Should We Have Dialogue with Islamophobic?
Updated: Sep 2
Islamophobes in the US are well known through their regular columns, speeches, and talk shows. They include people from all races and ethnic groups, as well as people of non-Islamic religions. Among them are also those who claim to be former Muslims and Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists, and liberals. Their arguments are well known, and the responses of Muslims are also well-publicized or documented. Perhaps an innovative approach is needed to address the issue, as we cannot live in a state of perpetual fear and hostility. Through their organizations, local, regional or national, Muslims should invite the well-known critics or Islamophobes for dialogue either directly or through interfaith councils moderated by a neutral person. The agenda of such a dialogue should be well-defined and a code of ethics as well-prepared. The purpose of the conversation should be to understand and seek clarifications and explain and clarify concerns. Regardless of the outcome, the doors for the dialogue must remain open for the future.
Such an approach might help both the groups to at least disagree with respect and dignity. The accusations against Islam and the clarification given by Muslims are documented, but a face-to-face dialogue might help both to see the human face of the other. In our civilized world, a dialogue is the only way to understand and clarify alternative positions.
As Muslims, we should not expect all to agree with our theology or religious perspectives. We cannot demand that people should view the world from our angle. All we can hope is that others better understand our angle or perspective.
We are not naive to believe that the accusations against Muslims and Islam are the outcome of serious and sincere efforts of others to understand Islam and Muslims. Of course, some are acting as agents of other groups who have remained in the background, but there are certainly those genuinely concerned about certain issues related to Islam. The door of dialogue must not be closed to anyone, as this is the only way forward in our world.
Even if the other party refuses to join us in dialogue, we can at least tell those watching the two groups with anxiety and fear that we made efforts to clarify our position. Moreover, perhaps this path of dialogue would open new avenues for us, and we can play a more proactive role in defining ourselves rather than being defined by others.