Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Islamophilia, understood as a generalized affection for Islam and Muslims

comes with its own political costs. If, as some analysts would argue, Islamophobia has little to do with real Islam as practiced by actually existing Muslims, then constructing selectively positive images of Islam in response to Islamphobic propaganda will have less than helpful, and sometimes bizarre, results. One of these, now widely recognized, is the spread of "good-Muslim/bad-Muslim)" binaries (Mamdani, 2004), in which the good Muslim (the friend) is the real Muslim, and the bad Muslim (the enemy) is a creature who violates the good Muslim code; he can and should be vigorously opposed. The "good Muslim," as a stereotype, has common features: he tends to be a Sufi (ideally, one who reads Rumi); he is peaceful (and assures us that jihad is an inner, spiritual contest, not a struggle to "enjoin the good and forbid the wrong" trough force of arms); he treats women as equals, and is committed to choice in matters of hijab wearing (and never advocates the covering of a woman's face); if he is a she, then she is highly educated, works outside the home, is her husband's only wife, chose her husband freely, and wars hijab (if at all) only because she wants to. The good Muslim is also a pluralist (recalls fondly the ecumenical virtues of medieval Andalusia and is a champion of interfaith activism); he is political moderate (an advocate of democracy, human rights, and religious freedom, an opponent of armed conflict against the U.S. and Israel); finally, he is likely to be an African, a South Asian, or, more likely still, an Indonesian or Malaysian; he is less likely to be an Arab, but, as friends of the "good Muslim" will point out, only a small proportion of Muslims are Arab anyway.
-from the intro of Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend (Indiana Series in Middle East Studies) Edited by Andrew Shryock, pg. 9-10