What is Islamophobia?

Islamophobia, Islamophobe
Question: "What is Islamophobia? What is an Islamophobe?"

Islamophobia, as commonly defined, is an irrational fear or hatred of the Islamic religion or of Muslims—a fear or hatred that manifests itself in discrimination. The term Islamophobe is often used to smear anyone who disagrees with any tenet of Islam or who acknowledges that an act of terror might have been perpetrated by Muslims. Such usage is unwarranted, as not everyone who disagrees with Islam or who sees the link between radical Islam and terrorism is an Islamophobe; however, true Islamophobia does exist in society. There are people who do have an “irrational fear of Muslims.” A symptom of Islamophobia could be assuming that all Muslims are terrorists, avoiding Muslims altogether, or treating suspected Muslims (even if they’re Sikhs or Hindus) rudely or with disdain. Although Christians worship a different God than Muslims, followers of Christ must treat all men with respect (1 Peter 2:17). Christians should never be guilty of “irrational fear”; thus, Christians should not be Islamophobic.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” A person should never hate, fear, or treat with disdain any other person. Instead, all people, including Muslims, need to be treated with dignity, respect, and love because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Islamophobia has no place in a Christian’s life.

God has given Christians a spirit of love, not of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). There is nothing loving about Islamophobia. Christians are to love their enemies (Luke 6:35) as well as their neighbors (Mark 12:31). In the final analysis, even the most radical Muslim is not the Christian’s enemy. The enemy is sin. The enemy is the false teaching of Islam and its presentation of a false Christ who never died or rose again. Out of love, a Christian should be concerned that sin and error will lead all people to death unless they repent and trust in Jesus. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), and we should seek to reconcile Muslims to the one true God, through the preaching of the gospel.

To fight Islamophobia, one can try to find common ground with Muslims. Although Islam and Christianity are quite different, Islam admits some things about Christ that could be conversation-starters. The Quran states that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and that He performed miracles. The Quran acknowledges that Jesus was taken bodily to heaven. These glimpses of truth can be a point of contact between a Christian and a Muslim. A Christian who tries to understand what a Muslim believes can build more respectful relationships leading to dialogue. When the opportunity arises for a Christian to share the gospel with a Muslim, he should share the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Irrational fear, hatred, or a knee-jerk discourtesy to Muslims only gets in the way of evangelism.

Christians should strive to build relationships with Muslims and show them the love of God. We can pray for Muslims. We can get to know them. We can invite them to dinner. We can meet needs practically when they arise. There are many opportunities to counter the world’s Islamophobia with love. Muslims and all other people need to see the love and truth of Jesus. They can see this when Christians live out what they believe.

Recommended Resource: Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norm Geisler

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