A Brief Look at the History
In recent decades, a particular phobia named ‘Islamophobia’ has engrossed Western communities. An exaggerated fear and hatred toward Islam and Muslims, peddled by negative stereotypes, lead to racism, bigotry, and the victimization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic engagement. As we look at the history of Islamophobia in the US, it has grown since 9/11 in 2001. Racism and violent acts against American Muslims boomed right after the devastating assault on US soil occurred.
Even after incremental attempts by former President Barack Obama to cross religious and ethnic differences, following Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, it further exacerbated anti-Muslim bigotry. CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) described this exacerbation as a ‘dramatic rise’ in the campaign against peaceful Muslims, innocent refugees, and mosques.
The Spread of Islamophobia
USC Dornsife magazine of the University of South California reported that although Islamophobia in the US didn’t start with Trump, he has done many things that promoted Islamophobia. With remarks such as ‘Islam hates us’ and policies such as barring refugees from Islamic countries, Trump has reiterated the notion that Islam is a threat to the United States. Further, his tweets perpetuate a long history of equating Muslims with terrorism.
Joe Biden Caught the Muslims’ Attention
In such circumstances, when Former American Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for US Elections’ 2020, quoted a Hadith of Prophet (PBUH) in an address to Muslim voters, he succeeded at gaining attention from Muslim Community around the World.
On July 20, 2020, after several prominent Muslim-American businessmen endorsed the Democratic nominee for president, Biden sought support from Muslim Americans during an online event ‘Million Muslim Votes’ hosted by Emgage Action (a membership organization mobilizing around issues affecting American Muslims).
While presenting at the summit, Biden pledged to resolve Muslim-American populations’ issues and grievances in the United States once he has the honor to be in the President’s office. While praising Islam as one of the great confessional religious faiths, Biden told participants of the Million Muslim Votes that:
“I wish we taught more about the Islamic faith in our schools.” He added: “I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths.”
Biden explained that what we do not realize, from a philosophical perspective, is that we all arise from the same roots in terms of our essential core tenets.
The News International, in one of its article published on November 8, 2020, reported that Biden succeeds in securing the full attention of the attendees at a point when he went on quoting a Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that instructs:
“Whoever among you sees a wrong, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart.”
The 77 years old Democratic icon promised to repeal the three-year-old immigration ban by the Trump administration, which mainly affects Muslim-majority nations. He committed by saying,
“If I have the honor of being President, I will end the Muslim ban on day one.”
As a Muslim ban, Trump enforces this policy after taking office in January 2017 that restricted people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela from traveling to the United States.
Regarding Trump’s anti-Muslim policies, Biden added that:
“With his egregious Muslim ban, Muslims were the first to feel Donald Trump’s crackdown against black and brown people in this country.”
He criticized President Trump for fueling the fire of hatred.
By citing the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Joe Biden approached Muslim voters across the US, stating that they deserve to have a President who won’t push a xenophobic political narrative. Then recently, during the 2020’s first Presidential debate with Trump on September 29, Democratic Presidential candidate Biden responded to a question about Trump’s tax returns, uttered: “In Sha Allah”- meaning God willing in Arabic, and got some extra attention from Muslims. However, his comment tore apart the Muslim community, with some finding it endearing and others disrespectful.
Views by Different People and Channels Worldwide
Now the debate revolves around how the World, especially the Muslim World, thinks about Biden’s gestures. A renowned channel of Turkey, TRT World, reported a close margin between Trump and Biden supporters.
Another renowned reporting website Middle East Eye interviewed some American Muslims to view Biden’s gestures towards Islam and Muslims during his election campaign.
Among those people, Farhana Shifa (Co-chair of Muslims for Trump, Arizona), while sharing her views, said that:
“By speaking about these things, the Democrats sought to prove that they care. Biden quoted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also in this referendum, without recognizing Islam. After all, they advocate abortions and infanticide. She also told the interviewer that for 47 years, Biden had been in politics and that he had never helped refugees. Now, he’s pretending that he cares, being the President. It is a fallacy to believe that everything would be dreamy and flowery for foreigners during Biden’s reign.”
Professor Dr. Craig Considine from the Sociology Department of Rice University, Houston, Texas, who is also the author of the book “The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View,” while sharing his views on his Facebook page, regarding Biden quoting Prophet (PBUH), said that:
“This is powerful and inspiring. I believe Biden has the compassion and integrity to be a strong president for all communities living in the United States.”
An emerging analyst Dr. Labeeba Binte Saeed from Pakistan, while sharing her views, said,
“You can’t ever rely on Politician’s statement. If we look back to the Obama- Biden administration, it didn’t prove good for the Muslim World. Biden’s statement was just a political statement which has no significance.”
Overall, a mixed reaction was seen in response to Biden’s statements about American Muslim communities and quoting a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
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