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.  It is an ideology – a voluntarily-held set of beliefs about individual behavior and the rules of society. People do not choose their race.  Therefore Muslims not a race of people.  In fact, there are Muslims of all races. Therefore criticizing Islam is not racism.  There is no such thing as “anti-Muslim racism” any more than it makes sense to pretend that 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 public policy.

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 compete.  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 as racism.

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 far ahead.

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 ill of them, 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 their religion. 

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 slight.

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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