Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Charge of Islamophobia: Intolerance or Something More Problematic?


Have you ever heard the term, "Islamophobia?"  The other day I was viewing this website article discussing how there is a growing number of states that are not going to allow any sharia laws to be taken to the courts in their states. The Commonwealth of Virginia and others states were listed has a having passed legislation or on the verge of passing laws to keep sharia out of their law books.
Of course this incited an advocacy group for Islam called CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations). This group makes it their case to find out who is being intolerant to Muslims and the cause of Islam in this culture.  From their website we see, that CAIR has a department "to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia monitors the groups and individuals behind anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States."[1]

But what is Islamophobia? According to their website, "Islamophobia is close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims."  Islamophobic acts are those acts that are directed at Muslims in general, and an Islamophobe is an individual who holds a close minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims.

Thankfully the website does say that CAIR does not think it is appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes. (Phew!)  I am glad to see this! But the caveat is that, "it is not Islamophobic to denounce crimes committed by individual Muslims or those claiming Islam as a motivation for their actions.[2] (Whoa, it is not Islamophobic when a Muslim commits a crime?)

So the question stands, if one challenges or does not accept Islam as a credible worldview, are they "Islamophobic?" Or if one does not agree with the implementation of sharia law mixed in with the rule of law of an autonomous government, is that person Islamophobic? CAIR did call the states rejecting sharia laws in the courts as Islamophobic.  

Let me turn the accusation by CAIR on its head. Is this accusation by CAIR upon those states intolerant? Or is it something else? This is what I would like to address as the real issue.

Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together

In order to give a response to this issue, I would like to address three pieces of this puzzle that will show bankrupt of a picture this presents with the accusation.  

Piece #1: It is not a matter of tolerance.

This is bigger than the tolerance issue or the pushing of the "new tolerance" that has happened over the last twenty plus years. Prior to the push for "political correctness," tolerance used to mean as follows: suppose that I disagree with you, or your choices about your ideas, lifestyle or worldview. True tolerance says "I still respect you as a person" in spite of your ideas, lifestyle or worldview. 

Notice the key words, "in spite of" and how there is respect for the PERSON and not their thinking or their actions. We don't have to accept the action, but we can still continue to respect the person as one created in God's image. 

Now, push ahead to the liberal speak, and the socio-evolution of the definition of "tolerance." Today's definition demands the affirming and accepting the differences between people, even theological ones, and making it the primary goal not to "offend" anyone.  In practical terms, this means people who believe in true truth must keep quiet about their convictions, so as not to offend others despite a person's ideas, lifestyle, or worldview. 

This new definition still continues to wreak havoc in our culture today manifesting the damage in a plethora of court cases coming down on Christian businesses (private and corporate) which do not affirm the new cultural definitions of family, and marriage, life and death, and religion.  

But Islam takes this "tolerance" issue a step further and this is where the next piece of the puzzle rears another ugly part of the picture. 

Piece #2: The fault appeal to authority of Islam.

In order to understand the charge of "Islamophobia" one must understand the nature of Islam itself.  Many people still seem to think that the word "Islam" means "peace." Islam does not mean peace.  Islam is a monotheistic religion that is characterized by the doctrine of absolute submission to God and the reverence of the prophet Muhammad as the final prophet of God. One who is a follower of Islam is a Muslim.  

It would be foolish to follow a religion if one did not believe it. This is the case with the Muslim, who believes that Islam is the true religion, Muhammad is the final prophet and that the Qur'an is the final "word of God."[3] The pillars of Islam are obligatory to the Muslim follower, and if they are obligatory to the Muslim who believes their religion is the only true religion and way of life, then they are also obligated to seek the conversion of the whole world to their faith. 

It is one thing to say that one's religion is true. After all what is the sense of believing it, if it is not.  If  it is true and can be defended as true, like historical Christianity, then it is worth believing and worth inviting those to check it out and embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.

But Islam is different. Islam demands the obedience of the Muslim who in turn demands those outside the Muslim faith to be obedient to the five (or six) pillars of Islam; and that demand is one which does not allow investigation, only blind loyalty to the prophet. The rationale by the Muslim is that Islam is true, because they believe the Qur'an and the Prophet to be the final authority. This is a faulty appeal to authority.[4]   

So how is Islam promoted and forced in a society? Islam is forwarded through the means of taqiyya and various forms of sharia. The former is the Islamic principle of lying for the cause of Islam and the sake of Allah.  But here is where the latter sharia comes in one of many forms.

Piece #3: The nature of sharia law.

When a Muslim comes to America, they come with their geo-political understanding that Islam is the only way for them. I experienced this, when we lived in Upstate NY one day, when our downstairs neighbor told me that I could not walk around our upstairs apartment because the floors creaked when he was conducting his afternoon salat.  After a few cordial words back and forth, he understood that this was America, and that sharia "law" only applied to the downstairs apartment but not our upstairs apartment.

Muslims come to this country with the same mindset, that sharia (the law of the Qur'an) is their only way of life.  But it does not mix in an autonomous culture, that is a "government for the people and by the people."  For anyone to disagree with that is seen as an act of intolerance toward Islam, otherwise known as "Islamophobic." 

Simply stated there is a wide divide in the worldviews of the West with the Islamic worldview.  That conflict which Islam has with the West is seen from its desire to have a say with a goal of having the final say, in the American culture with its laws and its way of life. 

One cannot pluralize[5] ideas and expect them to be the same. And the problem is that Islam will never get along in a pluralized cultures like America and the West are becoming, unless it implements the violent form of sharia to eradicate the relativism in truth claims and morals. To go against Islam's ways is what CAIR calls "Islamophobic." And it is an ideological mess that we can thank the liberalism for in this culture.


If you eradicate absolute truth from a culture, you are left with a vacuum. The first wave came in the form of relativism in truth claims and morals. The accusation of intolerance opened up the door for other charges, like CAIR's accusation of Islamophobia.

But the charge of Islamophobia brings with it a different mood than the regular charge of intolerance. Islamophobia brings a worldview that commits the faulty appeal to authority that it and it alone is the final word on God, morals and religion.

We need to not confuse these two charges. Both are problematic from a worldview scale, because each of them are an affront to the biblical worldview. This is all the more reason to be firm in our faith, and in our knowledge of the Word of God. We need, more than ever before, to be apologists and incorporate apologetic training in our churches in order to combat the ideologies in our culture.  

Islamophobia is not a charge we should shrink from. We need to know what is under the veneer of the charge and peel it down layer by layer and witness to the Muslim with the firmness of the truth, and love of Christ. 

Thank you for engaging this posting. If you have any questions, please comment below or email them to 




[3] The five pillars of Islam are the the declaration (shahadah), prayer five times a day facing Mecca (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (sawm) during Ramadan, and the pilgrimage (hadj) to the Kabba if one can afford it during their life.  Some add a sixth pillar, jihad, which assists in the moving the cause of Islam forward in a culture.

[4]  An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.
Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.
However, the informal fallacy occurs only when the authority cited either (a) is not an authority, or (b) is not an authority on the subject on which he is being cited. If someone either isn’t an authority at all, or isn’t an authority on the subject about which they’re speaking, then that undermines the value of their testimony. (see:
[5] Pluralization is a mood that states that there are a competing number of worldviews in a culture and no one worldview is dominant.

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