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Islam and the West (05 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

When Looking At Muslims, Westerners Completely Miss a Significant Part of the Community, the Converts

By Akbar Ahmed


As an immigrant Muslim living in the west, I’m sometimes distressed at descriptions of my faith as a violent, irrational death cult. In Europe, the Dutch politician Geert Wilders has referred to Islam as “the ideology of a retarded culture” and “a totalitarian cult with global ambitions,” and in the US, Presidential adviser Steve Bannon has called Islam worse than Nazism and communism, saying, “You could look in 1938 and say, “Look, it’s pretty dark here in Europe right now, but there’s something actually much darker. And that is Islam.” Ben Carson during the US presidential campaign let his imagination run wild and compared Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs.” President Donald Trump promised to ban all Muslims from the United States, and for the first time in its history, the US passed an order banning the entrance of Muslims from certain countries. In Poland in July this year, Trump addressed a large cheering audience in which he resuscitated Huntington’s theory of the Clash of Civilizations with Western civilization under attack by “Islamic radicals.”

Such rhetoric that dangerously conflates Muslims and terrorists, and seeks to inflame the idea of a “clash of civilizations,” is nothing new. But it has made it especially difficult to be a Muslim today in America and Europe. In 2016 alone, the US saw at least 385 instances of documented Islamophobia, according to the Huffington Post, many in the form of assaults on mosques, women in Hijab and “Mid East looking” men. The graph is moving steadily upwards. And Europe is experiencing a surge of anti-Muslim incidents as well, with a group of congregants being attacked in London right as they were leaving their mosque in the heart of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, acts of terror committed in the name of a distorted version of Islam from Orlando and Manchester to Paris, London and Baghdad continue to dominate media coverage. Groups like ISIS claim responsibility, and Westerners become ever more fearful of “the other.” In the atmosphere of Islamophobia in the West, this “other,” more often than not, takes the form of an immigrant Muslim who is seen to have a hatred for Western society and culture. This is despite the fact that the statistics challenge this assumption. A significant amount of those who carry out attacks are in fact natives of Western countries who may not even be religious. Also, the vast majority of the people killed by these terrorists outside of the West are not Muslims.

When looking at Muslims, Westerners completely miss a significant part of the community, the converts. In order to better understand the diversity and complexity of Islam in the West today, we will hear in this series over the next few weeks the voices of Western Muslim converts. They are natives of England, Denmark, and Germany and they too represent Islam. They include a Cambridge scholar, an imam, a music director and a television presenter and author. In short as diverse a group as one can expect. This will not be a touristic depiction of Westerners infatuated with exotic Oriental religion, but an account backed by solid ethnography to point out the serious flaws in the understanding of Islam today by many in the West.

By overlooking such a vital component of the Muslim community, Westerners are missing those people ideally suited to provide a bridge between the West and Islam. This blindness means that the West is not able to understand the Muslim community and will thus make the wrong assumptions and take the wrong actions. Thus, it is conforming to the definition of insanity attributed to Einstein: to repeat the same thing over and over and expect a different result. We are in a dead-end currently and such a warped understanding of Islam and the Muslim community is going to land us in trouble and as a consequence we are going to sink deeper and deeper. A discussion about Western converts is therefore essential.

It is important in our exploration of Western converts to situate them in the larger Muslim religious community. In a quartet of projects about the relationship between Islam and the West, the most recent being Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Institution Press, 2018), I have noted that the Islamic community is divided into three broad categories: Literalist Muslims who attempt to interpret the religious text exactly; mystic Muslims who seek the universal oneness of God; and finally the modernists who balance Islam with modernity—examples include the Quaid-e-Azam and, more recently, Malala Yousafzai. While Western converts gravitate towards all three categories, mainly I have found them to be firmly in the modernist camp. This is natural because they are proud to be both Western and Muslim and see no contradiction between the two.

There are hundreds of thousands of Western converts who embody this balance-they are fully Western and Muslim-and I cannot stress enough how significant this is in the current environment and debate about Islam. If the West does not begin to recognize and listen to its Muslim converts, the distortions of Islam will continue to prevail and the bleak downward spiral in relations between Muslims and non-Muslims will continue. Western Muslim converts directly challenge the Islamophobic stereotypes and are full of wisdom and ideas on how to bridge Islamic and Western culture. Through this series, we will have an opportunity to get to know some of them.

Akbar Ahmed is an author, poet, filmmaker, playwright, and is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as the Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Jul-17/why-do-westerners-convert-to-islam#

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/akbar-ahmed/when-looking-at-muslims,-westerners-completely-miss-a-significant-part-of-the-community,-the-converts/d/112098


  • reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-religion-idUSKBN1AN18T
    By hats off! - 8/7/2017 7:01:56 PM

  • The education of hate merchants like Hats Off is irrelevant. Many very well educated Americans were members of the Klu Klux Klan.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/8/2017 1:54:07 AM

  • Yunus Sb,
    Akbar Ahmed's article is excellent.
    The venomous comment on it is a clear give away of who the snake is.
    As for Professor Naim, he was  cornered on his flippant and inaccurate comment on Jews, Christians and Muslims and struck back with that comment to cover up his obvious embarrassment. He lacked the grace to simply admit his mistake and end the matter there.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/7/2017 10:08:17 PM

  • Hats Off,
    You haven't answered any of my questions. You don't know what the null hypothesis is and its uses. You have not given an instance where this is used in Market Research ...
    I never talked about the Null Hypothesis and Market Research together. 
    The use of the null hypothesis to prove the point I proved, is a very good example of the right use of this method.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/7/2017 8:34:23 PM

  • Dear Naseer Ahmed

    Akbar Ahmed is an international celebrity who is an author, poet, filmmaker, playwright, and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C.

    Hats off writes this about him: “mr. akbar ahmed is - after everything - is just an ungrateful snake in the grass.”

    And there comes Prof, Naim, a Professor Emeritus of a leading American University finding fault in my following statement: “Scholars are free to hold any view but if they take to lies or half-truths to support their views, they do far greater harm to their community than any good. They become conspirators and traitors.”

    How truthful hats off is in likening Akbar Ahmed with “ungrateful snake in the grass” he knows best. But what the comments by the most illustrious Prof. Naim and hats off who liken the Illustrious personality is that Islamic scholarship has reached its nadir.
    By muhammd yunus - 8/7/2017 6:22:17 PM

  • it was you who started with null hypothesis for proving the divinity of scriptures. then again you were the one who defended your stupid attempt by bringing in market research.

    i cannot help it if it comes back to bite you and i can understand your embarrassment when reminded of it.

    and then again first you used to defend the saudi arabians as gentlemen because you sucked up to them when you were there for god knows what. one mr.sadaf tried putting you in place, but you would squirm out.

    then you started to defend the tablighi jamaat. then you took on the sufis and started defending the wahhabis. then you went on to defend sex slavery, jizya and the ridda wars.

    so it is your educational qualification that is the shame you will eternally wear. i am not peddling my educational qualification for spewing out nonsense.

    by the way you can try and find out through psychoanalysis what my educational qualification is. i am sure you can do it. you have after all proved that the scriptures are divine. never mind if one scripture contradicts another.

    if you think your educational qualification has helped you to mislead people that kuffar actually does not mean the unbeliever you are literally floundering in your own confusion complicated by embarrassingly violent and unethical verses in the Qur'an.

    so you think unless you have a degree from IIT to understand the Qur'an it simply proves that the Qur'an is not a clear book.

    or did allah say in the Qur'an that you need an IIT engineering degree to understand what a kaffir means?

    By hats off! - 8/7/2017 5:14:55 PM

  • what is your educational background Hats Off? I am sure your education didn’t include much of ‘The Sciences’. And can you explain what you understand by the Null Hypothesis if you understand it at all? By the way, that comes from statistics and not Market Research. The concepts and methods from statistics are used widely. You may have come across its use in Market Research which is uncommon but possible and appear to have concluded that it comes from Market Research!  What a fool you are! And can you give the precise context in which you have come across the use of the Null Hypothesis in Market Research? And if MR also uses the Null Hypothesis, it does not become less rigorous or less respectable. A fool will never understand that.  He just doesn't know what he is talking about!

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/7/2017 12:50:43 PM

  • Hats Off says, "allah really creates bizarre creatures who will hate their own past."

    But who hates his own past more than Hats Off?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/7/2017 10:55:41 AM

  • Hats Off,
    Excessive, single-minded and insatiable hate towards a whole community would raise the question of mental imbalance. It does not prove mental imbalance, but it certainly justifies considering it as a distinct possibility.
    Alternatively, trumpeting such anti-Muslim hate on a progressive Muslim website does raise   questions about one's judgement, upbringing etc.
    Hats Off's crusade to protect the good and pure western societies from the predatory Muslim immigrants raises even more red flags about his perceptions and judgement.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/7/2017 12:09:14 AM

  • self loathing is at anytime better than defending jizya and sex slavery and beheading 900 jews in one night. especially when the IIT education is wasted on a fool who wants to prove the existence of god through market research or is trying to prove the divinity of scriptures through a null hypothesis.

    allah really creates bizarre creatures who will hate their own past as part of a stupid jahiliyya prison nurtured through unbridled barbarity and slave trading.

    By hats off! - 8/6/2017 8:15:26 PM

  • mr. akbar ahmed is - after everything - is just an ungrateful snake in the grass.

    get back. get back to where you once belonged.

    get back jojo!

    By hats off! - 8/6/2017 7:54:48 PM

  • This another hypocrates talking about western convert, but Tarekh fath explains well, the ideology of civilizational war with western world by penetrating within western society and break them apart.

    Who will like to learn from western converts who betrayed same freewill given by the western world and now trying to teach same society.

    Mr stop bullying by such articles people of free society.

    By Aayina - 8/6/2017 2:43:58 PM

  • GM sb, it is nothing but self loathing for Hats Off. He is like Lady Macbeth obsessed with trying to wash off his stains - real or imaginary. Nothing would satisfy except crucifying all Muslims - even if it is only him that is crucified. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/6/2017 12:39:42 PM

  • frustrated expatriate quack psychology is your forte - not mine. while you are questioning mental balances also inquire what kind of mental imbalnce would lead to justification of jizya, sex slavery and expelling jews en mass.

    if the western civilization is a shameless, binge drinking, half-dressing, pig eating kuffar civilization, the best that "moderate" muslims can do is stop going there and instead set their own house in order.

    then they can do all the psychiatric guess work they want on the westerners.

    By hats off! - 8/6/2017 7:51:14 AM

  • Hats Off's worship of Europeans and Americans is servile and shameful. His sneering attitude towards Muslim immigrants is so full of venom that one cannot help question his mental balance.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/6/2017 12:51:02 AM

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