Islam in America

How the Prophet handled Islamophobia

Posted in America by hossamaljabri on March 3, 2011

Part2 : How the prophet dealt with Islamophobia

Similar to other prophets in the past (Moses, Jesus, others), and like some of us today, Prophet Muhammad PBUH was initially rejected, and faced “Islamophobia”. He was called call sorts of names:  كذاب ساحر كاهن مجنون   (Liar, Sorcerer, Magician, Crazy, …)[1]

(ps: the numbers in blue are footnotes, found at the end of the article)

The Meccans sent kids running after him throwing stones at Him – May Allah’s blessings be on Him.[2]

All Meccans started to call him “مذمم “ – “Muzamam”, which rhymes with Muhammad – a name which means : the ugly one, or the crazy one.  Everyone would call him this name. When he passes a crowd, they would say: Muzamam came .. or Muzamam went. This was very tough on the companions and believers who loved him so much, and who would sacrifice everything for him. Here is the most honorable man who walked the earth being called the worst of names. The prophet saw that this was so tough on the believers, so he would sooth them and say: “they are talking about another person. My name is Muhammad. They are talking about a man called Muzamam, not about me”. May Allah’s blessings and Mercy be upon you, oh prophet of Allah. [3]

They attacked his family, friends and companions. They imprisoned him and all of his tribe in (شعب أبو طالب). [4]

His own uncle Abu Lahab would follow him around Mecca. Whenever the prophet wanted to speak to someone about Islam, his uncle would interrupt and say: “look, he is my nephew; I know him very well; he is a crazy man; don’t listen to him!” Then the person would say: “well, if he is really your uncle, he must know you better. Go somewhere else”. Of course when the attack is coming from relatives and close ones, it is even more difficult. [5]

He faced Islamophobia similar to the prophets and reformers before him and after him. But he overcame this Islamophobia. He overcame it by focusing on his message and staying on his message – which was : Oh my people (ya qawmy) .. Oh my beloved people : worship Allah, you have no God but Him .. and reforming society. [6]

If you read the Quran, including verses that were sent during these tough years of persecution and Islamophobia in Mecca, there was no victimhood mentality. The Quran was not obsessed with the victimization of the believers. On the contrary, the Quran was reminding the believers that this is to be expected. And to the persecutors, the Quran was focusing on its message: reforming society, the greatness of God, the creation of Allah, the truthfulness of the message, removing ills from society, removing oppression from society.  [7]

In the midst of the darkest moments, with the highest levels of anti Muslim attacks, the prophet never hated his people[8]. He loved Mecca, and cried as he was being forced to leave Mecca as the Meccans were trying to kill him. When some of the companions asked him to curse the unbelieving Meccans, He prayed for them, and reminded his companions that: I was sent as a Mercy to Mankind, not as damnation. [9]

During a trip to Al-Taiif, the tribe rejected the message of the Prophet, and sent kids throwing rocks at him, until he bled, May Allah’s blessings and mercy be on Him. Towards the end of this trip, Allah sent the “Angel of the Mountains” to the Prophet, telling him: “I have been instructed by Allah to ask you: if you wish, I will crumble these two mountains on top of this tribe and destroy them.” In a moment of deep affection and emotion, the prophet cried to His Lord, asking him to guide his people, make them role models to others, and to accept from him His deeds. [10]

He called to His Lord, and he advocated for reforming the ills in his society: slavery, usury, oppression of women, usurping the rights of the weak, indiscriminant killings, disbelief,…  [11]

He civilized the Arabs and provided them with a new mission.


[1] Today Muslims are called terrorists. They are called extremists. We need to handle Islamophobia as the prophet handled it

[2] The Meccans also physically abused him and his companions, and killed the companions. Al hamduliilah, this has not happened to Muslims in America. We pray that we never see this type of attack.

[3] Interesting that the prophet did not rebel in violence against these issues. I wonder how the prophet would have dealt with a situation if a Meccan would have drawn an evil cartoon of the prophet. We need to focus on the real mission. The prophet wanted to train the believers not to be angry about the harm that is happening to them personally. The message is much greater. The essence of the message was not to protect the believers, but to benefit the entire society. Also, the prophet wanted to tame the revengeful nature of the Arabs to take revenge from anyone who hurt their honor. In Islam, you don’t take revenge for yourself. But you are available to defend the truth, not just defend yourself or your tribe.

[4] In some ways this imprisonment was similar to the Japanese internment camps  in the US.

[5] Islamophobes try this, when they call to their defense Muslims who either left Islam because it is a horrible religion, or who claim to be Muslims and bash the religion.

[6] It is very important for American Muslims to stay on message. Our goal is not to simply eliminate Islamophobia. We love America more than we love ourselves. We love our people more than we love ourselves. We seek what is good for our people, not just to “get our rights”. We long for everyone getting their rights and not just Muslims in America. There are many Americans who are hot getting their rights. More on this in chapter 4. We should not play into the victimhood mentality and accept it. This does not mean that civil rights organizations in America (like CAIR, MAS Freedom) should stop asking for the rights of American Muslims. However, this should be seen as only part of what we are about, and part of what we are asking for.

[7] This is important because America appreciates the victimhood mentality. We are pushed as a community into this paradigm. This is a good paradigm in America : you are a victim, and then the American system usually eventually stands up for the oppressed and the minorities get their right. This is an OK paradigm, but it is not the complete picture for Muslims in America. We don’t just want our rights as Muslims. We also have a beautiful message for our people that we want them to hear. We have a message. The way to solve this problem is not to completely forget about this paradigm. It is OK for us to have the CAIRs and MAS Freedoms which focus on resolving these issues. But this should not be our ONLY response as a community. This is where MAS comes in to remind of this additional role that we must play.

[8] A strong bond between the reformers, the du3at, and the people must exist. Muslims must care for and love America as their place of living and dawa. People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

[9] It is very important for Muslims to realize that as messengers to our people, we need to love our people. We need to love America. Not the type of blind love that blesses the wrong, but the one that  wishes to change the wrong. We don’t want to defeat America, but we want America to be the best that it can be. See this for more on this topic : http://islampath.org/2010/06/08/why-i-love-my-country/

[10] Sometimes Muslims are quick to ask for damnation of their enemy. Yet have we done our part to take the message to them? It is true that the prophet sometimes made dua against his enemy, but this was after years of due diligence to clarify the message. Today, our people have no idea what the message is.

[11] We need to find more specifically the core issues that we should adopt as Muslims in America from our perspective which are core to the reform that we want to advocate for. Some of this reform may already be recognized as a problem by others (say the poor in America). But some other reform may be unrecognized by any major players.

3 Responses

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  1. […] – How the prophet dealt with Islamophobia […]

  2. […] relevant segments : How the prophet handled  Islamophobia ;  and why I love my country […]

  3. Hammda said, on July 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Alhamdulallah- I think this attempts to clear a lot of misconceptions against islamophobia throughout America, most importantly for muslims, as well as non muslims.


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