Confronting Islamophobia

Verses like this convince them that all Muslims are ready to kill at will.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The same Qur'an speaks of justice and mercy. These are virtues by which any typical Muslim would try to live            .

In fact, there are so many verses that declare Allah to be "all-pardoning, ever-forgiving."

More worrisome is that Islamophobia conveniently overlooks the fact that Muslims themselves are the first victims of the Marawi siege. They are called evacuees.

How then do we respond?

In the final analysis, Islamophobia lives off the same reality that Islamic extremism does: uncompromising hatred.

What fuels both is ignorance. Both are ignorant that Islam as a religion has so much depth. Both are ignorant that there are many other peace-loving Muslims out there.

And yet the bigger danger of Islamophobia is that not many might realize that they perpetuate it. People, in other words, are bothered by terrorism but not by their ignorance of Islam. In this sense, terrorists have achieved their goal.

But all is not lost.

Swami Tyagananda, a Hindu monk, offers a nugget of wisdom. For him, it is "difficult to hate a religion when you personally know that warm, intelligent, and considerate people practice it."

In my view, interreligious understanding does not seek that we give up our own faith. It simply asks us to recognize that there are people from the other side of the fence whose goodwill emanates from their own religious convictions.

We can work with these people to build a better world in which hatred – not religion – becomes irrational.

It is to them we must muster all the courage and humility to say peace be with you – assalamu alaikum. –

Jayeel Serrano Cornelio, PhD is the Director of the Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University. The National Academy of Science and Technology has named him the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist in the field of sociology. Share with him your thoughts on Twitter @jayeel_cornelio.

Jayeel Cornelio

Jayeel Cornelio, PhD is Associate Professor and the Director of the Development Studies Program at the Ateneo de Manila University. A sociologist of religion, he is a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology. He i...