Debunking the “Islam is Not a Race!” Argument

Islamophobes think they have it all figured out.  After they read the works of anti-Muslim pseudo-intellectuals and propagandists, they become self-proclaimed “experts” on Islam.  The message they absorb from their favorite Islamophobe stars can be easily summarized as: “Islam is evil and must be wiped off the face of the Earth.  Furthermore, every single Muslim on the planet is plotting to take over the West (read: world) and any Muslim who claims otherwise is lying. Yes, this includes your Muslim friends, who you shouldn’t be friends with anyway.”

I’ve seen some Islamophobes embrace the term “Islamophobia” because they proudly admit being fearful of Islam. “Yes,” they say, “We are afraid of Islam, which is why we want it destroyed.”  Dang.  Geert Wilders has never been shy in stating he wishes for the Qur’an to be banned (Nazi-style) and for Muslims to be massively expelled from the West (Spanish Inquisition-style). Clearly, these views are appalling, dangerous, and racist.  However, as odd as it may sound (at least to people who abhor racism and oppression) Islamophobes justify their racism by claiming they are not racist.  Hence, the argument, “Islam is not a race.  I cannot be racist.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard Islamophobes and some well-intentioned non-Muslims make this argument whenever Islamophobia is addressed. The purpose, of course, is to derail conversations about Islamophobia and racism.  I’ve noticed the pattern of this response for quite a long time in workplaces, classrooms, on internet forums and blogs, etc.  You can picture the scenario involving an Islamophobe telling a Muslim that “all terrorists are Muslim.”  The Muslim person is insulted and calls the remark “racist.”  The Islamophobe steps up into the Muslim’s face and says, “It’s not racist!  Islam is not a race, idiot!”  He turns around and walks away, claiming victory for himself and starts high-fiving his buddies, who are like, “Oh man, you are so effing awesome!  You shut that Mozlem down!”

I wonder how Islamophobes expect Muslims to react after they make this pathetic argument.  Are we supposed to look surprised and realize, “Oh my God, Islam is not a race?  Really?  You mean I’ve been practicing Islam this whole time and didn’t know it was a religion?”  Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious, we know full well that Islam is not a race.  We know Islam, like any religion, is open to people of all racial backgrounds, including to those who are white (*gasp*).  However, what is also true is that Islam is racialized by the ideology of white supremacy, which means Muslims are cast as threatening racial Others. Take some time to understand this. The key word here is racialization, where racial characteristics and racist attitudes are assigned to groups and religions that are not races. No, Islam is not a race, but it is constructed as a race and the manner in which it is demonized is an extremely racial process.

In her book “Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics,” Sherene Razack describes the process of race thinking, which is a “structure of thought that divides up the world between the deserving and the undeserving according to descent.” Within the context of Muslims in settler states such as the US and Canada, Razack explains that race thinking is articulated when presidents and prime ministers of white-majority nations talk of the “American values” or “Canadian values” they are defending in the “war on terror.” Reinforced in this narrative is the notion of “culture clash,” which emphasizes on cultural difference between “the European majority and the Third World peoples (Muslims in particular).”  Since “culture clash” focuses on cultural difference and racism, white societies declare the “superiority of European culture,” which is “imagined as homogenous composite values,” by triggering stereotypical associations with Muslim-majority countries (Razack uses “the veil, female genital mutilation, arranged marriages” as examples of these associations). Reproducing this duality of “us versus them” where “the West has values and modernity and the non-West has culture,” Muslims are easily marked as racial Others that are antithetical and inherently opposite to the West. As Razack explains, “cultural difference, understood as their cannibalism, their treatment of women, and their homophobia, justifies the savagery that the West metes out.”

We see this sharp contrast in mainstream western media representations of Islam and Muslims.  Muslim men are consistently seen as dangerous brown-skinned and bearded men holding assault rifles, rioting in the streets, shouting “Allahu akbar,” and burning an American or Israeli flag.  Through this same lens, Muslim women are seen as veiled, oppressed, and sometimes dangerous, but also as victimized bodies that need to be rescued by western imperialist intervention. Through this racialization process, racism surfaces to demonize Islam and Muslims and treats them as “threats” that need to be exterminated. Razack, drawing upon Michel Foucault, states that “racism enables us to live with the murderous function of the state and to understand killing of Others as a way of purifying and regenerating one’s own race.”  In order for racism to function this way, race thinking must unite with bureaucracy, i.e. when “it is systematized and attached to a project of accumulation, it loses its standing as a prejudice and becomes instead an organizing principle.”  As Foucault articulates:

The fact that the Other dies does not mean simply that I live in the sense that his death guarantees my safety; the death of the Other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or the degenerate, or the abnormal) is something that will make life in general healthier: healthier and purer.

Razack elaborates on how systematized racism against Muslims operates:

In our time, one result is a securitized state in which it is possible to know that ‘the passenger who has ordered a special meal is non-smoking Muslim in seat 3K’ and to arrange for that passenger’s eviction from the aircraft. Racial distinctions become so routinized that a racial hierarchy is maintained without requiring the component of individual actors who are personally hostile towards Muslims. Increasing numbers of people find themselves exiled from political community through bureaucratic processes in which each state official can claim, as did Adolf Eichmann about arranging the transport of Jews to Nazi Germany, that he was only doing his duty. In the ‘war on terror’, race thinking accustoms us to the idea that the suspension of rights is warranted in the interests of national security.

Captured in the phrase ‘they are not like us’, and also necessarily in the idea that ‘they’ must be killed so that ‘we’ can live, race thinking becomes embedded in law and bureaucracy so that the suspension of rights appears not as a violence but as the law itself. Violence against the racialized Other comes to be understood as necessary in order for civilization to flourish, something the state must do to preserve itself. Race thinking, Silverblatt reminds us in her study of the Spanish Inquisition, usually comes clothed in an ‘aura of rationality and civilization.’

Indeed, by making demonization of racialized Others an organizing principle and social norm in mainstream media and politics, as well as asserting that white-dominated societies are “more rational” and “deserving,” the atrocities and brutalities committed by the west are conveniently erased.  We can see how systematic race thinking is to the white supremacist settler state when ongoing genocide against Native peoples is made possible through established laws and accepted norms that Native communities are “vanishing.”  After all, the United States could not exist without the genocide of Native peoples.  Since 1492, white colonialists and settlers demonized Natives as “savages” and by the mid-1800s, they declared “Manifest Destiny,” which perpetuated the belief that the United States not only had the right to expand their culture and steal land, but was also destined to. As indigenous scholars and activists have pointed out, the message was/is clear: Natives must be killed so that white settlers can live. Maythee Rojas adds: “This concept of white supremacy and domination became actively employed to remove people from their lands and force them to assimilate to a Euro-American society. As a result, physical bodies became a primary target.”

It is this legacy of colonialism, imperialism, and genocide that continues today, not only within white supremacist societies in North America and Europe, but also in its wars against Muslim-majority countries.  After 9/11, the Bush administration reproduced the idea that Western Christian values are  “superior” to non-Western culture by propagating the idea that the US was attacked because “we are free.”  Former vice president Dick Cheney confidently stated on national television that Iraqis were going to greet invading and occupying American soldiers as “liberators.”  Under the Obama administration, war and occupation in Afghanistan advances while drone attacks have killed over a thousand in Pakistan.  As racist war propaganda dehumanizes Muslims and Islam, US soldiers bomb, shoot, torture, and rape Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani bodies.  As racist discourse about Islam grows (i.e. it is a “violent,” “misogynistic,” “oppressive,” and “backwards” religion), mainstream white feminist groups took the opportunity to express their support for the war in Afghanistan, claiming that US invasion would “liberate” Afghan women.  The American soldiers murdering and raping Iraqi and Afghan women not only contradicts these claims, but also points to a disturbing reality of sexual violence being integral to war and colonialism.  As Andrea Smith reminds us, “If sexual violence is not simply a tool of patriarchy but also a tool of colonialism and racism, then entire communities of color are victims of sexual violence.”

It is significant to draw connections to the way demonization of Muslims leads to such sexual violence and brutality by Western occupying forces in Muslim-majority countries.  Muslim lands are considered “dirty,” “backwards,” and “hostile,” making the land violable.  Muslim men must be killed while the racialized bodies of Afghan or Iraqi women, like their land, become violable for Western masculinist power and possession. That is, since Muslim women are oppressed, who better to save victimized and racialized women from culture than the “civilized European” who represents “values” and “modernity”?  Razack explains:

Saving Brown women from Brown men, as Gayatri Spivak famously put it, has long been a major plank in the colonial ship since it serves to mark the colonizer as modern and civilized and provides at the same time an important reason to keep Brown men in line through practices of violence. In the post-9/11 era, this aspect of colonial governance has been revitalized. Today it is not only the people of a small white village in Canada who believe that Muslim women must be saved. Progressive people, among them many feminists, have come to believe in the urgency of saving Muslim women from their patriarchal communities. As a practice of governance, the idea of the imperilled Muslim woman is unparalleled in its capacity to regulate. Since Muslim women, like all other women, are imperilled in patriarchy, and since the rise of conservative Islam increases this risk (as does the rise of conservative Christianity and Hinduism), it is hard to resist calls to ‘save the women.’

Muslim women are not the property of Muslim men, therefore the imperialist notion that Muslim women need to be saved suggests they are helpless and don’t have a mind of their own. This is not to downplay the sexist oppression and misogyny Muslim women endure and fight against in Muslim-majority countries, but rather to point out the misogyny inherit in colonial savior fantasies.  Meanwhile, Muslims living in North America and Europe are marked as threatening racial Others that need to be stigmatized, profiled, incarcerated, put under surveillance, etc. Since the settler state determines who belongs and who doesn’t, and who must live and who must die, immigrants of color, as Smith argues, “generally become targeted as foreign threats, particularly during war-time.”  She adds, “Orientalism allows the United States to defend the logics of slavery and genocide as these practices enable it to stay ‘strong enough’ to fight these constant wars… For the system of white supremacy to stay in place, the United States must always be at war.”

At this point I would imagine the Islamophobe getting impatient and not buying this whole “racialization” business.  I’ve tried to explain this several times to people who have left such comments on my blog: “Race has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with Islam.”  Most of the time, there is no response from these commenters, but when there is a reply, it’s typically a childish ad homimen attack. “You’re a moron, Islam is not a race, dammit!” they shout while (probably) jumping in the air and stomping the ground out of frustration.  Aside from the sources I’ve cited to counter their argument and personal experiences with Islamophobia, I remember how I saw this play out at a talk.  Earlier this year, I was one of two guest speakers at a local university hosting an event on Islamophobia in the West.  When a room about 40-50 students were asked to write down what first came to mind when they heard the words “Muslim man,” the responses were consistent with the racialization I discussed above.  Non-Muslim students wrote the following: “Arabic,” “turban,” “Middle Eastern,” “dark-skinned,” “beard,” “violent,” “aggressive,” “controlling,” “prayer rug,” “terrorist,” etc.  When they were given the same instructions for the words “Muslim woman,” they answered: “Veiled,” “headscarf, “oppressed,” “brown,” “shy,” “obedient,” “religious,” “serious,” “exotic,” etc.

See what’s happening here? What became clear from the responses was that non-Muslims associated Muslim men and women with racialized stereotypes. When it was my turn to speak, it was interesting how some of the non-Muslims made flying carpet fallacies and weren’t disturbed by the Islamophobia in the west.  When some students told me later that they didn’t think my use of the word “racism” was appropriate because, um, “Islam is not a race, dammit!” I reminded them of the racialized stereotypes they assigned to Muslim men and women. A Muslim can be black, brown, white, etc., but look at the attitudes about Muslims; look at the discourse surrounding them and their faith; look at how they and Islam are so politicized; look at the racial language that is used to describe Muslims.

Yes, Islam is not a race, but the mainstream discourse and perception of Islam and Muslims in media, politics, and law casts Muslims as racial Others. Having said that, when Islamophobes try to derail a conversation about Islamophobia by arguing “Islam is not a race,” they are also dismissing how oppressive power structures and hierarchies operate in the white supremacist societies.

It is no exaggeration to say that the “Islam is not a race” argument is a dangerous one. It works to legitimize state racism, particularly the racist laws and policies, surveillance programs, and imperialist wars that continue to target Muslims both in the west and in Muslim-majority countries. Islamophobes make this argument because they want to legitimize Islamophobia, and what better way to justify something than trying to convince people that the oppressive attitudes, behaviors, policies, and wars you advocate are “not racist”?

84 thoughts on “Debunking the “Islam is Not a Race!” Argument

  1. Enjoyed reading this. Indeed, in any event, race is a social *construct* – one that is constructed around actual or perceived physiological and other external differences (“the flying carpet fallacies”)….in the process of racialization and Other-ing. It is by this process that the Muslim Other is constructed and perceived as a ‘race’ and by which Islamophobia becomes racism. Also appreciated your points about sexual violence being integral to war, colonialism & racism (& ironically to the preservation of notions of racial superiority). We need only look to the DRC (Congo) to see what’s been termed ‘sexual terrorism’ (against women) being conducted on an unfathomably unprecedented scale. Yet, in this instance, why isn’t NATO intervening to aid or ‘liberate’ Congolese women?? Multiple & overlapping indications of racism and hypocrisy in the selective actions of the major Western powers??….

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Asifa! Indeed, Muslims get constructed as a race through the racialization process, as you pointed out. I also meant to mention how Islamophobia has impacted non-Muslim communities such as Sikhs, Hindus, Christian Arabs, and others. The hate crimes against these communities were committed out of anti-Muslim bigotry and even though they aren’t Muslim, they fit the racialized profile established for the Muslim Other.

      It’s sheer hypocrisy for the US and its allies to talk about “liberating” women while they’re invading and bombing other countries. If the powers that be care that much about ending sexist oppression, they should look in the mirror and fight against misogyny within their own borders.

  2. There are racists who hate Islam. There are people who hate Islam because they see it as a dangerous “brown” religion. However, Muslims and Islam apologists play the race card at EVERY opportunity, calling ANYONE who mocks or criticizes Islam a racist. This statement is a ludicrous generalization at best, and, because Islam is not itself a race, logically incoherent. If you want to argue against Islamophobic racists, do so, but do not conflate genuine ideological criticism with racially motivated fear or hatred.

    1. Shane,

      There is no such thing as a “race card.” The term is a weapon used by white supremacy to not only dismiss racism, but also vilify and characterize the victim as “manipulative” and “deceptive.” Race is a reality, it’s not a card. In fact, your “privilege” shows when you use that terminology.

      You also overlook the demonization of Islam and the way it is constructed into a race (I don’t think you read the post). And can you please point out criticism of Islam that is not influenced by racist, demonized, and Orientalist logic? None of the examples I used in this post were “ideological criticism” of Islam, but rather sheer racism and Islamophobia, so I’m not sure why you are telling me to “not conflate genuine ideological criticism with racially motivated fear or hatred.”

      I suggest you read this post:

  3. Firstly, I should apologize. When I commented this morning, I was in rather a hurry to make an appointment, and I had read the title of your post and the first few paragraphs alone. I have now taken the time to read your post in full. While I believe there are many people whose opposition to Islam (as a religion) stem entirely from their fear and revilement of Muslims (as viewed by them; brown, savage, backwards, etc.), and these people can properly be described as racist, there are people, such as myself, who oppose Islam in its proper sense. I oppose the belief structure, and the harm it causes to its adherents, both men and women. I recognize that many of the tenets I oppose in Islam can also be found in “white” Christianity, and I oppose both belief structures equally. I don’t advocate anything like the deportation of Muslims from western nations, nor the forced “civilization” of Muslim countries.

    I don’t believe in the superiority of western culture, but I think that in recent decades, the enlightenment values present in most Eurasian and American cultures have been overturned in the Middle East by religious zealotry.

    I recognize that Christianity has many more crimes against humanity under its belt than Islam does, and that western atrocities overshadow Eastern ones in any contest of scale, however, I can, and do, oppose them both.

    All of these arguments against Islam are equally valid arguments against Christianity, I know. However, as an atheist, I feel unburdened by Christianity’s numerous culpabilities. I can, as they say, adjudicate objectively. Now, my cultural background biases me, sure it does, but contrary to expectations, it biases me against Christianity. Believe me, I spend far more time arguing against Christianity than I do Islam. I’m simply far more familiar with it, and its effects are far more relevant to me personally (After all, it wasn’t Muslims who nearly singlehandedly passed Prop 8 in my home state of California.).

    Many of your points I agree with, and most of the ones I disagree with have been covered in the above wall of text, so I’ll just briefly touch upon the race card business, and the title of your post.

    The term “playing the race card”, while often misused, refers to using one’s ethnic background as a means to gain an unfair advantage in an argument (see Reginald D. Hunter in his first appearance on QI for a satirical example), or as one of any number of Ad Hominems meant to discredit an opponent’s opinions by hand-waving them away as examples of racism (or sexism, classism, ageism, etc.) without having to actually address the points.

    It is the latter usage that usually elicits the “Islam is not a Race!” argument. When the Qu’ran’s scientific or historical accuracy is impugned by Richard Dawkins, and the closest Muslim to hand retorts “You’re just being racist!”, that is when reasonable people use the titular response, which you have not successfully debunked. You have only debunked the illegitimate (or rather, the intellectually dishonest) usage of the phrase, sometimes heard used by closet racists without any further rational discourse to fall back on.

    P.S. I read your link, and the teacher who chastised the student for using the race card seems to have been slightly stupid. That’s my only explanation for his false accusation, which as a retort to the student’s snippet of philosophy, seemed to me a complete non sequitur.

    1. Shane,

      I do hope you realize how condescending and insulting you’re being when you say, “I oppose the belief structure (Islam), and the harm it causes to its adherents, both men and women.” You are essentially saying Muslims, like myself, cannot think for themselves and need an atheist, like yourself, to help them “see the light.” That kind of judgment not only insults our intelligence and agency, but also characterizes us as “inferior” to you.

      You are not going to build solidarity with Muslims with statements like that. Please read this over and over again until you understand. I am confident that if you are interested in establishing positive relations with Muslims, you will make an effort to understand human diversity.

      “I don’t believe in the superiority of western culture, but I think that in recent decades, the enlightenment values present in most Eurasian and American cultures have been overturned in the Middle East by religious zealotry.”

      Read Edward Said’s “Orientalism.” While I’d love to read you the whole book, I do have other things to do, so please educate yourself on post-colonialism and the effects western exploitation, colonial occupation, and wars have done to other countries in the world. You have proven my point, by the way, when you racialize Islam by referring to the “Middle East.” Is the Middle East the only place Islam is? Do you think I am from the “Middle East”?

      “Believe me, I spend far more time arguing against Christianity than I do Islam. ”

      And your point is…? You can bash one religion, so that makes you can hate on others? What is this, equal opportunity hate?

      “The term ‘playing the race card’, while often misused, refers to using one’s ethnic background as a means to gain an unfair advantage in an argument…”

      No. This is an attempt to make people of color look “deceptive” and “manipulative,” as I have said above. People of color do not have the same kind of privileges and power that white people have in white-majority settler states. As if people of color have the same oppressive power to dominate over the mainstream. The “race card” argument is constantly used to dismiss the experiences, struggles, and realities of people of color. Please refrain from defining our reality. That is not solidarity.

      I also find it amusing how you still say “Islam is not a race!” even after reading this post. A further comment on that is not necessary, so I will just refer you to my blog post again. And are you really citing Richard Dawkins after he made sexist and racist comments about Islam and Muslim women?

  4. Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because of your persistence in defining realities of Muslims and people of color. Making assumptions about what I believe (in regard to atheists) is not only ridiculous, but also rooted in the narrow stereotypes you have about Muslims and Islam. When someone tells you that you’re being condescending and insulting to them, you should take responsibility for the stereotypes and assumptions you made. Also, dismissing the information people of color have been sharing with you about how problematic and offensive it is to say “race card” exposes your arrogance and privilege. You presented a hypothetical argument which only seeks to steer the conversation way off topic. I am not interested in a time-consuming and cyclical debate. There is obviously no room for dialogue if you think I am brainwashed by Islam. Anti-racists and feminists have heard the arguments you made over and over again, and they have been addressed and debunked over and over again. It is not my job to educate you or inform you about your own prejudices.

    Lastly, I am glad you are willing to read books to broaden your mind. Please read “Orientalism” by Edward Said, “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” by bell hooks, “The Muslim Next Door” by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, and be sure to follow blogs and websites such as “People of Color Organize!” and “Colorlines.”

    That is all. Thanks!

  5. You chastise me for assuming a single thing about your beliefs, but this whole time you’ve done nothing but assume wildly what I believe.

    You assume for one that I come from a colonial background because I am white. Hint: There are historically white-only nations that were/are colonized, and had/are having their cultures systematically wiped out.

    Two, you assume, contrary to my objections, that I think I’m better than you. You choose words that I did not use to make it seem like I’m being more insulting and condescending than I am. Case in point: You say I think you’re “brainwashed”, which I never said. One does not need to be manipulated or subjected to propaganda in order to believe in something that is not true.

    Three, your continual description of my “privilege” suggests you think only certain minorities experience discrimination and not others. Or perhaps you think that the discrimination you experience is more severe than anyone else’s?

    Also, you seem to believe that if only you had the time, you could teach me something, but that I have nothing of consequence to teach you? Seems to me that I’m not the one with a superiority complex.

    You then proceed to delete my comment while still writing a response of your own. That means readers of your blog can’t see my end of the argument. Are you hiding something from them? Like perhaps the part where I don’t say things you accuse me of saying?

    1. “Also, you seem to believe that if only you had the time, you could teach me something, but that I have nothing of consequence to teach you?”

      Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right. Please teach me about my faith, all-knowing non-Muslim man. I don’t know how harmful Islam is to me and my Muslim brothers and sisters. Also, I apologize, I didn’t know people of color had the same oppressive power to dominate over white people. Please educate me about how lost I am. You obviously know more about Islam than I do, even though you do not practice it.

  6. Yet another strawman. I didn’t say anything about teaching you about your faith. I do, however, have experiences you don’t have. I’ve experienced prejudices you have not. But of course, you don’t believe that. You think race is the only thing that incites prejudice.

    1. Oh, you know about all of my experiences? I didn’t know you were a psychic! Why didn’t you say so before?!

      The reality is, you think you know my mind based on my religion. i told you that your comments were condescending and insulting when you implied that you knew more about Islam than me, a person who actually practices the faith. That tells me that you are not interested in dialogue. You’re only interested in “proving” your point that Islam is harmful to me and others. The respectful thing would have been to apologize and work on your prejudices and ignorant generalizations about Islam and religion in general. I don’t know what you expect me to say. Do you want me to be like, “Oh my God, you’re so right, I’ve been deceived by my faith this whole time, thank you for saving me”? You do know that there are anti-racist ex-Muslims right? They don’t bash Islam; instead they fight Islamophobia and speak out against discrimination, hate crimes, racial profiling, etc. And you do know that being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re immune to being arrogant, right?

      You’re trying to derail the conversation by making this about yourself and not about race, which is what this post is about. In any case, this is my last response to you. I’m not interested in a debate that goes around in circles. I do have other things to do.

      1. Admin Note: Spamming on my blog with hateful message is not tolerated. It’s not only insulting, bt it’s also really creepy. You couldn’t find anything better to do than spam on my blog? Sad.

  7. I’d love to argue this in a debate, but I doubt that even if I could express it well that someone so ignorant to be on the other side would understand!

    1. I know what you mean. Unfortunately, some people, no matter how articulate you are, just won’t move beyond their prejudices. I try to focus on speaking to those who are receptive to learning and unlearning.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  8. That is a pretty sound argument, but I for one will take issue with the whole “settler” thing.

    Human migrations have taken place throughout all of human history, and it often (and very sadly) has ended with the mass murder or displacement of the indeginous populations. Why are “ethnic” Arabs occupying the vast majority of Northern Africa, and what about the very many groups whom now live on the Indian subcontinent? I highly doubt that there is any piece of the Earth that has not changed hands via migration or colonization.

    Furthermore how long does it take before one is regarded as a ‘native’ of that land? I was born here, and my familial roots in Canada reach back to the 1780s. I made no choice to be born here, I just was; God/Allah(swt) ordained it be so. Hence, why is my claim to the land called Canada any less substantitve then someone whose genetic roots reach back millenia rather than centuries? There have been mass internal migrations throughout history and in every region of the world.

    The problem that I have with the current Native nation situation is how the current system is indeed bluntly racist and runs on the basis of what is basically a modern Aparteid model. That needs to change, and anyone with a conscious and whom has seen or understands the absolute poverty of the perversly named “reservation system” sees that.

    Let’s just be glad that today we have finally come to a point as a species that we recognize that this behavior, of violently depriving societies and nations of their lands and other possesions just cuz we can, is mindblowingly unethical and under any moral standard is “wrong”. That it took us millenia to figure this out really weakens our boast about being an “intelligent” species. However, we cannot reverse what was done in the past, and neither would it be right for those who live as a consequence of the actions of their forebears to be uprooted. Are you suggesting to evict everyone whom cannot prove “native-ness”, whatever that even means? Does Allah not command “punish not a son for the sins of his father?”

    You are playing the “historical guilt” card in a particularly hypocritical fasion. You are basically saying that because our history has some seriously evil chapters that those evil chapters are all that matters, all that counts are our flaws and hence what you basically mocked and derided as “our values” should only be viewed in the context of our shortcomings: and by quick implication as something that is inferior to your values and best ignored, subverted, or replaced.

    Race is a construct that has no basis in biological reality, and was merely served up as a fabricated pretext for imperialists to somehow ‘justify’ their economic looting and pillaging of other nations, on this, we agree. We may live in different cultural environments, have different faiths and ways of doing and thinking about things, but we are all fundementally human. But we all have done the same mistakes at some point in our existance, so I find it particullarly hilarious that someone like yourself whom claims to rail against what you correctly identify as a social and political facade like “race” then claim to make sweeping generalizations and quasi-anthropological analysis on so-called “white” societies. You seem like a particularly intelligent person, so I would hope that you can see the inherent inconsistancy in this line of thinking.

    I agree with the essense of your post; Islam is not a ‘race’, but it is often socially stigmatized and prejoritively defined in manners that bear striking resemblances to racism.
    “Racism” is not exactly the correct term, but it is one that is politically charged and is easy to use when applied in this context, so I agree with the principle of your post.

    I am no Islamaphobe, but trust me when I say that by claiming historical purity, something that no society possesses or can posses, and basically telling us ‘evil, racist Westerners’ that everything we do is tainted and evil and worthy of replacement, you do stoke tensions. Let’s be honest here: the history of the West is soaked and caked in blood, but so is the history of Islamic societies, and any other society that you can think of.

    Let us learn from and respect the past, not be trapped by it.

    1. Wow.

      Your comment is loaded with ridiculous and insulting “reverse racism” and “flying carpet” fallacies. Google the terms.

      If you genuinely care about Native communities, read “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” by Andrea Smith. You have clearly demonstrated that you do not see how genocide against Native communities still occurs today.

      Read your comment again and notice how you’re trying to derail the conversation away from Islamophobia and racism. Derailing conversations and accusing the author of being “racist” is not going to work here. In fact, it only shows how uncomfortable you are about deconstructing the oppressive power structures built into western society, which is, um, what this post is about. This post is NOT about Muslim-majority countries or their injustices (see: flying carpet fallacy), but even if it were, there would a detailed and honest critique of how oppression exists and operates in societies differently. Western colonialism and imperialism is NOT the same as the Islamic conquests. Simplifying histories and positioning them on “equal” planes is extremely problematic.

      That is all I am going to comment on that. This thread will remain centered on racial hierarchies within white-majority countries (and yes, I use the term “white” – you obviously don’t read any anti-racist literature).

      Lastly, your privilege is showing. Do your research, read the book I mentioned, and then come back and talk.

  9. How does my comment contain “reverse racism”?

    All I’m trying to do is put some balance into the equation.

    “If you genuinely care about Native communities, read “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” by Andrea Smith. You have clearly demonstrated that you do not see how genocide against Native communities still occurs today.”

    Not true. The government’s continuation of a system that is designed to marginalise and impoverish Native nations and thus force them by dire economic need into assimilation into the mainstream is indeed genocide, albiet of a different sort. Have you visited a Native reserve? I have, and I fully agree with you that the current system is an utter disgrace and the government’s refusal to change the system is aquiescense to a policy of genocide.

    Power structures also exist in every society that exists and ever has existed. What we can and should do is attempt to ensure that the most people as possible have reasonable access to them, and break down any prejudicial barriers based on the absurd notion of “race” that may bar anyone from them. There is a problem with racism, not only in the West but in all of humanity, and I agree that any institutionalized form of discrimination must end.

    Okay, I admit to having derailed the major topic under discussion. The reason I didn’t harp on that was simply because, I agree with you almost entirely. My sticking point was that the quite obvious attempt to paint the so-called “white” majorities as barbaric and driven by evil impulses and racist theories is in itself racist. Saying “all whities be racist”, is, in itself, a very racist remark.

    There is a problem in the West with the (quite supremacist and objectivist) ideal of “Western universality”. Since in these societies, it has been the norm since the Enlightenment to attempt to create an atmosphere of liberty and rough equality for all people, it has become an unfortunate habit of ours to believe that our particular values system should apply to all of humanity. And, as you noted, it is often used as the mere pretext to invade, plunder, and rape.

    I have read the “flying carpet fallacy”, and it is indeed a good article. However, I am not talking about how things exist today, I was talking about what has happened in the past, and how that every society (when I say ‘every’ society, it includes much more than merely the West and Islam) has its dark chapters. I was merely attempting to put what was obviously a one-sided condemnation of the West into some historical perspective. Also, I wasn’t bringing up the notion that racism exists everywhere as an attempt to somehow discredit any attempt to be rid of it – I agree with you that it needs to be hunted down like the blight that it is.

    Finally, “my privilage is showing”? What a classically racist remark: like I said and you seem to confirm in your article, racism is a social evil and has evil societal reprocussions that need to be removed. I agree with you, that racism is wrong and evil and that the current political discourse in the West, particularly with regard to foreign affairs, has its roots in this train of thought and should be exposed and debunked.

    I’ll take your advice and read some more of your articles and that book.

    1. D.I.D.,

      This is my last reply to you. It’s astonishing how you expect to have a mature and respectful conversation with me after you use insulting “reverse racism” arguments against me. You have accused me of being a racist, which is very typical of someone who (1) has privilege, (2) wants to derail the conversation, and most importantly (3) doesn’t want to take responsibility in unlearning racist socialization in western societies.

      There is no such thing as institutionalized racism against white people. The racist and oppressive power structures treat white people as the “default human beings” whereas people of color are perpetually constructed as “cultures” and “racial others.” This is because people of color face institutionalized racism where they are constantly dehumanized, stereotyped, and marginalized in mainstream media, politics, law enforcement, and society in general. People of color do NOT have the same power to dominate over white people in western societies. This is all anti-racism 101 and it doesn’t seem like you are familiar at all with critical race theory. It is not my job to educate you about this; you should be doing the work yourself. To help you understand why “reverse racism” arguments are so offensive, you should start with this post:

      Next, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about history or present day, the flying carpet fallacy still applies. What you are trying to do is conflate the histories of western colonialism and Islamic conquests as “the same.” The narrative that “oppression exists everywhere” is problematic because it doesn’t focus on the separate and distinct forms of oppression. It also ignores the power dynamics. Read Edward Said’s “Orientalism,” read “Destiny Disrupted” by Tamim Ansary, read “Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence in the Middle East” by Zachary Karabell – Islamic history is NOT the same as western colonialism. Simplifying histories is dishonest and inaccurate.

      And what is the point of arguing that “power structures exist in every society”? The point is clearly to shift focus away from the western oppressive hierarchies I’m talking about in this particular post. Also, since power structures “exist everywhere,” does that mean everything is “ok”? Does that mean we shouldn’t do anything about it? Does that mean we can’t hold people accountable for the privileges and power advantages they benefit from due to their histories? Saying “it exists everywhere” is gloss over the power dynamics and suggest that everyone has the same power to dominate over others. That is false.

      You are making this about YOU. You are getting defensive and viewing it as an attack on you personally. Where did I say “all whities be racist”??? You can’t point it out and that should embarrass you. The fact that you perceive my post this way says a lot about the way you perceive people of color who speak out against institutionalized racism. Explore the anti-racist blogosphere and you’ll see that SO MANY people of color have heard these accusations over and over again. You don’t even deserve this response.

      This is about taking responsibility and understanding how certain histories impact us in very different ways. We all have to be conscious of our privileges: I have privileges as a heterosexual man, but I’m also disadvantaged because I am a person of color and a Muslim. Every anti-racist white ally recognizes the importance in understanding their white privilege and power (instead of pointing the fingers at people of color and saying, “You’re racist!”).

      Why all of this “western victimhood”? Is there a military occupation in the west? Is Pakistan launching drones in the sky and bombing little towns in the United States or Canada? Is there another nation that is invading North America? Turn on the news – read about the US soldiers who rape and kill Afghans and Iraqis. Read about the Obama administration killing over 1,000 Pakistanis in drone attacks. People have lost their families and loved ones in these attacks, invasions, and occupations, and you want to make this about how I’m being “racist” against the west? Give me a break. The US has disproportionate military power and has soldiers stationed in numerous parts of the world, not to mention corporations. Is western history demonized in elementary schools and are white kids bullied, beaten up, or stigmatized because of it? No, it’s the other way around. Can you name Muslim artists, inventors, poets, scientists, musicians, and leaders who have made significant contributions to the world? At my university, I advocated for the school to include Mohammed Al-Khwarizmi on the list of influential thinkers because all of the people they listed were European men. Do you know who Zeb-un-Nisa, Razia Sultana, and Rabia Al-Adawiyyah were? We know who Joan of Arc and Emily Dickinson were, right? Why are the Crusades still being romanticized in public schools? Why is Christopher Columbus still celebrated? Why are non-white histories omitted, marginalized, or even vilified?

      Did you hear about the Arab student who got beaten so badly in school that he has brain damage and now the parents are suing the school for neglect? Do you see the rising number of hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslim, Arabs, South Asians, and other racialized people? I’ve been studying Islamophobia since 2002 and this number has been on the annual increase — I have even conducted my own research on this with random Muslim participants (ages 18-25). Why are you so uncomfortable examining the racism that exists in western society? Why are you so quick to point fingers at other countries, as if to say, “Hey, they do it too, so you shouldn’t be so one-sided.” When white people commit crimes, is the entire white race put on trial and expected to apologize for those crimes? Are individual white people treated as “spokespersons” for their entire race? No, but people of color are. If a brown Muslim man commits an act of violence, the entire community gets stigmatized – I have addressed this numerous times on my blog. How do you not see the racial inequalities?

      Ask yourself these questions. I’m not going to do the homework for you. Real social justice is rooted in mutual accountability and reciprocity. There are brilliant anti-racist white allies out there who understand their role in unlearning privilege. They NEVER speak *for* people of color or dismiss their experiences or deny the fact that the oppressive power structures gives them racial privilege.

  10. Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because you arrogantly persist in making “reverse racist” and “flying carpet” fallacies. Accusing me of being “racist” and “singling out the west” is merely a pathetic attempt to ignore the reality of racism and oppressive power structures in white-majority countries. I have recommended books for you to read and instead of doing the work yourself, you continue making insulting accusations against me. You have clearly demonstrated that you are not here to learn or be an ally, but rather to bully people of color with “reverse racism” myths. Derailing a conversation about racism and making it about white people is a classic example of denying privilege and responsibility. You victimize yourself by accusing me of being “hostile” and being an obstacle to “dialogue.” In actuality, you were the one who came out with accusing me of being “anti-white,” which can be found NO WHERE in this post or on this blog. You do not apologize or take responsibility for those remarks, but rather act like *you’re* the one who is interested in “building bridges.”

    Your behavior in this discussion isn’t anything new to people of color. You cannot build respect with someone when you continue to exert your privilege and dismiss the realities of people of color. And you certainly do not earn respect when you accuse me of being “racist” and then putting words in my mouth like, “all whities be racist.”

    Real allies don’t persist in making the same arguments over and over again. Read my post “Unlearning Sexism and Other Oppressions.” When you get called out on saying something offensive, you need to apologize, take responsibility for it, and do the work to change it. This is not about you having different “opinions” on this; this is about you not understanding the discourse that is being shared here. Real allies stop talking after they’re told they’ve caused damage and then take some time for non-superficial self-reflection. They actually do the work to understand their privileges and hold themselves accountable.

    You have not shown any understanding of anti-racism, so I suggest you stop making up thoughts and actually read the hard work that other people have already done. If you genuinely care about fighting racism, listen to the people who experience it directly. Show some humility instead of complaining about things like “reverse racism” and acting like you know more about racism than people of color.

  11. Have you seen the documentary “What the West needs to Know about Islam”.i saw it and so did my non muslim friends.I am a Christian and I felt agitated by the way Islam was depicted in it.I tried to argue against the things mentioned in it but since I have very limited knowledge of Islam I was not able to convince my friends.Since then I have been trying to read up on a lot of things related to Islam and mUslims and thats how I came across your blog.Will it be possible for you to help me out on this.

    1. Hi Asha,

      Thanks for commenting! I haven’t seen the documentary you mentioned, but it sounds really offensive and problematic. It’s great to hear that you’re speaking up about it.

      I would recommend reading Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s book, “The Muslim Next Door,” as a good introduction about Islam and the Muslim community, particularly in North America. Read it and share with your friends! You can purchase the book in your local bookstore or online here:

      I hope that helps! 🙂

  12. After reading this, I see nothing that suggests Islam is a race. I think the problem is only that “religionist” isn’t as common a word as “racist”, hence people latch onto the latter. The censorship that followed in the comments is actually rather disappointing, as you sounded fairly level headed at first.

    1. If you haven’t gotten the point about racialization by now then there isn’t anything else I can say. Where did I say Islam is a race? Do you understand what racialization is? Look at hate crimes directed at Arabs, South Asians, Iranians, and others who are targeted in anti-Muslim motivated violence – it doesn’t matter what religion these people practice, or how often they practice Islam, they are marked as “Muslim.” Islam has been constructed as a “race” via the logic of white supremacy. People don’t “latch” onto the term “racism” – there’s a large body of work that talks about the process of race thinking and racialization. Did you notice that I cited actual scholars who do this work every day?

      As for your accusation of “censorship,” read the comment guidelines. Also, stop being patronizing.

  13. I read your whole argument. It is well written and you definately have a point here. But going back to the origin of that whole issue, I have to ask you one question:

    Say, I want to speak up against Islam. Maybe not even Islam as a whole, but certain currents within islam. Say, I use some harsh words to make my point clear. I may even ask my opponent why there is no outcry in the muslim world against a certain atrocious aspect of Islam in certain muslim countries. And then my opponent tells me I am a racist. This has happened. So my question is: How do I answer him?

    And please do not tell me, that it is wrong to speak up against Islam in the first place. Because if you tell me that everyone who does so is a racist per default, then I will be happy to call everyone a racist who speaks up against Catholizism, Atheism, Judaism/Zionism, Shintoism and so on. This will include a major part of the world population.

    1. Haha, so let me get this straight. You come to an anti-racist Muslim blog and then ask the author, a Muslim, about how to “speak up against Islam” with “some harsh words” and false assumptions about the “Muslim world” (a reductionist term for an incredibly diverse population that also carries implications that all Muslims come from, well, another world/planet) where there is supposedly “no outcry” against “certain atrocious aspects of Islam”? And you ask this question in response to a post that is particularly about breaking all of those stereotypical and racialized assumptions you’ve just made? Wow.

      Yeah, you’re on the wrong blog. No Islam-bashing experts and Islamophobes here. Thanks for the token compliment that you think my post “definitely” has a point, but not thanks. The rest of your comment reveals your real intentions here.

      1. It did not want to prove anything with that wrong assumptions. I just wanted to construct a case to find out how a typical discussion goes. My aim here is to be able to have critical discussions about a difficult matter without beeing a racist and without beeing labeled as an
        islamophobe. So in the spirit of mutual understanding I will try to learn something from your response and explicitly state that I will never use the term “Muslim world” again. I also distance myself from the accusation, that there is not enough protest from Muslim people against atrocities commited by Muslim people. It is just wrong. In this context I will also say that any such incidents can under no circumstances be called “atrocious aspects of Islam”. And I will also write Islam with a capital I in this post.

        I basically wanted to say, that it should be possible to criticize Islam. And if some legitimate critizism is answered by accusations of racism and islamophobia, then I do not know how to answer. And that maybe you could tell me how someone could answer.

        (Let me give you one example where someone could critzise Islam, just to justify my “assumption”. Correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know, Islam allows violence to defend Islam. Should Muslim people be attacked or suppressed somewhere, then Islam allows or even commands them to fight back. Myself completely agrees on this one. If someone strikes me, I WANT the right to strike back. But in the future I might want to change my opinion. I might want to argue, that if everyone waives his right to use violence under any circumstances, that humanity could develop into the better. Buddhists abhor violence. Jesus Christ said “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (I admit that only minority of christians follows this command). So a fundamentalist Christian, a pacifist, an atheist, a buddhist or just some random guy might come up with the statement (all these people have different reasoning behind this statement): “I dont like that Islam allows/commands violence under certain circumstances. The Muslim authorities, be it Al-Azhar University or Ali as-Sistani or some renowned TV preacher of al jazeera or any influential person that legitimately speaks on behalf of Islam should emphasize the peaceful Islam more. Then some conflicts on this planet could be resolved more easily.”)

        Should you be of the opinion, that my example is invalid and that in general there can be no way to critzise Islam at all, then please tell me. Because this would be a very strong position and I would not continue to argue then.

      2. Before I continue, you do understand that you are off topic, right? This post is about debunking a typical argument that is used against Muslims to trivialize, dismiss, and silence the existence of Islamophobia. I am not sure what prompted you to ask me how to criticize Islam, but I will do my best to briefly respond to your post. I appreciate the response you left and it seems that you are well-intentioned in your question, but I just wanted to point out that your comments were irrelevant.

        1. Criticizing Islam. Stop for a moment and ask yourself this question: Why do you want to criticize Islam? Then ask yourself the purpose of criticizing Islam? Then think about this: when has the discourse on Islam not been racist and Orientalist? Since the advent of Islam, it has been met with opposition and demonization from hardcore Christian nations (see the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition/Reconquista) and is even found in literature (see Dante’s Inferno). Having said this, it’s important to not overlook the collaboration of civilizations and the countless examples of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and other groups coexisting (see Al-Andalus, Hasdai ibn Shaprut, Musa ibn Maymun/Maimonides, Salah Al-Din, Samuel ibn Naghrela, etc.).

        Now consider this: I have mentioned several atheist anti-racist individuals on this blog who are Muslim by name, but their work is centered on eradicating racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, etc. Some, like Tariq Ali, addressed criticism he received about not being a “believing Muslim,” but his criticism of Islam is done in a way that doesn’t dismiss the existence of Islamophobia and wars against Muslim-majority nations.

        I don’t care about criticism against Islam. My concern is when racist attacks are made against Islam because these stereotypes get projected unto real Muslim bodies. Research the number of hate crimes, discriminatory acts, and cases of vandalism (a Muslim family’s home was vandalized on July 4th this year and someone spray-painted the word “terrorist” on their house) – these are anti-Islamic sentiments being projected unto real people. That’s where the danger is.

        Also, I have seen religious debates between Christians and Muslims, and I always end up asking myself: what is the point? What does it matter who is “right” or “wrong”? What is the purpose of these debates? To win “converts” and “prove” your religion is the “correct” and “true” one? So keep all of this in mind when you want to criticize Islam. What are you trying to achieve? Based upon your comments, it sounds like these criticisms stem from the stereotypes you have about Muslims (like saying Muslims in the Muslim-majority countries don’t speak out against injustice — what do you think the Arab spring is???)

        2. Pacifism in Islam. We are also talking about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. You ask the same question to 10 different Muslims scholars and you will get 10 different responses and interpretations. This idea that one Muslim is the spokesperson for ALL Muslims is not just wrong, but racist because that logic NEVER applies to white Christians or white Jews. You will hear different interpretations of Christianity, even within the same denomination. I have met Christians who believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not a pacifist (and they reference the “sword verse”). You will find Muslims who believe Islam is a pacifist religion – you can google it and find books about it (and I know a Muslim music band that implements this interpretation).

        But I want to strongly stress on a very important point here: this blog post is not about Islam. Because of the immense diversity among Muslims around the world – in race, gender, class, school of thought, interpretation, etc. – I think it is problematic to view the violence you refer to as “scripture-based.” We need to move beyond this discourse that religion is the sole motivator in violence around the world from ANY religious community. Even the Crusades was not simply about religion – sure it carried religious language and there were people who really believed they would be rewarded with salvation for killing the “infidel,” but there were political and material motivations as well.

        Look at the world today – who is bombing who? Are there any foreign soldiers occupying western countries? Do you worry about soldiers patrolling outside of your house and watching you walk to school/work? This happens in Palestine where Muslim and Christian Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation. The US has killed over 1 million Iraqis. There are soldiers still occupying Afghanistan. There are drones flying in on Pakistan and killing thousands of people. Imagine if another country launched drone strikes on a small town in the United States. You can view retaliation from these Muslims (and non-Muslims) within these countries as something that is solely motivated by religion. It is not. Imagine if you lost your loved one or family members in a drone strike. What do you think that does to people? Do you think it’s something that they can easily forget?

        If violence was so explicitly supported in Islam, then why don’t you see the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world taking to arms? There are stories about the Prophet (peace be upon him) that are constantly taught in my mosque, ever since I was a kid. Even this past Friday, the imam was telling a story about “swallowing anger” and how the Prophet did this many times. The children in Taif threw rocks at the Prophet until his sandals were soaked in blood – did he retaliate? No. A woman would dump garbage on him every time he walked down the street. Did he retaliate? No. He forgave her and then visited her while she was sick. Self-defense was permitted in Islam when full-scale war was waged upon them. Believe it or not, Christian and Muslim friends have told me that they believe Jesus would have acted out of self-defense if he faced a similar threat.

        Bottom-line: If you are going to judge communities based upon scripture, then how do you judge the behavior of some Catholic priests, or right-wing Christian extremist groups like the KKK or the Republican Christians who want to further the wars against Muslim-majority countries? Should we start pointing to the “sword verse” and say, here look, this is why Christians behave like this?

        3. Muslims are human beings. I cannot stress this point enough. If a Muslim man gets angry when someone is rude to him in public, there are some people who will racialize him and say, “Oh he is angry because he is Muslim – all Muslims are hot-headed like that.” But if a white Christian man gets angry, the general response is, “Oh that guy is a jerk!” The difference here is that the Muslim man is stereotyped as a group, and the white Christian man is seen as an individual. That is the whole point of this blog and my anti-racist feminist politics: to emphasize that marginalized, stigmatized, and oppressed people are complex, multi-layered INDIVIDUALS, not stereotyped or demonized groups. I have some Muslim friends who don’t self-identify as devout or practicing, but they are affected by Islamophobia regardless. Their religiosity doesn’t mean anything to people because of their Muslim name. Here’s a scenario – a group of Muslim friends and I are playing basketball, and the one who self-identifies as “not practicing” gets angry at some random people on the court who are being jerks to us. Pushing and shoving occurs and then a fight breaks out. The next day, the non-Muslim people who fought with him tell the story to their friends, “Muslims piss me off, they’re a-holes, it’s true that they’re violent.” This is the racialization I am talking about in this post. Even if my Muslim friend was an atheist, it doesn’t matter within the context of Islamophobia (and this is also why Christian Arabs and Indian Sikhs get attacked in anti-Muslim violence – the violence is motivated by Islamophobia, but they are targeted because they are perceived as Muslim due to the racialized stereotypes of Islam, i.e. they are speaking Arabic, they are wearing turbans, they have dark-skin, etc.).

        My faith is Islam, and when I call out Islamophobia, I am speaking out against the way hatred of Islam is used to discriminate, bully, harass, bomb, kill and oppress real Muslim people (as well as those who are perceived to be Muslim). When we look at any individual and try to understand his/her behavior, we look at a wide range of factors that contribute to it – we shouldn’t zero in on their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

        That is all I have to share today. Hope this helps.

      3. Thank you, I might have some more insight now. In the past I came to believe that the world is grey and not black and white. In some way you were the one to remind me of that again in your post. Greetings from Germany.

  14. I hate Islam as a religion because of the harm it does, not because of the majority of it’s followers skin color. You can call me an Islamophobic if you want. But you can’t call me a racist. Thats just makes you look like an idiot. You’re obviously just desperately trying to justify calling people who hate Islam racists. So you can say ah, hes just a racist. Hes crazy.

    1. Yeah, you’re a racist. This whole post is about racialization of Islam and Muslims. Thanks for not reading it and insulting Muslims on their holiday.

      I don’t think you’re crazy – that’s ableist – but there’s definitely a racist logic to your hatred.

      If you hate Islam, then why are you commenting here? LOL.

      1. No, I’m not a racist because I don’t threat people any different depending on their race. And Islam is not a race, and it never will be. Get it in your head. Seems like you don’t know what a race is. Also that guy is not me.

      2. Seems like you don’t know what racialization means. Why do you think Sikhs were murdered in Wisconsin? It’s because the murderer thought he was murdering Muslims and that misconception is only possible through the racialization of Islam, i.e. the process of attributing racial characteristics to a group that is not a racial group. Get it in your head. Read the post and stop being racist.

        You say you hate Islam, but fail to see how hatred of Islam results in violence, discrimination, and hate crimes against real Muslim human beings. You are far more concerned with asserting that you are “not racist” than you are with the hatred and violence that is being done to Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim, including the death threat that was issued here on this blog – right in front of your own eyes.

        Good job. This is my last reply to you, but I wish you a very Happy Eid, yay! 😀

    2. And notice how you typed your screen name as “asdasdqw” and the hater before you (who issued a death threat against me and all Muslims) signed as “fgdfgsdfhth.”

      What’s up with that? Sounds like you’re just spamming. Get a life, haters.

      1. The only thing I want is to have muslims out of my country. Most of the violence here is committed by muslim immigrants. And even if some people threat black people badly because they think they are muslims doesn’t make them racists. Because they don’t do it because they are back. They are just being too extreme and stereotypical.

      2. Wow. So, you have the nerve to say you are “not racist” and then tell me you want Muslims out of your country? You are a racist and you should be ashamed of yourself. It is beyond disgusting how you generalize about 1.5 billion people in the world and I have no doubt that your heart is clouded with so much hatred.

        I strongly suggest that you do something about your racism because it is dangerous. I would be terrified to have you as my neighbor, especially during a time when non-Muslims are vandalizing and attacking Muslims. I hope one day when you meet real Muslims and get to know them, you feel horrible about all the stereotypes and prejudices you harbored towards them. Befriending Muslims, going over their houses for lunch/dinner, seeing how they celebrate their holidays – all of these things will show you how really out of touch you are with your humanity. You need to go back to the basics of unlearning stereotypes.

        I feel sad for you and I hope that one day you overcome your hatred. Till then, you are banned from commenting on this blog. Your kind of intolerant hatred and xenophobia is not welcome here.


  15. Sorry, but this amounts only to a meaningless game with words.

    Racism is a belief in a categorization of human beings explicitly on grounds of BIOLOGY. Racism is about what someone is, not about which thoughts are rattling around in someone’s head. If you remove biology from the equation, you are simply misusing language if you continue to talk of “racism”. This is explicitly supported by all authoritative sources on the subject, but a simple reference to Encyclopaedia Britannica should suffice to terminate this debate:

    Please note also that racism is merely based on a BELIEF in such biological differences, which has been falsified by recent studies in genetics. But this only renders racism factually incorrect – it does not change what racism is about.

    1. Wow, what a pathetic attempt to derail a conversation about Islamophobia and racism directed towards Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and those who are perceived to be Muslim.

      Were you seriously thinking that you were going to “terminate” this “debate” (which is code for telling Muslims to shut up) by throwing an encyclopedia’s definition of racism at me? Wow. Yes, we know race is a social construct. It does not change the fact that racism exists. It doesn’t change the fact that Islam and Muslims are racialized (do your homework and look up the term racialization and read the work the above scholars have done about this).

      To deny this is not only disingenuous, but also insulting. Telling Muslims that they cannot use the term racism to describe Islamophobia is just another way to silence their voices and experiences. It’s an attempt to dismiss the serious realities that are going on. Where were you when the shooting at the Sikh gurdwara happened? Or what about the heightened number of attacks on Mosques at the end of Ramadan, the beating and stabbing of Muslim elders in Queens, NY, etc.? Why are brown-skinned non-Muslims being attacked in hate crimes that are meant to target Muslims? Denying the racialization of Islam and Muslims is ridiculous.

      Read this article about collective action against racism, which was written in the aftermath of the Sikh gurdwara shooting, which was carried out by a white supremacist terrorist who killed 6 people and wounded 4.

      Here’s an important quote from the author:

      “By racism, I’m not referring to the commonly used individualized definition that originated in 1907. Of course we continue to experience interpersonal forms of racism in the form of bullying, harassment and violence in our schools, in work places, or simply walking down the street. However, the ubiquitous nature of racism extends beyond discrimination against individuals of colour based on the belief of White supremacy. Racism is unsought racial privilege and dominance; it is systemic oppression that breeds racist violence and not just prejudice perpetrated by lone individuals.

      Racism happens to form the basis of and is perpetuated through the military, police, immigration system, labour market, health care, and through all the other institutions we interact with daily. This is what we mean by racism being structural and institutionalized.”


      The only person who is playing meaningless word games is you. I’m talking about the realities of Islamophobia and the impact it has on real Muslim bodies, as well as bodies that are perceived to be Muslim. You’re the one talking about words. 🙂

      Next time you think about derailing a conversation about racism, don’t.

  16. I know you posted this a while ago, but I have read your post now, and the comments. You use the most lowly techniques to hassle those who speak up against you. Why on earth do you put out a post like this, any post for that matter, if you expect that everyone will agree with you? You are just proving to be your own stereotype, clamping down on the freedom of speech of those who disagree with you…

    1. Actually, what’s really disturbing is how, after reading all of the comments (as you’ve claimed), you chose to not address the people who have written explicit calls for “executing” all Muslims or the people who are saying openly Islamophobic things like “I hate Islam” and “I want Muslims out of my country.” Instead, you chose to point fingers at me and make this about me using “lowly techniques to hassle” people. Rather than being outraged at the indirect death threats that were sent my way, you’re making this about me “clamping down on the freedom of speech.”

      People being racist, Islamophobic, and threatening isn’t a matter of “disagreeing” with them. It’s a matter of hate speech. It’s a matter of dehumanization. Responding to people who make racist and Islamophobic attacks against me is not something up for debate. Someone telling me that they want all Muslims to be “executed” or that they want all Muslims “out of their country” is not something to have a “dialogue” about. Imagine sitting across the table from someone who hates you because of your mere existence, because of who you are, because of the faith you hold in your heart, because of how you identify yourself. Speaking out against this racism is something that Muslims and people of color in general are doing to stand up for their rights, respect, dignity, and even survival.

      This pattern of vilifying those who are targeted by racism and hatred is a common one within our society. In fact, we just saw an example of this in New York where an elderly Muslim man was beaten and stabbed repeatedly by someone shouting anti-Muslim slurs at him. NBC New York, instead of showing support for this man, decided to vilify him and ran with a headline that said the Muslim man “may retaliate” if he were to see his attacker again.

      Read the article here:

      It’s because the Muslim, the person of color, who is targeted by racism, is always seen as the aggressor. I never threatened anyone in my comments nor did I call for genocide against an entire people, but the very people who *did* say those horribly disgusting things apparently didn’t upset you as much as my comments did (and that comment calling for the “execution” of Muslims was allowed to be posted on this thread, so I’m not sure why you are accusing me of “clamping down on freedom of speech”).

      The fact that you saw *my* comments as more upsetting than the violent anti-Muslim ones is what’s really sad and disturbing here.

  17. We are all free to interpret Islam the way we want, no matter how “Orthodox” you might be told to be. Its ISLAMIC to be happy (drink, eat pork, sleep around) and I’m not just following that because it’s s “Qur’an quote” (it’s ISLAMIC to worship water).

    I decide what MY Islam is.

    1. Salaam Ali,

      Thanks for your comments. This post isn’t a religious one (as far as interpretations of Islam goes) and I don’t make judgment calls on how people practice their faith. Were you just making a general statement that is unrelated to the post or were you responding to something particular in the post?

  18. I find it really amusing how many times you refer to White Colonization and White Supremacy to make a remotely valid argument. Also, the amount of times you drifted away from the original subject, is even more Amusing.

    It doesnt matter what your perception of a Muslim actuallly is, There will always be enemies of Islam and its Followers. People are entitled to oppose what they feel is rape of the natural world.

    1. I find it really amusing that people like you leave racist comments and don’t bother reading the comment guidelines. Then you get all surprised when you get banned from making further comments, lol.

      Yes, there will always be enemies of Islam. That is why we see things like white supremacist terrorism against Sikh worshipers, attacks on Mosques, on Muslim homes, and the recent case of a woman pushing a Hindu man in front of a New York subway because she blamed Hindus and Muslims for 9/11.

      I’m calling your comments racist because people like you don’t even care about the death threats and genocidal statements that were made right here on this thread. Of course white supremacy and colonialism is “amusing” to you. It’s because violence and genocide against Muslims is just a joke to you.

      You would rather get angry at a Muslim person for addressing Islamophobia, a reality which you want to deny, than actually getting angry about the death threats that are made against us.

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

  19. I dislike all muslims equally. I don’t care if they are black sub saharan africans, brown skinned arabs or even blonde, blue eyed turks. Islam is a barbaric religion and it’s the main cause of the backwardness of the Middle East.

  20. Race is what your born as idiot, Religion is what you are learnt. –__– Its like if i see a vegetarian and say: oi your a fucking veggy eating dickhead. would that make me racist?People can be brought up eating vegetable at a young age til adulthood. So if you insult me calling me a infidel would you be classed as a racist or does muslims only get that entitlement. Unless you can read a quran as a baby in your mothers womb then it isn’t a race because you dont come into this world as one. If your a pakistani muslim and I called you a : dirty fucking smelly Paki…then obviously THAT would be racist because I used PAKI in my insult. ^_^ .

    1. Why thank you, you white supremacist Islamophobic coward. How bold of you to comment on a Muslim’s blog with racial slurs. You deserve a medal.

      What’s pathetic is that your racist comment PROVES that Islamophobia = racism. LOL, your self-esteem must be really low. I’m letting your comment stay posted so that people can see how ugly and pathetic Islamophobia is. It must really piss you off that there are so many Muslims in the world and that there’s nothing you can do about it. Racists like yourself never succeed in anything.

  21. Great post, thank you! I have often come across this “Islam is not a race” argument and been unsure how to debunk it, now I know!

    One other thing I am stuck with when debating, which is linked: people say to me, if Islam is a race, then non-belief in Islam can be a race too, in the sense that the Koran treats there to be two main classes, believers and non-believers. The Koran speaks of non-believers in a very patronising way, they say, calling them such things as “the worst of creatures” whilst calling Muslims “the best of people”. Non-Muslims are are also described as “diseased”, “perverse”, “stupid” and “deceitful”. They say that when the Koran takes this supremacist stance, it’s difficult to argue that Islam itself isn’t racist! Obviously they are wrong, but what do I reply with?

    1. Peter, Thanks for your comment. I’ve heard responses that accuse the Qur’an of being oppressive, but never heard someone say that Islam racializes “non-belief.” LOL. That’s funny to me because the Qur’an specifically recognizes human diversity as fact and a blessing:

      “And among Allah’s signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colors. There truly are signs in this for those who know. […] O humankind, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” – 30:22; 49:13

      These verses emphasis on closeness and bringing communities together, not discrimination or hatred. There is also a verse that states, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), and the Qur’an makes it clear that it’s up to people to choose whether or not they want to believe in its message. I’m not a religious scholar, but I know there are excellent resources out there that can help you understand the Qur’an and the particular verses that Islamophobes tend to single out. It’s always important to understand the context of the verses and to understand the Qur’an in its *entirety.* The verses that are supposedly about “violence” are actually verses about self-defense and directed only towards those who are deliberating attacking and oppressing Muslims.

      I noticed you left two follow-up comments, but I have been busy and haven’t checked my blog in a while. It seemed like this was an urgent issue for you and I think it’s great that you’re trying to engage with people about what the Qur’an truly teaches. This is something I had to learn myself, but just be prepared for people who refuse to listen to what you have to say. As you know, there are a lot of people out there who are convinced that Islam is a violent and oppressive religion. Some people are just looking for an argument and are not genuinely interested in learning. Fortunately, there are people who *are* receptive and open to learning, so it’s better to focus your energy on them. Take care!

  22. Hi, I have been trying to understand the rationale behind calling people racist who oppose the theology of Islam and I think you have presented some interesting information here, thank you. I have been guilty in the past of employing the flying carpet fallacy – thanks for pointing that one out, and I also appreciated your bringing up racialization and the real affects it has on people. Always good to learn something new.

    First question: I worry that using the word racist, even in examples where groups, such as white supremacists, have racialized their views, lessens the impact that word has for marginalized groups who are also fighting discrimination based directly and solely on their actual race or heritage. Do you think the use of word racism in this example has the potential to hurt racial minority causes or could have any impact on marginalized groups who are also discriminated against? A better way of asking this is – let’s say Mormons begin calling anyone a racist who criticizes Mormonism, also because of the racialization of groups against them – would it become harder to address the problem overall if every religious group labels opponents of their belief system as racist?

    Second question: The bigger question I am wondering about, outside of groups who’s ideology has racialized their views, e.g. white supremacists, do you believe that we should label any criticisms of any tenet of Islam as racist? Another way of saying this is, is there any scenario where we can criticize the theology of Islam without being labeled as racist? Another person asked this question above and I didn’t really understand your response. You stated this was a pro-Islam blog so I understand you personally don’t have a criticism of Islam, but do you feel there could exist a safe and rational discussion to debate the merits of the Islam theology outside of racial stereotyping?

    Thirdly and last! Do you personally believe it is possible to dislike some of the tenets of the theology of Islam without being Islamaphobic or racist or is this just simply impossible?

    Thanks for your thoughtful posts and responses, I apologize if any of my questions come across as dumb, I am just trying to educate myself and get your perspective. Cheers.

    1. Hello, thanks for your comment and questions. I will do my best to answer your questions and I hope they clarify my points better.

      1. No, recognizing Islamophobia as state racism does not lessen nor diminish the impact that both Muslim and non-Muslim people of color experience. We live in a time where over 2,000 Palestinians – the majority of whom are Muslim – can be murdered without the world lifting a finger. We live in a time where Muslims in the west are profiled, detained, spied upon, discriminated against, victimized by hate crimes, police brutality, and vandalism. Meanwhile, Muslims in Muslim-majority countries are murdered by drones, military invasions and occupations, tortured in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. Islamophobia – the demonization of Islam and Muslims – works to justify these oppressive policies and wars, not to mention perpetuate the notion that Muslims are less than human.

      Anti-Mormonism as racism doesn’t work because institutionalized oppression against Mormons does not exist. The majority of Mormons are white and there is no such thing as institutionalized oppression against white people. Mormons are not constructed as a racialized “other” that is perceived as threatening to the state.

      2. It depends on what you mean by criticizing the theology of Islam. If people argue that Islam teaches violence, for example, then, yes, that is racist because we have to look at the context of the world in which we live and how such an attitude is (1) already perpetuated in mainstream media, and (2) how such stereotypes and statements are used to justify oppressive and violent actions against Muslims. I have seen many scenarios where people criticize Islam in ways that are not racist. I have had Christian friends, for example, who told me that they respect Muhammad (peace be upon him), but cannot recognize him as a Prophet for theological reasons. I don’t watch these videos anymore nor do I engage in such debates, but I remember watching some religious/theological debates between Christian and Muslim scholars and the debate is very respectful, despite the differences.

      We have to be conscious of the context because we live in a time where the mainstream discourse on Islam *is* racist. We rarely, if ever, see positive representations of Islam and Muslims in the media. When people want to criticize Islam, I ask them to take a moment and ask, “Why do you want to criticize Islam” instead of engaging in interfaith work, for example? Why do you want to criticize Islam instead of engaging with the community, meeting and befriending Muslims, and learning about the faith first? It’s very possible to respect people’s beliefs without resorting to demonizing someone’s faith.

      3. Regardless of how well-intentioned people are, I don’t think it is possible to dislike Islam without disliking the people who follow it. If, for example, someone were to tell a Muslim friend that they “dislike how Islam doesn’t allow you to drink alcohol,” some Muslims may find that very condescending and disrespectful. I know I would find it condescending. Islamophobia exists because Islam is not seen as a religion – as something personal and spiritual to 1.5 billion people in the world – instead, it is seen as a violent, uncivilized, and barbaric force that threatens the western civilization. I think it would be useful to ask, have you ever thought about asking the same question about Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and other religions in the world? What drives people to want to criticize something that is sacred in the heart and being of another person? I feel that people tend to focus too much on wanting to criticize Islam that they never stop to ask “why” they want to nor do they consider what they get out of it.

      I have Catholic friends who engage in religious practices that I don’t participate in, but they are practices that I respect. I don’t feel threatened by their beliefs, so I don’t have any desire nor do I see any purpose in criticizing their faith. I don’t follow any other religion because the tenets of those faiths are not what I believe, but it doesn’t mean I dislike their faith or can’t respect the people who follow them.

      I hope this response helps answer your questions.

      1. I really appreciate your thorough and thoughtful response, I will digest this and consider your questions. Thank you!

  23. @ the author Are you really deleting comments because you don’t agree with what people are saying? I was enjoying the debates I was reading (both sides of the argument) until a couple of them were rudely cut off by censorship.

    Eg. “Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because you arrogantly persist in making “reverse racist” and “flying carpet” fallacies.”

    It is so important that people hear the views that they don’t agree with in order to question why they believe the things that they do.By censoring arguments which you deem ‘inappropriate’ you’re shooting yourself in the foot by not allowing your own views and arguments to develop.Perhaps you don’t think they need to?

    Not everyone has to view the world in the same way that you do. You lecture people on peaceful cohabitation and tolerance and you can’t even let people have their say on a blog?

    “Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” Rosa Luxemburg

    Don’t post your views on the internet if you can’t take criticisms, it is ridiculously inevitable, no matter topic what you’re discussing.

    1. 1.) This blog post was written in 2011. Over the years, I have received the same type of “counter-arguments” against the points I addressed in the post. Most of the responses, as you can see above, are bigoted and racist. In my comment policy, I make it clear that accusations of “reverse racism” will not be tolerated because it is a racist response. I have addressed this countless times on my blog, as well as linking to blog posts and videos that explain why arguments about “reverse racism” are so ridiculous. A simple google search can help you understand this. Also, I wrote an entire post on “the flying carpet fallacy,” which you can also google search. Why am I going to waste my time and re-explain these fallacies to people when I’ve already written about them?

      2.) When you state it’s important to “hear different views,” what views are you referring to exactly? The other “view” with regard to this topic (of Islamophobia being racist) is that Islamophobia is *not* racist, therefore permissible and acceptable. This post was not written for the purpose of seeking validation. Like many Muslims, unfortunately, Islamophobia and racism are experiences that we *live.* This is not a topic that is “up for debate.” This concerns our humanity, our dignity, our lives. I can confidently say that the vast majority of Muslims will not think it’s acceptable for people to say, “I hate Islam, but not Muslims.” That’s absurd and a ridiculous attempt to perpetuate Islamophobia. And that is dangerous. Hopefully you can see this danger in the recent murders in Chapel Hill, or in the Gurdwara massacre (where the killer thought he was murdering Muslims), or in the countless hate crimes and wars that have targeted Muslims (and those who are perceived to be Muslim).

      3.) “Not everyone has to view the world in the same way that you do.” Where did I say in my post that I expected everyone to view the world the way I do? Projecting much? This post is not about me. It’s about the very real racialization and demonization of Islam and Muslims.

      4.) I suggest you read the following post about safe space: Dictating on how I should moderate my blog is extremely condescending and problematic, not to mention hypocritical to the values about freedom that you expressed.

      5.) You wrote: “Don’t post your views on the internet if you can’t take criticisms, it is ridiculously inevitable, no matter topic what you’re discussing.” Please scroll up and read the genocidal comments that were made against me and Muslims. I didn’t block those comments; I allowed them to get published. Is this the kind of “criticism” that I should tolerate? I didn’t see you speak out against it. Instead, you are more upset about the comments that I’m deleting? Where is your outrage over the person who said that all Muslims need to be executed?

      I recently had to deal with an Islampohobic stalker who kept changing his name and IP address so that he could keep commenting here (and he is by no means the first Islamophobic stalker I’ve had to deal with). Then he wrote me an e-mail and told me that he wished for me to “get hit by a van.” Forgive me if that’s the kind of “criticism” I choose to delete.

  24. People are free to reject Islam and be open about it, regardless of whether Muslims like it or not. It is not necessarily Islamophobia, it is just their choice. Phobias are compulsive, a choice can be based on sound arguments and experience. At the same time the feelings of Muslim people should be respected. It is very simple. You get what you give.

    1. Yes, nothing was said in this article about how people were not free to reject Islam. Islamophobia should not be seen merely as a “phobia,” but rather as a structural and systematic form of oppression. Homophobia is another term that needs to be understood within a systematic context. I’m glad we agree that all people should be respected.

  25. Great blog & 2 thumbs up. Ran across your page upon searching info on “Racialization of religion” after all the recent media attention regarding – Muslim teen Ahmed Mohamed.

  26. Dear Mast,

    This is a terrific article. It’s clear, precise and simply understood. I applaud the way you dealt with the comments section. I think many of the responses were truly revelatory about the nature of the racist opposition, and some of the comments were just vile. I live in Australian where anti-Islam groups like ‘Reclaim Australia’ and the ‘United Patriots Front’ are making it particularly difficult for Muslims to go about living normal lives, unmolested. There is even a large opposition to Halal-certification for food, as they see it as an ‘Islamic-tax’, regardless of the fact it has been proven that certification actually makes the product cheaper because of how much bigger the global market gets. I recently spoke at a Ted X event at the Sydney Opera House, and I now wish I had read this article before writing my speech. I hope you get a chance to watch it. Although it has many Australianisms and is centred on the Australian experience, I think it corresponds to yours.

    Best wishes,

    1. Salaam Abdul,

      I am so sorry for not responding to your comment. I saw your comment earlier and meant to watch your video, but got caught up in my busy semester and other obligations. I finally watched your Ted Talk and was really moved. I’ve had similar thoughts over the years and can relate to your experiences, especially after 9/11. Thank you for sharing such a powerful video.

      1. No problem! Thanks for watching it. You’re a terrific writer. I am currently undergoing a Masters by Research and I will be sure to reference this article.

  27. Unfortunately the fallacy at play here is false authority (at least in the comments). Enjoyed the article but can’t believe the arrogance of the comment responses!

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