The normal purpose of this section is to acknowledge the help of individuals that led to the completion of this book through their research, patience, guidance, time and effort. Heartfelt credit and thanks therefore goes to every journalists, columnists, academic and other sources whom I have cited (& hyperlinked in purple) extensively throughout this book.
Just as importantly in this section, I would like to detail how the disruptive actions of six divergent groups of people forced me as a matter of record, to put this book together in the first place.
Like standing in the middle of a schoolyard brawl with six aggressors, we Muslims often have to find ways to disarm and fight off six of the following chief ideologues of Islamophobia, often all at the same time.
First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the role of the established Islamophobes and bigots of today, as well as the next generation of hate-mongering colleagues within the US$200 million Islamophobia network for shamelessly belittling and mocking a Muslim minority that feels more cornered today that it has ever been, perhaps since the Crusades almost one thousand years ago. Nonetheless, I would like to acknowledge the important role Islamophobes have all inversely played in the production of this book.
While you would expect me to burn your effigy or your flag to register my discontent, I would rather follow the footsteps of Muhammad (PBUH) who was on repeated occasions – physically, psychologically, socially and economically attacked by the egregious Islamophobes of his time. He responded by praying for their peace and guidance. I will do the same.
Along the same vein, “reformed Muslims” or my personal favourite, “former extremists” (in desperate attempts to burnish credentials as an Islamophobe when it comes to producing think tank-backed research based on debunked myths and near absent empirical evidence) have also played a key role as “hate profiteer” in pushing some Muslims outside the fold of Islam. To be fair, this group has also inadvertently helped strengthen the core of Islam by nudging ordinary Muslims to introspectively examine “why we believe, what we believe”, helping Islam with much-needed quality rather than just quantity.
Although I regret “your hearts were sealed away from Islam” (Source: 63:3, Qur’an), I as an ordinary Muslim will never think I am better than you, once again retracing the footsteps of Muhammad (PBUH) who surrounded himself with people who were not only early Muslims but non-Muslims, pagans, atheists, Christians and Jews as advisers and counselors. Many Hadiths (narrated sayings of Muhammad, PBUH) confirms this as a fact.
Moving along, I would also like to acknowledge the role of a third group of powerful individuals who have indelibly left a stain in the hearts and minds of billions of Muslims around the world. Given how your words and more damningly your actions have led to the deaths of millions of innocent civilians under your watch, it remains frustratingly perplexing why you are all not being tried as war criminals.
These individuals include former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to US Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former secretary for Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy secretary for Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, former Secretary for State Condoleezza Rice and perhaps most famously, Madeline Albright who let slip her pathological hatred for Muslim children in a May 12 1996 CBS’s 60 Minute interview with Lesley Stahl.
When asked: “We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And you know, is the price worth it?”. Mrs. Albright who was none other than the US Ambassador to the UN at the time responded: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price we think . . . the price is worth it”.
I often wondered, how the world would have reacted if some notable Muslim politician had said the exact same thing about half a million American, British, European or Jewish children? Yet, it appears some people do operate above the law.
That was approximately 24 years ago when I, aged 20 stumbled upon the interview on the evening news. I don’t remember much else from that memory except that my heart jumped, jaw dropped and eyeballs dilated like never before. Of course, well over one million children in Iraq have died since the launch of the first Gulf War in 1990 or over the last 25+ years (that is, one entire generation of children) but I could not for the life in me then, fathom how and why anyone could have so much overt hatred against young, innocent children?
Nonetheless, that infamous 1996 CBS interview was instrumental in forcing millions of ordinary Muslims like me find out about the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime despite the fact that Iraq was socially, economically and infrastructure-wise, far more advanced in terms of roads, ports, schools and hospitals then, or the most economically advanced country in the Middle East just before they were carpet- bombed to ashes and the stone age in the early nineties, in a war (Gulf War I) fully paid for by the Kuwaitis, and fronted by the United States.
So while our swivel-eyed politicians wax lyrical about “the West’s values and civilization” and brush aside what Mrs. Albright said then as simply words in a candid interview but the action undertaken by subsequent administrations that has resulted in the continuing quagmire we are in today shows those twisted human values have not changed at all since 1996.
“Values” neoconservatives within Western governments like citing as the reason Muslims like to attack “our way of life” but on the contrary, the inhumane actions of these powerful politicians have led to chaos and wanton destruction that often times seem irreversible, especially given the rise and fall of ISIS or another group it is likely to mutate into, borne out of US policy failures in Iraq and the wider Middle East.
In the candid words of Henry Kissinger who was the American Secretary of State in the seventies: “Covert action”, the notoriously callous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reflected at the time, “should not be confused with missionary work”. (Source: The U.S. Is Betraying the Kurds – Again by Adil E Shamoo, 4 September 2015, Foreign Policy in Focus)
And as if it wasn’t enough to have mainstream high-profile global politicians causing bloodshed and mayhem through their toxic foreign policies, a reemerging breed of politicians since the 9/11 attacks or the fourth group of havoc seekers have in recent years caused just as much trouble at the local and regional level with their twisted stance on anti-immigration, minority rights of existing citizens and religious intolerance. In the past, it used to be about Anti-Semitism. Today, it is Islamophobia, the newfangled sense of fear and insecurity these politicians promote.
From Marine Le Penn in France, Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, Sweden’s Democrats party, Switzerland’s Swiss People’s Party to UKIP in Britain, politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Matteo Salvini of Italy are some of many key examples of far-right xenophobic politicians that peddle illusions to people and have launched virulent racist campaigns against Islam and ordinary Muslims to win votes by promoting polarisation within local societies.
Instead of resolving key issues related to the euro zone crisis or the multi-faceted Brexit and austerity measures that is affecting pension contribution and support for health and elderly care, these Islamophobic opportunists prefer spending time putting the blame on new immigrants rather than businessmen cutting wages and planting the seeds of distrust (debating for e.g., swimsuits, hijabs and beards) when curiously, the real job of a politician is to focus on important social issues that can heal and unite, not gaslight and divide the population.
Hamid Dabashi, Professor at Columbia University sums it up best:
These liberal Islamophobes are finagling their hatred of Muslims with smiling faces, silly jokes, phony arguments, forced laughter and manufactured consent – with the full cooperation of otherwise perfectly respectable outlets . . . These liberal Islamophobes, proverbially the enemy of that which they do not understand, pontificate their pathological fear of Islam and Muslims with fake authority and false familiarity . . . Between the two of them [Bill] Maher and [Sam] Harris cannot tell a word of Arabic from Persian, Turkish, or Urdu if it hit them in the face, and yet, they sit there and like two Taliban bandits sharp shooting through camera lenses to the periodic laughter of approval by their popped up audiences. (Source: The liberal roots of Islamophobia, Hamid Dabashi, 3 March 2017, Aljazeera.com)
The key is balance over bias, rather than stroking hatred over tolerance, an area of specialty that this group has in common with the next group I have to thank for pushing me into writing this book.
The fifth group, that ought to be mentioned are the ratings hungry corporate executives that control the media as well as journalists and editors who write and report stories with an underlying biased agenda. They too must be shone the spotlight for giving “oxygen” to those with intolerant and divisive views.
To be fair, it is difficult to write about Islam and ordinary Muslims today without the mention of the sixth and final group of lone-wolf individuals and terror groups with Islamic names that commit acts of terror in the name of Islam. From Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Abu Sayyaf, Boko Haram to ISIS – Granted you would not have existed if it weren’t for the series after series of misguided foreign policies and greed for oil and gas by the American, British and European governments.
Regardless, what you are doing daily is in no way Islamic, from whichever angle it is viewed, however much you project yourself as a strong Sunni military power against the Shias and other minorities – since you have deviated galaxies away from Sunnah, the true pacifist teachings of Muhammad (PBUH).
Instead, even if the Islamophobes or the thugs in the White House, Pentagon and Downing Street were to work overtime for a thousand years, the damage you and your misguided bandits inflict on Islam and ordinary Muslims is infinitely more than what they can collectively achieve.
Ironically, the extremists’ narrative has much in common with that of their right-wing counterparts in the US that is fuelling much of the Islamophobia in American society. Both offer neat and dichotomous worldviews of “us versus them”. (Source: What Muslims must learn from anti-trump protests in America, Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, 5 February 2017, SCMP)
Therefore to all the deranged people with Muslim names who commit acts of terror, I would like to acknowledge your pit-less ignorance as a reason why an increasing number of ordinary Muslims around the world will continue to reclaim the ongoing narrative on Islam and ordinary Muslims away from not only Islamophobes and bigots but from people like you. Monsters who are foolishly competing to dominate the airwaves with the other five groups, through your thoroughly un-Islamic acts of violence.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of peaceful Muslims (more than 99.97 percent of Muslim population today) are left confronting hatred on six fronts (listed above) like jackals circling their prey, when groups and individuals like you should be helping fellow human beings – instead of hurting or killing them, let alone provoking attacks on Muslim women, children and mosques across Europe, America, Britain, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
Although you and the groups you represent are a subject of plain ridicule and disgust in Muslim circles around the world, however devout or liberal but again, I pray for nothing but your guidance from the divine as nothing being said to you by 99.97 percent of the Muslims worldwide today seems to be registering in your hearts and minds.
I hope this changes.