are using. So, with all of this put together you have people from the theatre?! You know, the fear of Islam is like an oxymoron. Islam is justice and peace; who fears justice and peace?! You would think people would be relaxed with that but if people are on the criminal end of the scale then that fear, obviously, is going to express itself and in so doing they begin asking the question “Is Islam the religion of peace? Is Islam compatible with moral values? Does Islam honour human life? How about the status of women in Islam? Is Islam compatible with liberal democracy? Can Islam be secularized? How about science and Islam? Is Islam tolerant of non-Muslims?” Don’t they make issues out of that?

Obviously, the mainstream media we have in the world today is working with a certain agenda and that agenda is a corporate and capital intensive agenda. They want to make money. They’re looking for cheap labour and they’re looking for cheap markets in the world. And if Islam happens to be a voice for equality and peace and justice then Islam becomes an obstacle; and when Islam becomes an obstacle, that obstacle has to be removed from this highway of interests and to remove it, it has to be criminalized and Muslims have to be dehumanized to become the easy targets for warfare. This is what we see happening in today’s world. I think I may have the opportunity the next time around to speak about this whole issue of the fear of Islam in today’s world in the events of our generation and of our time.

I think my thirty minutes are up. I don’t want to take more than what is allocated to me and I hand the mike to you (so to speak). Wa Salaamualaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh

Q: As Salaamualaykum wa Rahmatullah. I wanted to thank Imam Al Asi for a great speech. It was very informative. I had a question regarding the last topic that was touched on a little in that speech about the image the media has been trying to create and one of the issues they try to focus on and bring up is (I guess) some of the punishment that is stated in Shari’ah law. They are trying to say that the Muslims believe that there are several severe punishments that looks very shocking for the people that don’t know the context probably or the reason behind those rulings and they’re trying to bring those punishments up and they say that the Muslims believe in this kind of rulings and they create (I guess) this fear that we are talking about. So, I was wondering what is the best answer we can provide to this type of attack and trying to change this type of image in our friends minds and the people that we are dealing with in daily life who think that the Muslims are strangers who believe in very strange and shocking rulings and if they have power they will start to implement those rules? Thank you so much.

Imam Al Asi: Ok- I got the question and yes there is quite a bit of dust being brought up concerning the issue of the “cruel and inhumane” punishments that are part of what they refer to as Shari’ah law. It’s also entered the political dictionary of our time. I was thinking that maybe next week I could deal with this because this is a manifestation of the nature of our societies and our generation now (but) it doesn’t harm to try and deal with it at this point and I’ll try to be as brief as I can.

First of all we have to say that the laws of Islam- this is something that I think the Muslims should listen to before the non-Muslims because this escapes even Muslims- come into being after the Muslims fulfil a moral standing in their society. This is extremely important to understand because when we look at our history we find that when the Prophet was in Makkah there was no laws. We’re talking about thirteen straight years and there were no laws. No such thing! No hudud, no qisas- nothing! So, when did we have laws then, we have to begin to ask ourselves? When did these laws come into being? These laws came into being, number one, when Muslims finally had their own society (and) a place that they can call their social home and that was Al Madinah and then, they had gone through years of, (what we may call), moral education.

This was a moral society; not to say that this was an angelic society, not to say that this society was free of criminals and deviants and all of these. Every society on earth is always going to have a component that is wicked, that is evil and that is trouble-making. That’s the nature of human society. That’s human nature but what we are looking at here is the critical mass. When Muslims had a moral critical mass in Al Madinah that’s when Allah began to provide them with legal instructions. If something goes wrong (or) there’s a moral infraction then there’s going to be a legal penalty for it. All of this is done with the permission of the Muslims. Nothing is imposed here.

Muslims cannot impose laws on a society that is averse to Islam. Right now, they say “take a look at these Muslims- they want to impose Shari’ah law on Oklahoma or they want to impose Shari’ah law on Birmingham” and all of this other stuff that goes around here and there and everywhere! We don’t want to impose anything! Nothing is imposed. This is done when we have a critical mass of people who gel around their moral values and standards and want to protect those moral values and standards with legal procedures and part of those legal procedures are the punitive judicial punishments that we have in Islam.

Here it is where you get into the area of capital punishment. Is it permitted to have capital punishment or not permitted? Now this is an argument that is not peculiar to Muslims and non-Muslims, (i.e.) non-Muslims are against capital punishment and Muslims are for capital punishment. That’s not accurate! Put the Muslims aside for the moment and take a look at the non-Muslims themselves: some of them are for capital punishment and some of them are against capital punishment. Now that’s a self-generating argument amongst them. They lost God’s words and directions in this affair so they generate this type of confusion and polarisation of opinion but we have insight (and) we have guidance from Allah concerning what has to be done in a society with a moral critical mass that has an individual from time to time and from here to there (who) commits a serious crime. What’s the punishment for that crime? Well, the legalistic punishment for, (let’s say), murder that solicits this polarised arguments in the west: should the person be executed or not? Well, in our Islamic law execution is a legal procedure but it’s not the only legal procedure. If the next of kin of the person who is murdered opts for amnesty, then the murderer is amnestied.

وَأَن تَعْفُوا أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

… and to amnesty is in close affinity with taqwa… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 237)

So, the internal legal argument in Islam is: yes, capital punishment is an Islamic penalty but it’s not the only one. Even when there is capital punishment, the ayah in Surah Al Isra’ says

وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلَا يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ

… WE have apportioned to the murdered person’s next of kin an authority but he should not over do in extracting the death penalty… (Surah Al Isra' verse 33)

Then we go to the issue of zina’. I have my own discussion in this matter. I mean it’s not the one that is thrown in our face when they say “look at the Muslims- they stone to death a person who has committed adultery.” I don’t have enough time to go into this unfortunately but you have to question and this is one of the issues that they bring up. The Qur’anic punishment for adultery is one hundred lashes. There’s nothing in the Qur’an that says a person had to be stoned to death. So, the question becomes: how did this happen? Where did this come from?

Well, when we take a look at our own selves we found that we were so accommodating. This argument should be presented to those who say “Muslims are so intolerant of non-Muslims”. We were so tolerant of non-Muslims becoming Muslims that they brought with them their own baggage. So, when some Jews became Muslims they brought the Torati punishment of stoning an adulterer or an adulteress to death. That’s a Torati punishment and that Torati punishment was given to Bani Isra’eel because Bani Isra’eel turned technical with Allah and in response to that He turned technical with them. So, they incurred severe punishments because of their tough and rough approach to Allah. But the Qur’an comes to say to Bani Isra’eel

وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ

… Allah wants to relieve them of the pressure and these types of chaining penalties that they carried for all of those generations ... (Surah Al A'raf verse 157)

The Qur’an came to diffuse all of that. So, in Islamic history when we investigate and (only a few of us do this unfortunately- we need to wake up and do more research and investigation), we find that in the time of Allah’s Prophet in the books of hadith people went to the Prophet and said we are now privy to the fact that two individuals in this society in Al Madinah committed adultery. The reason they came to the Prophet is because they didn’t know how to deal with this issue and the reason they did not know how to deal with this issue is not because there were no ayaat about it!

The ayah was clear: one hundred lashes; but the two individuals who committed adultery were Jews and the Jews had the stoning penalty, not the lashing penalty, i.e. not the one hundred lashes of whips. So, they were confused. Do we apply their rule of law to them or do we apply our rule of law to them? So, because of the wathiqa or the initial signing of an agreement when the Prophet established the Islamic authority in Al Madinah he gave in the Yahudi population their autonomy. Part of that autonomy is that they apply their scriptural rules to their autonomous society, so he said they should suffer the punishment that they have in their Holy Book, which is the stoning.

In our body of hadiths, (we have, masha’Allah, hundreds if not thousands of books of hadiths in our book stores and libraries)- (and) these have to be filtered from these Isra’eeliyaat. This is one of them. We have to filter it from this type of effect that we’ve carried with us for so long. Right now, no one says “look at the Jews- they have stoning in their Torah (or) in their Holy Book against adulterers and adulteresses.” And we got stuck with that because we’re so open that we made it possible for them to come with their scriptural teachings and somehow embed it?! They couldn’t do it in the Qur’an obviously. No one could add one word or take away from it one word so the next best thing is to place it in the body of literature of hadith. So, some people read literature of hadith without any thorough investigation or study of this whole affair and they said “look at what was done at the time of the Prophet and so its binding on us to do it to anyone who commits this type of act.”

I hope I didn’t belabor this issue but I tried to deal with it the best I can.

Q: As Salaamualaykum. My question is that us, Muslim women, here in the US, are seen like a symbol of Islam because of the hijab that we wear. So, what can we do so that we can show that Islam is not what the media shows in everyday life. Like for example after what the media shows whenever I go in the street I try to smile at whoever passes by me so that, you know, they can think I’m not the bad person here. So, what else can, us, women, do? Thank you so much.

Imam Al Asi: Well, part of the answer to your question is geographically specific. Some parts of the country here in the United States are very suspicious of Muslims, some of them are even racist when it comes to Muslims, hence the word Islamophobia. There’s two other phenomena that not many people are familiar with, one of them is anti-Semitism which is people who hate Jews and they’re called anti-Semites which by the way, that’s a stolen word just like they stole Palestine they also stole the word here because the Arabs are also Semites as are the Adh’hari of Ethiopia- if you want go by the technical (definition) they are also Semites. The other word is racism. When Whites hate Blacks all of a sudden, the word racism is the word that refers to that but when it comes to people hating Islam its interesting who came up with that word Islamophobia instead of us reclaiming the word Anti-Semitism instead of saying the word Islamophobia?!

Anyways, in order for us to get off the subject a little- wherever you are here in the United States, if you are, let’s say, in some of the Bible belt states obviously, some people there, because most of them tune in to Fox News and most of them get their information from bigoted sources they have the impression that Muslims are… and you can fill in the blank here with any negative word you want. Then, if you’re living in the Washington DC area, (the area that I live in), because it’s a cosmopolitan area many of the people here in this area are African-Americans it’s diluted. We don’t really find much of an awkward attitude in the mall or in a shopping centre or when you’re doing your rounds or your chores etc. None of that! If it does exist, it’s far and in-between but I think that the good answer to your question is people learn not through imagery (but) people learn through interaction.

If you get to know people, that’s how they’ll get to know Islam. If you don’t know them by just them seeing the imagery out there, that imagery is going to spark in their feelings whatever the commentator on Fox News told them or whatever Michael Savage mentioned in his rantings every day on certain radio air-waves etc. etc. I don’t know what position or what capacity the sister is in, i.e. whether she’s a teacher, whether she’s a student, whether she works at a certain company or firm and they are her fellow workers that share the same office space etc. etc. but it’s extremely important that the character of the Muslim defines the image of the Muslim. The sisters are more apt to do this because their image provokes certain stereotypes because of the mainstream media; brothers barely do that. I mean, if we wear our beards it’s probably not going to give us out as much as when a sister wears the hijab but nevertheless it applies to both. We’re not here speaking about sisters, this is equally applicable to brothers- their character has to define their Islamic imagery. Short of that, we’re going to be on the defensive always and mainstream media is going to tell them who we are and we’re never going to have the opportunity to penetrate as friends and as co-workers and as class mates etc. etc. do when they know each other.

Q: If we consider that at the beginning of the twentieth century western governments tried to depict a picture which was kind of Western-phobia among Muslims. So, if they want to occupy your lands and if you resist you will be slaughtered. Recently, after 1970’s everything changed and now Islamophobia is being propagated. Do you have any explanation for it?

Imam Al Asi: Well, I don’t know if I got the question. It seemed like a comment more than it was a question. I don’t know if there was a question there. You know, I tried to steer clear of the past few decades or the last century because I was told to concentrate on the historical background to all of this. If I can answer what I think is a comment I would say that much of this fear of Islam has to do with Muslims having independence and self-determination. You don’t fear something that doesn’t have power. You always fear something that you perceive as being threatening. So when Muslims, in the course of trying to have self-governance towards that end (and) with all of the discrepancies and with all of the interference and the intrusion that there is that we can see in today’s world- with all of that there’s the behind the scene real fear factor that if Muslims are going to become a block in this world who are independent of receiving orders from maters typically in Europe and America and Occupied Palestine and if they are going to cease to do that then the configuration of the world is going to change.

There’s going to be more justice in this world than there is oppression, there’s going to be more equality in this world than there’s going to be discrimination and there’s going to be a political reset in the whole world. Obviously, people right now who are in control fear something like that so they barrage the Muslims with all sorts of words. You know the word terrorism right now is the one that is in vogue and it has so many cousins and the bottom line is that they want to dehumanise Muslims to make it possible for them to get away with the wars, the aggressions and the occupations that are afoot now as everyone can see almost practically in every corner of the Muslim world. It has to do with power. Our power is not one that seeks to subjugate others or to enslave populations or to look for cheap markets around the world or to seek out cheap labour populations- that’s not Islamic. Our Islam looks at the world between the two concepts of al ma’ruf and al munkar, i.e. our responsibility is to establish the ma’ruf and to disestablish the munkar and this should explain to you the negative propaganda and the broad brushing of the Muslims by those who have their vested interests that they are looking out for.

This khutbah was presented by Imam Muhammad Asi on a conference call discussion on 8 March 2015. The Imam previously led the daily and Jum’ah prayers inside the Masjid. His speeches were revolutionary and thought provoking, and eventually irritated and threatened the Middle-East Ambassadors who control the Masjid. Finally, the Imam, his family, and other Muslims faithful to the course of Islam were forced out, into the streets. This khutbah originates from the sidewalk across the street from the Islamic Center, currently under seige.

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