The Islamic Faith and Islamophobia

The Islamic Faith and Islamophobia

The Islamic Faith

The Islamic faith is a monotheistic religion (belief there is only one God), in which the believers/followers are known as Muslims; the Islamic faith believes that there is one God, Allah, and that he had a prophet known as Muhammad. Following mentioning the Prophet, Muslims may choose to say (or write) “alayhi as-salām” or “peace be upon him”, in order to gain Allah’s blessing for Muhammad and in return, fain blessings for themselves.

Click on the drop-down buttons below to find out more about different areas of the Islamic faith.

The Islamic Place of Worship

A Muslim’s place of worship is known as a mosque, and small mosques will have an imam who will administer a prayer service. For larger mosques, a muezzin [moo-eh-zin] may be appointed to help lead and recite the call to prayer, and a khatib [kha-teeb] will be appointed to deliver a sermon during Friday prayer and Eid prayers.

The Quran

Muslims follow their holy book, the Quran [kuh-raan], which has 114 chapters. It is believed that the Angel Gabriel delivered the ideas in the Quran to Muhammad. As well as the five pillars and the Quran, there is also the ‘Hadith’; these are a collection of traditions and sayings of Muhammad, also used to structure a Muslims way of life and beliefs.

The Five Pillars of Islam

  • The Shahadah: a fundamental statement of faith and commitment.

  • The Salah or Salat: the ritual prayer of Islam which is recited five times a day in the direction of Mecca (the holiest city in Islam).

  • Zakat: an obligatory donation made to the poor and those in need.

  • Sawm: a fast which takes place during Ramadan (the ninth month in the Islamic calendar).

  • Hajj: the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim should complete once within their lifetime The pilgrimage begins on the seventh or eighth day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar and ends on the twelfth day of that same month. Whilst in Mecca, Muslims must complete a series of individual and collective actions on various days of their visit; this is a pattern set by Muhammad. Within this pilgrimage, they will stand before the Ka’bah (the most important monument in Islam, a shrine built by Ibrahim), and praise Allah. Many Muslims will walk around this monument seven times and try to touch the black stone located at the corner.

Why Islamic Prophets Should Not be Drawn

Many people outside of the Islamic faith may be aware that it is prohibited to create any visual depictions of any Islamic prophets or of Allah. Whereas this is not explicitly forbidden within the Quran, there are however numerous teachings within the Hadith which do forbid the drawing of Allah, Muhammad and other Islamic Prophets. It is thought that physical depictions encourage the worship of idols, and idolatry (the worship of idols such as images and statues in place of a God) is forbidden within the Islamic faith.

Halal and Haram

Many people will be aware of Muslims being ‘haram’ (forbidden) from consuming certain food and drink (such as pork and alcohol) and being allowed to consume ‘halal’ (permissible or lawful) food and drink. With regards to halal food, Muslims may only consume food which has adhered to Islamic law as defined in the Quran; for example, within meat, the animal must be slaughtered in a certain manner while a dedication (known as a tasmiya or shahada, a form of prayer) is recited. Any food or drink items must not contain ingredients from any haram animals or animals who have not be slaughtered in the correct halal manner.

The following items are considered haram and NOT allowed to be consumed by Muslims:

  • Alcohol (or any intoxicating substances or narcotics)

  • Any products made using alcohol (e.g. Vanilla extract as ethyl alcohol is used in production)

  • Nutmeg (as it can cause intoxication)

  • Any meat from a pig (or product made using anything from a pig such as gelatine which can be found in sweets such as marshmallows)

  • Carnivores with fangs (lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats etc.)

  • Any birds with talons (hawks, falcons, vultures, eagles etc.)

  • Domesticated donkeys

  • Frogs

  • Animals commanded to kill such as snakes, mice, rats and scorpions

  • Animals sacrificed to anyone other than Allah

  • Eating or drinking blood

  • Dairy containing animal rennet from a non-halal animal

The Islamic Calendar

Within the Islamic faith, Muslims follow the Islamic calendar made up of 12 months (based on lunar cycles) which span across 354/355 days; each month has 29 or 30 days depending on visibility of the moon. If a crescent moon is visible after sunset on the twenty ninth day, then the next day will be the first day of the next month. If no sighting is made, then a thirtieth day is added to the current month. The first month within the Islamic calendar begins in what is known as late August/early September in Gregorian calendars; the current year of the Islamic faith (as of August 2020 in Gregorian calendars) is 1442.

Islamic Months:

Muharram (Aug-Sept)

Safar (Sept-Oct)

Rabi Al-Awwal (Oct-Nov)

Rabi Al-Thani (Nov-Dec)

Jamada Al-Awwal (Dec-Jan)

Jamada Al-Thani (Jan-Feb)

Rajab (Feb-March)

Shaban (March-April)

Ramadan (April-May)

Shawwal (May-June)

Dhul Qadah (June-July)

Dhul al-Hijjah (month of Hajj; July-Aug)

Islamic Celebrations and Holy Days

  • First day of Ramadan (the ninth month): throughout Ramadan Muslims will not eat nor drink between dawn and sunset, also known as fasting. The purpose of this is to allow Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and become closer with Allah.

  • Eid al-Fitr (First day of Shawwal, the tenth month): this is the festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan and breaks the month-long fast. This is the only day during the month of Shawwal in which Muslims are not permitted to fast. Following this day, some Muslims may choose to fast for a further six days as it is believed those who do will have recorded a reward from the Prophet Muhammad, as if they have fasted the whole year.

  • First day of Dhul al-Hijjah (the twelfth month): within this month, Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and Eid al-Adha take place. The first 10 days of Dhul al-Hijjah are thought to be the best days out of the entire year due to them being attributed to a mentioning within the Quran which states; “Remember Allah during the well-known days.”

  • Eid al-Adha: is the festival of sacrifice which is celebrated on the last day of Hajj (the twelfth day of Dhul al-Hijjah). The festival remembers the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when ordered to by God; as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, Allah stopped him and provided him with a lamb instead. As a result, many celebrate with their friends and family by making donations to charity (to allow all to celebrate), and by sacrificing a sheep or goat and sharing the meat (in Britain, this takes place at a slaughterhouse).

  • First day of Muharram (1442 fell on August 21st, 2020): the beginning of the Islamic New Year and Muharram is thought to be one of the most important months. Muharram is one of four sacred months in which warfare is forbidden.

  • Tenth day of Muharram (Day of Ashura): the tenth day within the first month of the Islamic calendar. This day is marked by Muslims as a whole; however, for Shia Muslims (one of the denominations of the Muslim faith), it is a religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein (the battle of Karbala) by the Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Upon this day, some Muslims choose to fast, re-enact the Karbala of Hussein or parade through the streets in black.

 

What is Islamophobia?

According to Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), Islamophobia can be defined as:

“Islamophobia is a prejudice, aversion, hostility, or hatred towards Muslims and encompasses any distinction, exclusion, restriction, discrimination, or preference against Muslims that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

In short, Islamophobia can be defined as a fear, dislike, prejudice and aversion towards all/most Muslims and the Islamic faith.

 

What does Islamophobia Look Like?

Islamophobic comes in a wide array of forms. It can be seen via blatant acts of racism, as well as through microaggressions (acts, statements or incidents which cause indirect, and sometimes unintentional, discrimination against a marginalised group, usually as a result of ignorance).

Recognising Islamophobia in the media, schools, workplace and wider communities can be difficult at times if you’re not sure what to look out for. As a result, we have collated two lists below to help highlight and explain some examples of blatant and discreet acts of Islamophobia.

Blatant acts of Islamophobia

  • Drawing Allah, Muhammad or any of the Islamic Prophets.

  • Creation, use or distribution of media which includes derogatory wording and/or depictions of a race based on physiological and behavioural stereotypes.

  • Emulating or mimicking the Arabic language and/or accents of those within the Islamic faith, based on stereotypes.

  • Attributing wrong doings/actions of an individual/extremist group to the religion as a whole.

  • Intentionally using derogatory language and using statements that indicate stereotyping or prejudice through racial comments; for example, referring to all Muslims as terrorists.

  • Calling for, aiding or justifying acts and behaviours of Islamophobia; for example, stating a hate-crime on a group of innocent Muslims was justified due to a terrorist attack, (in essence, victim blaming).

  • Denying the presence of Islamophobia.

  • Claiming Muslims ‘don’t belong’ in a country who does not have Islamic roots; this can often involve claiming they should return to their own country if they want to worship their religion/a different religion to everyone else.

  • Mocking religious attire/demanding that this should not be allowed; e.g. Burqa’s, Hijabs, Chadors and Niqabs.

  • Diminishing Muslim celebrations and important dates due to them not following the cultural/religious norms of another society; for example, insisting Ramadan should not take place in a Christian country.

Discreet acts of Islamophobia (microaggressions)

  • TV/Film shows that fail to represent all ethnicities or focus predominantly on one religious belief and indirectly disrespect/discredit others

  • Exoticisation: instances where people view other religions as trendy or foreign (e.g. an individual who dresses in a certain religion’s garb or garments for fashion or pleasure).

  • Assuming that every believer of a religion practices the same customs or has the same beliefs as the entire group.

  • Preferential treatment of other religions or ethnicities over Muslims.

  • Presuming someone’s religion based on appearance (or country of origin); e.g. claiming someone does or does not look Muslim based on physical appearance.

  • Buildings, streets, memorials etc. only being named after those of a preferred ethnicity.

  • Moving seats/being anxious around those who appear to be Muslim based on the prejudice that ‘all Muslims must be terrorists.’

  • Diminishing the Islamic faith by claiming it is the same/similar to/based on other religions such as Christianity and Judaism.

  • Jokes about the Islamic faith and/or those who follow it.

  • Promoting negative opinions of the Islamic faith through lack of understanding and/or comparison to other religions and cultural norms; for example, claiming fasting within Ramadan is cruel/unfair.

 

How to Report Islamophobia

Click on the drop-down buttons below to find out more about how to report Islamophobia based on the situation you may find yourself in.

In College

In College, Islamophobia can be reported to one of your lecturers, any nearby member of staff or to the College Welfare service on: 07881 379 252 for Redditch and Bromsgrove campuses, and 07789 754 161 for Worcester and Malvern campuses.

Outside of College

Outside of College, if you are in a non-emergency situation you can report any Islamophobic occurrences to:

- Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND: via 0203 904 6555 or email iru@mend.org.uk. Alternatively you can fill out the incident form on their website: https://www.mend.org.uk/report-islamophobia/report-an-incident/

- TellMAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks): You can submit a report via their website https://tellmamauk.org/submit-a-report-to-us/

In an Emergency

In an emergency, always contact the police on 999. If you feel someone may be in danger and there may be an immediate threat (or potential of a threat), to someone’s health, security or property, always call the police on 999, If you're deaf or hard of hearing, contact the Police textphone service using 18000. If you cannot talk on the phone, any member of the public can also text the Police using 999 in an Emergency situation; however, you must register for this service first. Register today by texting ‘REGISTER’ to 999 and follow the instructions. Following the situation you can then report the occurrence to the organisations mentioned under the 'Outside of College' button.

 

Our Stance on Islamophobia

As a College, we welcome the presence of all religions and faiths. We aspire to create a welcoming, inclusive and accepting environment, where all individuals can feel comfortable in expressing themselves.

As a result, we do not accept any form of Islamophobia within our College community. We expect all members of the College and those who visit the College to behave in a respectful, accepting and welcoming manner with all individuals they encounter. We accept that there may be differences is individual beliefs and walks of life; however, within our community we embrace such differences as opportunities to educate ourselves further and learn about the world from different perspectives.

Islamophobia is still unfortunately present in our world today and this deeply saddens us as a College. As a result, we wanted to take the time to source more information and collate it alongside some helpful resources in order to not only further our own education as a College on the matter, but to also facilitate education within our wider community.

Below, you will find information on the Islamic faith and important celebrations, as well as information on Islamophobia, how to spot it, how to report it and some helpful resources to facilitate further learning on the matters at hand. The resources we have provided are by no means extensive, but we hope will be an excellent starting point for many.

As a College, we pride ourselves on our vision to inspire, innovate and advance; we hope by providing such resources we can lead by example and encourage continuous education and growth, in order to create a safe and supportive environment and wider community.

 

Helpful Resources

Below, you will find a variety of educational and support resources for the Islamic faith. The options below are by no means extensive, but we hope they will provide a good starting point for further education.

Articles

Support & External Organisations

Podcasts

(Podcast available through the Apple Store, Spotify and other sites such as Freedspot).

  • One Foot In The Sink“One Foot In The Sink is a light hearted Muslim lifestyle podcast. Join Anees and Foz, every two weeks, as they talk to inspirational guests who share their motivational stories, have some banter, discuss Muslim lifestyle hacks and some funny stories!” 
  • The Mad Mamluks – A Muslim podcast with new episodes every week. 
  • Mohamed Ghilan Podcast - This podcast gives a commentary on religion, philosophy, science, society and culture and the like. 
  • #Good Muslim Bad Muslim - A monthly podcast featuring Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh about the good and the bad of the American Muslim female experience. (Satirical comedy) 
  • Muslima Mindset - A Muslim podcast series for Muslim women. Farhat Amin is a teacher & writer. She is a speaker for www.thinkingmuslim.com, having delivered lectures on women in Islam and feminism. Muslima Mindset Podcast is about helping Muslim women understand their Islamic identity.

Video Resources (YouTube)