Is it irrational to fear Islam?

It’s a question that deserves a real answer, because those who hurl the “Islamophobia” epithet around recklessly are actually characterizing people who fear Islam – including increasingly bloody acts of Islamic terrorism committed in the name of Allah – as irrational, insane, perhaps even stark raving mad.

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, defined by fear of an object or situation. It is a persistent, irrational fear, exaggerated and usually inexplicable and illogical. It often leads to a kind of hysteria or paralysis when a phobic person is confronted by the object or situation that is feared. We’ve all seen videos of people losing it when they see a harmless snake or spider. We read about or see depictions of people who are afraid of heights or going outdoors.

But when was the last time you saw someone hysterical at the sight of a woman in a hijab or the Quran, or hearing the call to prayer? Not very often. So, this definition of Islamophobia clearly doesn’t match any clinical disorder, and it is certainly is not connected to the way anyone actually uses the word.

Yet this slur – this derogatory, offensive term – is used by politicians, the media, professors and Islamic activists as a catchy and convenient way to define bigotry, prejudice and hatred against individual Muslims. Note, however, that the word “Muslim” is not part of the term – Islam is. So, the literal meaning of Islamophobia would not be bigotry against individual Muslims, it would be an irrational fear of Islam – a religion, an ideology, a political institution.

Shouldn’t it be acceptable for people to dislike or fear ideologies? I dislike and fear fascism. I hate communism because it is an evil, murderous, unjust system. That’s hating an idea like sexism, racism, socialism, nihilism and pedophilia. Hundreds of millions of people hate democracy, capitalism, the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, or that women are allowed to drive. But if Islamophobia is used to infer bigotry against individual Muslims, it is being used deceptively for political propaganda purposes.

And, if the term actually were used to condemn people with an actual anxiety disorder, wouldn’t that be politically incorrect? Yet, I have never seen it employed, or hurled more precisely, by anyone who is not, as we say, très PC.

Definitionally, then, can we agree that disliking or fearing a religious or political ideology is not a psychological condition?

There are plenty of affinity groups that actively and unashamedly voice their dislike or fear of institutions, religions, ideas and concepts without censure or retribution. Many of these people or organizations take action to further their anti-something beliefs. They take to the street, vote, call for reform in law, write and speak out against the things they dislike or fear. Are they all phobic? Are they all irrational? Is everyone crazy?

It’s not. It’s logical. Therefore, “Islamophobia” itself is a term of derision for propaganda purposes used, most often, by apologists for the ideology.

But that’s not the worst of it. Because instilling a rational fear of Islam is actually the desired reaction by Islam’s most zealous proponents. It is actually the stated, prescribed intent of Islam to trigger rational fear through terror. How do we know this?

The simple and direct answer is the Quran, the Islamic holy book.

Surah 8:12 of the Quran recounts the words of Allah, saying, “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will cast terror into the hearts of those who became infidels. So, strike above their necks and strike off every finger from them. This is because they have opposed Allah and his messenger.” (Emphasis added.)

According to the Islamic holy book, Allah has decreed terror in the hearts of the unbelievers, the infidels. He is instituting and commanding terror.

Now, I don’t for a minute believe there is a god named Allah. I am assuredly an infidel and unbeliever, so I would never claim that Allah had a supernatural ability to strike terror in the hearts of non-Muslims. Read the surah again. This verse is explicitly an encouragement from the Quran to believers to do Allah’s bidding. Muhammad’s recitation was intended to bolster the courage of the believers before striking out to massacre another group of people. He declares the terror of Islam. It is followed with the command to decapitate the unbelievers (infidels) and dismember them. (Some translations say finger tips, others say fingers and toes, others say limbs. I suppose it doesn’t matter that much the extent of the mutilation after you remove victims’ heads from their necks.)

Imagine the terror of the village or town as it is descended upon by barbaric, sword-flailing jihadists, no doubt screaming something akin to today’s all-too-often-heard cry “allahu akhbar.” For the sake of our previous definitional discussion, if you and your family were residents of that village, would you be consumed with a rational or an irrational fear of Islam? I vote rational.

And doesn’t this get down to the crux of the issue? So-called “Islamophobia,” if rationally defined, is not irrational. In fact it is a logical reaction by moral, sentient human beings.

But what of the Muslims, especially the minority of Muslims who study the Quran from cover to cover, who charge individuals with “Islamophobia”? How are we to judge them, and how should they be judged by their fellow Muslims and Allah? I can only speak for myself. The Quran commands the instilling of fear of Islam among non-believers. By diminishing or mocking the fear of Islam, are they not are actually defying the commands of Allah to instill terror into the hearts of unbelievers?

Therefore, Muslims who voice their rejection of “Islamophobia,” are guilty of one of three things: 1) being ignorant of the Quran’s actual teaching; 2) discounting the true teaching of Islam; or 3) practicing the Islamic principle of taqiyya, deceiving unbelievers until believers are in a position of greater strength.

After all, who is it that prescribed striking terror into the hearts of unbelievers? Muhammad did.

Elizabeth Farah is co-founder and chief operating officer of and has read the Quran from cover to cover.

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