The Zebiba as a Sign of “Mental Disorder”

Sheila Musaji

Posted Dec 20, 2012      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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The Zebiba as a Sign of “Mental Disorder”

by Sheila Musaji

The title of an article published recently in The Examiner caught my eye.  The Muslim ‘prayer bump’ and Traumatic Brain Injury  by Timothy Whiteman.  This article pointed out that the zebibah is seen on “millions of Muslims throughout the world” and then calls it “cranial bruising” and compares this to football and boxing injuries, and inferred that it is a sign of “repeated mild traumatic brain injury” which

“can cause a wide range of functional short- or long-term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.  For example:  Thinking (i.e., memory and reasoning); Sensation (i.e., touch, taste, and smell); Language (i.e., communication, expression, and understanding); and Emotion (i.e., depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).”

Bonni of Bare Naked Islam immediately jumped on this and published WHAT A SURPRISE! Muslim prayer bump (otherwise known as shitstain) is reportedly linked to traumatic brain injury and mental disorders

Before I had an opportunity to respond to this latest example of Islamophobic sleight of hand, Gabriele Maranci debunked this particular article in depth.  Here are a few passages from his debunking:

...  Now the article, after presenting a photo gallery of notoriously controversial, and in some cases criminal, people identified as Muslims, goes on to introduce some recent scientific research published by Oxford University, which advances a new hypotesis in neurotrauma arguing that repeated traumatic brain injury may result in cumulative damage to cells of the brain. The article, through selective quotations, informs us that this produces memory loss and alters cognitive function so that the affected individual is prone to violence and fanaticism.

Finally, we know why Muslims are terrorists, why they protest violently, why they mistreat women, why they commit honor crimes and are dangerous people in general. It is Islam. Of course, we have heard similar accusations before from people like Robert Spencer. However, this article has moved the argument one step further by creating the missing link that was needed to finally demonstrate the deeply dangerous effects of Islam.  ...  So, are millions of Muslims really brain damaged by Islam?  Of course not. The article misuses neurological research and provides misinformation about Muslim practices and Islam. Indeed, it is very simple to deconstruct this piece.

None of this is new.  Islamophobes have called these prayer bruises the “mark of the beast”, and used the existence of such a bruise as some sort of “proof of extremism” for some time.

In 2008, I wrote an article, Hugh Fitzgerald’s ‘Supermarket Tabloid’ Islamophobia is Showing in which I commented on Fitzgerald’s Jihad Watch zebibah expose

In one article, Fitzgerald called the Zebibah a “bathetic bruise of piety” . Bathetic is not a common word, so I needed to look it up. It means “Affectedly or extravagantly emotional - characterized by bathos (bathos means 1. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. An anticlimax. 2. Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos).”

In the article he says, “Of course, the notion that only those with telltale zebibahs need worry us is comforting, but because it offers false comfort, it is itself a source of worry. It is not only those who flaunt that bathetic bruise of piety who are deeply committed to the duty of Jihad, but hundreds of millions of Muslims who take that duty seriously, but need have no zebibah as an outward sign of an inward determination.”

The Zebibah is a mark or bruise that is sometimes seen on the foreheads of individuals who spend a great deal of time in prayer with a person’s forehead pressed to the ground.

A Muslim who follows the Islamic practice of praying five times a day will press their forehead to the ground at least 34 times each day (if they also say the Sunna prayers this number will increase). Although many Muslims pray regularly, not all have this mark. It is considered to be a gift from God and is much respected.  [Note:  I have seen very few of these bruises on anyone in my lifetime.]

Fitzgerald points to the infamous Ayman Al-Zawahiri having a zebihah on his forehead as if this proves his point that only fanatics would have such a mark. Actually, most of the zebihah’s that I have seen have been on the foreheads of Sufi’s and other pious and gentle souls.

The only positive thing about Fitzgerald’s drivel is that it shows just how desperate the Islamophobes are becoming when they have to stoop to such tactics in order to continually stir up the emotions of their readers. At this point, just like the shocking supermarket tabloid headlines it begins to look bathetic.

Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques missed this telltale characteristic of extremist Muslims that should be monitored or looked at with concern.  The CSP report did note other signs of imminent menace:  wearing a beard, wearing “traditional” dress, wearing a watch on the right wrist, making straight prayer lines, wearing hijabs and head coverings, separation of men and women in the mosque, etc.  As I said about that report “Someone could write an entire article on the ridiculousness of the “watch on the right hand” issue alone.  And, the straight prayer lines as an indicator of anything other than keeping people from bumping into each other requires an article or a humorous YouTube video to show just how nonsensical this is.  There are so many problems with this report that it is difficult to believe that it is meant to be taken seriously.  It seems more like a satirical article that would be published on “The Onion”.”

The reality is that although the Islamophobes are obsessed with a quest to identify “moderate” and “extreme” Muslims.  They really don’t believe that there is any such thing as a moderate Muslim.

Pamela Geller said “I would like to feel all warm and fuzzy and embrace the moderate Muslim/ meme but they show no evidence of their existence - not in any real number anyway. The only voices of reason in the Muslim world are lapsed Muslims or apostates. 

Brigitte Gabriel said when asked whether there are moderate Muslims “Yes. . . . I call it a practicing Muslim and a non-practicing Muslim. I think it is a better description than “moderate” and “radical.”  ...  However, they are such a minority — we estimate about 2 percent — they are irrelevant because it is the majority that is causing the problem now.”   And, “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”

Robert Spencer said  “I have maintained from the beginning of this site and before that that there is no reliable way to distinguish a “moderate” Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a “radical” Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment.” 

David Yerushalmi said  ”The mythical ‘moderate’ Muslim ... the Muslim who embraces traditional Islam but wants a peaceful coexistence with the West, is effectively non-existent ... because he chooses to remain within traditional Shari’a-based Islam.”

Daniel Greenfield said that “the great challenge of our time is telling apart Muslim moderates and Muslim extremists.”  Greenfield also says that between the extremists and the moderates “There are differences between them, but there are far fewer differences between these groups than there are between any one of them and us.”

In the view of the Islamophobes, Islam itself is the root of all evil, and any practicing Muslim is suspect.  The only “good Muslim” is an ex-Muslim.  This is bigotry.  Yes, there are extremists in the Muslim community, as there are in all communities.  But, they are not going to be identified by watches, prayer lines, or zebibas. 

Are non-Muslim Americans being told that they should be fearful or concerned if a Muslim man is wearing his watch on his right wrist or has a beard, or if a Muslim is wearing a head covering, or if a Muslim is wearing non-Western dress, or if a Muslim has a prayer bruise?  Is a Muslim who practices any aspect of Sharia an “enemy”?

There are other religious groups who follow many of these same customs including male-female segregation during prayers at their house of worship, covering the head, wearing beards, wearing special clothing, etc.  Logically, unless your point is that all such religious customs are problematic, the implications of the Islamophobic view are that the religion of Islam is being singled out as somehow different from all other religions.

If a man covers his head, wears a beard, wears special clothing to pray, follows dietary restrictions, prays in a house of worship where men and women are segregated for prayers and where women cover their heads and dress modestly, then — if he is an Orthodox Jew is that any different than if he is an observant Muslim?  Obviously, to the Islamophobes, this is a “problem” only for Muslims.

What is particularly sad about such hate mongering masquerading as serious concern is that it actually distracts from any serious attempts to attempt to identify, understand and counter any actual sources of radicalization or extremism.



The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence” are nonsense.  The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,  or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense

The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade.  They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films.  They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally.   They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”

The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences

The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.

The Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.   They consistently push the false memes that:  - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded.  Every Muslim organization is connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label.  Individual Muslims and Arabs, and their organizations are accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, etc. 

These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including ]distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.).

— Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant,  inherently violent, more likely to engage in violence against civilians, and more likely than other Americans to be radicalized.  — Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not interested in dialogue.  That Muslims don’t help Christians in need.  That Muslims can’t have Christians as friends, and are anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and intolerant of other faiths, and in fact hate Jews.  — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t unequivocally denounce terrorism, that American Muslim leaders have not responded to radicalization in their community,  that mosques are the source of radicalization, that 85% of mosques are run by radicals, that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement.— Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column,  that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that Muslims are not loyal to America, that they are not a part of our American heritage— Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, a “green peril”, that was spread by the sword,  an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion.   — Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threat to America, and a threat to our judicial system, by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers, and they will be the majority in this country in 20 years.  Muslims are a threat to America— Everyone “knows” that Muslims have no respect for the Constitution, they don’t obey the laws of the United States,  that they are opposed to freedom of speech, don’t allow and freedom of religion.   — Everyone “knows” that Muslims are given a pass by the elite media.  It’s “us versus them”.  — Everyone “knows” that the Muslims’ goal is world domination under a Caliphate, and the proposed Cordoba House in NYC is a demonstration of supremacism and triumphalism, and that Muslims planned to open it on the anniversary of 9/11.   — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t speak out against extremism or terrorism, and even those Muslims who do speak up or seem moderate are simply lying or practicing taqiyyah.  — Everyone “knows” that the Qur’an is uniquely violent, that the Islamic concept of God doesn’t include God’s love, and does not include the concept of a Golden Rule,  that Allah is a moon god.  — Everyone “knows” that Islam is a monolith and all Muslims are the same, like the “Borg”.  This means that every act committed by an individual who is a Muslim is directly attributable to Islam, and never because the individual is crazy, criminal, or perverted. — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor— Everyone “knows” that Muslims are like the Fascists and Nazis and that in fact they supported those movements.  And, all of these memes that everyone “knows” ARE FALSE.

Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist.   They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad.  The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.  They have uncovered:

Muslim celebration for special needs children jihad“vehicular jihad”objecting to pornographic ads jihademployment jihadlitigation jihad“environmentalist jihad”.  —— “comic book jihad”Muslim victims of 9/11 accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihadhospital jihadMuslim Family Day jihadMuslim Prayer event jihadbumper sticker jihadThanksgiving turkey jihadpaisley scarf jihadmarriage to important men jihadspit jihad —  fashion jihadspelling bee jihadrape jihaddefacing dollar bills jihadpopulation jihadcreeping Sharia jihad —  mosque building jihadterror baby jihad“creeping Sharia” jihadpedophilia jihadbus driver prayer jihadforehead bruise jihadpostage stamp jihadsoup jihad —  banning alcohol jihadfake hate crimes jihadpiggy bank jihadtv reality series jihadhandshake jihadprom jihadinterfaith jihadArabic language jihadpublic school jihadreligious accommodation jihadCrescent moon jihadChristmas tree tax jihadoath of office jihadimmigration jihad community fundraiser jihadpublic school/madrassa jihadpost office jihadfood jihadpyramid jihadcrucifixion jihadfireworks jihadcomputer donation jihadcivic participation jihadOlympic “judo” jihadstealth name jihadpre-violent jihad

When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence. 

There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic.  There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)  are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.   There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.   There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. 

See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.