"Islam is an ideology. It's not
Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesperson
"Whoever resembles a people, he
is of them"
Muhammad, Prophet of Islam
This is a short article in two parts.
The first argues against the legitimacy
of racialism. The second points
out Muslims are not a race, as is often
claimed, but if they were then it would
make Islam the world's most dangerous
racial supremacist ideology.
Race and Racism
Race is the arbitrary classification of
individuals according to physical traits
that presumably have a genetic basis.
How many races there are and what
characteristics are used to determine
racial identity is entirely subjective,
since there is no such thing as a "race
gene" or a series of genes that define
race in the absolute sense. Race
is therefore a social construct and not
a physical science, even though it is
based on genetics. It is no more
meaningful to say that a person is of a
certain race than it is to say that they
were born in Indiana rather than Illinois.
Categorizing people by race is also
non-sensible and irrelevant.
Consider the entirely feasible example
of a girl born to parents who are a
white European and a native African.
Given the different races involved,
which one would she be considered?
More importantly, how could it
possibly matter? Would
being either “black” or “white” or
something in between make her any
different of a person?
Race also serves as the foundation for
racism, which tries to emphasize
distinctions between racial categories –
arbitrary as they may be. Racism
is the “science” of drawing broad
conclusions from comparative studies,
which are then assumed to apply to all
members of a particular group who happen
to share a genetic profile.
Racism is deeply flawed because it is
fundamentally irrational. Human
beings are not groups, they are
There is not one scientific or cultural
fact that can be determined about an
individual based on their race.
For example, one cannot know what music
another person enjoys, how they vote or
how high they are able to jump simply by
knowing their race.
In fact, all racial stereotypes dissolve
at the individual level. No matter
how fast one runs, how quick one thinks,
or how moral one’s character, there can
always be members of any other race
found who better excel at each of these
– or any other imaginable measure.
There is simply no such thing as a
meaningful racial stereotype.
People are generally whoever they choose to
This makes perfect sense to intelligent
people. Since racial identity is
arbitrary, it cannot be deterministic.
Without determinism, there can be no
science. Therefore, neither racism
nor the study of race has anything
factual to offer.
In addition to being a false science,
racism is morally wrong because it is
the foundation for racial
discrimination, in which different rules
and standards are applied to individuals
based on their presumed identity.
In the past, people suffered
tremendously (and unfairly, of course)
because of this.
Thus, the artificial system of race
serves no positive purpose.
Lending legitimacy to the flawed theory
of racial distinction leads, almost
inevitably, to racism and the
justification of racial discrimination.
This, along with the inherent
absurdity of even classifying
people by race, should be enough to
merit junking racial identification
Islam and “Racism”
Those openly critical of Islam are
sometimes dubiously slurred as racists,
regardless of what their true views on
race may be.
In fact, Islam is not a race.
Islam has nothing at all to do with
genetics, nor is it an innate
characteristic. It is an ideology – a
voluntarily-held set of beliefs about individual behavior
and the rules of society. People choose
their beliefs; they do not
choose their race
Therefore Muslims are not a race of people.
In fact, there are Muslims of all races.
Hence, criticizing Islam is not
racism. There is no such thing as
"anti-Muslim racism" any more than there is
"anti-Christian racism," "anti-Methodist
racism," or "anti-Capitalist racism."
So why would anyone claim differently?
It is because the battle over Islam is
being fought in the West, the only arena
in which this religion can still be
critically debated. It is also
here that repugnance toward racism is
strong and nearly universal. As
politicians well know, if one can
successfully paint the opposition as
“racist,” then the battle for public
opinion is all but decided. From
high-risk mortgages to illegal
immigration, fear of the race card is
one of the strongest influences on
At the same time, it is nearly
impossible to defend Islam on its own
merits - which is why Muslim societies
usually rely on threat of violence to
suppress intellectual critique of Islam and the
freedom of other religion to fairly
According to its own texts, Islam was
founded in terror, and its political and
social code is deeply incompatible with
Western liberal values. Frustrated
advocates of Islam’s advance are
therefore prone to taking the crude and
easy path of trying to squash debate by
mislabeling criticism of their religion
Having to sling the worst of all slurs
to compensate for deficiency of fact and
logic is bad enough, but in this case
there is terrible irony in that what is
being defended in such cheap fashion is
an ideology that is overtly
supremacist in nature. In
fact, those Muslims who do want to rely
on the race card are not thinking very
On the surface it would seem that if
Islam really were a race, or Muslims a
race of people, then any criticism of
the common tie which unites them - in
this case the religion of Islam – could
be dismissed out of hand as racism, thus
effectively protecting the religion from
tough examination. But everything
is not as it seems.
If Muslims are a race because of Islam,
then it means that Islam is a racial
ideology. Therefore, what this ideology has
to say about its own and other “races”
becomes very important.
In fact, the Qur’an posits an enormous
qualitative distinction between Muslims
and non-Muslims that is hard to miss.
Believers are loved by God, whereas
infidels are hated to the extent that
they are tortured for eternity (3:32,
4:56) merely for not believing.
Muslims are told to shun unbelievers
(3:118), who are called “helpers of
evil” (25:55), “wicked” (4:160), “fond
of lies” (5:42) and compared to the
worst of animals (8:55, 7:176, 7:179).
Members of Islam are told to be merciful
to each other, but ruthless to those
outside of the faith (48:29).
Violence is also sanctioned against
those who are obstinate against Islamic
rule (8:12-13, 9:5).
If Islam is a race, then Christianity
and Judaism are races as well, meaning
that if the Quran speaks of them as
then it is a racist book. In
truth, the Quran does more than that.
In a stunning burst of religious bigotry,
Muslims are ordered to fight Jews and
Christians "until they pay the Jizyah
with willing submission, and feel
themselves subdued" (9:29).
There is no basis in the text for
bringing Jew and Christians under the
heel of Islamic rule except by virtue of
No other religion filters perception
through group identity to the extent
that Islam does. Around the world
Christians, Jews and other individuals
are routinely brutalized merely because
they are a member of a non-Muslim group,
not because they have done anything to
personally deserve having their lives
taken, their children maimed or their
property torched. Meanwhile, other
Muslims are generally indifferent to
this violence and reserve their true
outrage for circumstances involving
Muslim victims of non-Muslim acts,
however unintentional or relatively
So, if Muslims are a race, Islam would
not only be a racist ideology, but
arguably the most hateful and
destructive in history. It is bad
enough that hundreds of millions of
people have been killed in the last
fourteen centuries by divinely
sanctioned Jihad and slavery, but to
retroactively supplant the stated motive
of religious supremacy with that of
racial superiority is hardly a step in
the right direction for a religion
seeking the acceptance of an
increasingly skeptical audience.
Race is an arbitrary label that has no
legitimacy. Therefore anything
based on race, including racism and
racial discrimination is unsound at best
and immoral and inhumane at worst.
Human beings are individuals and should
only be judged as such.
Islam is not a race. Muslims are
not a race. Islam is an ideology
that should be open to critical
examination. Muslims, however, are
individuals who should be protected from
harm or harassment in the same way and
for the same reasons as anyone else.
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