Islam Is Frequently Reduced To A Political Talking Point
There are not two sides vying for the fate of Islam. You might assume that Eiynah agrees with folks like Reza Aslan, the Muslim theologian and star of several viral videos wherein he takes down ignorant news anchors. Well, you'd be wrong. "It's not just a disagreement I have [with him]," she tells us. "I consider him to be quite a fraud in the way he's marketed himself, and not a reliable source of info." She provided this article as an example of why a lot of his arguments are "wrong, or technically-correct-but-actually-wrong."
Ali Rizvi, an author Eiynah does agree with, says that overzealous defenses of Islam actually allow anti-Muslim bigotry to fester. A quote from him:
"It is more important now than ever to challenge and criticize the doctrine of Islam. And it is more important now than ever to protect and defend the rights of Muslims."
This is part of the reason Eiynah doesn't like the term "Islamophobia": "Allowing any criticism of Islamic fundamentalism, homophobia, etc. to be labeled as 'Islamophobia' gives right-wing fundamentalist Muslims a chance to shield their religion from valid criticism. It's essentially the same thing right-wing Christians [do]. Think of the absurdity of the 'War on Christmas' to get a feel for how 'Islamophobia' sounds to us. That's why I prefer the more precise term 'anti-Muslim bigotry.' The problem is not theological criticisms of Islam or criticisms of literalist interpretations -- it is the generalizations, hatred, and fearmongering around Muslims."
"Islam is not a monolith -- neither its adherents nor its critics," says Eiynah. "Just like Islam can be interpreted and practiced in a million different ways, so too can criticism of it come from different angles and politics. It's important to be aware of the general Trump-era anti-Muslim climate, but it's also important not to erase the secular, liberal, and/or progressive Muslims who exist."
So the solution is "Remember that the world is a very complicated place, resist generalizations, and advocate for change carefully"? That'll never fit on a crudely scrawled protest sign.
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