Anti-Islamism and the Danger of Conservative Islam
We are living in a difficult period of the world history, especially for the Muslims. We can blame ignorance for the growing anti-Islamism in the western world. Yet, we are missing some other vital factors if we only blame none-Muslim ignorance toward Islam as the sole cause of the issue. There are groups of Muslims also responsible by adding the fuel to the flame. Religious fundamentalism, in its nature, does not have any open door for a rational progressive discussion. That is why it is called fundamentalism. I do not believe there should be one and only one interpretation of a religion. People should be allowed to ask a question and find what creates a better environment for them. However, if our message somehow is carried through intolerance, then we should pay attention to the alarm. Any belief that promotes fanaticism can start a dangerous fire, which will burn everyone not just the particular group.
I have seen the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Europe and that concerns me. Because it not only does not help to resolve the preexisting hatred against Muslims, but it sets a precedent for the anti-Islamists to push more and to discriminate more. While the hate crime against Muslim is growing day by day, especially in the U.S., such fanatic beliefs can and will put more Muslims’ lives in danger. I need to make it clear that by fundamentalism in Islam, I do not mean the beliefs similar to terrorist groups, like ISIS or Al-Qaeda. The fundamentalism, which I am referring to, is the kind of belief that cannot accept the equality of men and women, the belief that is extremely xenophobic, bigoted and misogynist. This kind of radical thinking gives enough reason to ignorant haters and makes it harder to fight in a battle that it seems we have already lost. The other participants to the problem, are some new, mostly white westerners, who have converted to Islam through the conservative Muslim groups. I prefer to call them misguided new believers.
Islam is a pretty complicated religion because its religious nature is combined with some cultural phenomena. That is why Islam in Egypt presents some different features than Islam in Iran, or Saudi Arabia or Syria. Basically, every single Muslim country characterizes as not as quite like the other Muslim countries. The complexity does not end here. There are local perspectives of the religion, which are not similar to each other in many cases. For instance, Kurds in Iran do not participate in the religion as Baloch people or Lurs or Gilaks. How to practice the religion and what to believe or not to believe partially is affected by historical and cultural prospects of each tribe. Besides, Islam itself is not just two branches of Shia or Sunni. Each of these two divides into several other branches. For instance, Shia divides into 83 branches, which are different from each other. Now imagine a newcomer who converts to Islam through a mosque with no knowledge about its background. He or she will not only convert to Islam but will also adopt the cultural, historical and beliefs, which are significant to that particular Muslim group. It is not alarming if the mosque is suggesting a liberal or progressive belief that allows the new believers to read, to think, to ask and then accept what is most significant to them. However, since there are a handful of fundamentalist groups in Europe and the U.S., some newcomers have been attracted to the conversion that promotes bigotry and intolerance. As a result, when they try to represent their new religion in their western family/community, the representation generates more hate against the entire Muslim community who have not participated in any of this.
I have seen some of these new believers in Germany, and I found them even more conservative than my conservative Iranian Muslims. The problem is, Muslim conservatives, many of them, know what it really means conservatism. On the other hand, I realized many of these new Muslims have no clue what it means to be conservative. They are extremely confused between their life as white Christian westerner and white Muslim westerner. They have adopted a lifestyle, which is not theirs and since they are pushing it too hard to fit in, has created some extremely misguided beliefs that in my opinion can be very dangerous. It can get even worse when the newcomer with such confused belief is an educator. Such individual can not only poison many brains through his or her career, but he or she can also create more hatred against Muslims, by promoting the kind of Islam, which did not carry the real nature of the religion at the first place.