By Karsen Breanne, Swansea University Islamic Society.
It’s Islamophobia awareness month and, Karsen Breanne from Swansea University Islamic society ( ISOC) provided information on why this month is important for society overall.
It is human nature to be opposed to or fear things that are different from what you know, or what you’re used to. This has been something very easily observed throughout history, in every corner of the world. However; when someone takes the time to learn and understand that which they fear due to unfamiliarity, suddenly they realise it may not be so daunting after all.
For instance, when one fears the dark, it is not typically due to that which they know is there- but rather a fear of the unknown so they choose to simply avoid it. However; it would take something as simple as turning on the light, to illuminate the space and provide the knowledge that there really was nothing to fear after all.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 816 Islamophobic crimes between July 2014 and July 2015, which is up from 478 Islamophobic crimes between July 2013 and July 2014. These crimes are increasing in various areas across the UK, and more recently they’ve increased substantially on public transport. Perpetrators are predominately white males, and the majority of victims are ‘religiously dressed’ females. Although the attacks tend to be verbal; in addition, there has been a drastic increase in physical assaults.
When you ask someone why they fear Muslims, the response you will usually receive is something along the lines of “they’re dangerous”, “they want to harm us”, or “their religion teaches violence”. When you ask someone where it is they’ve gathered this information, people tend to be reluctant to admit that the majority of it is from a misleading masterpiece the media has been painting for years. Luckily; if someone were to choose to properly inform themselves of the teachings of Islam, they would likely find it rather easy to dispel their inherent fear of Muslims or anyone resembling a follower of Islam.
“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (The Holy Quran, 109). This is merely one of many verses from The Quran that stress religious tolerance- and tolerance of those that may view things differently than you do. We as Muslims are taught that people are different; and that your first concern should not be the way another individual thinks, speaks, or behaves- but rather your first concern should be your own character. “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13).
If you fear something- is it really a fear of that particular thing, or could it be a fear of that which is unfamiliar or unknown? And if that is the case, perhaps illumination would alleviate some of that fear.
November is Islamophobia Awareness Month, which aims to deconstruct and challenge some of the misconceptions and stereotypes regarding Islam and Muslims. If you or someone you know has been a victim of Islamophobia or any anti-Muslim speech or actions, or if you’re simply interested in learning more- please do not hesitate to contact Swansea University Islamic Society.