Of Islamophobia and Islamic Terrorism

Like millions of people, one of my hobbies is to spend my day binging on YouTube videos. While others may watch funny viral videos, cooking shows or make-up tutorials, my playlist usually comprise of science-themed videos. From popular channels like Vsauce and Kurzgesagt to lesser-known ones like Joe Scott, their videos satisfy my curiosity regarding life, universe and everything.

If you tick the Autoplay option on the top right corner of YouTube, it will lead you to videos that is related to the one you were watching. More often than not, my autoplay leads me to videos that are made by staunch atheist YouTubers. Personally, even as a Muslim myself, I have no problem with atheists. I have no problem with atheism. In fact, I even subscribed to their channels because I enjoy watching their videos.

However, they’re not atheist YouTubers for nothing. Most of the time, they make it clear who they are with videos that are critical to religions in general and/or specific religions. It goes without saying that Islam doesn’t escape their radar and their usual points of contention are mostly regarding ISIS, Sharia laws and immigration.

Now how would one expect a Muslim like me to react to what can be considered as an anti-Islam video? Even moderate Muslims take the slightest insult against Islam seriously.

How I react to these videos, in spite of my cultural and religious backgrounds, is that I don’t blame them.

At the end of the day, no matter how many times Muslims would argue and say that Islam is a religion of peace, the actions of a number of people claiming to be Muslims will influence how Islam is seen to the world. Never mind how we’re gonna argue they’re not real Muslims because real Muslims don’t do those horrific act, what matters here is action speak louder than words and what actions done in the name of Islam have been unfortunate.

Now while I do not blame the sentiment of these people due to the circumstances of the world today, I have to disagree with what they’re doing. In fact, what are they doing anyway?

Nothing is ever done for nothing. Everything usually have motives attached with them, an agenda to fulfill and I watched enough videos to more or less see what they’re trying to convey.

Essentially, according to these videos, Islam is primitive, Islam is violent, Muslims should leave Islam and become atheist or something else that doesn’t involve too much beheading. If you’re a peaceful Muslim, you’re not following your religion right. I get it, I’ve read the comments. I’ve seen the ex-Muslims cheering for these videos. However, it makes things a lot more complicated for everyone.

Here’s why Islamic terrorism is a thing, coming from a Muslim. Islamic culture around the world are very, very, VERY into the end of days deal. To most Muslims, any minute now, the big bad Dajjal (Islam’s take on the Anti-Christ) will appear and lead everyone to Hell, literally. Much like how whenever a new U.S. president is elected some Christians would ask if this is the Anti-Christ, Muslims do the same thing. Difference is, a lot more Muslims buy into this end of the world narrative than their Christian counterpart and EVERYTHING is the Dajjal to them.

Despite numbering at 1.6 billion out of 7.5 billion people on Earth, thanks to this Apocalypse narrative, many still feel that they’re the victims. The David to the Goliath that is the rest of the world. Us against Them mentality. Mainstream Islamic media would like to believe that there is a hidden agenda against them. Gays are not people who just want to love members of the same sex, they’re literally Satan’s tool to corrupt Muslims specifically! The Jews are behind the media trying to destroy Islam! The end of days are upon us! We have to do something about it!

And that something just so happens to be Islamic terrorism. It is horrific and unfortunate, but that is how things are. The end of days is near, temptation and trial is at every corner and you have to do something drastic to be ensured that you’re one of Heaven’s residents. That is what all terrorists believe in. All these insults against Islam, criticism on Mohammed and discrimination against Muslims, they all feed into the victim complex narrative that’s going on. The more Muslims feel victimized, the more likely they turn to extremism.

Now I’m not trying to censor anyone from insulting or criticizing Islam. After all, I too believe in free speech. What I’m trying to say here is that Islamophobia, no matter how justified it is (and believe me I know you’re scared, I am too), doesn’t help combat Islamic extremism.

As for a viable solution to end extremism, it’s complicated. If it was so simple, the war on terror would’ve ended years ago and none of us would have to deal with Islamic terrorism. But what is certain is that people who are making their Islamophobia obvious are not helping to end it.

Muslims like me do not care very much if we’re insulted or criticized because we know why and where this animosity is coming from. We read the news too. In fact, we don’t like Islamic extremism either and are actively trying to end it by educating our fellow brethren. But whenever Muslims are discriminated against one way or another, it just fuels the fire that is Islamic terrorism. Islamophobia, no matter how justified, is not making it any easier for anyone, only worse.