You might have heard this term casually thrown around by apologists and these so-called left-wing liberals. Whoever invented this term probably didn't know the difference between Islam and Muslims. Islam is a religion and Muslims are its followers.
Let’s look at what ‘phobia’ means.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” This means any fear that has irrational reasons behind it. For example, you can be an ophidiophobe and have an irrational fear of snakes. You live in the cities where you are highly unlikely to see a snake, yet you are always afraid of them and thinking about those creeps slithering all over you when you are sleeping. You can be an ophidiophobe living in New Zealand, a country with no snakes. You can walk in the parks, mountains or streets and you will never see a snake, yet you are terribly concerned about being bitten by one. Now that is an irrational fear!
I live in Australia where there are quite a lot of snakes yet I have never seen one outside of a zoo, and since I am not an ophidiophobe, I live my life without worrying about a snake biting me. This does not mean I won’t be afraid of one if I see one coming towards me. If I am walking in the bush and I encounter a snake, should I just keep walking towards the snake or even poke it with my hands? That would be absolutely stupid because the snake will bite me and I should fear its bite, but that would be a perfectly rational reason not to poke it. I should be afraid of the snake but fearing snakes is not as same as being an ophidiophobe.
Now, let’s talk about Islamophobia. By definition, it means having an irrational fear of Islam. The moment you criticise Islam, you are automatically labelled an Islamophobe. One of the admins of my Facebook page is a woman. Any woman should be afraid of Islam as it encourages the beating of disobedient wives at the hands of their husbands. Now, fearing this particular teaching of Islam is not irrational. Would you want to be beaten by your spouse? I am guessing any sane person would say, “NO!” so you have to criticise the ideology that condones it. This doesn’t make you a phobe, it makes you legitimately and reasonably afraid of this ideology.
To make matters worse from the Islamic point of view, CV, the admin of my page, is also a homosexual. Homosexuality is a terrible sin in Islam and if the person doesn’t change, they should be killed. Should she be afraid of Islam? After all, this ideology wants her dead! Can anyone explain to me how her fear of Islam is irrational? I don’t think anyone can, so she is not an Islamophobe.
If she had not been born in a Muslim country to Muslim parents, she would not be afraid of revealing her identity on the internet. Her fear of Islam is perfectly rational and even though she lives in a Western country, she is still afraid of Islamists who would label her a sinful, atheist, homosexual ex-Muslim woman and might try to kill her.
I am a Pakistani ex-Muslim living in Australia. I am also afraid of Islam because it promotes the killing of apostates no matter where they are. Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar is based in Sydney and was recorded secretly teaching his followers to kill all ex-Muslims; any one who takes his message seriously, could one day knock on my door and try to kill me. Now I am afraid of Islam, is this rational or irrational? In September 2018, I debated him and he was reluctant to admit it publicly but after a lot of dodging and weaving, my persistence beat his resistance and admitted he believed apostates like me should be killed. You can watch the clip here:
The fear of Islam is real and any sane person should be afraid of it and its teachings. Islamophobia, on the other hand, is a phoney term and has no basis whatsoever. Anti-Muslim bigotry, however, is a totally legitimate claim. In my view, in fact, anti-Muslim bigotry is rising. We should use correct terms to describe a legitimate problem so we can have the right solutions. The term Islamophobia is used by Islamists to shut down any critique of Islam which should be perfectly fine.
Calling someone an Islamophobe is simply fatuous. If I simply say I don’t like RNB music because it may have some violent lyrics, then by this logic I should be an RNBophobe, or a footballophobe if I just don’t like football. If you are trying to define hatred towards Muslims then the term should be Muslimophobia or anti-Muslim bigotry, not Islamophobia.
So next time, if anyone calls you an Islamophobe, you can shut them down very simply;
“This ideology promotes violence against homosexuals, apostates and women, this is why I criticise it. This makes me afraid of Islam, not an Islamophobe.”
Harris Sultan is an author of a book "The Curse of God - Why I left Islam". Harris is also running for the Senate from Victoria under Secular Party of Australia.