Intergenerational Islamophobia And Shame – An Unpacking


There are seldom few childhood favorites that I obsessively consumed in my adolescence –be they books, movies, TV shows- that haven’t molded my concepts and my basic understanding of the world round me in a basic method. I’ve the irrepressible, and a few may say maniacal, urge to examine the again of antiquated wardrobes searching for Narnia. I adopted the cognitive dissonance of the Disney renaissance interval; that the uncompromising quest for a male companion is an unquestionably radical act. Labyrinth left my primary notion of motherhood awash with difficult, gothic undertones. And I received’t go into what sort of irrational fears the inexplicable zeitgeists of Quicksand and the Bermuda Triangle imbued upon me.

These pictures, intonations, and impressions, coloration my pondering in nearly imperceptible, however simple methods. Whole dialogues lay dormant in my mind, solely to be roused and introduced forth to my consciousness by a phrase, state of affairs, feeling –offering the linguistic scaffolding for my inner processing.

This informs how I make sense of issues, and what sort of issues maintain worth to me. I’m reminded of the movie Vanilla Skies, the place Tom Cruise’s whole actuality and being is made up of those cultural moments –Bob Dylan album sleeves and the like. In our over-saturated world of pictures, how a lot of our true selves exist and the way a lot of us is shaped by mass media? Is there any pure intuition left in us, or are we mere composites of our cultural consumption and assimilation of our visible weight-reduction plan?  Are we, in impact, Instagram feeds of our place in tradition and historical past?

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What pursuits me concerning the age-old debate of nature versus nurture, rebooted within the age of social media, isn’t the oft-explored challenge throughout the Muslim group and past, of how a lot media and cultural affect is wholesome and productive for our youngsters. What pursuits me is the uncared for matter of how a world cultural local weather of Islamophobia has impacted us overtly and implicitly as Muslim dad and mom and, by extension, how this dominoes on and thru our youngsters.

What pursuits me is the uncared for matter of how a world cultural local weather of Islamophobia has impacted us overtly and implicitly as Muslim dad and mom and, by extension, how this dominoes on and thru our youngsters.Click To Tweet

The Roots

As a father or mother, you might be pressured to deal with your personal baggage and inner biases with the intention to father or mother from a safe and wholesome place. And whereas the parenting industrial advanced encourages us to do that with reference to our personal emotional make-up, we very hardly ever take the time to interrogate how a media panorama that continuously positions the Muslim and Islam as ‘Other’, has impacted our sense of perception and follow. Nowhere is parental self-reflection and evaluation extra vital than the impressions we’ve of Islam – our very sense of function and path. What are we passing onto our youngsters, knowingly and unknowingly, a few worth system we ascribe to?


Looking again at my very own historical past, because the product of a third-generation, South Asian family in Britain, bearing the indelible fingerprint of Empire, my understanding of Islam was solid by the experiences inherent in these three disparate contexts. It resulted in an everlasting dichotomy that positioned Islam and ‘Muslimness’ as antithetical to the ‘rational’, ‘enlightened’ pondering attribute of Western liberal democracies. The thought of non secular thought as intellectually poor is of course woven into the backdrop of our existence.

For many South Asian Muslims of my grandfather’s era, who emigrated to the United Kingdom attributable to labor calls for within the Nineteen Sixties, expressions of Muslimness within the public area had been what acquired you in hassle within the office —my grandfather was pressured to go away a number of of his blue-collar jobs attributable to his prayer schedule —, and what led to aggression and violence within the streets. It was dangerous sufficient to be international by nature, however to be actively, selectively international wasn’t going to endear you to anybody.

The subcontinent’s place in Empire performs a crucial position within the identification of its diaspora. The Imperial assemble of a spectrum of ‘otherness’ graciously held the elusive promise of better proximity to ‘whiteness’ to its South Asian topics. This led to many first and second-generation South Asian Muslims with the perceived possibility of whitewashing – being acceptable and accepted via a show of secular sensibilities. For South Asian Muslim households in Nineteen Sixties Britain, Islam was part of the identification that acquired ripped away from you as you re-rooted on international soil and in line with ‘British values’.  A sepia-tinted relic of their former -apparently much less civilized- existence that wasn’t match for the public-facing, skilled world, and which was finest practiced within the hushed privateness behind closed doorways.

A Very British Islam

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With the British conception of Islam conflating it with South Asian tradition and follow within the late 70s and 80s, my father or mother’s era, who had totally embraced their British identification, had been much more desirous to distance themselves from these symbols of foreignness and the cruel, unforgiving highlight of dehumanizing judgment which they introduced. Aside from the few political moments which evoked a reactive sense of Islamic identification located within the world, fairly than the native –the Iranian revolution and the Rushdie affair -, the cultural white noise which had framed Islam as the final word abnormality had solid a protracted shadow over Islamic practices, making a hue of shamefulness. Pitting Muslimness at odds with the nebulous high quality of Britishness.

By the time I used to be born, these knee-jerk, second-hand responses to our non secular heritage had been pacified and ingrained into my being. My impulsive impressions of Islam had been shaped via this historic distillation, however the rationalization of those impressions got here from additional afield -from an mental weight-reduction plan that was dominated by mainstream tradition, and which ossified my impression of Islam as a regressive, darkish, and out-of-date ideology.

I used to be in a position to watch Disney’s Aladdin and completely avow the depiction of Muslims as savage and not using a trace of self-reflection or pondering. The irony being, after all, that the social nervousness round Islamic perception centres on the concept of it as culturally poor, but it’s secular, mainstream portrayals of Muslims –and certainly different minority teams– which expose a deficit in understanding, a willfully obtuse strategy to different cultures, leading to dangerously deceptive and reductive representations on web page and display.

The turbaned, foreign-tongued villain as archetype -reinforcing this Star Wars-like, Manichean duality of excellent and evil/secular humanism and Islam- had created a cultural grammar of hazard, risk, and cave-dwelling monstrosity that was inextricably linked with Muslimness.

And whereas I situate the roots of my disordered emotions about Islam inside a uniquely British, South Asian cultural inheritance, it’s clear a cultural local weather that has cultivated this has a wider influence on Muslims in Britain.  It appears I’m not completely alone in how this public/default/rational liberalism versus shameful/closeted/irrational Islam dichotomy impacts my impressions of Islam throughout the wider Muslim group in Britain.

The completely helpful and constructive waves of Muslim immigration to the British Isles since my grandfather’s era have enriched and diversified the Muslim and wider group in Britain right now in methods which might be too quite a few to record. For the Muslim group, specifically, it has introduced with it much-needed Islamic scholarship and a extra daring, wealthy, and different strategy to Islam. It has expanded British Islamic information and follow and created a group that’s far better than it has ever been, al-hamdulillah.

Modern Muslim Shame

Overwhelmingly, the tsunami and onslaught of damaging media portrayals proceed to have an intensive influence on British Muslims of the Millennial and Gen Z demographics throughout race and sophistication. This is most clearly laid naked within the athan-alarm clock phenomena –that distinctive sense of embarrassment and terror that strikes within the coronary heart of a Muslim when our Muslimness is most audibly dropped at the fore in a public state of affairs. This homogenized expertise, which incorporates numerous ‘embarrassing’ wudu tales, has gained a foreign money on-line – getting caught ‘foot-in-sink’ handed so to talk. As nicely as quite a few different frequent cultural anecdotes relating to the shared mortification and collective disgrace of being Muslim in public areas – being found in prayer, discovering your self secularizing non secular perception, regardless of our greatest intentions to not ‘Prayer…is kind of like meditating…’.

These very relatable tales of a uniquely Muslim wince when our Muslimness is foiled, and an try to connect our beliefs to seemingly extra palatable symbols. It appears our most uniting function as British Muslims is the general public disgrace we really feel from parts of Islam.

It appears our most uniting function as British Muslims is the general public disgrace we really feel from parts of Islam.Click To Tweet

Corporate Distortion

Contemporary media content material continuously reinforces this duality, in Islam and Muslim tradition solely receiving a passing inexperienced gentle when aligned with liberal values. The supposedly reassuring ‘they’re similar to us’ narrative underpins nearly all main representations of Muslims, the net of confusion that exists beneath the floor regarding Islamic values isn’t addressed or confronted, not to mention an try to symbolize true Islamic ideas and beliefs. As although a tradition that so acutely fears distinction, and what it might need to confront of its personal worth system, because of this, is the healthiest mannequin to aspire to.

Corporate media, for instance, seems to be preempting an anticipated objection to seen Muslims in commercials by nearly at all times justifying their presence with an overt endorsement of liberal values, the rainbow flag carrying Niqabi. Popular tradition and media seem to have created this Muslim Frankenstein primarily based on ignorance and lazy assumptions, the spectre of which now haunts it in its present quest to seem woke and inclusive. These specific and implicit references to the Muslim topic bleed via and stain our personal conception of our non secular identification. We have begun to really feel it essential to justify our existence, bizarrely, via skateboards and super-human acts of kindness. We seem to continuously body our non secular beliefs utilizing secular ideas of particular person and civil liberty fairly than non secular obedience, as if they require justifying and cleaning via secular paradigms. Why are we willingly adopting the language of Quraish –in championing acts solely when they’re divorced from la ilaha illallah?

The subtext of all discussions relating to Islamophobia, in all contexts – what itself stays tacit and in between the traces – is the concept prejudice towards Muslims is justified, and.. nicely… type of comprehensible. What place does the conceptual, nefarious Muslim have in liberal democratic societies? Muslims are asking for it – aren’t they?

Preventing Parenting

The ideological influence of tradition and media in setting up the villainous Muslim in widespread consciousness – and crucially in Muslim consciousness – has been nice, however the punitive influence of home counter-terrorism regimes and their position in policing Muslim communities has additionally precipitated untold materials injury to Muslim communities and their relationship to Islam. We see efforts from European governments to amalgamate Muslims with terrorism and to proceed to problematize hallmarks of Muslim identification. It appears right here the neo-Imperial agenda of the surveillance state, satirically, has extra in frequent with excessive ‘Islamist’ teams than these Muslims it seeks to incriminate as such, by fueling emotions of disenfranchisement and exclusion. Here we see ISIS and European governments working hand in glove.

While youthful embarrassment is one factor, this perceived risk and cultivated disgrace tackle a complete new dimension as soon as you’re a father or mother. Those culturally cultivated emotions of disgrace are underpinned by a really actual and materials risk to our standing as guardians and our very reference to our youngsters. While we will giggle on the wudu tales, what of each dad and mom’ worst concern, and a risk that hangs heavy within the air for Muslim dad and mom – that of dropping your baby for showing too ‘Muslim’. For them saying the ‘wrong’ factor for a Muslim baby, on the physician’s workplace or whereas chasing their buddies within the playground. This threatens to additional distort our understanding and relationship with our perception system, and crucially future expressions of it.

The Muslim Family as Frankenstein

We know that social anxieties will finally play themselves out within the language of the household and residential – by extension safeguarding and baby safety. It is not any coincidence that the tradition of PREVENT exists when the best nervousness in modern-day identification centres on the opposite of Islam. What underpins the Prevent agenda, is a fallacious and extremely racialised understanding of youngsters’s pursuits and autonomy – the concept Muslim kids must be protected against their dad and mom’ views whereas these of the secular majority are unproblematic, commonplace, and the default in morality. This secular intolerance is finally paternalistic, imperialist pondering imposed on the Muslim father or mother and baby relationship, as soon as once more devaluing and discrediting Islam and Muslim dad and mom. Understanding this now completely naturalized notion can assist us to legitimize our personal beliefs, fairly than seeing them via a securitized and vilifying lens.

The ethical panic that sure Islamic practices maintain has seeped into Muslim consciousness and imbued sure noble practices with disgrace, and that is one thing we have to actively search to discontinue in ourselves, in redressing our personal notions of what it means to be each British and Muslim. Being conscious of how public perceptions of Muslims and Islam inform our unconscious and aware parenting is doubtlessly probably the most conducive factor we will do as bestowers of Islam for the subsequent era of Muslims. Our athan-clock is now our youngsters and their very own public expressions of Muslimness, and the way we reply to that is essential. How we’d draw back from public expressions of religion, how we’d casually dissuade our youngsters from desirous to put on Islamic gown to the native park.

Creating New Norms

Breaking this chain of disgrace and disesteem in Islam is vital to not warping our youngsters’s delicate and evolving impressions of our faith, and discontinuing inter-generational, internalized Islamophobia. It is vital to situating their Islamic identification within the native and rapid: strengthening their British, Islamic identification and permitting them to virtually and guiltlessly apply it to their on a regular basis.

As dad and mom, we have to disentangle our noble religion from the net of misconstruction and fallacy to which we’ve intimately tied it. We should take time to dismantle the hijab and beard from hazard and risk in our pondering and unpack Islamic values and practices from their closeted and illegitimate anchors. Identity and illustration are linked in a symbiotic method – the best way we’re seen by others, if left un-interrogated, determines how we see ourselves. We have to un-root the sentiments of illicitness and disgrace so we’re in a position to current and reside Islam in an unfiltered method for ourselves and our youngsters.

A New Language

We should start to create our personal language that not privileges prevailing norms, or that are completely reactive towards them. This isn’t a drained and hackneyed name to problem stereotypes, as a result of we don’t want to strengthen them by merely and unquestioningly inverting them, fairly than questioning the assumptions that underpin them with nuance. We are continuously witnessing examples of how restricted our vernacular is as British Muslims – the latest instance being of the Zara Mohamed, BBC Woman’s Hour interview. While Zara responded with admirable grace, what was telling about this alternate, was there was completely no linguistic house for a dialog about gender and faith outdoors of the language and energy buildings we’re borrowing from secular requirements. The possibility of critically talking about males main salah didn’t exist given the asymmetry in gender relations in Western patriarchy, that are continuously imposed on Islam, and the linguistic framework we’ve inherited because of this. We should reclaim phrases reminiscent of modesty, chastity and humility and recast them within the gender-neutral, common gentle by which they’ve at all times been supposed in Islam fairly than parroting secular gender norms. We should strive to not draw back from primary tenets of our religion, inheriting hang-ups from mainstream tradition, as a result of as everyone knows there’s hikmah and barakah in all of it.

We should reclaim phrases reminiscent of modesty, chastity and humility and recast them within the gender-neutral, common gentle by which they’ve at all times been supposed in Islam fairly than parroting secular gender norms.Click To Tweet

Our Own Narrative

We should not base our instinctive understanding, or pondering, of Islam on secular, mainstream narratives. When we take a look at staples of British Muslim tradition, we see continuous examples of how we’ve internalized another person’s narrative relating to our personal faith. Take the domed mosques which have come to characterize early British Muslim structure, however which had been first designed by non-Muslim architects, primarily based on Orientalist tropes, and unquestioningly embraced as symbols of British Islam by the group.

Thinking Critically

Furthermore, we should undertake a extra frank understanding of this capitalist worth system which relegates Islamic values, and be capable to have interaction with the constructing blocks of that worth system in a extra crucial method. Mass tradition is engineered completely on the revenue motive and a tradition that casts disgrace upon Islam does so as a result of it can’t profiteer from it or use it to line its personal pockets.

This is a part of a wider tradition that devalues earnestness and endeavour, and achievement and studying. This regularly dumbing down effort, which revels within the shallow, and reduces us to our absolute shells, is finally what has demoted a quest for that means and residing for a better function to a comedic, ridiculed act. We have to create new parameters for our youngsters, and ourselves, of what constitutes value. We have to stretch and increase our horizons fairly than cut back them in line with social and cultural pressures and expectations. We would do nicely to realign our conception of abstinence and reposition it from its present ignoble delegation to ignorance and nescience, to its true worth as dignified and lofty, regardless of the typically irresistible draw of clout in doing the other.

We should be capable to situate wider tradition inside its context. To perceive that the Netflix tradition obsessive about unveiling Muslim girls exposes extra about its personal the reductive view of girls in media – a transparent indication that they really feel audiences wouldn’t have an interest until girls are visually accessible, and which is clearly uncomfortable with portraying girls outdoors of a, frankly, reductive and damaging magnificence commonplace. Remember that the development of the Monster in widespread consciousness reveals extra about those who style the picture of Monster than those that are usual because it. This is a tradition struggle which we’ve no half in, and which secular liberalism seems to be having with itself, we don’t must be caught within the crossfire.

We have to unpack our personal prejudices regarding non secular follow by not continuously demoting it intellectually, by probing the classist assumptions via which we see it. We appear to have created our personal conveyor belt mannequin which hyperlinks Islamic orthodoxy to decrease class and IQ, and which sadly stems from the fabric indisputable fact that, as a younger and growing group, almost 50% of British Muslims reside under the poverty line. This snobbery is predicated on the broader Islamophobic mannequin and is designed to breed a way of complacency in liberal Muslims, undermining solidarity throughout the Ummah. Furthermore, it has no place in Islamic values which rejects the pretensions of elitism.

Centering Allah

We want to interchange the omnipresent voice of secular, Islamophobic pondering in our head with a way of taqwa – centering Allah and His Omniscience in our ideas and practices in order that the subsequent era of British Muslims is likely to be the primary to see and perceive Islam in a real, untainted gentle, in sha Allah. It is lastly time for us to finish the derationalization of Islam by ravenous it of its personal language, by continuously seeing and residing it as a deficit mannequin in relation to secular humanism, by educating ourselves, and by centering our follow firmly within the Quran and Sunnah. The limitless potential of Islam as a studying, emotional and mental useful resource for kids ought to give us all hope and set us on a brand new path of discovery and understanding, as people in charge of our personal destinies and fogeys in present cost of others, in sha Allah.


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