Contraction of 2 words, Islam; A middle eastern religion based on the Abrahamic ones followed by Muslims.
Meme: An idea that spreads rapidly through a culture.
An Islameme is an idea that rapidly spreads through a culture, but often is a half truth or has no basis in Islam or reality.
We’ve all heard them before.
Islam means peace.
Islam gave women rights .
Mohammed outlawed slavery.
Anyone a Muslim, an Ex-Muslim, a critic of Islam or an Islamic Scholar would know these statements aren’t true at all.
Yet they keep getting propagated all the time that the uninitiated start believing they’re true, that Islam really is a religion of peace, that gave women rights and banned slavery.
Well before I go on any further let me address these 3 points that I feel are the most common Islamemes.
Islam translate to peace
Wrong, Islam translate to Submission, any newly initiated Muslim would know this, infact it’s one of the first things they teach you in madrasa that in order to understand Islam you must submit yourself fully to it.
Islam gave women rights
The most insidious of all the Islamemes that seduces women into subscribing into an ideology that if anything, strips them of their rights at this current stage. To imply that before Islam came along that women in 600A.D had no right or claim to land and business is just a historically inaccurate depiction of history. Need I remind you who Mohamed’s first wife was? A 40 yr old woman, named Katijah, who had wealth and ran her own business and took Mohamed in as business partner, that alone should have set off red flags and if it didn’t post Katijah Mohammed promoted Polygamy for men, relegated women into being trading objects to unite Bedouin desert tribes which is how he got hold of his 6yr old wife Aisha, took in sex slaves from villages he pillaged that refused to convert, restricted women from marrying outside of Islam and made it mandatory that require 4 eyewitnesses to testify their claims and even provides instructions on how to beat your wife.
Mohammed outlawed Slavery
Well yes he did but only of Muslim, the Quran and the hadith also have instructions on how to treat your slaves.
There’s also passages in the Quran that permits taking in the girls whose families were killed in Islamic raids as sex slaves.
Infact if a Muslim man cannot find a wife on his own accord, he’s permitted to take a slave and marry her, a slave from a recently raided village.
The problem with Islamemes is how it prevents any honest and critical look to the less than pleasant passages in the Quran and also dismisses the cultural practices of certain Muslims that are guided by the Quran, like the myth that female genital mutilation is an african problem, and without this critical ability, theres not going to be an Islamic reformation because at every turn an apologist will say, Islam is already perfect and spout an Islameme.
A Muslim Reformist will be branded as a heretic or a native informant if they keep trying to spread the idea that it’s time to modernize Islam to be more tolerant towards non muslims and apostates. That the violence found within the Quran are what motivates Islamist groups and Islamic countries ruled by Sharia. A religious Leader like Sheikh Aboobacker Musliyar, has said that gender equality is unislamic, Islamemes won’t help you here, he will know the surahs to quote to back up his claim that men have dominion over women in Islam and hes not taking it out of context, acceptance of these horrible passages the first step to forming a discussion and debate on what action to take in regards to passages that promote violence and demotes the status of women among other barbarities.
Islamemes, especially when propagated by the non Muslims, are insulting to Ex-Muslims because what these people are trying to do is invalidate our lived experiences, it’s akin to just walking to an ex-Muslim and telling us we’re idiots for leaving the most peaceful and most glorious religion ever invented, a religion that they themselves aren’t subscribed to. Personally, I don’t really care about being insulted but I can see why an Ex-Muslim would take offense to someone doing this, for me it’s the propagation of ignorance to deceive the masses that infuriates me as it would normalize the demonization of ex-Muslims everywhere, simply because we disagree with this idealized version of Islam that we know is simply not real and back it up with evidence only to have more apologist nonsense shoved down our throats.
The taboo of apostasy is a real challenge for people who are Ex-Muslims as within the Quran and Hadiths there are passages which compels a Muslim to find people like us and kill us and ex-Muslims living in Islamic countries (countries under sharia) are living with this fear, if they’re ever found out. In countries where apostasy isn’t punishable by death, it is still social suicide for ex-muslims to go public with their apostasy because issues like these cannot be brought up with the general perception of Islam is one of peaceful glorious magnificence as propagated by Islamemes.
Worse yet, Islamemes help to propagate Islamism by dumbing down the non Muslim masses into defending the non existent idealized version of Islam, based on the Islamemes. It infiltrates a foreign culture, sparking a culture war between those who oppose Islamic doctrines and those who view Muslims as an ethnic group. These people who are vocal about their delusional version of Islam who attack anyone, including Muslim reformists and Ex-Muslims, critical of Islam, alike as Islamophobic because they’ve bought into idea that Islam is a “progressive eastern religion” that promotes the points I’ve mentioned above.
This failure to differentiate between Islam the ideology and Muslims the adherents with ethnicity has allowed Islamism to grow into the problem that it is today. There is nothing wrong with criticizing or ridiculing an ideology, the fact that we have this ability is what led many of us to become Ex-Muslims and I would even go so far as to say there is nothing wrong with criticizing and ridiculing a person’s culture, especially when the culture promotes the segregation of women, stoning people to death, amputation of limbs and many other atrocities against human rights nor is it problematic to criticize a person who promotes such barbarism because of their culture.
The hypersensitivity of people who buy into Islamemes conflate these actions as being critical towards a persons ethnicity, thus Muslim and Ethnicity becomes interchangeable and we have this toxic perception that Islam is a “brown” person’s religion and muslims are “brown” people further blurring the lines of criticizing an ideology with criticizing a person for being of an ethnic group hence why people infatuated with Islamemes think Islamophobia is legitimate defense to protect Muslim and creates this negative “racial role” that if you’re of a certain ethnic group this makes you a Muslim and people of ethnic backgrounds that are majority Muslim play into this identity politics and identify as Muslims first. This is a problem we have in Singapore, where people would assume I’m Muslim because of my ethnicity, this needs to stop as it’s also a key factor keeping the taboo of apostasy alive by making it harder to express who you are because others already have a preconceived notion of you.
Islamism is the ideology of political Islam and Islamemes are the opiate of the uninitiated spreading feel good vibes about a religious ideology badly in need of an honest and critical look at itself.