The neologism “Islamophobia” has been forcibly inserted into our language with less protest than it deserves. It has even made its way to Collins English dictionary. Time for a little clarity on the matter.
Islamophobia is a term of abuse, analogous to the term “racism” or “racist”. The point is to suggest that someone holds an irrational prejudice against Islam and its practitioners, a prejudice that cannot be rationally justified. Now there is no honest person cognisant of the nature and practice of Islam who can seriously believe that having qualms about Islam cannot be rationally justified. No honest people will be convinced by this term; that is not what it is there for. It is not for the listener, but for the utterer.
As always with corruptions of language, Orwell is the guide. From the Appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four:
All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word CRIMETHINK, while all words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word OLDTHINK. Greater precision would have been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped ‘false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods […] In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it WAS heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were nonexistent.
So the users of the term “Islamophobia”, whether they are believing Muslims or Islamic apologists. They do not need to know the specific charges: Islam’s continuing practice of the slave trade, the oppression of women, the mutilation of children’s genitals, and worse, of minds in madrassahs, the abolition of rational and scientific thought, the resultant violent hysteria and fanaticism, the murder threats towards any critic – all of these charges are covered by the term “Islamophobia”. Knowing the nature of any specific charge is to give in to heresy at least someway. The term “Islamophobia” exists not to convince others, but to allow its utterer to slam his mind shut against the temptation of thought. In a similar way, the defenders of the Catholic Church snap out “anti-Catholic bigotry” whenever someone has the temerity to mention its institutional rape and torture of children.