I am a big fan of Douglas Murray, and when I saw that his 2013 book ‘Islamophilia’ had been reissued (after the original publisher when bust and the book stopped being available), I had to pick it up and work through it as soon as possible.
I was instantly curious about this book, with a title like that you know it’s going to include some of the classic hard-hitting Douglas Murray observations and critiques. I wasn’t disappointed.
The book itself doesn’t take very long to work through. Sitting at 65 pages, it must have taken me about an hour and a half to fly through on my Kindle. It’s short, punchy and to the point.
Islamophilia is almost like a state of praise or a state of none judgement for Islam above and beyond that which it deserves. Throughout this book, Douglas Murray shows how politicians, musicians, artists, authors, public intellectuals, academics and news outlets have all given Islam a pass or praised its core tenants in situations and ways that show a desire to specifically show the Muslim population of the world that they offer no threat.
Islamophobia is the fear of attack of Islam, to be an Islamophobe would/could mean that you have been critical, judgmental or negative of Islam. Or that you have a fear of speaking about Islam in any critical way due to the backlash or repercussions that you could face.
This book does a brilliant job of sketching the landscape in the West today in regard to how public figures deal with Islam, compared to other ideologies, religions or worldviews. Because it has been re-issued in 2020, we get a quick recap of what has happened since 2013, and how this book is still relevant. Which I find helpful, as things, sadly, have defiantly escalated since 2013.
‘If it exists at all, ‘Islamophobia’ is a hard thing to pinpoint. But Islamophilia, on the other hand, can be identified with great ease.’ Murray, Douglas. Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady (p. 8). Kindle Edition. We don’t see Christians or Atheists claiming that their belief systems are under attack and causing a scene to the extent that some of the Muslim population does about theirs. But we do see those in positions of power or fame expressing how impressed and amazed they are at the core tenants of Islam – where they would never dream of doing such about religions nearer to home.
‘Over the last decade and more, not one mainstream film, movie, TV series or documentary has run anything at all that is critical of Islam. ‘Fair enough,’ you might say. ‘The tense aftermath of numerous mass terrorist attacks may not be the best time to start criticising Islam.’ Murray, Douglas. Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady (p. 32). Kindle Edition. Over the last 20 years, we have become fearful of the fallout we could experience if we are critical of Islam. We read of beheadings or shootings. Our cartoons are unable to portray a picture of the prophet Muhammad without causing massive outcry (South Park & Family Guy). We can’t express concerns about Islam within, say, a workplace without being labelled a ‘racist’, ‘bigot’ or ‘Islamophobe’.
But the truth is, ‘societies in which even your deepest beliefs and feelings can be questioned and trodden upon are the only societies worth living in.’ Murray, Douglas. Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady (p. 65). Kindle Edition. Can we honestly do this about Islam? If you see people doing this, you see a massive backlash. Just look at this video of Sam Harris talking about his views of Islam (yeah, it’s a bad thumbnail, isn’t it? lol):
There was a huge outcry about this, which you can read all about online. I also found that when I shared a video of Sam Harris talking about the need to be able to have real conversations during the early Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, I had a fair few people telling me that Sam Harris is a racist due to his opinion of Islam, as expressed in the above video, and his book ‘The End of Faith‘. I do not agree, I think Sam wants to have the ability to be openly critical of all religions and sees Islam as a source of the current potential for problems.
Anyway, Islamophilia is a really interesting short dive into how people deal with Islam, and how quickly we can assume that if someone says a single back thing about Islam, then they are an Islamophobe. The reality is that so many people speak up to express their support, admiration or love of Islam, simply because they don’t want to be labelled an Islamophobe. Almost like they are saying, ‘don’t burn my house down, I am on your side’. But the reality is, as we have seen with the Black Lives Matter protests, saying you are part of the cause isn’t enough to protect you from the mob.
As Douglas Murray says so clearly at the start of chapter 8, ‘Yes, that’s right: you can become the world’s greatest Islamophile and it still won’t save you.’ Murray, Douglas. Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady (p. 48). Kindle Edition.
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