Activism & Civil Rights Community Domestic Affairs Video

Confronting Islamophobia

This was a joint session at the UK Islamophobia Conference in Birmingham April 2011.

Muslema Purmul: “Islamophobia Within”
Jamaal Diwan: “Dealing with Islamophobes”
Abdel Rahman Mussa “What is Shariah”

About the author

Muslema Purmul

Muslema Purmul

Shaykha Muslema Purmul was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and raised in San Diego, California. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in the Study of Religion and a Bachelor’s in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California at San Diego. She was a scholarship student with the Islamic American University and participated in the International Union of Muslim Scholars “Future Scholars Program” in 2008/2009. She has completed the Bachelor’s degree program in the College of Shari`ah at al-Azhar University in Cairo. Currently, she is a busy new mom and gives weekly classes at the Islamic Center of Irvine.


  • Salamu alaykom,

    You are right in that we should not hide behind Islamophobia, or the other… that we should not conceal and deny our own short comings. This I agree with.

    But I don’t think that working to beautify how Islam is perceived in the West is a way of denying our short comings. Not at all.

    Let me ask a question: if we did not defend Islam politically, would we – by default – all of a sudden become better Muslims, would we all of a sudden hold ourselves to account ?

    I believe not.

    Why can we not be strong on both fronts ?! Why must we weaken one hand in order to strengthen the other ?

    Those with ‘political brilliance’, as you put it, are doing what they are good at. It is up to those with other forms of brilliance to step up. It’s that simple.

    I do contend to how you allude that ‘Orthodox islamic theology’ is not the same as ‘political Islam’. I even contend that there is such a thing as ‘political Islam’ !! What was the prophet (pbuh) doing when he sent letters to Heracules, to Egypt, to the Persians ?!

    What was the constitution of Medina and all the bands within it pertaining to the structure of society and the defending of each communities rights… if not politics ?

    And so if what the prophet came with was political Islam, then what are you coming with ?

    Surely, you can see the comprehensiveness of this balanced religion.

    Are you suggesting that we should not rally for a demonstration because people don’t pray at mosques ? Surely, this is as absurd as asking people not to fast Ramadan because they don’t pray fajr ?

    Comprehensiveness. If we lack balance then add weight to that part that is frail and light… don’t take away from the part that is heavy.

    … just adding more food to the dinner table here 🙂

    Don’t worry.

    • Please don’t misunderstand my post. First of all I didn’t actually write it, neither have I met Imam Luqman Ahmed, the author of the blog. I don’t agree with all of his points – I should have made that clear in my first post.

      His view is from an Imam who witnesses the effects of these events on his congregation. I simply meant to post his view on here because I think he is a representation of a credible view in the American-Muslim landscape that doesn’t really get many ears.

      What I took from the article was that if we should perhaps think about ourselves before worrying about everyone else. For example, does it help that our youth have a similar view of Islam as many Islamophobes? Of course, everyone is responsible for their own actions, but I agree with him is that we cannot lose focus on the fact that by practicing Islam, therefore being good neighbors, etc. etc., we will change more lives and change the minds of the people who can finally learn what true Islam is – a multli-cultural mass of many differing opinions.

      I disagree with him on other points, for example where he says “Political Islam and the well financed political islamic strategists and organizations in the United States, do more in my opinion, to victimize and demoralize Muslim Americans, than any of our domestic antagonists.” That is a very blanket statement, and throughout the article, Imam Luqman seems to rule out the idea that we need any sort of representation on the political spectrum at all. I don’t agree with that.

      We need to defend our faith in the political spectrum and stand up for our rights in this country. But I think what he highlights is the fact that there is now a disproportionate amount of attention in the Muslim community towards Islamophobia. If some, and I say some, the time and money was spent, say, on promoting youth programs, that would have a direct effect on helping nourish new Muslim leaders who would, inevitably, become part of the American political landscape anyways.

      In the end, it boils down to priorities. I think the main question raised by the article is whether we have our priorities straight?

      • T Hoss,

        I agree with you then 🙂

        I’d like to add though, that with so many Muslims, if everyone was doing their part – we wouldn’t really need to prioritise.

        Prioritising is needed when you have a lack of resources – which I don’t think we do.

        We need to do BOTH of these things at the same time.


  • @T Hoss

    Jzk for sharing the article– it gives me an insight to the perspective that some members of the American Muslim community might have and that’s valuable alhamdulilah.

    I appreciate in the article masha Allah, the desire for the community to stop desperately trying to ‘prove themselves’ and how living Islam fully will have a far more profound impact.

    In reading the article though, I don’t know if using labels handed down to us by the media like “Political Islam” will actually help us analyze how best to serve our communities and bring them together. I also noticed a critique on CAIR wanting to share Ramadan with the American public on the site. Is that considered part of “Political Islam” or is it simply dawa, and having good character and manners with our neighbors as the Prophet (saw) encouraged?

    I welcome critical thought as important to the growth of our communities yet doing so in a way that builds and repairs is key.

    Jazak Allah khair for sharing the link and engaging the discussion!

    • haha I now regret posting the article. I did not realize that it would cause controversy. I want to make it clear that it isn’t my blog, and that I don’t endorse all or even majority of Imam Luqman’s views. I posted that specific article because it was an opposing viewpoint which perhaps doesn’t get enough time in the Muslim community.

    • Also, the first sister talked about “Islamophobia” within. I think this sort of Islamophobia, or what ever you would like to call it, is what Imam Luqman was talking about. That is why I posted it – I saw what I thought was a similar viewpoint on the video and was refreshed because ti reminded of that article.

  • Some things can only make sense, if you approach it nonsensically. We say that we feel isolated, yet we stage isolated events, in the isolation of our masaajid, and invite an isolated group of dignitaries, for the purpose of ameliorating our sense of isolation. , Staging conspicuously choreographed iftaar buffets in our nations house of worship, (emphasis on worship) with the idea of projecting an isolated snapshot of Muslims practicing Islam ,for the purpose of influencing public perception and sentiment of Islam and Muslims in America, speaks volumes about who we are as American Muslims. I can’t think of any other religious or ethnic, group of people who exhibited this degree of obsession to improve their public image, or any to whom it mattered so much. I guess you can call that da’wah. However, I do not believe it is the kind of da’wah we want. Granted, it does say a lot about who we are a Muslim Americans. It says that we have serious unresolved issues. It does not in my view; represent an authentic portrayal of what Islam is as a faith. Thinking about it, it probably will get us some sympathy since by all accounts, it appears to be an act of desperation, especially during a month that is supposed to be dedicated to our Lord. After all, Americans are in general, soft hearted people. We do have a proclivity to champion the underdog. On the other hand, these are strange times we live in, and there might be some Americans who will go for it simply on the basis of its propaganda value. Allah knows best. Speaking as an American born Muslim, it simply breaks my heart. Imam Luqman Ahmad

  • Jazak Allah Khairan for sharing the link, and please don’t regret it! My feedback was more for some of the messages of the blog and not directed at you personally. I did take many positive points from the blog as well. Again, thanks so much for engaging and contributing to the discussion.

  • I would agree with Imam Luqman in his overall point: Da’wah is an authentic and sincere practice… it comes from the heart, and is not to be ‘staged.’

    As long as those who are at the forefront of da’wah understand this and continuously check their intentions, events such as Ramadan interfaith iftars can be beautiful and beneficial. However, too often it really is just trying to capture a specific snapshot of the ‘community’ and portray the broader Muslim community in light of that very isolated and specific snapshot.

    Instead, we should be demanding events that aim for genuine, sincere, tolerant and open-minded discussion with love and hikmah. That is what our da’wah should be, that is what we ourselves should strive to be in every circumstance, not just at da’wah events or while passing out a flyer.

    May Allah protect us and grant us wisdom. Ameen.

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