chapter  1
The debate over the utility and precision of the term “Islamophobia”
WithNathan C. Lean
Pages 7

Since the birth of ‘Islamophobia studies’ as a sub-discipline within academic departments, a debate has persisted over the utility and precision of the term ‘Islamophobia’. At academic conferences and in journals, scholars have gone head to head in proverbial battles that have aimed to thoroughly parse the term, expose its etymological deficiencies, propose new alternatives, and pen definitions that profess to encompass all that ‘Islamophobia’ is. In some cases, these conversations have trickled out into the general public, with critics of ‘Islamophobia’ similarly interrogating the term only to judge it ultimately useless, or at the very least, sufficiently confusing. This chapter, which highlights those debates, argues that this scholarly obsession with the utility and precision of the term is, as a result of its documented widespread use and the historical trajectory of its origins, linguistic derivatives, and early definitional understandings, ultimately a moot matter. Situating the term ‘Islamophobia’ within a lexical lineage, and its definitions within a framework that privileges both public understanding and etymological common sense, this chapter calls the reader’s attention to the journey of this term and argue that its place in public vernacular is a settled issue. The chapter argues that persistent efforts to dismantle ‘Islamophobia’ serve only to facilitate consequences that would target the Muslim community, rendering it susceptible to more animus and antipathy on account of a nameless phenomenon of prejudice.