Back on March 1st, the College Republicans at UC Irvine displayed the controversial Mohammed cartoons on campus as part of a forum on Islamic Extremism and how to address it. This, of course, riled up the Muslims, who protested, but thank Allah, no jihad was announced. The Muslim Student Union’s Osman Umarji accused the evening program of inciting Islamophobia.
"They are discussing Islamic terrorism and how most Muslims are apologists for terror," Umarji said.
Now granted, we could use some balance to such messages about Islam, but quite honestly, the onus is on the ISLAMIC community to change it’s reputation in the west. You can call for fairness and balance, but that alone will not save Islam’s reputation – not while Muslims are killing people DAILY (200 killed, 250 critically injured this week alone). Here’s my recommendations to Muslims if they really want to combat Islamophobia
1. Develop and employ a sense of humor
That includes humor about your "holy prophet." Your version of your faith may be offended easily, but maybe you should follow the advice of the Jew Paul who said "love is not easily offended." If you can’t laugh at yourself, and endure ridicule, your spirituality is at best immature. You need to laugh at things other than beheadings.
2. Stop Protesting the Cartoons
The fact that you get bent out of shape about some cartoons or satire makes you look like CRAZY people, not holy people. Go out and protest against the atrocities of your extremist brothers if you really care about what is holy.
3. Don’t just condemn violence, condemn specific leaders by NAME and take action!
Just because some "moderate" Muslim leader verbally condemns violence or extremism means nothing – it’s just platitudes, thinly veiled marketing that fools no one in the west. We all believe that while you outwardly condemn violence, behind your back you are shaking hands with the extremists with a wink and a nod. And even when you do name names, we don’t believe you because talk is cheap. How about you encourage sanctions and military and criminal proceedings against these murderers? How about YOU take action against these wicked people?
4. Put forth a theology that separates state and religious power
Look, if your faith preaches that we must all live under Muslim law, you will never, never be rid of Islamophobia. You know why? Because history clearly shows that mixing the two leads to religious and political tyranny. Haven’t you ever heard of "absolute power corrupts absolutely"? How about separation of powers?
5. Learn and practice the difference between timeless truths and culture, between inward holiness and outward religiousness.
You can be modern and still be holy. You can be "in the world but not of it." Holiness is not what goes into your mouth in the form of food, but what comes OUT of your mouth in words, because words come from the place of true spirituality – the heart. Covering women doesn’t cure lust, purifying your own heart and resisting the lust in YOU is what cures lust. Modern music is not sinful, any more than modern language. It’s how and why you use it.
6. Make alliances with non-muslims who are also committed to peace.
Organizations like Persian Ministries International are interested in building bridges. You should do that too.