Islamophobia: The root cause of blasphemy (1), By Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u

Muhammed Jameel Yusha'u
Muhammad Jameel Yushau

When news broke about the unfortunate film “Innocence of Muslims” I decided not to watch the trailer, for the purpose is no different from other previous attempts to denigrate the personality of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But I eventually did after a prominent Islamic scholar asked me to find the trailer and email it to him. It was simply disgusting.

The producers of the film knew very well what the reaction would be, and Muslims have again become so predictable.  Instead of responding with reason, some people resorted to violence, which completely negated the approach of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Some pundits argue that the producers of the film have the right to free speech, but this is completely hypocritical, because recently when Prince Harry was pictured naked in Los Angeles on holiday, the entire British media, except The Sun newspaper, decided not to publish it. In fact ITV (Independent Television) in one of its news bulletins couldn’t even use the word naked, instead the station chose to describe the picture of Harry as “not well dressed”. Right now there is a row between the British royal family and a French magazine that published the topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William.

Misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims, particularly in the West, is a long and historical phenomenon, and the root cause of it is what scholars now describe as Islamophobia. Edward Said was among the scholars who drew attention to it in his classical work, Covering Islam. But even before him, there had been a scholarly debate about the origin and meaning of Islamophobia, which could help explain the attempt to present Islam and Muslims as backward and unfit for modern societies.

Writing in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies in 2011, Fernando Bravo Lopez unearthed some of the early discussions about the origin of the use of the term Islamophobia. Lopez suggested that one of the early works cited in reference to the origin of Islamophobia is linked to L’Orient vu de l’Occidentby E´ tienne Dinet (1861-1929) and Slimane ben Ibrahim (1870-1953), who are considered by some authors to be the first researchers to use the term Islamophobia.

Lopez added: “Despite its title, L’Orient vu de l’Occident is not a book dealing with the vision (or, better still, visions) of the East as seen from the West, but rather limits itself to studying a handful of authors, not all of whom receive the same treatment. More specifically, most of the book is devoted to criticizing the work of two authors: the Belgian Orientalist who joined the Society of Jesus, Henri Lammens (1862-1937), and the French Arabist Paul Casanova (1861-1926). Both, according to Dinet and Ibrahim, had equally mistaken visions of Islam and particularly of its prophet Mohammed. But they were not mistaken for the same reasons or to the same extent”. However some years later, both Dinet and Ibrahim revisited the subject of Muslim hatred in Europe which they published in another work called “Le pe`lerinage a` la maison sacre´e d’Allah.  They devoted several pages to ‘Europe’s hostility towards Islam’ (1930, pp. 173-84), establishing what may well be the first typology of Islamophobia”.

Of recent, there have been several attempts to understand and define the reasons for the unnecessary fear and demonization of Muslims in the West. One such effort was the establishment of the Runneymede Commission which came up with a report in the 1990s in Britain entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. The most recent comprehensive work on this subject was the book released by Chris Allen called Islamophobia. The entire book was devoted to understanding and defining Islamophobia, and after a lengthy discussion, it will be good to provide an excerpt from the definition offered by Chris Allen.

According to him “Islamophobia is an ideology, similar in theory, function and purpose to racism and other similar phenomena, that sustains and perpetuates negatively evaluated meaning about Muslims  and Islam in contemporary  setting in similar ways to that which historically, although, not necessarily as a continuum, subsequently pertaining, influencing and impacting upon social action, interaction, response and so on, shaping and determining understanding, perceptions and attitudes in the social consensus – the shared languages of conceptual maps – that inform and construct thinking about Muslims and Islam as the other“.

To be continued…

Dr. Yusha’u (, a former staff of the BBC, teaches journalism at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, England. He is a weekly columnist for PREMIUM TIMES

Twitter: @jameelyushau
Facebook: Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u





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  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    yea, Islam the victim. say that to southern Kaduna people.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    there was once an islam that taught mankind chemistry, algorithm etc. Gave us the first university in the world in timbuktu, Mali. the oldest university in egypt, the street lights and pythogoras buildings in muslim Spain. And most importantly, gave us the Arabic numeral.that brand of forward looking islam is dead. what we now have are diverse groups of thugs with AK47, ready to blow up churches, buses and planes at slightest provocation. What an Iranian authour called, ‘medieval anger’. Am afraid, Jameel, u got it wrong. People do not hate muslims because of WHAT THEY BELIEVE. People hate them because of WHAT THEY DO. There are a billion buddhists and they are not blowing up anybody. A billion confucians in china and Japan aren’t fighting imaginary jihad. THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE HAVE PHOBIA FOR: THE ABIDING THREAT OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE BY MUSLIMS. So long as the predictable violence persists so shall the people have a right to be wary of muslims.

    • No doubt there are Muslim terrorist, and there are Muslims who take to violence at the slightest provocation. But let’s put things in perspectives. Take the percentage of all the people killed by ‘Muslims’ (in riots and ethno-religious crisis the world over) and terrorists groups fighting in the name of Islam between 20th and 21st century alone and compare it with the total number killed by non-Muslims. You will find that non-Muslims killed by far many people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) more than Muslims in this regard. You talked about 1st and 2nd World War; Stalin of Russia; Hitler of Germany; The drug related killings in Mexico; The massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Burma; The Rwandan Genocide; The Iraq War (Raping of Muslim girls); The Assault on Afghanistan by both US and Russia, the former of which GW Bush referred to as ‘Crusade’; the Srebrenica massacre (killing of Bosnian Muslims); The usurping of Palestinian lands by the Zionist government and forcing the 1.5 million Gazans to live in the world largest open prison; to mention but few. All these, with the exception of the last were perpetrated by Christians (with due respect to the religion of Christianity). So Muslims don’t have the monopoly of violence but will infact come a distant second if we take statistics.

      • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

        Stop mixing apples with oranges. no one in his right mind, will describe turkey-Kurdistan strife or Syrian crackdown as Islamic killings.these are state actors. we are talking about individuals acting in the name of Islam and that evil ideology that approves of the killing of infidels and people who converted from Islam. The ‘honor killings’, ‘protest killings’ etc, that targets the innocent the most. the ideology that makes women, second class citizen. They are not even allowed to drive a car in saudi arabia.These are people’s legitimate issues with Islam.

      • frank

        you are talking bullshit, the people that were killed by ‘non-muslims’??? where they killed for religious purpose? the worst kind of war or attack is based on religion…… people are killed in Nigeria everyday that can be contained but when they are killed based on religion(islam) – thats a treat to the society, because they have been brain-washed.

        Before i comment on the BS you wrote above, i would like to say i hate the way you classify people as muslims and non-muslim(infidels), its disgusting!!!!

        All the people and country you mentioned above, are they all Christians???? was Hitler a Christian? is USA a Christian country?