Currently, there are few subjects in the West that are more controversial than Islam. As a former convert-especially an American one-this puts me in a precarious position. I certainly want to share my experiences and my opinion. However, I do not want my story to be exploited by xenophobic and hateful charlatans.
While I’m obviously quite critical of Islam(and all the Abrahamic religions at this point), I take issue with those who would paint all Muslims with a wide brush. Also if one’s goal is to support the truly moderate Muslims or those who seek to apostatize, demonizing the faith is not going to help these people. If anything many will shut down all dialogue if they are attacked. Condemning all Muslims and treating them with hostility is actually counterproductive.
In the USA a cottage industry has developed since 9/11. Anyone who is willing to slam Islam and all of its adherents as evil has a receptive audience. There are a number of different camps under the anti-Islam umbrella:
- Those who fear the erosion of liberal democracy
- Those who fear the cultural impact of Islam in America
- Those who fear Islam will challenge Christianity’s(God-given) stranglehold on American life
It is the people in category number three that trouble me the most and that I seek to stay away from. In my experience and study, such individuals tend to follow a more fundamentalist, right-wing, intolerant and xenophobic form of Christianity. Ironically, they exhibit the same troubling mentality that they bash Muslims for: they dislike all who do not share their beliefs and seek to impose their beliefs on others.
For me, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. I refuse to seek common ground with such people or support their agenda. I unequivocally reject them, for I see their true colors. As an urban Black American woman who is the great-great grandchild of slave, I know unadulterated hate when I see it. And what is floating to the surface in the USA-the cries to “nuke the MOOZ-lums”, the delusional whispers that “President Obama is a secret Muslim out to get us”, the gleeful disparagement of Muslims-is hate. There is a thin line between rationally criticizing Islam and jumping on the bandwagon with the xenophobes and racists. Under no circumstances will I cross it.