Islamophobia (prejudice against Islam and Muslims) is on the rise. We see negative media coverage attempting to tie Islam with terrorism almost daily.
Innocent Muslims are being targeted due to Islamophobia. We see it happening all the time on public transport, in shopping centres, restaurants and cafes. Even at the masajid (mosques)! Not only with verbal abuse but sometimes physical as well.
So what’s a Muslim to do? What are the best ways to deal with bullying? How can you keep your cool while also making sure you stay safe?
Below are 11 tips on how to deal with Islamophobia.
Look For Guidance In The Qur’an
Islamophobia is nothing new. Allah even mentions it in Surah Ali ‘Imran in the Qur’an.
You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination. Qur’an 3:186
We are promised that we will definitely hear hurtful things from non-Muslims. Allah tests us in the forms of good and bad.
Understand that getting hate is, unfortunately, just part of being a Muslim. It hasn’t changed over 1400 years ago and it will never change.
Why don’t we ask ourselves, are we being grateful for all of the good that has been granted to us despite Islamophobia? Do we allow the hate that we receive from the media and from strangers to get to us?
Are we turning away from the deen (religion of Islam) because of negative reactions from people, or are we using these reactions to draw nearer to Allah?
Do we react with patience or impatience?
Follow The Example Of Prophet Muhammad (Peace And Blessings Be Upon Him)Just because he was a messenger of Allah doesn’t mean that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t deal with his share of Islamophobia. We can certainly gain a lot by following from his behaviour.
I love this hadith (record of things said or done by Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) about the incident where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was interrupted during his salah (obligatory prayer) by his haters. In the worst way. His reaction though was brilliant.
Narrated `Abdullah bin Mas`ud:
Once the Prophet (ﷺ) was offering prayers at the Ka`ba. Abu Jahl was sitting with some of his companions. One of them said to the others, “Who amongst you will bring the Abdominal contents (intestines, etc.) of a camel of Bani so and so and put it on the back of Muhammad, when he prostrates?” The most unfortunate of them got up and brought it. He waited till the Prophet (ﷺ) prostrated and then placed it on his back between his shoulders. I was watching but could not do any thing. I wish I had some people with me to hold out against them. They started laughing and falling on one another. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was in prostration and he did not lift his head up till Fatima (Prophet’s daughter) came and threw that (camel’s Abdominal contents) away from his back. He raised his head and said thrice, “O Allah! Punish Quraish.” So it was hard for Abu Jahl and his companions when the Prophet invoked Allah against them as they had a conviction that the prayers and invocations were accepted in this city (Mecca). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “O Allah! Punish Abu Jahl, `Utba bin Rabi`a, Shaiba bin Rabi`a, Al-Walid bin `Utba, Umaiya bin Khalaf, and `Uqba bin Al Mu’it [??] (and he mentioned the seventh whose name I cannot recall). By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr. Sahih al-Bukhari 240
Look at the way the situation was dealt with beautifully with utmost tawakkul (reliance on Allah). What could be worse than having camel entrails thrown on your back during salah? Imagine the concern he would have had for his daughter, who witnessed this incident.
Instead of letting frustration get the better of him and taking matters into his own hands, the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) left it to Allah (may He be glorified and exalted) to deal with Abu Jahl and his companions.
Subsequently, each one of their lives ended in the Battle of Badr and their bodies were dragged and thrown into a well.
Have Sabr (Patience)
Instead of looking at Islamophobia as something negative, look at it as something positive. Yes, you read that correctly.
Let me explain.
Dealing with unwarranted abuse from a stranger isn’t easy and can be a major test for most people. It can be pretty frightening. It can make your blood boil. But don’t forget that remaining patient during trials brings the true believer a great reward in the hereafter.
Look at it for what it is – a test from Allah.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” Sahih al-Bukhari 5645
Look at it as a golden opportunity to do good deeds.
Keep steadfast in your religion and prove the haters wrong. They want to see you react back.
Show them the true teachings of Islam. Prove to them that Muslims are actually really peaceful people and that the portrayal of us in the media is wrong.
They need to know that we mean well and would never want to hurt anybody.
The best way to convey these things are through our actions rather than our words.
Try To Avoid Travelling Alone
I’m going to be real here. The reason why some bullies who have Islamophobia tend to target Muslim women is that they perceive them to be weak.
They also prefer Muslims that are travelling on their own or sitting isolated somewhere.
You can avoid this by being with friends, family or sticking to areas with large crowds of people. This is especially important for women in order so that they to appear to be less vulnerable.
Sisters should strive to always travel with a male mahram (husband, grandfather, uncle, father, brother etc.) unless there is a necessity to not do so.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A woman should not travel except with a Dhu-Mahram (her husband or a man with whom that woman cannot marry at all according to the Islamic Jurisprudence), and no man may visit her except in the presence of a Dhu-Mahram.” A man got up and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I intend to go to such and such an army and my wife wants to perform Hajj.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), “Go along with her (to Hajj). Sahih al-Bukhari 1862
One of the best ways of dealing with Islamophobia in the form of verbal abuse is to try to minimise your reactions as much as possible. After all, that’s what the perpetrator is hoping for – a negative reaction. Don’t fall for it and give them what they want!
Take your attention off their words by focusing on something completely irrelevant.
You can try slowly counting to ten in your mind or directing your attention to a different person or an object nearby. Take note of its colour, shape, size, is it animate or inanimate etc. This will help you stay calm.
Try to avoid eye contact.
Remember to take deep breaths.
If you have headphones on you, you can start listening to a lecture on YouTube, a podcast, some Qur’an recitation, a nasheed (vocal song with percussion instrument) etc.
You can also try to focus on that ayah (verse of the Qur’an) or surah (chapter of the Qur’an) you’ve been trying to memorise for so long.
Don’t forget the power of dhikr (mentioning) as well. Repeat the phrase ‘la ilaha illallah’ (there is no god but Allah). The beauty of this particular dhikr is that you don’t need to move your lips to say it!
Just ignore them.
You have better things to spend your time and energy on than an ignorant stranger. They will see that they aren’t getting the reaction they were hoping for and move on.
Don’t Insult Them
If you feel you have to say something, keep it personal. Don’t make it about the hater. One of the worst things you can do is start insulting them back. This will only make the situation worse.
Say something like “I don’t have time for this” or “I’m not in the mood to give a reaction” and move away.
And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace Qur’an 25:63
What To Do When Things Get Dangerous
If someone is physically threatening you, make every effort to move toward an authority figure.
Some train stations have PSOs (protective services officers). If you are on a bus you can move towards the driver. See the security guard in a store if there is one. See a manager or a cashier. Get someone to remove the person from the premises.
Or if there is none of those options move towards a crowd of people. Safety is in strength in numbers.
What If Things Get Really Really Out Of Hand?Use self defence. Everyone has the right to protect themselves from harm. You also have the right to defend others with reasonable force if you see they are facing an imminent threat.
Call the police. Take note of everything you remember about the attacker. What were they wearing, how tall are they, what did they say, how did they attack, what led up to the incident etc.
Avoid sharing these details with others who witnessed the incident until you report it to the police.
Don’t Change Yourself
Be proud to be a Muslim. Never stop practicing your religion just because of negative reactions from some people.
As long as you are abiding by the laws of your country, you are minding your own business and you aren’t harming anyone, any form of hate or prejudice towards you because of your religion is completely unjustified.
In Australia, you have the right to exercise a legitimate religion (based on the High Court’s definition of a religion). Islam is one of those religions.
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. The Constitution Section 116
Don’t abandon your hijab (covering), or your beard, or your salah for anyone. Do you think that on the Day of Judgement, Allah (may He be glorified and exalted) is going to accept that?
We are all accountable for our own actions, regardless of what other people are saying or doing against you.
And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination. Qur’an 35:18
We are here to worship and obey Allah (may He be glorified and exalted).
Don’t Take Any Form Of Islamophobia Personally
Letting other people’s hate get to you is what you experience when you take your mind off your goal; when you take your mind off success not only in this world but in the hereafter as well.
At the end of the day, the number of Islamophobic people out there is very small. What you read online doesn’t necessarily reflect what people say in real life.
A lot of people couldn’t really care less about what religion you follow or how you look. As long as you respect them, they will see past it and respect you.
Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
There are plenty of people out there who will love you regardless of what other people think. Cherish these people.
Preparation Is KeyWhen dealing with verbal and physical abuse in the form of Islamophobia, it’s crucial to always be prepared.
Have strategies in place before heading out of the house. You could even take up self defence classes as a way to protect yourself.
Plan your trip – will you be alone or with a group? Is there likely to be crowds of people around? Will there be figures of authority around?
There’s no need to be in a state of constant anxiety and paranoia. But with these preparations in place you can minimise the risk of getting into confrontations with strangers and avoid being in danger.