Should You Be Islamophobic?

By Robin Schumacher

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Originally posted at The Christian Post

Current news headlines are filled with examples of Islamic-inspired violence and terror, with CNN recently reporting that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) killed 270 in an attack in central Syria. Moreover, ISIS is also moving through Iraq with a "convert or die" campaign, which is forcing Christians and other faiths to flee their homes.

Hamas openly continues to pursue their goal, which is the extinction of the Jewish people.

In addition, the world community raised its voice a few months ago to protest Sudan's death sentence on Meriam Ibrahim, a pregnant Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith and convert to Islam. Though she suffered many hardships, thankfully she has recently become free, unlike many of the 200+ girls kidnapped by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram (whose name means "Western or non-Islamic education is a sin").

These and other episodes, piled on top of the 9-11 Islamic-inspired attacks on the United States, lead many to strongly resist and greatly fear the religion of Islam — a condition that some have labeled "Islamophobia", which has been defined as a prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim.

Given recent events, as well as a longer look back through history, should you be Islamophobic?

Getting Started

Merriam-Webster defines a phobia as, "an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation". Those who point to Islamic-fueled terror attacks would argue that such a definition is flawed where Islam is concerned because there is nothing hard to explain about the events referenced above nor is it illogical to be worried that such episodes will continue or even grow in number.

However, that said, when looking at this and similar issues, caution should always be exercised upfront to ensure that the actions of a few are not confused with the beliefs/practices of the majority that make up a religion or worldview. To be specific where Islam is concerned, the question should be asked: do the majority of practicing Muslims participate in or condone the violence practiced by groups like ISIS?

As Saint Augustine said, a person should "never judge a philosophy by its abuse." As a case in point where Christianity is concerned, how many times have non-Christians attempted to use the Crusades or Spanish Inquisition to paint Christianity as a violent and/or controlling religion?

The point is, when examining this issue we need to do our best to free ourselves from emotions and assumptions, and instead examine the facts and core prescriptive teachings of a worldview. For example, atheists and secular thinkers are quite fond of routinely saying that religions like Christianity and Islam are responsible for nearly all the violence and wars that have been fought down through history.

There's just one problem with that assertion — it is completely false. According to Philip and Axelrod's three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history (up to 2004), only 123 of history's wars have a religious backbone, which means that 93% of all wars have been secular in nature.

Now what the author's data does show is that wars having an Islamic base make up over half of all religiously-inspired conflicts (66 up to 2004, the number of which would be higher today), leaving all other religions combined at 3%. Such a statistic does naturally lead to the question of why that might be.

Continue to Page Two

Image Credit: "Gareth Davies"; Creative Commons

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Published 8-13-14